1.3 Molarity

Learning Objectives

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Describe the fundamental properties of solutions
  • Calculate solution concentrations using molarity
  • Perform dilution calculations using the dilution equation
A picture is shown of sugar being poured from a spoon into a cup.
Figure 1.3.1 – Sugar is one of many components in the complex mixture known as coffee. The amount of sugar in a given amount of coffee is an important determinant of the beverage’s sweetness. (credit: Jane Whitney)

Preceding sections of this chapter focused on the composition of substances: samples of matter that contain only one type of element or compound. However, mixtures—samples of matter containing two or more substances physically combined—are more commonly encountered in nature than are pure substances. Similar to a pure substance, the relative composition of a mixture plays an important role in determining its properties. The relative amount of oxygen in a planet’s atmosphere determines its ability to sustain aerobic life. The relative amounts of iron, carbon, nickel, and other elements in steel (a mixture known as an “alloy”) determine its physical strength and resistance to corrosion. The relative amount of the active ingredient in a medicine determines its effectiveness in achieving the desired pharmacological effect. The relative amount of sugar in a beverage determines its sweetness (see (Figure 1.3.1)). This section will describe one of the most common ways in which the relative compositions of mixtures may be quantified.


Solutions have previously been defined as homogeneous mixtures, meaning that the composition of the mixture (and therefore its properties) is uniform throughout its entire volume. Solutions occur frequently in nature and have also been implemented in many forms of manmade technology. A more thorough treatment of solution properties is provided in the chapter on solutions and colloids, but provided here is an introduction to some of the basic properties of solutions.

The relative amount of a given solution component is known as its concentration. Often, though not always, a solution contains one component with a concentration that is significantly greater than that of all other components. This component is called the solvent and may be viewed as the medium in which the other components are dispersed, or dissolved. Solutions in which water is the solvent are, of course, very common on our planet. A solution in which water is the solvent is called an aqueous solution.

A solute is a component of a solution that is typically present at a much lower concentration than the solvent. Solute concentrations are often described with qualitative terms such as dilute (of relatively low concentration) and concentrated (of relatively high concentration).

Concentrations may be quantitatively assessed using a wide variety of measurement units, each convenient for particular applications. Molarity (M) is a useful concentration unit for many applications in chemistry. Molarity is defined as the number of moles of solute in exactly 1 liter (1 L) of the solution:

M=\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\frac{\text{mol solute}}{\text{L solution}}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}


Activity 1.3.1 – Calculating Molar Concentrations

A 355 mL soft drink sample contains 0.133 mol of sucrose (table sugar). What is the molar concentration of sucrose in the beverage?


Since the molar amount of solute and the volume of solution are both given, the molarity can be calculated using the definition of molarity. Per this definition, the solution volume must be converted from mL to L:

M=\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\frac{\text{mol solute}}{\text{L solution}}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}=\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\frac{0.133\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\text{mol}}{355\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\text{mL}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\times\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\frac{1\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\text{L}}{1000\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\text{mL}}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}=0.375\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}M

Check Your Learning

A teaspoon of table sugar contains about 0.01 mol sucrose. What is the molarity of sucrose if a teaspoon of sugar has been dissolved in a cup of tea with a volume of 200 mL?



Activity 1.3.2 – Deriving Moles and Volumes from Molar Concentrations

How much sugar (mol) is contained in a modest sip (~10 mL) of the soft drink from Activity 1.3.1?


Rearrange the definition of molarity to isolate the quantity sought, moles of sugar, then substitute the value for molarity derived in (Activity 1.3.1), 0.375 M:

\begin{array}{c}\\ M=\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\frac{\text{mol solute}}{\text{L solution}}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\\ \text{mol solute}=M\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\times\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\text{L solution}\\ \\ \text{mol solute}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}=\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}0.375\phantom{\rule{0.4em}{0ex}}\frac{\text{mol sugar}}{\text{L}}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\times\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\left(10\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\text{mL}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\times\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\frac{1\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\text{L}}{1000\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\text{mL}}\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}=\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}0.004\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\text{mol sugar}\end{array}

Check Your Learning

What volume (mL) of the sweetened tea described in (Activity 1.3.1) contains the same amount of sugar (mol) as 10 mL of the soft drink in this example?


80 mL

Activity 1.3.3 – Calculating Molar Concentrations from the Mass of Solute

Distilled white vinegar is a solution of acetic acid, CH3CO2H, in water. A 0.500-L vinegar solution contains 25.2 g of acetic acid. What is the concentration of the acetic acid solution in units of molarity?


A label on a container is shown. The label has a picture of a salad with the words “Distilled White Vinegar,” and, “Reduced with water to 5% acidity,” written above it.
Figure 1.3.2 – Distilled white vinegar is a solution of acetic acid in water.


