We are most accustomed to thinking of solutions as mixtures of a substance dissolved in water, but in fact the meaning of the term is broader than that. Certainly there is a special place in chemistry for solutions in which water—"the universal solvent"—provides the solvent medium. This is also true in daily life. Coffee, tea, soft drinks, and even water itself (since it seldom appears in pure form) are solutions, but the meaning of the term is not limited to solutions involving water. Indeed, solutions do not have to be liquid; they can be gaseous or solid as well. One of the most important solutions in the world, in fact, is the air we breathe, a combination of nitrogen, oxygen, noble gases, carbon dioxide, and water vapor. Nonetheless, aqueous or water-based substances are the focal point of study where solutions are concerned, and reactions that take place in an aqueous solution provide an important area of study.

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