When substances readily combine with water to form hydrates, the heat of solution in water is usually positive; when, on the other hand, they do not readily form hydrates, or when they are already hydrated, the heat of solution is usually negative.
The alkalis are used almost exclusively in the condition of caustic lyessolutions of their respective hydrates in water.
Berzelius's investigation of the action of the electric current on salts clearly demonstrated the invaluable assistance that electrolysis could render to the isolator of elements; and the adoption of this method by Sir Humphry Davy for the analysis of the hydrates of the metals of the alkalis and alkaline earths, and the results which he thus achieved, established its potency.
If phosphoric acid is absent, aluminium, chromium and ferric hydrates are precipitated.
It forms crystallizable salts with potassium and calcium hydrates, and functions as a weak acid forming salts named plumbates.
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