A solution is a homogenous mixture of 2 or more substances. Within a solution there are solutes and solvents. A Solute is the substance that gets dissolved in the other substance. The substance that does the dissolving is called the solvent. The solvent is present in the greatest abundance. In the experiment in class today DI water was the solvent, and Salt and Sugar were the solutes. To begin the experiment we dissolved salt in DI water in one beaker, and sugar in DI water in another beaker. Both look the same, so we were trying to figure out which was which without tasting them. We were able to tell them apart by seeing if they conducted electricity. When the salt was dissolved it dissociated into ions. Ions conduct electricity, so we knew the beaker that conducted electricity was the salt water. When the sugar dissolves it separates into molecules, and didn’t dissociate into ions. So it did not conduct electricity. The DI water also doesn’t have any ions, so it doesn’t conduct electricity ( DI water is different than your everyday tap water, which may contain ions. No straightening your hair in the bath kids).
Electrolytes are substances that dissociate into ions when dissolved in water, which, as I stated earlier, allows them to conduct electricity. Non Electrolytes do not produce ions, therefore, do not conduct electricity. Electrolytes are also substances which have a polar bond, and Non Electrolytes usually do not have a polar bond.
If you need more help with Electrolytes and Non Electrolytes, visit http://www.differencebetween.com/difference-between-electrolytes-and-vs-nonelectrolytes/.
Below is a particle diagram of sodium chloride solutions. Notice how the Cl is bigger because it is negatively charged. Therefore, the negative charge repulses the negatively charged electrons away. This makes the electron cloud bigger. On the other hand, Na is positively charged, so it has a smaller electron cloud. The Na and Cl are surrounded by H2O because they are dissolved in a solution. Oxygen and Hydrogen make up H2O. Oxygen is negatively charged. Since opposites attract the Oxygen is facing towards the positive Na. Hydrogen is positive, so the hydrogen is facing the Cl because Cl is negative and as I said before, opposites attract. For the diagram of the sugar the C12H22O11 is all together in the middle. It is also surrounded by H2O. This time the Oxygen is facing the C12H22O11 because H2O is a polar bond, so it causes a particle change.
Sources: http://www.differencebetween.com/difference-between-electrolytes-and-vs-nonelectrolytes, Class notes