Water And Other Liquids. Can They Be Compressed?

Can Water Or Any Liquid Be Compressed?

Can water be compressed?
Reading questions and answers as to “Is water a good or bad conductor of electricity?” set me to thinking about whether water or any other liquid can be compressed.

So I searched a little and came up with the answer.

Under Normal Conditions Water Can’t Be Compressed

A simple test.

Fill a sandwich bag with water and put a straw into it,.

What happens when you squeeze the bag?

Instead of being compressed, it shoots out of the straw!

And What About Other Liquids?

Incompressibility is a common property of all liquids, but water is especially incompressible!

Think about garden hoses, water pistols and fountains, if it could be compressed then they wouldn’t work.

So Can Water Can Be Compressed?

If you squeeze it hard enough, then yes, it can be compressed, but not by much.

Just imagine a mile deep in the ocean.

At that depth, the weight of the water above, pushing downwards, is about 150 times normal atmospheric pressure, but even with that much pressure, water compresses by less than 1%.

How Much Can Water Be Compressed?

Just to give you and idea, for it to cut through a stone tremendous pressures are needed.

A pump is used to pressurize the water in a container at pressure values up to 90,000 pounds/square inch (psi) and it’s then shot it out of the nozzle at speeds up to 600 mph.

Can Water Be Compressed Into A Solid Form?

The simple answer of course is, "Yes you can".

Obviously you can turn water into a solid simply by taking heat away.

The more relevant answer is, "Yes but you’d need a ridiculous amount of force to make water into a solid, but it is possible".

When this happens a different form of ice is formed, called ice IV, which is a different crystal structure to conventional ice.

You can achieve with a pressure of about 2 Gigapascals, or about 20,000 atmospheres, which is the same pressure you get under  20 kilometers of ice or water.

And if that exists, then you can produce ice at normal room temperature.

So Can Water Be Compressed?

The short answer is "Yes it can".

But the longer answer is, "Yes it can, but only with great difficulty".

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3 Responses to Water And Other Liquids. Can They Be Compressed?

  1. big-thoughts says:

    The bulk modulus of water is about 2 GPa (290,000 psi), so it takes about .02 GPa to reduce its volume by 1%.

    As water is compressed more, the bulk modulus increases.

    At 20 GPa of compression, the bulk modulus has increased to about 2.75 GPa.

    This suggests that it is changing to more of a solid state.

  2. knopfman says:

    You CAN compress water and most likely every other substance known to man, but the bottom line is that requires a great deal of pressure to accomplish very little compression.

    An example:

    The water at the bottom of the ocean is compressed by the weight of the water above it and it’s therefore more dense than the water at the surface.

    All matter is composed of atoms and even though matter seems to be very solid the atoms are relatively speaking quite far apart, and what appears to be matter is in fact mostly empty space.

    However, and that’s a big however, due to the forces between the molecules, they very strongly resist being pressed closer together.

    But they can be!

    If you were to throw a metal ball onto the sidewalk it would bounce off of it and that is due to the fact that just a tiny spot on the metal ball got compressed when it hit the sidewalk, which caused it to bounce.

  3. Reg Spragg says:

    When I worked in power stations I was told that water could be compressed (not by much) at pressures above 19,000 psi.
    It is not the water (H20)that is being compressed it is the nitrogen that is dissolved in it.
    Likewise, water per se is not conductive, it is the dissolved metallic ions (magnesiums, sodiums, et al) that provide the apparent conductivity, remove these and no of extremely little conductivity.

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