Hydrolysis vs. Condensation

Difference Between Hydrolysis And Condensation Hydrolysis Hydrolysis is a chemical reaction in which water is one of the…

Difference Between Hydrolysis And Condensation


Hydrolysis is a chemical reaction in which water is one of the reactants. It is often a decomposition process in which the water breaks apart the other reactant to form two or more different compounds. This is implied in the term, which comes from Greek words meaning “water” and “dissolution.” In some hydrolysis reactions, however, a water molecule reacts with the other compound by adding on to it. Catalysts are often used to bring about hydrolysis.

In inorganic chemistry, hydrolysis commonly refers to the reaction of water with a dissolved salt. The result of the reaction and the equilibrium it reaches depend on the salt. For example, when the salt of a strong acid and a weak base is dissolved in water, the solution becomes acidic, because a proton is transferred to the water molecule.

The reverse is true with the salt of a weak acid and a strong base. The water molecule loses a proton to form the hydroxyl ion (OH−), and the solution becomes basic.

Similar reactions take place in organic chemistry and biochemistry. Typical organic hydrolyzations are the splitting of fats into fatty acids and glycerol, starch into sugars, and proteins into simpler peptides or amino acids. Enzymes act as catalysts in living organisms.


Condensation applies to various physical and chemical transformations of matter. From the physical standpoint, condensation usually refers to the transformation of a substance from the gaseous to the liquid or solid state. In order to condense a gas, it must be compressed and cooled. Above a certain temperature, known as the critical temperature, the gas can be subjected to pressure without any condensation occurring. Below the critical temperature, the gas is commonly referred to as a vapor. In the condensation of a vapor to a liquid, the heat of vaporization must be removed. An apparatus used to effect this heat transfer is called a condenser.

Clouds (which consist of tiny particles of water) and precipitation are clear evidence that water vapor in the atmosphere condenses into the liquid or solid state. Condensation is greatly facilitated by the presence of condensation nuclei, such as smoke particles, ions, and minute salt crystals. In the absence of such nuclei, a gas may become highly supersaturated before condensation occurs.


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