10 Types of Physical Change

10 Types of Physical Change
••• Toa55/iStock/GettyImages

It can be tricky to tell the difference between a physical change and a chemical change. Yet physical changes are all around, just waiting for you to notice them! You can be certain what you observe is a physical change if the change does not alter the object's chemical structure. Physical changes are merely alterations in physical properties like texture, color, odor, weight, density or shape.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

Physical changes affect a substance's physical properties but do not alter its chemical structure. Types of physical changes include boiling, clouding, dissolution, freezing, freeze-drying, frost, liquefaction, melting, smoke and vaporization.

Boiling Liquids

Boiling uses heat to change a liquid to a gas. This occurs when the liquid reaches the temperature at which the vapor pressure equals the pressure of the gas above the liquid. At this temperature, or boiling point, the vapor bubbles up from the liquid.

Clouding and Condensation

Clouding occurs when a substance condenses from a gaseous state to a liquid state. Of course, one example of this change is actual cloud formation where water vapor in the sky condenses into water droplets.

Dissolution or Dissolving

Dissolution, or dissolving, is the process of a solid or liquid forming a solution in a solvent. Pouring sugar into a hot cup of coffee is an everyday example of dissolution.

Freezing or Solidification

Freezing, or solidification, is the withdrawal of heat from a substance to change that substance from a liquid to a solid. The temperature must be below the substance's freezing point for the change to occur. Turning water into ice using a freezer is an example of this physical change.

Freeze-drying or Lyophilization

Freeze-drying occurs when warming a frozen substance in a vacuum to reduce the surrounding pressure, allowing the frozen substance to sublime. Freeze-drying is useful for preserving perishable materials like fruits or vegetables. Other names for this change are lyophilization and cryodesiccation,

Frost Formation

Frost, or icing, occurs when the surface of a solid cools below the freezing point of water and below the dew point of adjacent air. You can observe frost on window panes and blades of grass in the winter.

Liquefaction Changes

Liquefaction is the process of converting a gas or solid into a liquid through condensation, melting or heating. Liquefaction is the change that occurs in the ground, causing it to move in waves.

Melting or Thawing

Melting, also called fusion or thawing, occurs when heat or pressure increases the internal heat of a solid to the melting point, resulting in the solid changing into a liquid. Ice left out on the counter turning into a puddle is an example of this physical change.

Smoke Formation

Smoke is a hot vapor containing liquid particles, gases and carbonaceous matter from the air. Smoke occurs as the result of a combusted material mixing with the air. Smoke is also a by-product of fires.

Vaporization: Boiling, Evaporation and Sublimation

Vaporization is a physical change in which a liquid or solid becomes a vapor or gas. The three different types of vaporization are boiling, evaporation and sublimation.

Related Articles

The Differences Between Vaporization & Evaporation
How Does Plate Tectonics Affect the Rock Cycle?
How to Explain the Process of Condensation
Kids' Science Projects on Things That Melt
6 Steps on How Clouds Are Formed
What Are the Six Processes of a Phase Change?
What Phase Changes Are Exothermic & Endothermic?
What Are Two Types of Vaporization?
Difference Between Weathering & Erosion for Kids
How Does Weathering and Temperature Affect Rocks?
At What Temperature and Pressure Can All Three Phases...
What Happens After Water Vapor Condenses?
Factors Affecting Weathering Processes
Phase Transitions: Types, Classifications, Properties...
What Is Deformation in Earth Science?
Weathering Effects
How Does Sugar Affect the Freezing Process?
What Are the Agents of Weathering?
Examples of Condensation in Everyday Life