Why Does Steam Cause More Severe Burning Than Does Boiling Water?


2 Answers

lopz mimi Profile
lopz mimi answered
No that`s wrong! Check here,
Steam and boiling water are both the same temperature (100 degrees). However, since steam is a gas the particles are further apart and move active. They therefore contain more energy. It is this potential energy that makes steam so much more dangerous than water. Another thing, is the fact that steam condenses very quickly because when it is cooled it first has to lose its potential energy. You also need to understand that there is a difference between heat and temperature. Because boiling water and steam both have the same temperature but they do not have the same thermal energy (heat). Heat is the total amount of kinetic energy in the particles (how much they move, how much energy they posess) and temperature is the measure of the speed of movement of the particles. So, the steam has more thermal energy than the boiling water and that`s why it is more dangerous.
Julii Brainard Profile
Julii Brainard answered
Because steam is hotter than boiling water.

Think about it, the water that we perceive as "boiling" is still in liquid state, not quite hot enough to be converted to a gaseous state (steam). So by definition, it has to be a bit cooler. The difference in most situations might only be one or just a few degrees centigrade, but this is enough to result in a lot of difference in the amount of energy (heat) in the steam versus the boiling water. That extra energy is what we perceive as heat, and what causes damage to us when we encounter it.

If the steam is held under pressure it can get hotter still, and cause an even worse burn the higher the pressure. This is what you encounter when you let the steam out of a pressure cooker, and why you must do so very carefully to avoid a bad burn.

There is one thing about boiling water that can make it pretty bad, though. There's more stuff in water; at higher density. So boiling water can better penetrate clothing and cover a larger area faster than steam. Compared to steam, boiling water also cools down more slowly (giving it longer to keep hurting you). Thus the burns that boiling water causes may not be that much better than from steam in most situations.

Water heated under pressure (super-heated) can be as dangerous or worse than steam, too.

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