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In this lesson, learn how diffusion is responsible for smells traveling, balloons deflating even keeping you alive with the movement of particles. You’ll explore examples of diffusion in action and in everyday life all around you.

What Is Diffusion?

Have you ever been sitting in your bedroom and suddenly smelled food being cooked downstairs? The smell may have been so strong that it seemed like the meal was cooking right next to you! This is caused by diffusion, which is the process of tiny particles spreading out evenly in a space. So, if there are more particles in the kitchen, they’ll spread out to other parts of the house where there are fewer particles to even everything out.

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Diffusion is the movement of particles until they are evenly spread out.~
Food coloring is an example of diffusion in liquids. The color spreads out until it is even.
food coloring

Diffusion Is Everywhere

The diffusion of gases is happening all around us, even though we usually can’t see it! Oxygen, carbon dioxide and other gases spread out within your room, your home and the atmosphere. For example, each time you exhale, it doesn’t just stay right in front of your face, it spreads out away from you.

There is even diffusion happening inside of you right now! Diffusion keeps you alive by moving oxygen molecules from your lungs and into your bloodstream. Diffusion also moves the bad stuff out of your cells and out of your body. Without diffusion, you wouldn’t be alive!

Lesson Summary

Diffusion is the movement of particles from where there are more to where there are less. This movement occurs until particles are evenly spread out. While diffusion can be seen in all states of matter, it is most common in liquids and gases.

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