As in previous examples, the definition of molarity is the primary equation used to calculate the quantity sought. Since the mass of solute is provided instead of its molar amount, use the solute’s molar mass to obtain the amount of solute in moles:

M=\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\frac{\text{mol solute}}{\text{L solution}}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}=\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\frac{25.2 g\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}{\text{CH}}_{3}{\text{CO}}_{2}\text{H}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\times\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\frac{1\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}{\text{mol CH}}_{3}{\text{CO}}_{2}\text{H}}{{\text{60.052 g CH}}_{3}{\text{CO}}_{2}\text{H}}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}}{\text{0.500 L solution}}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}=0.839\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}M

\begin{array}{l}\\ M=\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\frac{\text{mol solute}}{\text{L solution}}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}=0.839\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}M\\ M=\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\frac{0.839\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\text{mol solute}}{1.00\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\text{L solution}}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\end{array}

Check Your Learning

Calculate the molarity of 6.52 g of CoCl2 (128.9 g/mol) dissolved in an aqueous solution with a total volume of 75.0 mL.


0.674 M

Activity 1.3.4 – Determining the Mass of Solute in a Given Volume of Solution

How many grams of NaCl are contained in 0.250 L of a 5.30 M solution?


The volume and molarity of the solution are specified, so the amount (mol) of solute is easily computed as demonstrated in (Activity 1.3.2):

\begin{array}{c}\\ M=\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\frac{\text{mol solute}}{\text{L solution}}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\\ \text{mol solute}=M\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\times\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\text{L solution}\\ \\ \text{mol solute}=5.30\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\frac{\text{mol NaCl}}{\text{L}}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\times\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}0.250\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\text{L}=1.325\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\text{mol NaCl}\end{array}

Finally, this molar amount is used to derive the mass of NaCl:

1.325{\text{mol NaCl}}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\times\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\frac{58.44\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\text{g NaCl}}{\text{mol NaCl}}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}=77.4\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\text{g NaCl}

Check Your Learning

How many grams of CaCl2 (110.98 g/mol) are contained in 250.0 mL of a 0.200 M solution of calcium chloride?


5.55 g CaCl2

When performing calculations stepwise, as in (Activity 1.3.4), it is important to refrain from rounding any intermediate calculation results, which can lead to rounding errors in the final result. In (Activity 1.3.4), the molar amount of NaCl computed in the first step, 1.325 mol, would be properly rounded to 1.32 mol if it were to be reported; however, although the last digit (5) is not significant, it must be retained as a guard digit in the intermediate calculation. If the guard digit had not been retained, the final calculation for the mass of NaCl would have been 77.1 g, a difference of 0.3 g.

In addition to retaining a guard digit for intermediate calculations, rounding errors may also be avoided by performing computations in a single step (see (Activity 1.3.5)). This eliminates intermediate steps so that only the final result is rounded.

Activity 1.3.5 – Determining the Volume of Solution Containing a Given Mass of Solute

In (Activity 1.3.3), the concentration of acetic acid in white vinegar was determined to be 0.839 M. What volume of vinegar contains 75.6 g of acetic acid?


First, use the molar mass to calculate moles of acetic acid from the given mass:

\text{g solute}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\times\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\frac{\text{mol solute}}{\text{g solute}}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}=\text{mol solute}

Then, use the molarity of the solution to calculate the volume of solution containing this molar amount of solute:

\text{mol solute}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\times\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\frac{\text{L solution}}{\text{mol solute}}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}=\text{L solution}

Combining these two steps into one yields:

\text{g solute}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\times\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\frac{\text{mol solute}}{\text{g solute}}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\times\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\frac{\text{L solution}}{\text{mol solute}}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}=\text{L solution}

75.6\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\text{g}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}{\text{CH}}_{3}{\text{CO}}_{2}\text{H}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\left(\frac{\text{mol}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}{\text{CH}}_{3}{\text{CO}}_{2}\text{H}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}}{60.05\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\text{g}}\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\left(\frac{\text{L solution}}{0.839\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\text{mol}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}{\text{CH}}_{3}{\text{CO}}_{2}\text{H}}\right)\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}=\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}1.50\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\text{L solution}

Check Your Learning

What volume of a 1.50 M KBr solution contains 66.0 g KBr?


0.370 L

Dilution of Solutions

Dilution is the process whereby the concentration of a solution is lessened by the addition of solvent. For example, a glass of iced tea becomes increasingly diluted as the ice melts. The water from the melting ice increases the volume of the solvent (water) and the overall volume of the solution (iced tea), thereby reducing the relative concentrations of the solutes that give the beverage its taste (Figure 1.3.3).


