Difference Between Physical and Chemical Change with Examples

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The main difference between physical and chemical change is that physical changes are reversible and chemical changes are irreversible. In other words, in the case of physical change, the original substance can often be obtained. While, in the case of chemical change, original substances cannot be easily recovered.

The other difference between them is that physical change is a temporary change. While chemical change is a permanent change. Physical and chemical changes are fundamental concepts in physical sciences and chemical engineering that help us comprehend how matter transforms and behaves under various conditions.

In this article, we’ll explore 10 key distinctions between physical and chemical changes presented in a tabular format. Whether you’re a student, a curious mind, or someone delving into the world of science, this guide will provide a clear and organized comparison.


Physical Change vs Chemical Change

  AspectPhysical ChangeChemical Change
1.DefinitionA change in the physical properties of a substance without altering its chemical composition.A change in the chemical composition of a substance, results in the formation of new substances.
2.ReversibilityUsually reversible; the original substance can often be obtained.Often irreversible; original substances cannot be easily recovered.
3.AppearanceNo new substance formed; appearance remains the same.New substance(s) formed, often with a different appearance.
4.Energy ChangeTypically involves minor energy changes, such as heat transfer.Involves significant energy changes, like heat absorption or release.
5.Mass ConservationMass is conserved; the total mass before and after the change remains the same.The mass may not be conserved; it can decrease or increase due to the formation of new substances or gases.
6.Chemical FormulaThe chemical formula remains unchanged.The chemical formula of the substances involved can change.
7.Separation of MixturesPhysical changes can be used to separate mixtures.Chemical changes cannot be used for separating mixtures.
8Temperature ChangesTemperature changes are often minimal.Temperature changes can be significant.
9.Speed of ChangeUsually occurs rapidly.May occur slowly, depending on the reaction rate.
10.Common ExamplesMelting ice, boiling water, dissolving sugar in water.Rusting of iron, burning wood, digestion of food.


Detailed Explanation of 10 Differences Between Physical and Chemical Change:

  1. Definition: Physical changes do not alter the chemical composition of a substance, while chemical changes result in the formation of new substances.
  2. Reversibility: Physical changes are often reversible, whereas chemical changes are usually irreversible.
  3. Appearance: Physical changes maintain the original appearance, while chemical changes often result in a new appearance.
  4. Energy Changes: Physical changes involve minor energy changes, whereas chemical changes involve significant energy changes like heat absorption or release.
  5. Mass Conservation: In physical changes, mass is conserved, but in chemical changes, it may not be, as new substances are formed.
  6. Chemical Formula: In physical changes, the chemical formula remains the same. In chemical changes, it can change.
  7. Separation of Mixtures: Physical changes can be used for separating mixtures, while chemical changes cannot.
  8. Temperature Changes: Physical changes usually involve minimal temperature changes, while chemical changes can result in significant temperature changes.
  9. Speed of Change: Physical changes typically occur rapidly, while chemical changes can be slower depending on reaction rates.
  10. Common Examples: Physical changes examples include melting, boiling, and dissolving. Chemical changes examples include rusting, burning, and digestion.

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I am a mechanical engineer by profession. Just because of my love for fundamental physics, I switched my career, and therefore I did my postgraduate degree in physics. Right now I am a loner (as ever) and a Physics blogger too. My sole future goal is to do a Ph.D. in theoretical physics, especially in the field of cosmology. Because in my view, every aspect of physics comes within the range of cosmology. And I love traveling, especially the Sole one.

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