What is Condensation - Definition and Process

Basic Definition of Condensation 

It is the process of a substance that is in its gaseous state converting into a liquid state. This change is brought about by a change in pressure and temperature of the substance. 

In-Depth Definition of Condensation

Condensation is a phenomenon that we experience on a day to day bases. When the temperatures are high, and it is very hot, 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 vapor in the air is converted into liquid water. When the water is present in gaseous form in the air, it is called s water vapor. When the bathroom after your hot shower cooled, the temperature drops, and the water vapor meets the cold mirror. Hence the water vapor condenses and forms liquid water on the surface of the mirror. 

It can also be termed as the opposite of evaporation. It is essentially the process of a liquid turning into a gas.

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 vapor. If the process is reversed, that is the water cooled down to below 10 degrees Celsius; the water vapor 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 continuously cycles throughout the Earth in solid, liquid, and gaseous forms. During the process of condensation, water vapor in the air changes from a gas to liquid water. When the altitude increases, the temperature of the water pressure both decrease, which causes water vapor to turn into liquid form. 
A very 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 from to the gas form. Evapotranspiration is the process of 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 

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 a on the other end contains a carboxylic acid functional group. 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. 

Another important subtopic that comes under condensation is:


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.

CH3COOCH2CH3ethyl ethanoate+NaOH→CH3COO−Na+sodium acetate+CH3CH2OHethanol

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

What is Saponification?

It describes the alkaline hydrolysis reaction of an ester. The term saponification 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 molecule is sodium stearate which is formed from the hydrolysis of ethyl stearate.

C17H35COOC2H5ethyl stearate+NaOH→C17H35COO−Na+sodium stearate (soap)+C2H5OH