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Physical and Chemical Changes



Physical Change

These changes affect the configuration and the chemical composition of a substance. The changes it brings are reversible and hence the matter can get back to its original form. These changes occur when a substance goes through alterations that do not affect its chemical bonds. It brings changes in the physical shape of a substance like shape, color, size, etc. It is used to distinguish the mixtures into the constituents of the substance. These changes go through reactions that do not bring any kind of changes in its chemical composition. It is the opposite of a chemical change, where the reactants combine to form new products. Physical changes are utilized for the separation of mixtures into the individual constituents of any mixture. It is used to distinguish a compound into simpler particles. It includes changes in its individual physical properties such as texture, durability, change in its strength.

Cooling and heating: Many compounds change their phases from solid to liquid and from liquid to gas when they go through heating as well as cooling.

Magnetism: Materials that are ferromagnetic in their nature result to be magnetic. This process is reversible.

Example: Melting of ice. When a block of ice melts into water due to change in temperature conditions, the water can be solidified back into ice.

Chemical Change

It usually occurs when substances combine with one another and results in changes in their chemical bonds. The chemical changes are irreversible. Once they change into another form, they cannot get back to their original configuration. Chemical changes are often termed chemical reactions. When a chemical change occurs, rearrangement of atoms takes place which usually leads to the gain or loss of electrons. Accordingly, the chemical reactions are categorized into exothermic and endothermic reactions. Exothermic changes are chemical changes where heat energy is released in order to form a new product. The energy is released in the form of light and heat. Another chemical change is endothermic change where energy is absorbed so that the reaction can proceed further. There are various other kinds of chemical changes -

Organic Change - These changes are related to compounds that contain carbon.
Biochemical Change - This change is related to chemical reactions that occur during the activity and growth of living organisms.
Example: Rusting iron is a classic example of chemical change. The iron when exposed to air reacts with oxygen to form ferric oxide (Fe2O3). It results in the reddish-brown color of the iron.

Difference Between Chemical and Physical Change

The composition does not change, even though the molecules rearrange themselves. The molecules rearrange themselves and the composition gets changed completely
The change is reversible. The change is irreversible.
It changes only the physical features like color, size and shape. It changes not only the physical properties but also the chemical bonds.
It does not require much absorption of energy. Both the absorption as well as release of energy take place.
Changes in physical features do not require absorption of energy. Chemical changes require change in energy.
There is no formation of new substances. Results in formation of new substances.
Melting of ice, water boiling Rusting of iron, digestion of food.


Changes are of two kinds - physical and chemical. In a physical change, usually change in shape, size and color take place. It can be reversed back into its original form. Whereas in chemical changes, changes in the chemical bonds take place. These changes are irreversible which means that it cannot go back to its original configuration. All the changes occur due to alterations in the conditions of the surrounding.





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