Evaporation is a type of vaporization that occurs on the surface of a liquid as it changes into the gas phase.[1] The surrounding gas must not be saturated with the evaporating substance. When the molecules of the liquid collide, they transfer energy to each other based on how they collide with each other. When a molecule near the surface absorbs enough energy to overcome the vapor pressure, it will escape and enter the surrounding air as a gas.[2] When evaporation occurs, the energy removed from the vaporized liquid will reduce the temperature of the liquid, resulting in evaporative cooling.[3]

On average, only a fraction of the molecules in a liquid have enough heat energy to escape from the liquid. The evaporation will continue until an equilibrium is reached when the evaporation of the liquid is equal to its condensation. In an enclosed environment, a liquid will evaporate until the surrounding air is saturated.

Evaporation is an essential part of the water cycle. The sun (solar energy) drives evaporation of water from oceans, lakes, moisture in the soil, and other sources of water. In hydrology, evaporation and transpiration (which involves evaporation within plant stomata) are collectively termed evapotranspiration. Evaporation of water occurs when the surface of the liquid is exposed, allowing molecules to escape and form water vapor; this vapor can then rise up and form clouds. With sufficient energy, the liquid will turn into vapor.

Watervapor cup
Aerosol of microscopic water droplets suspended in the air above a hot cup of tea after that water vapor has sufficiently cooled and condensed. Water vapor is an invisible gas, but the clouds of condensed water droplets refract and disperse the sun light and so are visible.
Demonstration of evaporative cooling. When the sensor is dipped in ethanol and then taken out to evaporate, the instrument shows progressively lower temperature as the ethanol evaporates.


For molecules of a liquid to evaporate, they must be located near the surface, they have to be moving in the proper direction, and have sufficient kinetic energy to overcome liquid-phase intermolecular forces.[4] When only a small proportion of the molecules meet these criteria, the rate of evaporation is low. Since the kinetic energy of a molecule is proportional to its temperature, evaporation proceeds more quickly at higher temperatures. As the faster-moving molecules escape, the remaining molecules have lower average kinetic energy, and the temperature of the liquid decreases. This phenomenon is also called evaporative cooling. This is why evaporating sweat cools the human body. Evaporation also tends to proceed more quickly with higher flow rates between the gaseous and liquid phase and in liquids with higher vapor pressure. For example, laundry on a clothes line will dry (by evaporation) more rapidly on a windy day than on a still day. Three key parts to evaporation are heat, atmospheric pressure (determines the percent humidity), and air movement.

On a molecular level, there is no strict boundary between the liquid state and the vapor state. Instead, there is a Knudsen layer, where the phase is undetermined. Because this layer is only a few molecules thick, at a macroscopic scale a clear phase transition interface cannot be seen.

Liquids that do not evaporate visibly at a given temperature in a given gas (e.g., cooking oil at room temperature) have molecules that do not tend to transfer energy to each other in a pattern sufficient to frequently give a molecule the heat energy necessary to turn into vapor. However, these liquids are evaporating. It is just that the process is much slower and thus significantly less visible.

Evaporative equilibrium

Water vapor pressure graph
Vapor pressure of water vs. temperature. 760 Torr = 1 atm.

If evaporation takes place in an enclosed area, the escaping molecules accumulate as a vapor above the liquid. Many of the molecules return to the liquid, with returning molecules becoming more frequent as the density and pressure of the vapor increases. When the process of escape and return reaches an equilibrium,[4] the vapor is said to be "saturated", and no further change in either vapor pressure and density or liquid temperature will occur. For a system consisting of vapor and liquid of a pure substance, this equilibrium state is directly related to the vapor pressure of the substance, as given by the Clausius–Clapeyron relation:

where P1, P2 are the vapor pressures at temperatures T1, T2 respectively, ΔHvap is the enthalpy of vaporization, and R is the universal gas constant. The rate of evaporation in an open system is related to the vapor pressure found in a closed system. If a liquid is heated, when the vapor pressure reaches the ambient pressure the liquid will boil.

