Is Sharpening A Pencil A Physical Change?

Pencil Sharpening YouTube

The Definition of Physical Change

Before we delve into whether sharpening a pencil is a physical change or not, let’s first define what a physical change is. In chemistry, a physical change is a change that affects the physical properties of a substance without altering its chemical composition.

Sharpening a Pencil

Sharpening a pencil involves shaving off the wood and graphite from the blunt end of the pencil to reveal a sharp point. This process does not alter the chemical composition of the pencil. Instead, it only changes its physical properties. Therefore, sharpening a pencil is considered a physical change.

Other Examples of Physical Changes

Physical changes are very common in our daily lives. For instance, melting ice into water, crushing a can, or tearing a piece of paper are all physical changes. In each of these cases, the chemical composition of the substance remains the same, but its physical properties change.

Physical Changes vs. Chemical Changes

It’s important to differentiate physical changes from chemical changes. In a chemical change, the chemical composition of a substance is altered, resulting in the formation of a new substance. For example, when wood burns, it reacts with oxygen in the air to produce ash and smoke. This is a chemical change.

Why is Knowing the Difference Important?

Knowing the difference between physical and chemical changes is important in many ways. For instance, it helps scientists understand how substances behave under different conditions. It also helps us understand how to manipulate substances to achieve certain outcomes.


In conclusion, sharpening a pencil is a physical change. It alters the physical properties of the pencil without changing its chemical composition. Understanding the difference between physical and chemical changes is essential for anyone who wants to have a better understanding of the world around them.