Saturday, February 9, 2013

What is Steam?

There's a big misconception regarding steam, which I've been known to slip on this from time to time.  Steam is the same thing as water vapor and like water vapor, steam is not visible to the naked eye.  So if steam is not visible, then what's that stuff you see floating above a pot of boiling water that we usually all steam?

Not steam or water vapor

What you see is water droplets that are the result of water vapor condensing back into a liquid.  As the hot, invisible water vapor rises from the pot, it mixes with cool air.  Energy is transferred from the water vapor to the air, which results in some of the water vapor condensing back into a liquid.  What you see is that liquid.  You're not seeing the actual water vapor or steam.

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