The key difference between condensation and precipitation is that condensation is the change of physical state of matter from a gaseous phase into a liquid phase while precipitation is the change of physical state of matter from an aqueous phase to a solid phase.
Condensation and precipitation are two important phenomena we encounter in our daily life. Incidents such as ice formation and formation of water droplets around a cool drink can be explained using these phenomena. Precipitation and condensation have a variety of applications in the fields of analytical chemistry, industrial chemistry, process engineering, thermodynamics and even medical sciences. It is vital to have a solid understanding of these phenomena in order to have a clear understanding of their applications.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Condensation
3. What is Precipitation
4. Similarities Between Condensation and Precipitation
5. Side by Side Comparison – Condensation vs Precipitation in Tabular Form
What is Condensation?
Condensation is the change of physical state of matter from a gaseous phase into a liquid phase. Vaporization is the reverse process of condensation. Condensation can occur due to many factors.
A proper understanding of saturated vapour is essential in order to have a clear understanding of condensation. Vaporization process begins when we heat a liquid into its boiling point. Vaporization continues until the whole volume of the liquid evaporates. In the end, the liquid turns into a gas. However, if the temperature of the system drops below the boiling point, the vapour starts to become a liquid. Therefore, condensation is the process of transforming vapour into liquid.
Condensation can also be achieved by keeping the temperature constant and increasing the pressure of the system. This will cause the actual boiling point to be increased, and the vapour to be condensed. A sudden drop in the temperature can also cause condensation. This is the phenomenon that explains dew formation around a cool drink.
What is Precipitation?
Precipitation is the change of the physical state of matter from an aqueous phase to a solid phase. Thus, this is the reverse process of dissolving. Precipitation is closely associated with solubility. Moreover, the solubility of a certain material is dependent on the temperature. A solution at a higher temperature can hold more matter than that at a lower temperature. When we dissolve a solid in a liquid, it reaches a point where it does not dissolve anymore. We call this the saturation point. Saturation is the beginning of precipitation. If we decrease the temperature of a saturated solution, precipitation starts and gives a product called precipitate. In the purification of different compounds, precipitation is a technique that is used widely. Solids can be purified using a method called recrystallization.
Apart from the above-mentioned phenomenon, precipitation also refers to the process of water droplets becoming larger and larger so as they fall under gravity in the form of rain from the cloud.
What are the Similarities Between Condensation and Precipitation?
- Condensation and precipitation are two changes in the physical state of a matter.
- Both are important phenomena.
- In fact, precipitation is the next stage after condensation.
What is the Difference Between Condensation and Precipitation?
Condensation is a state change of matter from a gas to a liquid while precipitation is a state change of matter from an aqueous stage to a solid state. Thus, this is the key difference between condensation and precipitation. Furthermore, condensation depends on both temperature and pressure of the system, while precipitation depends on temperature and concentration of the solution. This is another difference between condensation and precipitation.
Summary – Condensation vs Precipitation
Condensation and precipitation are two phenomena associated with the changing of the physical state of matter from one state to another. Condensation refers to the change of physical state of matter from the gaseous phase into the liquid phase while precipitation refers to the change of physical state of matter from an aqueous phase to a solid phase. Therefore, this is the key difference between condensation and precipitation.
1. “Condensation on water bottle” (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Chemical precipitation diagram” By Vectorized by ZooFari; raster by ZabMilenko – Own work based on: Chemical precipitation diagram.png, (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia