h. Electrolyte Strength. It should be apparent, recalling the discussion of acids
and bases that not all electrolytes will dissociate to the same extent in solution.
(1) Those that dissociate and exist entirely as ions in solution are called
strong electrolytes. Strong electrolytes include strong acids, strong bases, and their
(2) Compounds that dissociate to a small extent and exist only partially as
ions in solution are called weak electrolytes. Weak electrolytes include weak acids,
weak bases, and salts of weak acids and/or weak bases.
(3) To identify whether a compound is a strong or weak electrolyte, it is first
necessary to identify what type of compound it is. For example, consider NaCl. This
compound is a salt formed from a strong base (NaOH) and a strong acid (HCl) and is,
therefore, a neutral salt. Since it is a neutral salt of a strong acid and a strong base, it is
a strong electrolyte as defined above. Other salts can be determined in a like manner.