When you think about chemical reactions, do you only think about those causing heat? Well, some reactions cause cold. Endothermic reactions absorb heat and lead to the product being colder. Dive into some fun examples of endothermic reactions at play. Find out how they are different from exothermic reactions through examples.
Endothermic Reaction Defined
Chemical reactions are all about the energy. In an endothermic reaction, heat is used for the reaction to occur. The heat energy breaks the bonds in the substance causing the reaction. As the heat is absorbed, the product will be colder. This is actually one of the key characteristics of an endothermic reaction.
Endothermic Reaction vs. Process
When learning about an endothermic reaction, it might be called an endothermic process or reaction. The difference between the two varies based on what is considered an ‘actual’ reaction. However, in many cases, the two are used synonymously. Get a more solid understanding of endothermic reactions by looking at different examples found at home.
Simple Endothermic Reaction Examples
Endothermic reactions are all around us. Some are even found in your pantry.
Instant Cold Pack
If you’ve ever sprained your ankle or fell from your bike, you've probably reached for an instant cold pack. This is an endothermic reaction at play. Let’s see how it works. In the bag, there are two components: water and ammonium nitrate. When the bag is broken up, water and ammonium nitrate mix. The endothermic reaction makes the water colder and the bag feel frosty and oh-so-good on your swollen ankle.
Another true, well-known endothermic reaction is photosynthesis. In photosynthesis, plants take in heat from the sun through their leaves. That marvelous heat energy along with water and carbon dioxide is converted into food. Without absorbing the heat energy from the sun, then photosynthesis couldn’t occur. Could you imagine?
Cooking an Egg
You might not have realized cooking an egg was an endothermic reaction. However, energy from the pan is absorbed to cook the egg in this endothermic reaction. Try it at home! It’s a yummy example.
Endothermic Process Examples
Ready for some endothermic processes? Get examples of endothermic processes also called heat-absorbing processes.
Melting Ice Cubes
A fun endothermic process you use every day is getting your drink nice and cold by adding ice. The ice pulls the heat from the water to melt the ice making your drink nice and cold.
When water is put on to boil, it will all leave the pan if you don’t pay attention to it. Why? The water absorbs the heat energy from the stove to boil. It then turns into water vapor. Therefore, if you don’t pay attention, all the water will be gone. The more you know!
Nothing is better than fresh-baked bread. In addition to smelling delicious, baking bread is an endothermic example. The flour, yeast, and other ingredients used in creating the dough are heated. They absorb the heat making chemical reactions happen. And, the product is quite tasty!
Endothermic vs Exothermic Reactions
Endothermic can be confused with exothermic. Just looking at the words, it’s easy to see how it happens. However, the two are different. The main difference is endothermic absorbs heat while exothermic produces heat.
A chemical fire is a great exothermic example. The right, or should you say the wrong, combination can make the chemicals burst into flames. Flames give off heat. Therefore, in an exothermic reaction, heat is released and temperatures go up rather than going down.
It’s All About Energy
Endothermic reactions are about energy; in this case, absorbing heat to create the reaction. Typically, this will make the product colder in temperature after the reaction occurs.
Interested in learning more about science? Learn about chemical bonds and chemical properties. Chemistry actually is fun!