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Homework Help: Water verses Steam Burns

  1. Jan 17, 2012 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

    Explain why skin burns caused by 100 degree C steam are more severe than those caused by 100 degree C water.

    2. Relevant equations

    100 degree C water
    skin 20 degrees C
    4.2 J/g so 200 J

    100 degree C steam
    2254 J into your arm
    vaporize water in cells of your arm

    3. The attempt at a solution
    the information in 2. or is there anything else that would be good to add?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 17, 2012 #2


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    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    One wants to explicitly compare the specific enthalphy (J/g) of the steam and water.
  4. Jan 17, 2012 #3
    Besides the latent heat that 100 C steam has, the energy has to get into your skin to damage it. In this context heat gets in primarily from convection. Take a look at film coefficients for condensing steam versus film coefficients for still water.
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