The definition of Electrolysis is “chemical change, especially decomposition, produced in an
electrolyte by an electric current.”
Electrolytes dissolve due to dissociation (when molecules of the substance decompose into charged particles called
ions). Anions, ions with negative charges, are drawn through the solution to the positive charge on the anode. A positively
charged particle is known as a cation, which moves through the solution to the cathode. Due to the fact that water is a polar
solution it is a solvent. Polar, not like a bear, though. The molecule is a dipole; has positive and negative ends. These
charged ends react with charges on other polar substances to dissolve them. They do this by taking hydrogen atoms from the
substance to from hydronium ions. Doesn't that sound great, hydronium, hydronium, hydronium.
Electrolysis actually translates to the process
of breaking molecules to smaller components by using electrical current. Positive and negative poles of a DC electric source,
for example a battery, can absorb opposite ions of an electrolyte causing separation of ions and the creation of a new substance.
Quantitative aspects of electrolysis were principally developed by Michael Faraday in 1834. Faraday is accredited to have
coined the terms electrolyte and electrolysis, among many others while studying quantitative analysis of electrochemical reactions. He was
also an advocate of the law of conservation of energy.