I love it once teachers ask questions! i alway enjoy a good science question due to the fact that they do me really think around the topic to be sure I provide the best answer, but when a teacher asks a question, ns feel obligated come give an answer (if i can) that will certainly let them define the topic to your students. Recently, I have been talking with a teacher friend, around chemical and physical changes, and the much more we talked, the more I thought the rest of you could find this useful.

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

The principles of physical and chemical changes are contained in the elementary and middle institution curriculum for many states, and also students are expected to have the ability to tell whether a readjust is physical or chemical.

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

Chemical change


Physical change

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

CH3CO2H + NaHCO3 = H2O + CO2 + CH3COONa

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

If the chemistry formulas execute not change, then any kind of changes are physical changes. A an excellent example of that is dissolving sugar in water. As soon as the sugar has actually all dissolved, you have actually molecules the sugar combined in with the molecule of water. The chemistry formulas in ~ the finish are the exact same as they were at the start, therefore this is a physics change.

C12H22O11 + H2O = C12H22O11 + H2O

While that might sound like a an easy distinction, unless you recognize the chemistry formulas for the building materials before and also after the change, you can not be sure which type of readjust it is. There are signs that a change MAY it is in a chemical change, such together a readjust of color, a adjust in temperature, providing off light, forming bubbles that gas, or creating a precipitate (solid particles), yet NONE of these space conclusive evidence of a chemical change. Any type of of them can also be led to by a physics change.

Color change:

Mix some yellow food coloring v some blue food coloring and also you acquire green, a physical change that results in a color change.

Change in temperature:

put some alcohol on your skin. As it evaporates, your skin it s okay colder. This is a physical readjust (evaporation) that gives you a adjust in temperature. What around producing heat? The reusable warmth packs marketed for muscle pain contain a super saturated equipment of a chemical dubbed sodium acetate. When the salt acetate crystallizes (a physics change), it offers off rather a little bit of heat, yet the chemistry formula remains the same.

Giving turn off light:

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

Forming bubbles of gas:

warmth a pan that water. Before it gets hot sufficient to boil, friend will watch bubbles. Those bubbles are gases that were liquified in the water. The is a physical change that produces balloon of gas. Continue heating the water and also it will certainly boil. Again, you obtain bubbles that gas, and again that is a physics change.

Forming a precipitate:

A precipitate is a hard that develops in a solution. Dissolve sugar in water till no much more will dissolve. Allow the water evaporate, and you get a precipitate (and absent candy!) This is a physics change.



numerous sources say that physical transforms are reversible, when chemical changes are not. Allows test that through a typical example the a physical change. Tear a paper of record into pieces. No chemistry formulas changed, therefore this is a physics change. Now reverse the change to put the pieces earlier together into a sheet of paper. Walk ahead, and also do it now. Okay wait.

Now lets look at an even tougher example. If us melt part copper and also some zinc, and then mix castle together, we gain a solution well-known as brass. The copper and also zinc have not reacted chemically, for this reason this is a physics change, however if you shot to reverse the process to separate the copper and also zinc, you have actually a real an obstacle on your hands.

On the various other hand, plenty of chemical transforms are conveniently reversible. You deserve to use an electric current to break water (H2O) into hydrogen (H2) and oxygen (O2). The formulas have changed, therefore this is a chemical change. One small spark will certainly ignite the mixture the gases, developing water (H2O). You simply reversed the readjust and wound up with the exact same substance you started with.

If you have ever used litmus file or other pH indicators, friend have currently seen an instance of an quickly reversible chemistry change. This indicators adjust their chemical formula depending upon the pH of your environment, and the chemical reaction can be reversed over and over.


Another an excellent example that reversible chemical changes is the carbon cycle. Respiration and photosynthesis are an excellent examples that chemical alters that room reversible. Cellular respiration switch oxygen to carbon dioxide. Photosynthesis counter carbon dioxide to oxygen. The exact same molecules room chemically readjusted back and also forth, over and over and over.

What it every boils under to is that uneven you recognize the chemistry formulas for the building material before and after a change, over there is no means to be sure if the readjust was chemistry or physical. You deserve to make a guess, but until friend look at that chemical equation, you can not be sure.

It gets also more complicated when girlfriend look at some of the textbook examples of chemical and also physical changes. Because that example:

1. Is baking a cake an instance of a chemical adjust or a physics change?

Stop here, and also think around both examples carefully prior to you go any type of further. No, i really mean it. Stop. Think. Think part more. Then click below for the answer.


Obviously, the prize is no. No? What kind of price is that? Well, the inquiry was, “Is baking a cake an instance of a chemical change or a physics change?” Actually, baking a cake is an example of several chemical changes and several physical changes, so the is no one OR the other. Instead, that is several examples of both type of change. Denaturing the protein in the milk, eggs, and also flour are chemical changes. Chemical bonds space broken, and new bonds space made. The salt bicarbonate and tartaric mountain in the baking powder reaction chemically to produce carbon dioxide gas so your cake will rise. That is additionally a chemical change.

On the various other hand, if friend taste the cake, the sugar has not readjusted chemically. It is still (C12H22O11), and it quiet tastes choose sugar. It has actually been dissolved in the liquid batter, yet that is a physics change. If you placed a item of cake in a bowl of water, mash the up, stress, overload it, and also evaporate the water, you acquire the street back.

The water in the batter has not adjusted chemically. Rather a little bit of it has actually evaporated, yet that is a physical change. If you added spices or flavorings come the cake, they more than likely did not change chemically, but some of your volatile chemicals were dissolved, and diffused v the cake. If you shed the cake, climate the taste will certainly have adjusted too, and that would be a chemistry change. The alcohol and also water in your vanilla extract evaporated (physical change), leaving the vanillin unmodified to flavor your cake. When you look at it, baking a cake consists of several examples of both chemical and also physical changes.

OK, currently for the 2nd one. Again, think about it carefully prior to you go on. Then click right here for the answer.

See more: What Is The Lcm Of 10 And 4 And 10, Lcm Of 10 And 4


Example #2 is part of a conversation i am having actually at the moment. Dissolving salt in water is a generally used instance of a physics change, however when girlfriend dissolve salt (NaCl) in water (H2O), you obtain sodium ions (Na+) and chlorine ions (Cl-) blended with the water (H2O). Some civilization claim that this is a chemistry change, due to the fact that the ionic compound of salt chloride has actually separated into ions that sodium and ions the chlorine. This conversation is quiet going on, for this reason feel complimentary to include your comments.

While this may seem really complex, as soon as you start learning chemistry, that becomes much easier. As you research chemistry, you focus on chemical formulas and also equations. Looking in ~ a chemistry equation will certainly instantly phone call you whether the formulas have adjusted or not. Who would have thought that high school chemistry can be so much much easier than elementary school science?