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Physical Change Examples

Ironically, change is the only thing that is permanent in this world. Types of changes are many and they can be classified according to many different criteria...

Last Updated On: Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Ironically, change is the only thing that is permanent in this world. Types of changes are many and they can be classified according to many different criteria. Changes can be roughly classified as physical and chemical changes. In this article, I illustrate what is meant by physical change and how is it different from chemical change. The list of physical change examples serves to make the concept more comprehensible. Find out more information on chemistry.

Change or dynamism is built into the very fabric of nature. If you look around you, everything is changing in some or the other way, every moment of time. To understand change, it helps if you can classify into types, depending on the end result. That is how the distinction of physical change and chemical change came into use. In the next section, I provide a physical change definition that will help you identify when a perceived change is physical.

What is a Physical Change?
Physical change is any kind of change that occurs in matter without changing its chemical composition. It does not affect the chemical nature of an object. Physical change is characterized by changes in the physical attributes associated with any object like state (solid, liquid, gaseous), density, temperature, volume and shape, which occur without a change in its chemical composition.

Everything is made up of atoms. When atoms bond they form different molecules. The different properties that different objects show are a consequence of different molecular or atomic structure. The core properties of an object are dependent on their molecular arrangement. Physical change examples that I present in the next section are changes that occur without changing molecular or atomic structure of objects. They merely change the state of an object without changing its inherent nature. Melting, condensation and evaporation are examples of physical changes that occur in nature. For more, keep reading ahead.

How to Distinguish Physical Change Examples From Chemical Changes?
Every change in nature can be classified as either physical or chemical change. How to identify examples of physical changes from chemical changes? To understand this, you need to observe and ask questions. Ask the following questions. How is the state of the object changing? Is the chemical nature of the object changing? Is an entirely new substance being created with same chemical properties? If the first question gives you the answer that only physical attributes are changing (density, state, shape), if the second and the third answers give you a 'No' as an answer, then you are looking at a physical change. Often it's difficult to distinguish between physical and chemical changes as both may be happening at the same time. Read more on chemical change examples.

Physical Change Examples for Kids
Kids studying their introductory physics or basic science courses, need to be explained the concept of physical change through simple examples. Here are some of the examples of physical change, that one could use while explaining these concepts to kids or students of a young age group.

Ice melting to form water
Dew drops condensing on a leaf at dawn
A piece of rock heating up in the Sun
A sculpture being created by carving a piece of wood
Water freezing in winter into ice
A piece of glass breaking to pieces
Copper metal being drawn into wires
Blowing up a balloon
Shaping clay into different shapes
Mixing salt and water
Ice cream melting to a liquid
Snowman melting in the Sun
Heating up a metal and beating it into a different shape
The falling of any object under gravity
Grinding a fruit to pulp in a mixer
Ink being absorbed by a blotting paper or chalk

Hope this article has helped you grasp the concept of physical change in matter. If you look around carefully, you will find hundreds of physical change examples that subtly change the way things are. The trick is to simply observe clearly and analyze what you see!


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