7 Signs a Chemical Reaction is Taking Place

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Wayne Breslyn
Published at : 05 Dec 2020
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There are a number of signs that a chemical reaction is taking place. The big thing is that the atoms in a chemical reaction are rearrange and we end up with different substances.
Remember that during chemical reactions there is a change in the energy and in the properties of the substance. These are things we can observe and measure.

The first sign of a chemical reaction is a change in temperature. Think of a candle burning. We say this is an exothermic reaction because heat is given off. Mixing an acid and a base also produces heat.

The second indication of a chemical reaction is a change in color. Thing about rusting or burning. The changes in color take place because the products of the chemical reaction are different from the reactants, both chemically and physically.

Bubbles also suggest that a chemical reaction is taking place. Especially if you didn’t heat the substance. Careful though, boiling isn’t a chemical reaction even though there are bubbles. It’s still H2O before, during, and after boiling.

The formation of a precipitate usually evidence of a chemical reaction. This is when you mix two liquids and a solid forms and sinks to the bottom of the test tube.

Another sign of a chemical reaction is when light is given off. This happens frequently when we burn things.
Smell can mean a chemical reaction has taken place as well. Taste too, I suppose for all you kitchen chemists.

A final and important piece of evidence that a chemical reaction has occurred is that the change is difficult to reverse. Changing ashes back to paper is difficult. A physical change, like letting boiling water cool, is easy.

Remember that these are signs of a chemical reaction, for each one there may be physical changes such as heat, bubbles, or even changes in color.


Image Credits:

Combustion reaction of methane.jpg : JyntoRobert A. RohdeJacek FHJynto [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

Bristol MMB «V8 Ashton Avenue Bridge.jpg : mattbuck (category) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]
Lead(II) iodide precipitates when solutions of potassium iodide and lead(II) nitrate are combined : By PRHaney - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9472815

Fireworks: By User:Ranveig - en:Image:White bright fireworks.jpg, originally http://pdphoto.org/PictureDetail.php?mat=pdef&pg=5539, Public Domain,

https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27304 By User:Ranveig - en:Image:White bright fireworks.jpg, originally http://pdphoto.org/PictureDetail.php?mat=pdef&pg=5539, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27304
breslyn7 signs of a chemical reactionsigns of chemical reaction

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