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Condensation Definition and Process

Last updated date: 23rd Apr 2024
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What is Condensation?

Condensation is the process where water vapour is changed into liquid form. This change is brought about by a change in the pressure and temperature of the substance. 

The in-depth definition of condensation is that it is a phenomenon that we experience on a day to day basis. On a hot day when the temperatures are high, you will see the mirror is covered with fog once you are done taking a hot water shower. When you touch the mirror, there are small beads of water on the mirror. How did this fog develop? Where did these beads of water come from? 

This is called condensation. It is the process through which water vapour in the air is converted into liquid water. When the water is present in the gaseous form in the air, it is called water vapour. 

Condensation Explained

The boiling point and the condensation point of water are the same. It occurs at 212 degrees Fahrenheit or 100 degrees Celsius. Water tends to evaporate once the temperature increases from the boiling point which is beyond 100 degrees Celsius. The water boils and evaporates into the air forming water vapour. If the process is reversed, that is the water-cooled down to below 10 degrees Celsius; the water vapour will condense and turn back into its original liquid form. 

This temperature of condensation occurs between 32 Fahrenheit or 0 Celsius and 212 F or 100 Celsius. It is most noticeable when there is a greater temperature difference between the object and the atmosphere. When droplets of water form on an ice candy when the temperature is hot. 

Condensation in the Water Cycle

Condensation is an integral part of the water cycle, which shows how water continually cycles throughout the earth in solid, liquid, and gaseous forms. During the process of condensation, water vapour in the air changes from a gas to liquid water. When altitude increases, the temperature of the water and pressure both decrease, which causes water vapour to turn into liquid form. 

A huge concentration of these droplets of water forms cumulous clouds and fog. After which the water droplets condense and fall on the Earth’s surface as precipitation, which is commonly called rain. It enters the earth’s waterways and enters the soil, where it can be absorbed by plants. Water will then freeze into its solid form, ice, and then melt back into water which is used by all life forms. The various forms of condensation are snow, rain, icicles etc. The next step in this cycle is evapotranspiration which occurs, and then the water changes from the liquid form to the gas form. Evapotranspiration is the process of a combination of evaporation from the earth’s oceans, lakes and rivers and transpiration. Evapotranspiration is very crucial to the Earth’s surface because it can sustain life and help all living things survive. 

Condensation in Chemical Bonding

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This reaction takes place when two or more molecules combine to form a larger molecule, simultaneously removal of a minute molecule such as water or methanol. This occurs in many everyday reactions, which is usually reserved for reactions in which new carbon-carbon bonds are formed. 

Condensation in Organic Chemistry

This is a reaction in which two molecules come together to form one single molecule. Usually, a small molecule, which is mostly water, is removed during the condensation reaction. Amino acids are biological molecules that contain an amine functional group on one end of the molecule, and on the other end, a carboxylic acid functional group is present. In a condensation reaction, two amino acids can combine, and a covalent bond is formed in between the amine nitrogen of the first amino acid and the carboxyl carbon of the second amino acid. This forms a molecule of water which is removed in the process of condensation. 


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Another important subtopic that comes under condensation is esterification. An esterification reaction is essentially a type of condensation reaction in which an ester is formed from the product of an alcohol and a carboxylic acid. It is a subcategory of condensation reactions because of the water molecule that is produced in the reaction. The catalyst in this reaction is a strong acid, usually sulfuric acid. The carboxylic acid and the butanoic acid is heated with an excess of methanol and a few drops of sulfuric acid, which results in the production of the ester methyl butanoate. Methyl butanoate produces the scent of pineapples.

Structure of an Esterification Reaction

An esterification reaction is reversible. This happens when an ester is heated in the presence of a strong base like sodium hydroxide; the ester breaks down. The products are a type of alcohol and a conjugate base of the carboxylic acid as a salt.

CH3COOCH2CH3 ethyl ethanoate + NaOH → CH3COO−Na + sodium acetate + CH3CH2OH Ethanol

In this reaction, the sodium hydroxide is not acting as a catalyst because it is consumed in the reaction. 

What is Saponification?

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It describes the alkaline hydrolysis reaction of an ester. The term saponification is used to describe the hydrolysis of long-chain esters called fatty acid esters which produce soap molecules, which are also the salts of fatty acids. One of those soap molecules is sodium stearate which is formed from the hydrolysis of ethyl stearate.

C17H35COOC2H5 ethyl stearate + NaOH → C17H35COO⁻Na + sodium stearate (soap) + C2H5OH


Hence, condensation can also be termed as the opposite of evaporation. It is essentially the process of a liquid turning into a gas. The article discusses in detail the phenomenon of condensation with examples. This is a concept clearing article. Students must read this to clear their doubts.

FAQs on Condensation Definition and Process

1. When does condensation occur?

Condensation is the process where water vapour changes from the gaseous form into liquid water. The gaseous form is water vapour. Commonly, this process of condensation occurs in the atmosphere where warm air rises, cools and loses its capacity of holding vapour of water. Thus condensation occurs. A daily life example of condensation is when the bathroom after your hot shower cooled, the temperature drops and the water vapour meets the cold mirror. Hence the water vapour condenses and forms liquid water on the surface of the mirror. 

2. How does condensation occur in the water cycle?

Condensation occurs in the water cycle due to the change in temperature. The cooler air can not keep molecules of water separated, so they again combine to form droplets. Condensation is part of the water cycle, which helps water to continuously cycle throughout the Earth in the form of solid, liquid, and gas. We know that during the process of condensation, water vapour in the air changes from gaseous to liquid water.