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Severe burn from steam clarification

Posted: Sat Jan 26, 2019 12:15 am
by JulieAljamal1E
As mentioned in class, a burn from 100 degree steam is more severe than that of 100 degree water. Is the reason for that because it takes longer for the steam to cool compared to water?

Re: Severe burn from steam clarification

Posted: Sat Jan 26, 2019 10:38 am
by melodyzaki2E
when steam hits your skin, a lot of energy will be released as it condenses into a liquid, undergoing a phase change (because your skin temperature is a lot cooler in temperature), this energy release causes a much worse burn than if the same amount of boiling water were to hit your skin where it would decrease in temperature (to your skins temperature) but would not have to go through a phase change.

Re: Severe burn from steam clarification

Posted: Sat Jan 26, 2019 11:20 am
by anthony_trieu2L
To add, steam is a lot more severe than boiling water because it has more heat energy than water. An immense amount of energy is released when steam hits your skin and condenses into a liquid.

Re: Severe burn from steam clarification

Posted: Sat Jan 26, 2019 2:22 pm
by Aurbal Popal
In order for to convert water into steam, it has to absorb a lot of energy to change phases. From my understanding, when steam gets into contact with your hand, which is relatively cooler, it starts to condense. This means that all that energy that was required to change the liquid into a vapor in the first place is reversed, and is released onto your hand.

Re: Severe burn from steam clarification

Posted: Sat Jan 26, 2019 3:46 pm
by Henry Dudley 1G
So the burn was worse due to more energy being exerted on the skin? But, how does that energy manifest if it does not cause an increase in temperature? In other words, what happens to that excess energy? What is it doing if it isn't heating the steam?

Re: Severe burn from steam clarification

Posted: Sat Jan 26, 2019 5:00 pm
by alanaarchbold
I don't know if I can explain this that well but think of it in terms of that graph Lavelle had on his presentation. It takes about 41 kJ for vapor to become a liquid at 100 degrees Celsius, but it's still at 100 degrees so it has to use even more energy to go to a lower temperature. Meanwhile, it doesn't take nearly as much energy for the liquid to cool from 100 degrees. Basically, the energy is being used to reform the bonds between the molecules to go into the liquid state, which takes longer than when liquid at 100 degrees is already in the liquid state (I think).