Water is called the universal solvent because more substances dissolve in water than in any other chemical. This has to do with the polarity of each water molecule. The hydrogen side of each water (H2O) molecule carries a slight positive electric charge, while the oxygen side carries a slight negative electric charge. This helps water dissociate ionic compounds into their positive and negative ions. The positive part of an ionic compound is attracted to the oxygen side of water while the negative portion of the compound is attracted to the hydrogen side of water.