Condensation is a physical change. It involves the phase transition of a substance from a gas to a liquid state due to the cooling or reduction in temperature. In condensation, the chemical composition of the substance remains the same, and only its physical state changes. 1
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Key Takeaways: Is Condensation a Physical or Chemical Change?
- Condensation is a physical change because it involves a transition from a gaseous state to a liquid state without any alteration in the chemical composition of the substance.
- Condensation is not a chemical change because it does not involve the formation of new substances with different chemical properties through chemical reactions.
- Unlike chemical changes, condensation is reversible, and the liquid formed can be converted back into a gas through processes like evaporation or boiling without any chemical modifications.
Why is condensation a physical change?
Condensation is considered a physical change because it involves a change in the state of matter without any alteration in the chemical composition or identity of the substance. It is a phase transition process that occurs when a gas or vapor changes into a liquid state. 2 3
During condensation, the gas molecules lose energy, typically in the form of heat, and slow down.
As a result, they come closer together and form intermolecular forces that allow them to stick to one another. This process leads to the formation of liquid droplets or a liquid film on a surface.
Since the substance undergoing condensation remains the same, only transitioning from a gaseous state to a liquid state, it is considered a physical change.
The individual molecules or atoms that make up the substance do not change their chemical identity or composition during the condensation process.
They simply rearrange themselves into a denser arrangement, resulting in a different physical state.
Why is condensation not a chemical change?
Condensation is not a chemical change because it does not involve any alteration in the chemical composition or the formation of new substances with different properties. In a chemical change, the original substances undergo a chemical reaction, resulting in the formation of new substances with different chemical properties. 4
In condensation, the molecules or atoms of a substance transition from a gaseous state to a liquid state due to a decrease in temperature or an increase in pressure.
This change is purely physical, as it only affects the arrangement and movement of the particles without any modification in their chemical identities.
Chemical changes involve the breaking and forming of chemical bonds, resulting in the rearrangement of atoms to create new substances.
Examples of chemical changes include combustion, oxidation, digestion, and the formation of new compounds through chemical reactions.
In contrast, condensation is a physical change because it is reversible, meaning the liquid can be converted back into a gas through processes like evaporation or boiling without any chemical alterations.
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- Condensation and the Water Cycle | U.S. Geological Survey. (2019, September 8). Condensation and the Water Cycle | U.S. Geological Survey. https://www.usgs.gov/special-topics/water-science-school/science/condensation-and-water-cycle
- Condensation. (n.d.). Condensation. https://education.nationalgeographic.org/resource/condensation
- Uiuc.edu http://ww2010.atmos.uiuc.edu/(Gh)/guides/mtr/hyd/cond/home.rxml
- Changes in Matter: Physical vs. Chemical Changes. (n.d.). Changes in Matter: Physical Vs. Chemical Changes. https://education.nationalgeographic.org/resource/changes-matter-physical-vs-chemical-changes