Environmental Issues
Oil and Petroleum

What dissolves oil?

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Answered 2008-04-02 01:50:42

From http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/chem99/chem99106.htm

Water is a polar molecule -- that is, electronic charges are localized on specific atoms. Oil is a non-polar molecule -- electronic charges are de-localized over all atoms. Water dissolves other polar molecules and oil dissolves other non-polar molecules but water does not dissolve oil (and vice-versa). Soap molecules are large. At one end they behave like polar molecules (electronic charges are isolated) and at the other end they behave like non-polar molecules (electronic charges are de-localized).

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