Vapor Pressure & Boiling

The molecules leaving a liquid through evaporation create an upward pressure as they collide with air molecules. This upward push is called the vapor pressure (sometimes called equilibrium vapor pressure). Due to differing intermolecular forces between molecules different substances have different vapor pressures and therefore different boiling points.

Video: Boiling & Vapor Pressure

The vapor pressure of a liquid lowers the amount of pressure exerted on the liquid by the atmosphere. As a result, liquids with high vapor pressures have lower boiling points. Vapor pressure can be increased by heating a liquid and causing more molecules to enter the atmosphere.

Boiling will occur when the vapor pressure is equal to the atmospheric pressure. This is called the boiling point.

Without any external pressure the liquid molecules will be able to spread out and change from a liquid to a gas. The gas, as bubbles in the liquid, will rise to the surface and be released into the atmosphere.

In general, liquids with a lower boiling point will exert higher vapor pressures.

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