The ability for a molecule of a liquid to evaporate is based largely on the amount of kinetic energy an individual particle may possess. Even at lower temperatures, individual molecules of a liquid can evaporate if they have more than the minimum amount of kinetic energy required for vaporization.

Factors influencing the rate of evaporation

Note: Air used here is a common example; however, the vapor phase can be other gases.

Concentration of the substance evaporating in the air
If the air already has a high concentration of the substance evaporating, then the given substance will evaporate more slowly.
Flow rate of air
This is in part related to the concentration points above. If "fresh" air (i.e., air which is neither already saturated with the substance nor with other substances) is moving over the substance all the time, then the concentration of the substance in the air is less likely to go up with time, thus encouraging faster evaporation. This is the result of the boundary layer at the evaporation surface decreasing with flow velocity, decreasing the diffusion distance in the stagnant layer.
The amount of minerals dissolved in the liquid
Inter-molecular forces
The stronger the forces keeping the molecules together in the liquid state, the more energy one must get to escape. This is characterized by the enthalpy of vaporization.
Evaporation happens faster if there is less exertion on the surface keeping the molecules from launching themselves.
Surface area
A substance that has a larger surface area will evaporate faster, as there are more surface molecules per unit of volume that are potentially able to escape.
Temperature of the substance
the higher the temperature of the substance the greater the kinetic energy of the molecules at its surface and therefore the faster the rate of their evaporation.

In the US, the National Weather Service measures the actual rate of evaporation from a standardized "pan" open water surface outdoors, at various locations nationwide. Others do likewise around the world. The US data is collected and compiled into an annual evaporation map. The measurements range from under 30 to over 120 inches (3,000 mm) per year.


Evaporation is an endothermic process, in that heat is absorbed during evaporation.


  • Industrial applications include many printing and coating processes; recovering salts from solutions; and drying a variety of materials such as lumber, paper, cloth and chemicals.
  • The use of evaporation to dry or concentrate samples is a common preparatory step for many laboratory analyses such as spectroscopy and chromatography. Systems used for this purpose include rotary evaporators and centrifugal evaporators.
  • When clothes are hung on a laundry line, even though the ambient temperature is below the boiling point of water, water evaporates. This is accelerated by factors such as low humidity, heat (from the sun), and wind. In a clothes dryer, hot air is blown through the clothes, allowing water to evaporate very rapidly.
  • The Matki/Matka, a traditional Indian porous clay container used for storing and cooling water and other liquids.
  • The botijo, a traditional Spanish porous clay container designed to cool the contained water by evaporation.
  • Evaporative coolers, which can significantly cool a building by simply blowing dry air over a filter saturated with water.

Combustion vaporization

Fuel droplets vaporize as they receive heat by mixing with the hot gases in the combustion chamber. Heat (energy) can also be received by radiation from any hot refractory wall of the combustion chamber.

Pre-combustion vaporization

Internal combustion engines rely upon the vaporization of the fuel in the cylinders to form a fuel/air mixture in order to burn well. The chemically correct air/fuel mixture for total burning of gasoline has been determined to be 15 parts air to one part gasoline or 15/1 by weight. Changing this to a volume ratio yields 8000 parts air to one part gasoline or 8,000/1 by volume.

Film deposition

Thin films may be deposited by evaporating a substance and condensing it onto a substrate, or by dissolving the substance in a solvent, spreading the resulting solution thinly over a substrate, and evaporating the solvent. The Hertz–Knudsen equation is often used to estimate the rate of evaporation in these instances.

See also

Phase transitions of matter ()
basic To
Solid Liquid Gas Plasma
From Solid Melting Sublimation
Liquid Freezing Vaporization
Gas Deposition Condensation Ionization
Plasma Recombination


  1. ^ "the definition of evaporate". Dictionary.com. Retrieved 2018-01-23.
  2. ^ The New Student's Reference Work (1914). 1914. p. 636.
  3. ^ Lohner, Science Buddies,Svenja. "Chilling Science: Evaporative Cooling with Liquids". Scientific American. Retrieved 2018-01-23.
  4. ^ a b Silberberg, Martin A. (2006). Chemistry (4th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. pp. 431–434. ISBN 0-07-296439-1.

Further reading

  • Sze, Simon Min. Semiconductor Devices: Physics and Technology. ISBN 0-471-33372-7. Has an especially detailed discussion of film deposition by evaporation.

External links

Media related to Evaporation at Wikimedia Commons


Brine is a high-concentration solution of salt in water. In different contexts, brine may refer to salt solutions ranging from about 3.5% (a typical concentration of seawater, on the lower end of solutions used for brining foods) up to about 26% (a typical saturated solution, depending on temperature). Lower levels of concentration are called by different names: fresh water, brackish water, and saline water.

Brine naturally occurs on the Earth's surface (salt lakes), crust, and within brine pools on ocean bottom. High-concentration brine lakes typically emerge due to evaporation of ground saline water on high ambient temperatures. Brine is used for food processing and cooking (pickling and brining), for de-icing of roads and other structures, and in a number of technological processes. It is also a by-product of many industrial processes, such as desalination, and may pose an environmental risk due to its corrosive and toxic effects, so it requires wastewater treatment for proper disposal.

Enthalpy of vaporization

The enthalpy of vaporization, (symbol Hvap) also known as the (latent) heat of vaporization or heat of evaporation, is the amount of energy (enthalpy) that must be added to a liquid substance, to transform a quantity of that substance into a gas. The enthalpy of vaporization is a function of the pressure at which that transformation takes place.

The enthalpy of vaporization is often quoted for the normal boiling temperature of the substance; although tabulated values are usually corrected to 298 K, that correction is often smaller than the uncertainty in the measured value.

The heat of vaporization is temperature-dependent, though a constant heat of vaporization can be assumed for small temperature ranges and for reduced temperature T r {\displaystyle T_{r}} . The heat of vaporization diminishes with increasing temperature and it vanishes completely at a certain point called the critical temperature (). Above the critical temperature, the liquid and vapor phases are indistinguishable, and the substance is called a supercritical fluid.

Evaporation pond

Evaporation ponds are artificial ponds with very large surface areas that are designed to efficiently evaporate water by sunlight and exposure to the ambient temperatures.

Evaporative cooler

An evaporative cooler (also swamp cooler, swamp box, desert cooler and wet air cooler) is a device that cools air through the evaporation of water. Evaporative cooling differs from typical air conditioning systems, which use vapor-compression or absorption refrigeration cycles. Evaporative cooling uses the fact that water will absorb a relatively large amount of heat in order to evaporate (that is, it has a large enthalpy of vaporization). The temperature of dry air can be dropped significantly through the phase transition of liquid water to water vapor (evaporation). This can cool air using much less energy than refrigeration. In extremely dry climates, evaporative cooling of air has the added benefit of conditioning the air with more moisture for the comfort of building occupants.

The cooling potential for evaporative cooling is dependent on the wet-bulb depression, the difference between dry-bulb temperature and wet-bulb temperature (see relative humidity). In arid climates, evaporative cooling can reduce energy consumption and total equipment for conditioning as an alternative to compressor-based cooling. In climates not considered arid, indirect evaporative cooling can still take advantage of the evaporative cooling process without increasing humidity. Passive evaporative cooling strategies can offer the same benefits of mechanical evaporative cooling systems without the complexity of equipment and ductwork.


An evaporator is a device in a process used to turn the liquid form of a chemical substance such as water into its gaseous-form/vapor. The liquid is evaporated, or vaporized, into a gas form of the targeted substance in that process.


Evapotranspiration (ET) is the sum of evaporation and plant transpiration from the Earth's land and ocean surface to the atmosphere. Evaporation accounts for the movement of water to the air from sources such as the soil, canopy interception, and waterbodies. Transpiration accounts for the movement of water within a plant and the subsequent loss of water as vapor through stomata in its leaves. Evapotranspiration is an important part of the water cycle. An element (such as a tree) that contributes to evapotranspiration can be called an evapotranspirator.Potential evapotranspiration (PET) is a representation of the environmental demand for evapotranspiration and represents the evapotranspiration rate of a short green crop (grass), completely shading the ground, of uniform height and with adequate water status in the soil profile. It is a reflection of the energy available to evaporate water, and of the wind available to transport the water vapour from the ground up into the lower atmosphere. Often a value for the potential evapotranspiration is calculated at a nearby climatic station on a reference surface, conventionally short grass. This value is called the reference evapotranspiration (ET0). Actual evapotranspiration is said to equal potential evapotranspiration when there is ample water. Some US states utilize a full cover alfalfa reference crop that is 0.5 m in height, rather than the short green grass reference, due to the higher value of ET from the alfalfa reference.

Flash evaporation

Flash (or partial) evaporation is the partial vapor that occurs when a saturated liquid stream undergoes a reduction in pressure by passing through a throttling valve or other throttling device. This process is one of the simplest unit operations. If the throttling valve or device is located at the entry into a pressure vessel so that the flash evaporation occurs within the vessel, then the vessel is often referred to as a flash drum.If the saturated liquid is a single-component liquid (for example, liquid propane or liquid ammonia), a part of the liquid immediately "flashes" into vapor. Both the vapor and the residual liquid are cooled to the saturation temperature of the liquid at the reduced pressure. This is often referred to as "auto-refrigeration" and is the basis of most conventional vapor compression refrigeration systems.

If the saturated liquid is a multi-component liquid (for example, a mixture of propane, isobutane and normal butane), the flashed vapor is richer in the more volatile components than is the remaining liquid.

Uncontrolled flash evaporation can result in a boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion (BLEVE).


Fog is a visible aerosol consisting of tiny water droplets or ice crystals suspended in the air at or near the Earth's surface. Fog can be considered a type of low-lying cloud, usually resembling stratus, and is heavily influenced by nearby bodies of water, topography, and wind conditions. In turn, fog has affected many human activities, such as shipping, travel, and warfare.

Hawking radiation

Hawking radiation is black-body radiation that is predicted to be released by black holes, due to quantum effects near the event horizon. It is named after the theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, who provided a theoretical argument for its existence in 1974.Hawking radiation reduces the mass and rotation energy of black holes and is therefore also known as black hole evaporation. Because of this, black holes that do not gain mass through other means are expected to shrink and ultimately vanish. Micro black holes are predicted to be larger emitters of radiation than larger black holes and should shrink and dissipate faster.In June 2008, NASA launched the Fermi space telescope, which is searching for the terminal gamma-ray flashes expected from evaporating primordial black holes. In the event that speculative large extra dimension theories are correct, CERN's Large Hadron Collider may be able to create micro black holes and observe their evaporation. No such micro black hole has ever been observed at CERN.In September 2010, a signal that is closely related to black hole Hawking radiation (see analog gravity) was claimed to have been observed in a laboratory experiment involving optical light pulses. However, the results remain unverified and debatable. Other projects have been launched to look for this radiation within the framework of analog gravity.

Helium planet

A helium planet is a planet with a helium-dominated atmosphere. This contrasts with ordinary gas giants such as Jupiter and Saturn, whose atmospheres consist primarily of hydrogen, with helium as a secondary component only. Helium planets might form in a variety of ways. Gliese 436 b is a candidate helium planet.

Pan evaporation

Pan evaporation is a measurement that combines or integrates the effects of several climate elements: temperature, humidity, rain fall, drought dispersion, solar radiation, and wind. Evaporation is greatest on hot, windy, dry, sunny days; and is greatly reduced when clouds block the sun and when air is cool, calm, and humid. Pan evaporation measurements enable farmers and ranchers to understand how much water their crops will need.

Residue (chemistry)

In chemistry residue is whatever remains or acts as a contaminant after a given class of events.

Residue may be the material remaining after a process of preparation, separation, or purification, such as distillation, evaporation, or filtration. It may also denote the undesired by-products of a chemical reaction.

Salt evaporation pond

A salt evaporation pond is a shallow artificial salt pan designed to extract salts from sea water or other brines. Natural salt pans are geological formations that are also created by water evaporating and leaving behind salts. Some salt evaporation ponds are only slightly modified from their natural version, such as the ponds on Great Inagua in the Bahamas, or the ponds in Jasiira, a few kilometres south of Mogadishu, where seawater is trapped and left to evaporate in the sun.

The seawater or brine is fed into large ponds and water is drawn out through natural evaporation which allows the salt to be subsequently harvested.

The ponds also provide a productive resting and feeding ground for many species of waterbirds, which may include endangered species. The ponds are commonly separated by levees. Salt evaporation ponds may also be called salterns, salt works or salt pans.

Salt pan (geology)

Natural salt pans or salt flats are flat expanses of ground covered with salt and other minerals, usually shining white under the sun. They are found in deserts, and are natural formations (unlike salt evaporation ponds, which are artificial).

Sea salt

Sea salt is salt that is produced by the evaporation of seawater. It is used as a seasoning in foods, cooking, cosmetics and for preserving food. It is also called bay salt, solar salt, or salt. Like mined rock salt, production of sea salt has been dated to prehistoric times. There is no scientific evidence that consuming sea salt instead of more refined sodium chloride salts has any health benefit.


Transpiration is the process of water movement through a plant and its evaporation from aerial parts, such as leaves, stems and flowers. Water is necessary for plants but only a small amount of water taken up by the roots is used for growth and metabolism. The remaining 97–99.5% is lost by transpiration and guttation. Leaf surfaces are dotted with pores called stomata, and in most plants they are more numerous on the undersides of the foliage. The stomata are bordered by guard cells and their stomatal accessory cells (together known as stomatal complex) that open and close the pore. Transpiration occurs through the stomatal apertures, and can be thought of as a necessary "cost" associated with the opening of the stomata to allow the diffusion of carbon dioxide gas from the air for photosynthesis. Transpiration also cools plants, changes osmotic pressure of cells, and enables mass flow of mineral nutrients and water from roots to shoots. Two major factors influence the rate of water flow from the soil to the roots: the hydraulic conductivity of the soil and the magnitude of the pressure gradient through the soil. Both of these factors influence the rate of bulk flow of water moving from the roots to the stomatal pores in the leaves via the xylem.Mass flow of liquid water from the roots to the leaves is driven in part by capillary action, but primarily driven by water potential differences. If the water potential in the ambient air is lower than the water potential in the leaf airspace of the stomatal pore, water vapor will travel down the gradient and move from the leaf airspace to the atmosphere. This movement lowers the water potential in the leaf airspace and causes evaporation of liquid water from the mesophyll cell walls. This evaporation increases the tension on the water menisci in the cell walls and decrease their radius and thus the tension that is exerted on the water in the cells. Because of the cohesive properties of water, the tension travels through the leaf cells to the leaf and stem xylem where a momentary negative pressure is created as water is pulled up the xylem from the roots. In taller plants and trees, the force of gravity can only be overcome by the decrease in hydrostatic (water) pressure in the upper parts of the plants due to the diffusion of water out of stomata into the atmosphere. Water is absorbed at the roots by osmosis, and any dissolved mineral nutrients travel with it through the xylem.

The cohesion-tension theory explains how leaves pull water through the xylem. Water molecules stick together, or exhibit cohesion. As a water molecule evaporates from the surface of the leaf, it pulls on the adjacent water molecule, creating a continuous flow of water through the plant.Transpiration is necessary to supply the water needed for photosynthesis.


Vaporization (or vaporisation) of an element or compound is a phase transition from the liquid phase to vapor. There are two types of vaporization: evaporation and boiling. Evaporation is a surface phenomenon, whereas boiling is a bulk phenomenon.

Evaporation is a phase transition from the liquid phase to vapor (a state of substance below critical temperature) that occurs at temperatures below the boiling temperature at a given pressure. Evaporation occurs on the surface. Evaporation only occurs when the partial pressure of vapor of a substance is less than the equilibrium vapor pressure. For example, due to constantly decreasing or negative pressures, vapor pumped out of a solution will leave behind a cryogenic liquid.

Boiling is also a phase transition from the liquid phase to gas phase, but boiling is the formation of vapor as bubbles of vapor below the surface of the liquid. Boiling occurs when the equilibrium vapor pressure of the substance is greater than or equal to the environmental pressure. The temperature at which boiling occurs is the boiling temperature, or boiling point. The boiling point varies with the pressure of the environment.

Sublimation is a direct phase transition from the solid phase to the gas phase, skipping the intermediate liquid phase. Because it does not involve the liquid phase, it is not a form of vaporization.

The term vaporization has also been used in a colloquial or hyperbolic way to refer to the physical destruction of an object that is exposed to intense heat or explosive force, where the object is actually blasted into small pieces rather than literally converted to gaseous form. Examples of this usage include the "vaporization" of the uninhabited Marshall Island of Elugelab in the 1952 Ivy Mike thermonuclear test.At the moment of a large enough meteor or comet impact, bolide detonation, a nuclear fission, thermonuclear fusion, or theoretical antimatter weapon detonation, a flux of so many gamma ray, x-ray, ultraviolet, visual light and heat photons strikes matter in a such brief amount of time (a great number of high-energy photons, many overlapping in the same physical space) that all molecules lose their atomic bonds and "fly apart". All atoms lose their electron shells and become positively charged ions, in turn emitting photons of a slightly lower energy than they had absorbed. All such matter becomes a gas of nuclei and electrons which rise into the air due to the extremely high temperature or bond to each other as they cool. The matter vaporized this way is immediately a plasma in a state of maximum entropy and this state steadily reduces via the factor of passing time due to natural processes in the biosphere and the effects of physics at normal temperatures and pressures.

A similar process occurs during ultrashort pulse Laser ablation, where the high flux of incoming electromagnetic radiation strips the target material's surface of electrons, leaving positively charged atoms which undergo a coulomb explosion.

Water cycle

The water cycle, also known as the hydrologic cycle or the hydrological cycle, describes the continuous movement of water on, above and below the surface of the Earth. The mass of water on Earth remains fairly constant over time but the partitioning of the water into the major reservoirs of ice, fresh water, saline water and atmospheric water is variable depending on a wide range of climatic variables. The water moves from one reservoir to another, such as from river to ocean, or from the ocean to the atmosphere, by the physical processes of evaporation, condensation, precipitation, infiltration, surface runoff, and subsurface flow. In doing so, the water goes through different forms: liquid, solid (ice) and vapor.

The water cycle involves the exchange of energy, which leads to temperature changes. When water evaporates, it takes up energy from its surroundings and cools the environment. When it condenses, it releases energy and warms the environment. These heat exchanges influence climate.

The evaporative phase of the cycle purifies water which then replenishes the land with freshwater. The flow of liquid water and ice transports minerals across the globe. It is also involved in reshaping the geological features of the Earth, through processes including erosion and sedimentation. The water cycle is also essential for the maintenance of most life and ecosystems on the planet.

Water vapor

Water vapor, water vapour or aqueous vapor is the gaseous phase of water. It is one state of water within the hydrosphere. Water vapor can be produced from the evaporation or boiling of liquid water or from the sublimation of ice. Unlike other forms of water, water vapor is invisible. Under typical atmospheric conditions, water vapor is continuously generated by evaporation and removed by condensation. It is less dense than air and triggers convection currents that can lead to clouds.

Being a component of Earth's hydrosphere and hydrologic cycle, it is particularly abundant in Earth's atmosphere where it is also a potent greenhouse gas along with other gases such as carbon dioxide and methane. Use of water vapor, as steam, has been important to humans for cooking and as a major component in energy production and transport systems since the industrial revolution.

Water vapor is a relatively common atmospheric constituent, present even in the solar atmosphere as well as every planet in the Solar System and many astronomical objects including natural satellites, comets and even large asteroids. Likewise the detection of extrasolar water vapor would indicate a similar distribution in other planetary systems. Water vapor is significant in that it can be indirect evidence supporting the presence of extraterrestrial liquid water in the case of some planetary mass objects.


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