Science, Tech, Math › Science Examples of Physical Changes They are distinct from chemical changes in several ways Share Flipboard Email Print A physical change alters the appearance of matter, but not its chemical composition. Illustration: Hugo Lin, © ThoughtCo., 2018 Science Chemistry Basics Chemical Laws Molecules Periodic Table Projects & Experiments Scientific Method Biochemistry Physical Chemistry Medical Chemistry Chemistry In Everyday Life Famous Chemists Activities for Kids Abbreviations & Acronyms Biology Physics Geology Astronomy Weather & Climate By Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Chemistry Expert Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Updated January 24, 2020 Physical changes involve states of matter and energy. No new substance is created during a physical change, although the matter takes a different form. The size, shape, and color of matter may change. Physical changes occur when substances are mixed but don't chemically react. How to Identify a Physical Change One way to identify a physical change is that such a change may be reversible, especially a phase change. For example, if you freeze water into an ice cube, you can melt it into the water again. Ask yourself: Is the change reversible? Not all physical changes are easy to reverse.Was there a color change (with exceptions), bubble formation, or formation of a precipitate? These are all signs of a chemical change, not a physical change.Is the chemical identity of the end product the same as it was before the change? If the answer is yes, it's a physical change. If the answer is no, it's a chemical change. Examples of Physical Changes Remember, the appearance of matter changes in a physical change, but its chemical identity remains the same. Crushing a canMelting an ice cubeBoiling waterMixing sand and waterBreaking a glassDissolving sugar and waterShredding paperChopping woodMixing red and green marblesSublimation of dry iceCrumpling a paper bagMelting solid sulfur into liquid sulfur. This is an interesting example since the state change does cause a color change, even though the chemical composition is the same before and after the change. Several nonmetals, such as oxygen and radon, change color as they change phase.Chopping an appleMixing salt and sandFilling a candy bowl with different candiesVaporizing liquid nitrogenMixing flour, salt, and sugarMixing water and oil Indications of a Chemical Change Sometimes the easiest way to identify a physical change is to rule out the possibility of a chemical change. There may be several indications that a chemical reaction has occurred. Note: It's possible for a substance to change color or temperature during a physical change. Evolving bubbles or releasing gasAbsorbing or releasing heatChanging colorReleasing an odorInability to reverse the changePrecipitation of a solid from a liquid solutionFormation of a new chemical species. This is the best and surest indicator. A change in the chemical properties of the sample may indicate a chemical change (e.g., flammability, oxidation state).