Condensation vs Precipitation
Condensation and precipitation are two important phenomena we encounter in our daily life. Incidents such as ice formation, water droplets around a cold drink can be explained using these phenomena. Precipitation and condensation have a variety of applications in fields such as analytical chemistry, industrial chemistry, process engineering, thermodynamics and even medical sciences. It is vital to have a solid understanding in these phenomena in order to have a clear understanding in their applications. In this article, we are going to discuss what precipitation and condensation are, their definitions, applications of these two phenomena, similarities between the two, and finally the differences between condensation and precipitation.
Condensation is the change of the physical state of matter from the gaseous phase into the liquid phase. The reverse process of condensation is known as vaporization. Condensation can occur due to many factors. A proper understanding in saturated vapor is required to have a clear understanding in condensation. A liquid in any temperature evaporates. However, when the liquid is heated beyond the boiling point of the liquid, the vaporization process begins. When the heat is supplied for enough time, the whole liquid will evaporate. This vapor is now a gas. The temperature of this gas must be higher than the boiling point of the liquid in the system’s pressure. If the temperature of the system drops below the boiling point, the vapor starts to turn into liquid again. This is known as condensation. Another method of condensation is keeping the temperature constant and increasing the pressure of the system. This will cause the actual boiling point to be increased, and the vapor to be condensed. A sudden drop in the temperature can also cause condensation. Dew formation around a cold drink is such a phenomenon.
Precipitation is the change of the state of matter from aqueous (solution) phase to a solid phase. Precipitation is the reverse process of dissolving. Precipitation is closely connected with the solubility. The solubility of a certain material is dependent on the temperature. A solution at a higher temperature can hold more matter than that in a lower temperature. When a solid is dissolved in a liquid so that any added solid would not dissolve anymore, the solution is said to be saturated. If the temperature of a saturated solution is decreased, the precipitation process will occur. The product due to the precipitation is known as precipitate. A very slow precipitation may result crystal structures in some precipitates. Precipitation is widely used as a purification method. Solids can be purified using a method called recrystallization. A precipitate is said to be in equilibrium with the solution as long as it is in contact with it.
What is the difference between precipitation and condensation?
• Condensation is a state change of matter from gas to liquid while precipitation is a state change of matter from aqueous to solid.
• Condensation depends on both the temperature and the pressure of the system, but precipitation depends on the temperature and the concentration of the solution.