Understanding Physical Changes: Exploring Examples in Everyday Life and Industry


The concept of physical change is one of the fundamental concepts in science. It is important to understand what a physical change is and how it differs from chemical change. Understanding physical change can help individuals comprehend the world around them, including changes in industrial processes and everyday life.

Beginning with the basics: What is a Physical Change?

A physical change occurs when the state of matter or appearance of a substance changes, but its composition remains the same. Physical changes can be observed and reversed.

The characteristics of physical change include:

  • No new substance is formed during a physical change
  • There is no change in the composition of the substance involved
  • Energy is either absorbed or evolved
  • The physical properties of the substance involved change

Examples of physical changes include:

  • Changing the state of water from solid (ice) to liquid (water) or gas (water vapor)
  • Mixing salt and water
  • Breaking glass
  • Shredding paper

Exploring Examples of Physical Changes in Everyday Life

Physical changes can occur in everyday life. They can involve changes in the physical state or properties of substances.

Types of physical changes include:

  • Change of state – liquid to gas, solid to liquid, etc.
  • Change of shape – cutting food, breaking glass, etc.
  • Change of size – crushing a can, shredding paper, etc.
  • Change in temperature – melting ice, cooling water, etc.

Examples of physical changes in everyday life include:

  • Heating an iron to change its shape
  • Burning wood to ash
  • Melting butter on a hot pan
  • Cutting hair or nails
  • Freezing water to make ice cubes

Physical vs. Chemical Changes: Understanding the Difference

A chemical change occurs when the composition of the substance changes, and one or more new substances are formed. Chemical changes are usually irreversible.

Examples of chemical changes include:

  • Burning wood
  • Decaying of food
  • Rotting of fruit
  • Rusting of iron

Compared to physical changes, chemical changes involve:

  • A change in the composition of the substance
  • The formation of one or more new substances
  • Energy is typically evolved
  • Chemical properties of the substance involved change

Observing Physical Changes: A Science Experiment for Kids

A simple science experiment can help demonstrate what a physical change is and how it occurs.


  • Baking Soda
  • Vinegar
  • A clear plastic bottle


  1. Fill the plastic bottle with vinegar until it is about 1/3 full.
  2. Add a teaspoon of baking soda to the vinegar.
  3. Observe the reaction that occurs.
  4. The reaction will occur quickly and cause the mixture to froth and bubble. This is an example of a physical change.


The reaction between the baking soda and vinegar is a chemical change. Carbon dioxide is produced as a new substance. However, the frothing and bubbling that occurs is an example of a physical change. The size and shape of the mixture change.

The Role of Energy in Physical Changes

Energy is an essential component of physical changes and is either absorbed or evolved. Physical changes always involve a transfer of energy from one object or substance to another.

There are different forms of energy, including:

  • Kinetic energy
  • Potential energy
  • Thermal energy
  • Chemical energy
  • Electrical energy
  • Nuclear energy

How energy is involved in physical changes:

  • Ice melts when heat is applied because the heat energy is transferred from the surrounding to the ice causing it to melt
  • A gas can be compressed when a force is applied because work is being done, and energy is being transferred

The Importance of Physical Changes in Industrial Processes

Physical changes play a vital role in industrial processes. They are used to refine, process, and manufacture goods.

Examples of physical changes in industrial processes include:

  • Brewing beer and wine fermentation processes
  • Extracting sugar from sugarcane
  • Smelting iron ore into steel
  • Freezing machine components and shrink-fitting them onto a shaft

Physical changes improve manufacturing by:

  • Changing the physical properties of a material, such as its size, shape, or texture
  • Purifying or separating a substance from a mixture
  • Reducing impurities in materials
  • Creating alloys with desirable properties, such as strength or corrosion resistance.

It is essential to understand physical changes in industry because it allows for the development of better and more efficient manufacturing processes.


Physical changes involve alterations to the physical properties of substances without changing their composition. It is important to understand physical changes as they occur every day in various forms. The use of physical changes in industrial processes is vital as it improves manufacturing.

Understanding the difference between physical and chemical changes, as well as the role of energy in physical changes, is crucial in comprehending the world around us and improving industrial processes.

Webben Editor

Hello! I'm Webben, your guide to intriguing insights about our diverse world. I strive to share knowledge, ignite curiosity, and promote understanding across various fields. Join me on this enlightening journey as we explore and grow together.

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