Rates and temperature

The greater the frequency of successful collisions, the greater the rate of reaction. If the temperature of the reaction mixture is increased:

  • reactant particles move more quickly
  • the energy of the particles increases
  • the frequency of successful collisions between reactant particles increases
  • the proportion of collisions which are successful increases
  • the rate of reaction increases

Explain what is meant by a 'successful' collision.

A collision between reactant particles with enough energy (the activation energy or more than the activation energy) to produce a reaction.


The rates of two or more reactions can be compared using a graph of mass or volume of product formed against time. The graph shows this for two reactions.

Graph of total mass of product against time from start of reaction, for high and low temperature.Comparing two reactions - the higher the temperature, the greater the rate of reaction

The gradient of the line is equal to the rate of reaction. The faster reaction at the higher temperature:

  • gives a steeper line
  • finishes sooner
The effect of temperature on the rate of reaction is due to two factors: frequency of collisions and energy of collisions. The increase in energy is usually the more important factor.