Reversible and Irreversible Chemical Changes

Changes are known to be very uncertain and random phenomena, however, depending on how you view them, it can either be better or worse. In our day to day lives, we tend to notice different kinds of objects around us that change, say, for example,  the food being cooked,  the melting of ice, etc. In many cases,  we get back the original substance but in the rest, we don't.  Some of these changes are slow whereas the others are fast, and some are natural while the others are man-made. We often notice so many different changes around us that take place,  for example,  the leaves getting dried in the pot, the growth of plants, etc. In today's article,  we will learn about what is a chemical change,  what is reversible and irreversible chemical changes and take a look at some of the examples of these chemical changes. Let us first learn about chemical change in detail.

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What is a Chemical Change?

A chemical change refers to the change of material into the other, with the new material having different properties. Here, one or more than one newer substance tends to get formed. This happens when one substance tends to combine with the other and forms a new substance either through the process of synthesis or decomposition. One such example of a chemical change is the Oxidation reaction which causes a chemical reaction.

Chemical changes are usually irreversible, except if they go through for their chemical reactions.  Some of the examples of chemical changes are the development of dye in the colour, and the chemical change in the colour of your hair.

Types of Chemical Changes

A chemical change is reversible or irreversible. Let us learn in detail about them. 

Reversible Change

A reversible chemical change is referred to as a reversible change. This change can be reversed by one or more different methods. In a reversible change, only the physical properties such as the size and shape of the material tend to change. In most of the cases, a new substance is not formed when it undergoes a reversible chemical reaction. The examples of reversible chemical changes are an elongation of spring, folding of a paper, etc. 

Irreversible Change

 An irreversible change is a change which is permanent and it cannot be undone by any sort of physical or chemical means. When a substance undergoes an irreversible change,  it tends to form some newer substances.

There are many different advantages of both reversible and irreversible changes. One such example is a piece of iron being cast into different shapes by the blacksmith. The iron piece is beaten into the shape that is desired once it undergoes the process of heating. As we know that metals tend to expand when heated and cooled when they are contracted. By this, we can understand the reason behind noticing smaller gaps between two rails in the railway lines. The reason behind this is that metal tracks then expand in the summers because of higher temperature. Hence, these gaps in the railway lines compensate for the increasing area because of expansion.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Are Chemical Changes Reversible?

Chemical changes generally result in newer substances and hence cannot be undone. Consider, for example, the burning of logs. We cannot change the ashes from these burnt logs back into the wood. 

Some of the chemical changes can be reversed,  but only when there are other chemical changes. Consider, for example,  undoing the tarnish on copper pennies. You can do so when you place them in vinegar.  The acid in the vinegar tends to combine with the copper oxide from the tarnish. This, in turn, changes the copper oxide back to Oxygen and copper, making the pennies reddish-brown in colour again.

Hence we can say that chemical changes can only be reversed when other chemical changes are occurring further.

2. What are Some of the Examples of Chemical Changes in Our Day to Day Life?

Chemical changes take place around us all the time and are a part of our everyday life. Some of the chemical reaction examples in our day to day life are mentioned below.

  1. Burning of log of wood and paper

  2. Boiling an egg

  3. Digestion of food

  4. Chemical battery use

  5. Baking a cake

  6. Electroplating of a metal

  7. Milk turning sour

  8. Rotting of fruits

  9. Several metabolic reactions taking place in the body cells

  10. Decomposition of the waste

  11. Reaction between acids and salts

  12. Explosion of fireworks

  13. Lightening a matchstick

  14. Rusting of iron