Difference Between Vapor and Steam (With Table)

In current times, these two terms have become very significant and widespread. Taking steam or water vapor has become a daily routine in most households. Although both vapor and steam are gaseous elements, these two words have different connotations and usage.

Vapor vs Steam

The main difference between vapor and steam is that vapor is the gaseous state of a substance whereas, steam is the gaseous state of water. Steam is always vapor but, the vapor is not always steam. Vapor can turn into liquid under a certain temperature, but with steam, that is not possible.

Vapor is a substance diffused in the air. The substances are liquid or solid at a certain pressure level. The gaseous vapor can be turned to liquid if the pressure is increasing on it while keeping the temperature the same. A vapor and an aerosol are not the same.

The gaseous state of water is called steam. At or above 100°C, water becomes steam. Boiling or evaporation can cause water to become steam. Steam is mostly invisible. Steam has many beneficial effects on humans and as well as nature and its various elements.

Comparison Table Between Vapor and Steam

Parameters of Comparison




Vapor is a gaseous state of any substance.

Steam is the vapor of water or gaseous state of water.


The transition of any substance to become vapor depends on the volatility of the substance.

The transition of water into steam requires 100°C or more temperature.


Vapor is used in the making of perfumes, forming mist and also generating light in mercury-vapor lamps.

Steam generates electricity, and it is also used in the sterilization of soil and heating of a building.

Effect on nature

Vapor does not have any beneficial contribution to nature.

Steam is very useful for nature, steam composes mist, and it also makes soil healthy by sterilizing it.


Vapor is visible, and it has a certain shape when put under the microscope.

Steam is generally invisible. We have steam around us all the time.

What is Vapor?

The gaseous state of any substance is called vapor. This substance is ordinarily solid or liquid at a certain pressure degree. A vapor consists of two different substances at room temperature. It is consists of random molecules and atoms that move randomly. Vapor is not shapeless. It has a certain shape that can be seen when it is put under a microscope.

The gaseous vapor can be turned to liquid if the pressure is increasing on it while keeping the temperature the same. Water steam is a kind of vapor, but all other types of vapor are not steam.

Vapor and aerosol are not the same things. Unlike vapor, aerosol possesses tiny particles of liquid, solid, or both within a gas. Vapor is entirely gas. Vapor can co-exist with its liquid or solid phase in balance, steadily with each other.

Most of the time, it is not necessary to boil a substance to form a vapor. Some substances are volatile, which means that they can turn into a gaseous state at the normal temperature and pressure conditions.

Vapor gets used in the formulation of many things. Vapor is needed to compose perfume. Perfume contains vapor with tiny droplets. Vapor is also used to generate light in mercury-vapor lamps.

What is Steam?

Steam is water vapor. Water turns into vapor when water boils at 100°C or more temperature. This transformation of liquid into gas makes it able to be used as energy. The steam can be converted to energy with the help of steam engines can. This energy can be used in mechanical works.

Steam is also beneficial in human health. Taking steam can decrease the chances of getting cold or flu. Not only in humans’ health, but steam affects nature’s elements too. The steam condenses and makes mist. Steam helps to sterilize the soil and make it healthful. So steam has importance in agriculture as well.

Additionally, In cooking too steam is often needed. Steamed vegetables are very beneficial to your body as it keeps the nutritional values of the vegetables intact. So steamed food is also better than fried food as fry causes the nutritious value to perish in the process of cooking.

As acknowledged before, steam is the source of energy, it produces electricity, and it can be used in ironing creased clothes as well. Steam energy also produces heat to keep the buildings heated.

Main Differences Between Vapor and Steam

  1. Vapor and steam are related to each other. Vapor is a gaseous state of any substance. And steam is the vapor of water or the gaseous state of water.
  2. The volatility of a substance is responsible for its transition into vapor. Whereas water turns into steam when it is boiled at the temperature of 100°C or more.
  3. Steam is very advantageous for nature. It composes mist and also makes soil healthy as it works for sterilization of the soil. Vapor, on the other hand, is not effective for nature or its elements.
  4. Vapor is visible and has a shape that can not be seen with naked eyes, whereas steam is generally invisible.
  5. Steam is used to generate energy, and vapor is mostly used to formulate perfume. Vapor is flammable. That is why it is advised to keep perfume away from flame and fire. Steam, on the other hand, is non-flammable.


All steam is vapor, but all kinds of vapor are not steam. Steam is often called water vapor. Vapor is the gaseous state of any substance, and steam is the gaseous state of water, as described before. These are different from each other and have different functions.

Steam can be portrayed as more useful to nature than vapor. Vapor is more useful in industries. Vapor is prone to execute accidents, but steam is not flammable, and it can not participate in an accident. Both of them have their roles, and they perform those to make our lives trouble-free.


  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0375650573900229
  2. https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1029/JB085iB11p06505