The transition between gas, liquid and solid depends on both pressure and temperature. To make it easy to compare measurements in different places, scientists have defined a standard temperature and pressure -- about 0 degrees Celsius -- 32 degrees Fahrenheit -- and 1 atmosphere of pressure. Some elements are solid under those conditions, which means their freezing point is higher than standard temperature. But those that are gaseous or liquid have freezing points lower than standard temperature.
Freezing and Melting
A material melts when it turns from a solid into a liquid, and it freezes when it turns from a liquid into a solid. The freezing and melting point are the same -- just approached from different directions. When you see a solid, the material is at a temperature below its freezing point. When you see a liquid -- or a gas -- the material is above its melting point. Given that, you can probably figure out many of the elements whose freezing point is below 0 degrees Celsius.
You're probably familiar with the gasses hydrogen, helium, oxygen, nitrogen, argon and neon. There are a few more that are a little less familiar: fluorine, chlorine, krypton, xenon and radon. Two elements are liquid at standard temperature and pressure: mercury and bromine. All the other elements are solid under standard conditions, which means their freezing point is above 0 degrees Celsius.
About the Author
First published in 1998, Richard Gaughan has contributed to publications such as "Photonics Spectra," "The Scientist" and other magazines. He is the author of "Accidental Genius: The World's Greatest By-Chance Discoveries." Gaughan holds a Bachelor of Science in physics from the University of Chicago.
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