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Conductivity of Liquids

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Conductivity of Liquids - Lesson Summary

Materials through which electric current can pass through easily are called conductors of electricity. Electrical conductivity is a measure of the ability of a substance to allow the flow of an electric current. Among solids metals and graphite are good conductors of electricity which have high electrical conductivity. Some liquids are also good conductors.  

Pure water or distilled water is a poor conductor of electricity. But the presence of even small amount of impurities makes water a good conductor. Hence water from taps, wells, ponds, rivers, seas, lakes, etc. conduct electricity as they contain inpurities. That is why we get electrical shock when we touch the conducting parts of electrical appliances with wet hands. Our dry hands also have sweat on them which conducts electricity. So we should never touch the conducting parts of electrical devices.  

Solutions of most acids, bases and salts dissolved in water are good conductors of electricity. Electrical conductivity of liquids can be tested by a simple activity of taking a liquid, like lemon juice, in a container, inserting electrodes in it, connecting the two electrodes to the terminals of a battery with a bulb (LED) between them. The bulb glows, indicating that lemon juice is a conductor of electricity. Several liquids can be checked for electrical conductivity in the same way.

We find that liquids like lemon juice, liquid soap, rain water, salt solution, etc. conduct electricity, whereas liquids like distilled water, oil, alcohol, etc. do not conduct electricity. When electricity is passed through a conducting solution, the molecules of the solution dissociate into ions. Ions are atoms or group of atoms with a positive or a negative charge. These ions cause electrical conduction through the liquid. A liquid That conducts electricity due to the presence of ions is called an electrolyte

The process of decomposition of a chemical compound in a solution when an electric current passes through it is called electrolysis. This process is due to the chemical effect of electric current.

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