MadSci Network: Earth Sciences

Re: Why does cold water sometimes make steam?

Date: Wed May 3 08:32:15 2006
Posted By: Ken Harding, Science and Operations Officer
Area of science: Earth Sciences
ID: 1146434980.Es

The water was "steaming" because it was "relatively" hot compared to its surroundings. When the water was warmer than the very cool air, there was enough of a temperature difference to produce "steam" [droplets of water that condense in the cooler air].

While we often think of steam from only hot water, it is actually the difference in temperature from water to air that helps water to evaporate. Although a bit technical, here is a good discussion:

Water can also boil and produce steam at cooler temperatures if the pressure is lowered in a vacuum. See this link:


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The following answers in our archives may also be helpful - you may want to read through them with your mom if they cover things you haven't yet had in school:

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