Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Double Decomposition
Name: Rik H.
Status: student
Age: 20s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2000

What governs double decomposition reactions? For example, if one was to put ammonium sulphate and sodium nitrate in solution, would a reaction occur? Would the sodium sulphate be soluble? Is there a way of separating the Na2SO4 from the mixture?

The classification scheme of "double decomposition" and its cousins has pretty much been abandoned. There are too many exceptions, and qualifications. The "reaction" you cite is a good example. The two salts would just dissolve and the ions would just be there. There would not be any reaction in the classical sense.

Both of the compounds you mention are very water soluble, and I think it would be difficult to exchange the cation and anion.

Vince Calder

Click here to return to the Chemistry Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory