Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Where Do Evaporants Go?
Name: Cheryl
Status: Educator
Age: 45
Location: TN 
Country: United States
Date: January 29, 2005

When substances such as alcohol and gasoline evaporate, where do they go? Do they enter the water cycle?

When a substance like alcohol or gasoline evaporate the substance is converted from a liquid (or sometimes a solid) into a gas (the more exact term is 'a vapor'). The density of the gas (vapor) is much less than the liquid (or solid) so it is not usually visible, but you know it is there, mixed with air, from its odor for example. It does not "disappear" it just is not so easily seen.

Vince Calder

Hi Cheryl

Any substance that evaporates, goes to the atmosphere and stay there depending the temperature, partial pressure, etc, that is the actual conditions. If part is water, (as in alcohol that many times is aqueous solution) the water fraction can be eventually part of the water cycle. The other foreign substances will constitute pollution of the air. Heavier pollution is caused when the fuels as alcohol and gasoline burnt at the engines leaving besides gases microscopic particles. Water rains wash and carries away pollution gases and particles and they eventually pollutes even more the soil and soil plants and again the atmosphere. Thanks for asking NEWTON!

(Dr.Mabel M. Rodrigues)

Click here to return to the Environmental and Earth Science Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory