|Is there any substance which can be found in three
states of matter like water?|
|Question Date: 2017-06-17|
Actually all elements can exist as solids,
liquids, or gases. The determining factor is
temperature and pressure that the element or
compound is found in. Just like water at 0 deg
Celsius, when a compound reaches it's freezing
point, it will become a solid. Likewise, a
compound becomes a gas when it reaches the boiling
point, like water vapor at 100 deg Celsius.
Each element has its own freezing and boiling
temperatures for specific pressures, so compounds
also have this behavior.
What I think you might really be asking is
whether other substances can be found in all
three phases at one time. In lab settings,
pure elements and compounds are often stored or
transferred by changing the element to a more
manageable phase. For example, the freezing point
of ammonia is -77.7 deg Celsius and the boiling
point is -33.35 deg Celsius, so it is possible for
those states on Earth's surface (like the
Arctic/Antarctic). However, in nature,
substances that have multiple phases possible at
Earth's surface likely doesn't exist in
substantial amounts, if at all. So I think
that water is the only compound found naturally
in all three of those phases. The only
possible contenders that I can think of would be
carbon dioxide (dry ice, the solid form of
CO2, is stable below -78.5 deg Celsius,
and it sublimates directly to gas when above that
temperature) and mercury (a solid below -38.83 deg
Celsius and gas above 356.73 deg Celsius, liquid
mercury has been used in thermometers while
mercury vapor is used in fluorescent lamps).
Anything can be found in the same three states as
water. What makes water unusual is that the range
of conditions on the surface of the earth are able
to have all three, but you'll notice that the
phases for liquid and solid water do not
overlap (water freezes below 0 C and melts
above 0 C). But, for example, ethyl alcohol
freezes at -114 C, so any of the chemical you find
on Earth will be either liquid or gas, but there
are places on Mars where you could have all three
Thank you - that's a great question.
Mercury is a liquid at room temperature,
and it freezes at -40 degrees Centigrade and boils
at ~360 degrees Centigrade.
Carbon dioxide is a gas at room
temperature, and it freezes at ~ -80 degrees
Centigrade, which is ~ -110 degrees Fahrenheit.
It's not a liquid at normal pressures, but it can
be made into a liquid at pressures above 5
atmospheres. Solid carbon dioxide is called 'dry
ice,' and it turns into a gas when you let it warm
Ammonia is a gas at room temperature.
It boils at -28 degrees F and freezes at -108
Fluorine is a gas at room temperature.
It is a liquid at about -310 degrees F and a solid
at -363 degrees F.
Other materials you can check out are acetic
acid, ethanol and iodine.
I remembered putting iodine crystals in a closed
container when I worked in a lab, and they turned
into a brownish gas.
There are millions of compounds that can go
through the three states of matter. The water is a
special case, because the transition temperatures
are easily achievable to our daily life. To give
you an example, you can try play with the periodic
table You can play with the temperature and
observe the evolution of states for all of the
elements. The basic idea is at low enough
temperature, most of elements will freeze in the
solid state; a higher temperature will make
them liquid; an even higher temperature will turn
them into gas. This is true for most of complex
compounds as well. But you should know that the
transition temperatures are quite different from
one to another.
This is a really interesting question because
it really makes us consider why certain compounds
change state. Because state changes occur
simply by adding or removing energy, all
substances should be able to exist as solids,
liquids, and gasses. While this is true, this
will not occur naturally at temperatures that
occur on Earth for all substances. Take carbon
dioxide for example. It typically exists as a gas
in our atmosphere, but we can cool it to make dry
ice (solid carbon dioxide). While dry ice usually
sublimates (moves directly from gas to solid), but
under high pressure, carbon dioxide can exist
as a liquid. These pressures do not occur on
Earth, except when scientists specifically
engineer them. Another example is liquid
nitrogen, which is used to freeze cells or
other experiments. Naturally, it exists as a
gas but when brought to extremely low pressure it
will condense into a liquid. If it was brought
down to an even lower temperature (-346°F) then it
will freeze into a solid. So to summarize: yes,
all substances can exist in all three states of
matter but on Earth, water is the only one that
occurs in all three states naturally.
Thank you again for all of your help,
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