This figure shows two graduated cylinders side-by-side. The first has about half as much blue liquid as the second. The blue liquid is darker in the first cylinder than in the second.
Figure 1.3.3 – Both solutions contain the same mass of copper nitrate. The solution on the right is more dilute because the copper nitrate is dissolved in more solvent. (credit: Mark Ott)

Key Concepts and Summary

Solutions are homogeneous mixtures. Many solutions contain one component, called the solvent, in which other components, called solutes, are dissolved. An aqueous solution is one for which the solvent is water. The concentration of a solution is a measure of the relative amount of solute in a given amount of solution. Concentrations may be measured using various units, with one very useful unit being molarity, defined as the number of moles of solute per liter of solution. The solute concentration of a solution may be decreased by adding solvent, a process referred to as dilution. The dilution equation is a simple relation between concentrations and volumes of a solution before and after dilution.

Key Equations

  • M=\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}\frac{\text{mol solute}}{\text{L solution}}\phantom{\rule{0.2em}{0ex}}
  • C1×V1 = C2×V2

End of Chapter Exercises

  1. Explain what changes and what stays the same when 1.00 L of a solution of NaCl is diluted to 1.80 L.


  1. What information is needed to calculate the molarity of a sulfuric acid solution?



We need to know the number of moles of sulfuric acid dissolved in the solution and the volume of the solution.


  1. A 200 mL sample and a 400 mL sample of a solution of salt have the same molarity. In what ways are the two samples identical? In what ways are these two samples different?


  1. Determine the molarity for each of the following solutions:
    1. 0.444 mol of CoCl2 in 0.654 L of solution
    2. 98.0 g of phosphoric acid, H3PO4, in 1.00 L of solution
    3. 0.2074 g of calcium hydroxide, Ca(OH)2, in 40.00 mL of solution
    4. 10.5 kg of Na2SO4·10H2O in 18.60 L of solution
    5. 7.0 \times 10−3 mol of I2 in 100.0 mL of solution
    6. 1.8 \times 104 mg of HCl in 0.075 L of solution



(1) 0.679 M; (2) 1.00 M; (3) 0.06998 M; (4) 1.75 M; (5) 0.070 M; (6) 6.6 M


Determine the molarity of each of the following solutions:

(5a) 1.457 mol KCl in 1.500 L of solution

(5b) 0.515 g of H2SO4 in 1.00 L of solution

(5c) 20.54 g of Al(NO3)3 in 1575 mL of solution

(5d) 2.76 kg of CuSO4·5H2O in 1.45 L of solution

(5e) 0.005653 mol of Br2 in 10.00 mL of solution

(5f) 0.000889 g of glycine, C2H5NO2, in 1.05 mL of solution


What is the mass of the solute in 0.500 L of 0.30 M glucose, C6H12O6, used for intravenous injection?

(6a) Outline the steps necessary to answer the question.

(6b) Answer the question.



(a) determine the number of moles of glucose in 0.500 L of solution; determine the molar mass of glucose; determine the mass of glucose from the number of moles and its molar mass; (b) 27 g


What is the mass of solute in 200.0 L of a 1.556 M solution of KBr?

(7a) Outline the steps necessary to answer the question.

(7b) Answer the question.


Calculate the number of moles and the mass of the solute in each of the following solutions:

(8a) 2.00 L of 18.5 M H2SO4, concentrated sulfuric acid

(8b) 100.0 mL of 3.8 \times 10−5M NaCN, the minimum lethal concentration of sodium cyanide in blood serum

(8c) 5.50 L of 13.3 M H2CO, the formaldehyde used to “fix” tissue samples

(8d) 325 mL of 1.8 \times 10−6M FeSO4, the minimum concentration of iron sulfate detectable by taste in drinking water



(a) 37.0 mol H2SO4, 3.63 \times 103 g H2SO4

(b) 3.8 \times 10−6 mol NaCN, 1.9 \times 10−4 g NaCN

(c) 73.2 mol H2CO, 2.20 kg H2CO

(d) 5.9 \times 10−7 mol FeSO4, 8.9 \times 10−5 g FeSO4


Calculate the number of moles and the mass of the solute in each of the following solutions:

(9a) 325 mL of 8.23 \times 10−5M KI, a source of iodine in the diet

(9b) 75.0 mL of 2.2 \times 10−5M H2SO4, a sample of acid rain

(9c) 0.2500 L of 0.1135 M K2CrO4, an analytical reagent used in iron assays

(9d) 10.5 L of 3.716 M (NH4)2SO4, a liquid fertilizer


What is the molarity of KMnO4 in a solution of 0.0908 g of KMnO4 in 0.500 L of solution?

(10a) Outline the steps necessary to answer the question.

(10b) Answer the question.



