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Two kinda related questions here:

  1. Is evaporation rate and temperature difference related? There is an experiment of pouring cup of hot water out the window during winter. The water evaporates almost instantly forming a vapor cloud.

  2. I was showering during winter (outside: ~15 degrees Celsius below the Celsius' zero). I opened the window and as the cold air came in the room filled with vapor. It seemed almost like the vapor was coming in through the window. What happened there? My guesses:

    a. It's the question 1 thing.
    b. I got in a lot of dry air which allowed more water to evaporate.
    c. I lowered the air temperature which caused the air humidity to condense forming this fog.
    d. or something else did happen?

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Regarding your second question, i would say it's the same thing that happens when you breath out into the air. The vapour in the shower room (where there's a lot of vapour) crystallizes. But I'm not sure of this.. It may also be because whatever reason causes ice cream to smoke(iirc it has to do with the triple point of water). Not sure of that either :/ – Manishearth Mar 18 '12 at 13:16
@Manishearth I'm afraid there's no crystalization going on here… or at least it's not needed. You can observe this phenomenon with strictly positive temperatures! (Of course, if it's really cold, then some droplets of condensed water might turn into ice, but that's not needed for you to see you breath.) – F'x Mar 18 '12 at 14:03
@f'x sorry, meant condensation. Since we usually have crystallization(atleast in New England, where I used to live, I guess I subconciously wrote it :/ – Manishearth Mar 18 '12 at 14:30

1 Answer 1

up vote 3 down vote accepted
  1. Regarding your first question, yes, the evaporation rate is related to both the temperature of the liquid and that of the air. There is no single, universal equation describing the evaporation rate at an interface, because so many factors come into play. The simplest equation describing evaporation rate is probably that established by Langmuir:

    Langmuir equation for evaporation rate

    You can find various dependencies of the evaporation rate discussed here.

  2. Secondly, a warning. Your questions says “water evaporates almost instantly forming a vapor cloud”. You've got to remember that water vapor is transparent and what you see when you describe a cloud is not the vapor, but condensed droplets suspended in the air:

    Hot cup

  3. Regarding your second question, the main effect is the dependence of water vapor pressure as a function of temperature. If you shower at 40°C, you have Psat = 7.4 kPa, while at 12°C it goes down to 1.4 kPa. So, a large part of the water vapor will condense into liquid water, some of it as air-suspended droplets, some of it on the walls of your shower.

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Thanks for the Langmuir reference. Adding the equation into the wiki page would be helpful. – pcr Mar 18 '12 at 14:38

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