More About Liquids, Solids and Gases

Ice is just one of the solid things that melt into liquids when they are heated and turn into gases when they are very hot. Some metals such as lead can be melted over an ordinary fire of burning wood. Others such as iron must be made very hot in special furnaces before they will melt. When metal or glass or plastic is melted, it can be poured into a mold. When it cools again it will have the shape of the mold. But some solids such as wood will be burn instead of melt. When something burns a part of it is turning into gas.

Some solids such as sugar and salt dissolve or melt away not from being heated but when they are put into a liquid such as water. A solid is something that keeps a shape and size of its own. A baseball, a book, a pair of skates, a soft woolen mitten-all are solids. Sometimes they can be broken, bent, stretched, or torn but they can’t be poured like a liquid or spread out like a gas-without a special shape or size.

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A liquid has no shape of its own-it can be put into a tall, thin glass or a short, fat one. But a liquid does have a size of its own. A tank or a tub will hold only so much of it and no more, no more matter how you try to pump more in. Water, paint, milk, ink and gasoline are some common liquids.

Gases do not have shapes or sizes of their own. When air is pumped into a football or a tire, it takes the shape of the ball or the tire. And a lot of air can be pumped into a little space-all squeezed together. It is this that makes the ball or tire hard and strong and bouncy. Many gases are hard to see. One kind of gas makes the fizzy bubbles in drinks. A gas stove in kitchen uses a kind of gas that burns with a blue flame. And the different gases in the glass tubes of some electric signs light up brightly in different colors when electricity goes through them. Air is a gas that can’t be seen. It is invisible.

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Nearly all liquids and gases will freeze solid if they are cold enough. Even the liquid mercury in a thermometer. The weather never gets cold enough for air to freeze. But in a science laboratory air can be made cold enough for the oxygen that is in air to freeze. Oxygen an invisible gas can be made solid enough to be used as a hammer to drive nails.

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