(a) Determine the molar mass of KMnO4; determine the number of moles of KMnO4 in the solution; from the number of moles and the volume of solution, determine the molarity; (b) 1.15 \times 10−3M

Consider this question: What is the molarity of HCl if 35.23 mL of a solution of HCl contain 0.3366 g of HCl?

(11a) Outline the steps necessary to answer the question.

(11b) Answer the question.


Calculate the molarity of each of the following solutions:

(12a) 0.195 g of cholesterol, C27H46O, in 0.100 L of serum, the average concentration of cholesterol in human serum

(12b) 4.25 g of NH3 in 0.500 L of solution, the concentration of NH3 in household ammonia

(12c) 1.49 kg of isopropyl alcohol, C3H7OH, in 2.50 L of solution, the concentration of isopropyl alcohol in rubbing alcohol

(12d) 0.029 g of I2 in 0.100 L of solution, the solubility of I2 in water at 20 °C



(a) 5.04 \times 10−3M; (b) 0.499 M; (c) 9.92 M; (d) 1.1 \times 10−3M


Calculate the molarity of each of the following solutions:

(13a) 293 g HCl in 666 mL of solution, a concentrated HCl solution

(13b) 2.026 g FeCl3 in 0.1250 L of a solution used as an unknown in general chemistry laboratories

(13c) 0.001 mg Cd2+ in 0.100 L, the maximum permissible concentration of cadmium in drinking water

(13d) 0.0079 g C7H5SNO3 in one ounce (29.6 mL), the concentration of saccharin in a diet soft drink.


(14) There is about 1.0 g of calcium, as Ca2+, in 1.0 L of milk. What is the molarity of Ca2+ in milk?



0.025 M


(15) What volume of a 1.00 M Fe(NO3)3 solution can be diluted to prepare 1.00 L of a solution with a concentration of 0.250 M?


(16) If 0.1718 L of a 0.3556- M C3H7OH solution is diluted to a concentration of 0.1222 M, what is the volume of the resulting solution?



0.5000 L


(17) If 4.12 L of a 0.850 M H3PO4 solution is be diluted to a volume of 10.00 L, what is the concentration of the resulting solution?


(18) What volume of a 0.33 M C12H22O11 solution can be diluted to prepare 25 mL of a solution with a concentration of 0.025 M?



1.9 mL


(19) What is the concentration of the NaCl solution that results when 0.150 L of a 0.556 M solution is allowed to evaporate until the volume is reduced to 0.105 L?


What is the molarity of the diluted solution when each of the following solutions is diluted to the given final volume?

(20a) 1.00 L of a 0.250 M solution of Fe(NO3)3 is diluted to a final volume of 2.00 L

(20b) 0.5000 L of a 0.1222 M solution of C3H7OH is diluted to a final volume of 1.250 L

(20c) 2.35 L of a 0.350 M solution of H3PO4 is diluted to a final volume of 4.00 L

(20d) 22.50 mL of a 0.025 M solution of C12H22O11 is diluted to 100.0 mL



(a) 0.125 M; (b) 0.04888 M; (c) 0.206 M; (d) 0.0056 M


(21) What is the final concentration of the solution produced when 225.5 mL of a 0.09988 M solution of Na2CO3 is allowed to evaporate until the solution volume is reduced to 45.00 mL?


(22) A 2.00-L bottle of a solution of concentrated HCl was purchased for the general chemistry laboratory. The solution contained 868.8 g of HCl. What is the molarity of the solution?



11.9 M


(23) An experiment in a general chemistry laboratory calls for a 2.00 M solution of HCl. How many mL of 11.9 M HCl would be required to make 250 mL of 2.00 M HCl?


(24) What volume of a 0.20 M K2SO4 solution contains 57 g of K2SO4?



1.6 L


(25) The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) places limits on the quantities of toxic substances that may be discharged into the sewer system. Limits have been established for a variety of substances, including hexavalent chromium, which is limited to 0.50 mg/L. If an industry is discharging hexavalent chromium as potassium dichromate (K2Cr2O7), what is the maximum permissible molarity of that substance?


aqueous solution

solution for which water is the solvent


qualitative term for a solution containing solute at a relatively high concentration


quantitative measure of the relative amounts of solute and solvent present in a solution


qualitative term for a solution containing solute at a relatively low concentration


process of adding solvent to a solution in order to lower the concentration of solutes


describes the process by which solute components are dispersed in a solvent

molarity (M)

unit of concentration, defined as the number of moles of solute dissolved in 1 liter of solution


solution component present in a concentration less than that of the solvent


solution component present in a concentration that is higher relative to other components



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Inorganic Chemistry for Chemical Engineers Copyright © 2020 by Vishakha Monga; Paul Flowers; Klaus Theopold; William R. Robinson; and Richard Langley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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