How Does Conduction Work?

Conduction works by transferring heat from one molecule to another through a substance. This occurs due to the readiness of the substance to allow molecules to move. A heated molecule moves and shakes rapidly, and some of its heat energy is passed to molecules around it.

This process causes all molecules of an object to transfer heat from one another until all the molecules become hot. In a solid material, particles are tightly packed and are in direct contact. Their close distance causes them to vibrate near the point of contact. This vibration affects nearby particles, eventually spreading throughout the object. Conduction in liquids and gases is the same. However, particles have lesser density; this is why energy transfer between molecules is less efficient.

When two objects with different temperatures are in contact with each other, energy is directly transferred from the hotter material to the colder material. An example of conduction is the transfer of heat from a metal pot to the water it contains. When heated on a stove top, the pot starts to become warmer until it is too hot to touch. This occurs because the heat coming from the stove burner reached the pot’s bottom, and because of conduction, the particles that make up the pot vibrate more quickly. Eventually, the vibrations spread throughout the entire pot. The heat that a person feels when touching a pot on a stove is actually the vibration of the particles. The pot’s heat is then conducted to the water inside the pot.