Substance that conducts electric current as a result of dissociation of its molecules into positively and negatively charged particles called ions. The most familiar electrolytes are acids, bases, and salts, which ionize when dissolved in polar solvents such as water. Many salts, including sodium chloride, behave as electrolytes when melted in the absence of solvent, since they have ionic bonds. The most commonly used electrolytes are dissolved metal salts (for electroplating metals) and acids (in electric batteries). See also electrolysis.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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