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Precipitate Definition Example Essays

  • Vargas Llosa’s break with Castro precipitated a fundamental reconstruction of his political beliefs.

    —marcela valdes, New York Times, "The Elder Statesman of Latin American Literature — and a Writer of Our Moment,"20 Feb. 2018

  • But youth involvement has precipitated some of the greatest advancements in our country — why can’t ending gun violence be the next?

    —madeleine aggeler, The Cut, "Change Never Happens Until Young People Like Emma González Demand It,"20 Feb. 2018

  • Trail's death precipitated Cunanan's four-state murder tour, which ended after the deaths of four others, including Chicago real estate mogul Lee Miglin and internationally renowned fashion designer Gianni Versace.

    —julie kosin, Harper's BAZAAR, "The True Story Behind Jeff Trail and Andrew Cunanan's Relationship on American Crime Story,"15 Feb. 2018

  • The shuttering last month for the restaurant at 860 Glenneyre St. was reportedly precipitated by the resignation of its executive chef, Norm Theard.

    —bradley zint, latimes.com, "Popular Laguna Beach Creole restaurant Roux closes after executive chef resigns,"14 Feb. 2018

  • The trio were appointed after the FIGC election failed to produce a new president, two-and-a-half months after the national team crashed out of the World Cup precipitating a crisis.

    —afp, chicagotribune.com, "Italian Olympic committee name commissioner for troubled FIGC,"1 Feb. 2018

  • Only dire circumstances can precipitate the overthrow of oppressors.

    —avery matera, Teen Vogue, "Lorde Features Feminist Poem on Her Grammys 2018 Dress,"29 Jan. 2018

  • Only dire circumstance can precipitate the overthrow of oppressors.

    —colleen kratofil, PEOPLE.com, "All the Unique Ways Celebrities Showed Support for Time's Up Movement at the 2018 Grammy Awards,"28 Jan. 2018

  • Only dire circumstance can precipitate the overthrow of oppressors.

    —andrea park, Glamour, "Instead of a White Rose, Lorde Wore One of Jenny Holzer’s Inflammatory Essays on the Back of Her 2018 Grammys Dress,"28 Jan. 2018

  • What is a Precipitate?

    In chemistry, a precipitate is an insoluble solid that emerges from a liquid solution. The emergence of the insoluble solid from solution is called precipitation. Often the precipitate emerges as a suspension.

    Precipitates can form when two soluble salts react in solution to form one or more insoluble products.

    soluble salt 1 + soluble salt 2 → insoluble salt (precipitate)

    Apple juice is improved by removal of undesirable substances as a precipitate. Let's hope there's no strychnine in it!

    Precipitates can also form when the temperature of a solution is lowered. Lower temperatures reduce the solubility of salts, which may result in their precipitation as solids.


    In general, precipitation happens when one phase is ejected from another - a liquid ejects a solid, or a gas ejects a liquid or solid.

    In weather forecasts, you'll hear presenters talk about precipitation, which can mean water vapor in the air is ejected as a liquid (rain) or solid (snow, hailstones, etc.) from the air.

    Example 1
    A Common Precipitation

    If you've ever made wine, beer, or fruit juices, one of the stages you'll often go through is fining, which removes dissolved substances that would otherwise worsen the taste of the drinks.

    A fining agent binds to soluble substances such as proteins, polyphenols and sulfides, causing them to form a precipitate that drops to the bottom of the liquid for easy removal.

    Fining agents include egg whites and bentonite.

    Example 2
    A Famous, Uncommon Precipitate

    A precipitate was famously and cleverly the murder method used by Agatha Christie in her first novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles, which features strychnine poisoning.

    The victim was taking medicine that contained a small amount of dissolved strychnine. There was too little strychnine in a single dose to cause harm. However, if all the strychnine in the bottle were taken at once, it would be fatal!

    The strychnine in the medicine was in the form of strychnine sulfate. The murderer added potassium bromide to the medicine, which reacted with the strychnine sulfate to form strychnine bromide, a transparent insoluble salt. This salt precipitated and fell to the bottom of the bottle.

    When the victim took the final dose of medicine, it contained a lethal dose of transparent strychnine bromide salt.

    In Agatha Christie's words:

    "Do you mean that the murderer introduced the strychnine into her tonic?" Captain Hastings cried.

    Hercule Poirot explained:

    "There was no need to introduce it. It was already there - in the mixture. The strychnine that killed Mrs. Inglethorp was the identical strychnine prescribed by Dr. Wilkins.

    "...A lady in England lost her life by taking a similar mixture: the precipitated strychnine collected at the bottom, and in taking the last dose she swallowed nearly all of it!"

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