I love it as soon as teachers ask questions! i alway enjoy a an excellent science question due to the fact that they do me yes, really think about the subject to be certain I offer the right answer, but when a teacher asks a question, i feel obligated come give solution (if i can) that will let them describe the topic to your students. Recently, I have been talking through a teacher friend, about chemical and physical changes, and the more we talked, the an ext I assumed the remainder of you might find this useful.

You are watching: Is sugar dissolving in water a physical change

The concepts of physical and chemical alters are consisted of in the elementary and middle college curriculum for most states, and also students room expected to have the ability to tell even if it is a adjust is physics or chemical.

For a chemistry change, at the very least one the the substances connected must wind up with a various chemical formula. Because that a physics change, a substance may change its physical properties (size, shape, color, etc.) however its chemical formula remains the same.

Chemical change


Physical change

OK that sounds basic enough. If a chemistry formula changes, we have actually a chemical change. For example, if we mix vinegar and also baking soda, the mixture bubbles and also fizzes, and also we wind up with water, carbon dioxide, and sodium acetate.

CH3CO2H + NaHCO3 = H2O + CO2 + CH3COONa

The chemistry formulas at the finish are various from the recipe at the start, i beg your pardon tells us that this is a chemistry change.

If the chemical formulas carry out not change, then any type of changes room physical changes. A great example of the is dissolving sugar in water. As soon as the sugar has actually all dissolved, you have actually molecules the sugar combined in through the molecule of water. The chemistry formulas in ~ the finish are the exact same as they were at the start, so this is a physics change.

C12H22O11 + H2O = C12H22O11 + H2O

While that might sound favor a straightforward distinction, uneven you recognize the chemistry formulas for the building material before and after the change, you can not be certain which kind of change it is. There are indications that a adjust MAY be a chemistry change, such as a adjust of color, a readjust in temperature, offering off light, forming bubbles that gas, or developing a precipitate (solid particles), yet NONE of these room conclusive proof of a chemistry change. Any kind of of lock can additionally be led to by a physics change.

Color change:

Mix part yellow food coloring through some blue food coloring and you acquire green, a physical adjust that outcomes in a color change.

Change in temperature:

put some alcohol on her skin. As it evaporates, your skin gets colder. This is a physical change (evaporation) that provides you a change in temperature. What about producing heat? The reusable warm packs sold for muscle pains contain a at sight saturated equipment of a chemical referred to as sodium acetate. As soon as the sodium acetate crystallizes (a physics change), it provides off fairly a bit of heat, however the chemical formula stays the same.

Giving off light:

turn on a neon light. The neon gas is readjusted to plasma and also gives off light, but it is tho neon, yet it is currently a plasma rather of a gas. This is a physics change.

Forming balloon of gas:

heat a pan that water. Prior to it it s okay hot enough to boil, girlfriend will check out bubbles. Those bubbles room gases the were liquified in the water. That is a physical change that produces bubbles of gas. Proceed heating the water and it will boil. Again, you obtain bubbles of gas, and also again that is a physics change.

Forming a precipitate:

A precipitate is a hard that forms in a solution. Dissolve street in water till no an ext will dissolve. Allow the water evaporate, and you gain a precipitate (and rock candy!) This is a physical change.



numerous sources say the physical changes are reversible, if chemical transforms are not. Lets test that through a usual example the a physical change. Tear a paper of record into pieces. No chemical formulas changed, for this reason this is a physical change. Now reverse the change to put the pieces earlier together into a sheet of paper. Walk ahead, and also do it now. I’ll wait.

Now lets look at an even tougher example. If we melt part copper and also some zinc, and also then mix them together, we acquire a solution recognized as brass. The copper and also zinc have actually not reacted chemically, therefore this is a physics change, yet if you try to reverse the procedure to different the copper and also zinc, you have a real challenge on your hands.

On the other hand, many chemical transforms are quickly reversible. You deserve to use an electric existing to rest water (H2O) into hydrogen (H2) and also oxygen (O2). The formulas have actually changed, therefore this is a chemical change. One little spark will certainly ignite the mixture of gases, producing water (H2O). You just reversed the adjust and wound up with the exact same substance you started with.

If friend have ever used litmus record or various other pH indicators, girlfriend have already seen an instance of an quickly reversible chemistry change. This indicators adjust their chemical formula depending upon the pH of their environment, and also the chemical reaction deserve to be reversed over and over.


Another good example the reversible chemical changes is the carbon cycle. Respiration and also photosynthesis are an excellent examples that chemical changes that are reversible. Cellular respiration converts oxygen come carbon dioxide. Photosynthesis converts carbon dioxide come oxygen. The very same molecules are chemically readjusted back and also forth, over and over and also over.

What it all boils under to is that unless you know the chemical formulas because that the building materials before and after a change, there is no way to be certain if the change was chemical or physical. You can make a guess, yet until you look at the chemical equation, you can’t be sure.

It gets also more challenging when you look at several of the textbook instances of chemical and also physical changes. Because that example:

1. Is baking a cake an instance of a chemical readjust or a physical change?

Stop here, and also think about both instances carefully before you go any further. No, i really median it. Stop. Think. Think some more. Then click below for the answer.


Obviously, the price is no. No? What type of price is that? Well, the concern was, “Is baking a cake an instance of a chemical readjust or a physical change?” Actually, baking a cake is an instance of numerous chemical changes and several physics changes, so the is no one OR the other. Instead, it is several examples of both kinds of change. Denaturing the protein in the milk, eggs, and flour room chemical changes. Chemistry bonds are broken, and new bonds room made. The sodium bicarbonate and tartaric mountain in the baking powder reaction chemically to develop carbon dioxide gas so your cake will certainly rise. The is also a chemical change.

On the other hand, if girlfriend taste the cake, the sugar has actually not adjusted chemically. That is still (C12H22O11), and it still tastes prefer sugar. It has actually been dissolved in the liquid batter, yet that is a physical change. If you put a piece of cake in a bowl of water, mash the up, strain it, and evaporate the water, you get the sugar back.

The water in the batter has not changed chemically. Rather a little of it has evaporated, however that is a physics change. If you included spices or flavorings come the cake, they most likely did not change chemically, yet some of their volatile chemicals were dissolved, and diffused v the cake. If you melted the cake, then the taste will have readjusted too, and also that would certainly be a chemistry change. The alcohol and water in her vanilla extract evaporated (physical change), leave the vanillin the same to flavor her cake. As soon as you look at it, baking a cake has several examples of both chemical and also physical changes.

OK, currently for the 2nd one. Again, think around it carefully before you walk on. Then click right here for the answer.

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Example #2 is component of a conversation ns am having actually at the moment. Dissolving salt in water is a frequently used instance of a physical change, yet when girlfriend dissolve salt (NaCl) in water (H2O), you gain sodium ion (Na+) and chlorine ion (Cl-) combined with the water (H2O). Some people claim the this is a chemical change, because the ionic link of salt chloride has separated into ions the sodium and ions that chlorine. This conversation is tho going on, for this reason feel totally free to add your comments.

While this might seem really complex, as soon as you start finding out chemistry, that becomes much easier. As you study chemistry, you emphasis on chemical formulas and equations. Looking at a chemical equation will certainly instantly tell you even if it is the formulas have changed or not. Who would have thought the high institution chemistry could be so much much easier than elementary school science?