Chemical changes, also known as chemical reactions, are fundamental processes that occur all around us, shaping the world we live in. These transformations involve the breaking and forming of chemical bonds, resulting in the creation of new substances with distinct properties.
In this article, we will explore some of the exclusive examples of chemical changes in real life, showcasing the diverse and impactful role of chemistry in our everyday experiences. Therefore, without wasting any more time, let’s dive right in…!!!
Examples of Chemical Changes in Everyday Life
- Combustion Reactions
- Rusting of Iron
- Baking a Cake
- Battery Operation
Combustion reactions are a classic example of a chemical change. These reactions involve the rapid oxidation of a substance, typically a hydrocarbon (methane) or some organic material, in the presence of oxygen to produce carbon dioxide (CO2), water (H2O), and heat.
The reactants (methane and oxygen) are converted into entirely new substances (carbon dioxide and water). These products have different chemical properties from the reactants. Combustion reactions release a significant amount of energy in the form of heat and light. This energy is indicative of a chemical change.
Not to mention, once combustion occurs, it is impossible to reverse the reaction and convert the products back into the original reactants. The transformation is permanent. In addition, chemical bonds in the reactants are broken and new bonds are formed in the products. This breaking and forming of chemical bonds is a characteristic feature of chemical changes.
Rusting of Iron
Rusting, also known as corrosion, is the process by which iron reacts with oxygen and moisture in the air to form a new compound called iron oxide, commonly known as rust. When iron reacts with oxygen and water, it undergoes a chemical transformation to produce iron oxide which is different from the original iron.
This new substance, rust, has distinct chemical properties from pure iron. It is typically reddish-brown or orange in color, whereas pure iron is metallic gray. This change in color is a visual indicator of a chemical change.
Like all the other chemical changes, rusting is difficult to reverse. Once the iron has corroded and turned into rust, it is challenging to convert rust back into pure iron without using significant energy and chemical processes.
Photosynthesis takes place in the chloroplasts of plant cells, as well as in the chloroplasts of algae and the photosynthetic cells of some bacteria. One of the central chemical changes in photosynthesis is the conversion of carbon dioxide (CO2), a simple inorganic compound, into glucose (C6H12O6), a complex organic compound.
This transformation involves a series of chemical reactions, primarily in the Calvin cycle, where CO2 molecules are combined and reduced to form glucose. This is a clear example of a chemical change, as entirely new compounds with different chemical properties are formed. Another significant chemical change in photosynthesis is the release of oxygen gas (O2) as a byproduct.
During the light-dependent reactions of photosynthesis, water molecules (H2O) are split into oxygen and protons (H+ ions) using energy from sunlight. This oxygen is released into the atmosphere, demonstrating a chemical change because the water molecules are broken down to form different substances.
Baking a Cake
During the cake-making process, several chemical reactions occur as the ingredients interact and are exposed to heat. The individual ingredients, such as flour, eggs, sugar, and baking powder, undergo chemical changes to form a completely new substance – the cake itself.
The leavening agents (such as baking powder or baking soda) in the cake batter undergo chemical reactions when exposed to heat. These reactions release carbon dioxide gas, which gets trapped in the batter and causes the cake to rise.
This is a chemical change because it involves the transformation of reactants (the leavening agents) into new products (carbon dioxide gas) with different chemical properties.
Once a cake is baked, it cannot be reverted to its original state (the separate ingredients) without undergoing extensive chemical processes. The changes that take place during baking are typically irreversible.
Batteries store energy in the form of chemical potential energy and then release it as electrical energy when we close the circuit. Inside a battery, there are two or more types of chemicals (usually called electrolytes) that undergo chemical reactions. These reactions result in the conversion of chemical energy into electrical energy.
In a common alkaline battery, for instance, we use zinc and manganese dioxide as reactants. During discharge, zinc undergoes oxidation, manganese dioxide is reduced. As a result, electrons are transferred between the reactants. This chemical transformation is a fundamental characteristic of chemical changes.
As a battery discharges, the chemical reactions between the materials inside it lead to the formation of new substances. In the example of an alkaline battery, zinc ions (Zn²⁺) and hydroxide ions (OH⁻) are formed as part of the chemical reactions. These products have different chemical properties from the original reactants.
Fermentation is a metabolic process that occurs in the absence of oxygen. It is typically carried out by microorganisms such as yeast or bacteria. It is driven by a series of chemical reactions that occur within the cells of microorganisms.
These reactions involve the breakdown of complex organic molecules into simpler ones, often through processes like glycolysis. The chemical reactions are necessary for the microorganisms to obtain energy for growth and reproduction. Not to mention, it also involves the conversion of one set of organic compounds into a different set of compounds.
For example, in alcoholic fermentation carried out by yeast, sugars are converted into alcohol (ethanol) and carbon dioxide (CO2). This transformation results in new substances with different chemical properties from the original sugars. This process is responsible for the production of bread, beer, wine, and yogurt, among other products.
Some Other Examples of Chemical Changes in Daily Life
Apart from the above-mentioned ones, I am also mentioning a few here.
- Tarnishing of Silver
- Digestion in the Human Body
- Cooking Food
- Electrolysis of Water
- Polymerization in Plastics, etc.
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