Melting point

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The melting point of a crystalline solid is the temperature at which it changes state from solid to liquid. When considered as the temperature of the reverse change from liquid to solid, it is referred to as the freezing point.

For most substances, melting and freezing points are equal. For example, the melting point and freezing point of the element mercury is 234.32 kelvins (−38.83 °C or −37.89 °F). However, certain substances possess differing solid-liquid transition temperatures. For example, agar melts at 85 °C (185 °F) and solidifies from 32 °C to 40 °C (89.6 °F to 104 °F); this process is known as hysteresis. Certain materials, such as glass, may harden without crystallizing; these are called amorphous solids.

The melting point of water at 1 atmosphere of pressure is 0 °C (32 °F, 273.15 K), this is also known as the ice point. In the presence of nucleating substances the freezing point of water is the same as the melting point, but in the absence of nucleators water can supercool to −42 °C (−43.6 °F, 231 K) before freezing.

Unlike the boiling point, the melting point is relatively insensitive to pressure. Melting points are often used to characterise organic compounds and to ascertain the purity. The melting point of a pure substance is always higher than the melting point of that substance when a small amount of an impurity is present. The more impurity is present, the lower the melting point. Eventually, a minimum melting point will be reached. The mixing ratio that results in the lowest possible melting point is known as the eutectic point.

The chemical element with the highest melting point is tungsten, at 3695 K (3422 °C, 6192 °F). The often-cited carbon does not melt at ambient pressure but sublimates at about 4000 K; a liquid phase only exists above pressures of 10 MPa and estimated 4300–4700 K. Tantalum hafnium carbide (Ta4HfC5) is a refractory compound with a very high melting point of 4488 K (4215 °C, 7619 °F).<ref>hafnium entry at Britannica.com</ref> At the other end of the scale, helium does not freeze at all at normal pressure, even at temperatures infinitesimally close to absolute zero; pressures over 20 times normal atmospheric pressure are necessary.

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Melting point

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