Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, Water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.—Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The thirst is real. And I am not talking about the type of thirst where you look at Instagram models all day when you should be working. I am actually talking about water. Believe it or not, I run into people who forget to drink water. Or perhaps “forget” is the better way to state that. I don’t know if that trait is better or worse than those unicorns who supposedly forget to eat in a given day. And while it is common sense—at least I hope it is—that water is important for us, there are still some valid considerations out there regarding how much water we should drink, what “counts” towards our levels of hydrations, and just where did eight glasses a day come from?

 

Some Basics

Think back to your physical science class. I know it was in eighth grade. I also know that if you are in any way like me at all, you probably were having fun playing with the Bunsen burners and setting those little wooden sticks on fire while the teacher wasn’t looking. However, if you are like me, you also learned some cool stuff. Namely, that water is a solvent, which means you can mix stuff in it and it will dissolve. And those substances you can mix with water to dissolve are known as solutes. In fact, water can handle more solutes than any liquid, and thereby has the nickname of The Universal Solvent.

So to give you an idea of how this works, think about iced tea. You use the water to boil the leaves, leaving you with tea. You put the sugar in it, stir, and it dissolves giving you this lovely drink that happens to be very popular on hot days in the southern region of the United States. The watery beverage is the solvent, the sugar is the solute.

And while you’re mixing the tea, what happens if you put too much sugar in it? You might notice some solid sugar particles floating to the bottom of your pitcher. You now have what is called a saturated solution. To bring this solution to equilibrium, you need to do one of two things. One option is to remove the extra solute. In our case, the sugar. Scrape it off. Or, the other option is to add more solvent to accommodate the extra solute.

Or, you can also change the structure of the solvent to accommodate more solute that you might not be able to fit into the solvent at room temperature. So if you have ever had tea so sweet you feel your teeth falling out, this is how someone made it. They kept the tea hot, the molecules expanded, and they stuffed more sugar in those molecules than they could fit while it was at room temperature.

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