Is sublimation exothermic or endothermic?

The process of converting matter from one form to another is a central concept in chemistry.

Matter can exist in different states, including solid, liquid, and gas. The state of matter is determined by the strength of the forces between the particles that make up the substance.

For example, the particles in a solid are held together by strong atomic bonds, while the particles in a gas are only weakly attracted to each other. By altering the temperature or pressure, it is possible to change the state of matter.

When it comes to sublimation, the substances directly change from solid-state to the gaseous phase without forming themselves into liquid.

Before exploring the complete detail of the concept of sublimation, let’s answer first:

Is Sublimation Exothermic Or Endothermic?

Sublimation is an endothermic process by which a substance transitions from a solid to a gas without first passing through the liquid state. It occurs when the molecules of a substance have enough energy to break the bonds that hold them together in the solid-state. It is a result of heat absorption.

Why is Sublimation an Endothermic Process?

It might seem like magic, sublimation is actually a result of the molecules of the substance absorbing energy. In order for sublimation to occur, the molecules must absorb enough energy to overcome the attractions that are holding them together in a solid-state.

Once they have absorbed this energy, they will enter into the gaseous state. While sublimation is an endothermic process, it can actually be used to cool things down. For example, dry ice is made of carbon dioxide molecules that sublimate at -78 degrees Celsius.

Sublimation can also be used for purification purposes because it does not leave any solid residue behind. When impurities are exposed to sublimating gases, they will also be absorbed by the gas and carried away, leaving behind a purer substance.

Intermolecular Forces

States of matter are defined by the type of bonding between particles. In a solid, particles are held together by strong intermolecular forces. This gives a solid its characteristic rigidity; the particles cannot move around freely. However, the bonds between particles in a solid are not breakable, and so solids maintain their shape.

In liquids, there is also bonding between particles, but it is weaker than in solids. This allows the particles to move around more freely, and so liquids can flow.

In gases, there are no strong bonds between particles at all. This means that the particles can move around completely freely, and so gases expand to fill any container. The amount of energy needed to break the bonds between particles determines the state of matter.

The more energy required, the higher the state of matter (solid > liquid > gas). The less energy required, the lower the state of matter (gas < liquid < solid).

In general, heat energy increases the kinetic energy of particles, which allows them to overcome intermolecular forces and change states of matter. For example, when ice is heated, the heat energy overcomes the forces holding the particles together, and so it melts into water.

Rate of Sublimation Process

The rate at which this occurs is determined by a number of factors:

Surrounding Temperature

The rates of both vaporization and sublimation are increased as the temperature is raised. The reason for this is that an increase in temperature results in an increase in the average kinetic energy of the molecules of a substance. 

The rate of sublimation, however, is also affected by the strength of the intermolecular forces between the molecules of a substance. Sublimation can only occur when the molecules of a substance have enough kinetic energy to overcome the attractive forces that are holding them together in the solid-state.

For this reason, substances with weaker intermolecular forces tend to sublime more readily than those with stronger intermolecular forces.

By increasing the temperature, we provide the molecules with enough kinetic energy to overcome these attractive forces and enter the gas phase.


When the air is more humid, it can slow down the rate of sublimation because the water vapour in the air competes with the substance for the heat needed for sublimation. As a result, industries that rely on sublimation must carefully control the humidity levels to ensure that the process occurs at an optimal rate.

Exposed Surface Area

When more surface area is exposed, there are more particles that can be vaporized, and the rate of sublimation will be faster.

For example, when ice cubes are placed in a bowl of warm water, the ice cubes with a larger surface area will melt faster than the ice cubes with a smaller surface area. This is because there are more particles on the surface of the larger ice cubes that can be vaporized by the warm water.

The same principle applies to sublimation; when more surface area is exposed, the rate of sublimation will be faster. This is why it is important to Use a small container when trying to sublimate a solid into a gas.

Wind Speed

In general, the faster the wind speed, the greater the rates of sublimation. This is because wind helps to carry away the heat that is needed for the sublimation process to occur. As a result, areas with high winds will typically experience higher rates of sublimation than those with calm winds.

Exothermic Vs Endothermic

Exothermic and endothermic reactions are two types of chemical reactions that release or absorb energy, respectively. The terms exothermic and endothermic refer to whether the reaction gives off heat (exothermic) or absorbs heat (endothermic).

In general, exothermic reactions are favored because they are more thermodynamically stable. This means that they require less energy to start and are more likely to occur spontaneously.

Endothermic reactions, on the other hand, are generally less thermodynamically stable and are therefore less likely to occur spontaneously.

However, there are some situations in which an endothermic reaction may be desirable. For example, if a chemical reaction is exothermic and releases a large amount of heat, it may be necessary to use an endothermic process to cool the reactants down so that they don’t become dangerously hot in industries. In general, though, exothermic reactions are more favorable and tend to be more common.

Phase Transition

The phase transition of matter is a change in the physical state of a substance. The most common phase transitions are solid-liquid (melting) and liquid-gas (evaporation), but there are also others, such as liquid-solid (freezing) and gas-solid (sublimation).

The main difference between phases is in their level of order.

For example, in a solid, the molecules are arranged in a regular, repeating pattern, while in a liquid they are more random. When a substance undergoes a phase transition, the molecules must rearrange themselves to fit into the new phase.

This process requires energy, which is why phase changes are often accompanied by an increase or decrease in temperature. As the molecules gain or lose energy, they vibrate more or less rapidly, which affects the properties of the substance.

For example, when water evaporates, it absorbs heat from its surroundings, cooling them down. Phase transitions are an important part of many processes in nature and industry, and understanding them can help us to control them.

Applications of Sublimation

Sublimation is used in a variety of ways, including drying clothes, preserving food, and making snow cones. Clothes dryers often use sublimation to remove moisture from clothing. The dryer blows hot air over the wet clothes, causing the water molecules to transition into gas without passing through the liquid state. This is a faster and more efficient way to dry clothes than using traditional methods.

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