Search the World of Chemistry


Properties of Matter

22nd Mar 2019 @ 12 min read

Basic Chemistry

All Substances behave differently based on their characteristics and attributes. These characteristics and attributes are the properties of matter. With the knowledge of properties of substances, chemists can predict their behaviour, nature, and their interactions with other substances. Some of these properties can merely be identified by simple observation while some require experimentation.

There are two ways in which we can classify properties of matter. Based on how properties are determined, they can be classified into two categories: physical properties and chemical properties. Based on the dependence of properties on the amount of a substance, we can classify them into intensive properties and extensive properties. The figure below explains the same.

Properties of matter can be classified into physical and chemical property or intensive and extensive property.
Properties of Matter (Chemical and Physical, Intensive and Extensive)

Physical Properties

Physical properties can be measured or determined without altering the chemical identity of a substance. The chemical composition of a substance remains fixed during the measurement of physical properties; in other words, there is no chemical change.

Note: In the estimation of physical properties, no chemical change occurs, but physical change may occur. Physical change is a change in which physical appearance is affected. There is no breaking or formation of chemical bonds. For example, Ice melts to water is a physical change, no chemical composition is altered. Some of the examples of physical change are melting of solids, boiling of liquids, freezing of liquids, physical mixing, separation of a mixture, shape deformation, ripping of paper.

Examples of physical properties are taste, colour, odour, density, melting point, boiling point etc.

Drying is a physical change. Ripped paper is a physical change. Melting is a physical change.
Distillation is a physical change. Chopped wood is a physical change.
Examples of physical change (clockwise from top left: drying, ripped paper, melting, chopped wood, and distillation)
[Image source: Pixabay]

Chemical Properties

Chemical properties can only be estimated through a chemical change. It means a substance changes its original identity during the measurement of its chemical properties. The chemical change is nothing but a chemical reaction. Substances whose properties are to be estimated are lost during the measurement. Chemical properties of a substance are indications of the chemical nature of the substance like reactivity towards acids and bases, combustibility, flammability, acidity, basicity.

Chemical change alters the chemical composition of a substance. The original substance is destroyed. Consider the corrosion of iron. In corrosion, iron reacts with oxygen to form iron oxide. The original iron is permanently destroyed to produce iron oxide. The chemical composition of the original material is completely altered. Other examples of chemical change are milk turning sour, burning of paper, combustion of petrol or any other fuel, fermentation.

Disgestive system Photosynthesis Fireworks
Rusting Combustion Nuclear bombing
Example of chemical change (clockwise from top left: digestion, photosynthesis, firefox, nuclear bombing, combustion, and rusting)
[Image source: Pixabay]

Intensive Properties

A property of a substance or system is called intensive when it is independent of the amount of the substance. It is a bulk property. The property does not change with the size of a system. Intensive properties are the same for 1 gram of a substance or 1 kilogram, 1 cm3 or 1 m3. The density of water is 1000 kg m−3, and it is an intensive property. So, the density of water always will be 1000 kg m−3 irrespective of the mass and/or volume of water.

Some of the examples of intensive properties are density, colour, temperature, conductivity, refractive index, malleability, lustre, hardness etc.

Extensive Properties

Extensive properties are which depend on the amount of a substance or the size of a system. An extensive property is directly proportional to the amount of a substance. One litre of a bottle holds one-litre water and two litres of a bottle holds two-litre water. Thus, the volume is an extensive property. An extensive property is the additive of subsystems. In other words, the extensive property of the total system is the sum of extensive properties of every subsystem. If there are two water bottles of the volume of 1 L each, the total volume is the sum of each bottle which is 27 L.

Examples of extensive properties are mass, volume, length, enthalpy, internal energy, entropy etc.

Note: The ratio of two extensive properties is always an intensive property. For example, the ratio of mass and volume is density; mass and volume are extensive properties while density an intensive property.

List of Properties

The table below lists various properties.

Properties of Matter (Chemical and Physical, Intensive and Extensive)
Specific volumePhysicalIntensive
Molar volumePhysicalIntensive
Flow ratePhysicalExtensive
Melting pointPhysicalIntensive
Boiling pointPhysicalIntensive
Molar enthalpyPhysicalIntensive
Internal energyPhysicalExtensive
Molar entropyPhysicalIntensive
Gibb free energyPhysicalExtensive
Molar Gibb free energyPhysicalIntensive
Heat capacityPhysicalExtensive
Specific heat capacityPhysicalIntensive
Heat of combustionChemicalIntensive
Heat of formationChemicalIntensive
Oxidation numberChemicalIntensive
Coordination numberChemicalIntensive
Thermal expansion coefficientPhysicalIntensive
Surface tensionPhysicalIntensive
Thermal ConductivityPhysicalIntensive
Refractive indexPhysicalIntensive

Associated Articles

If you appreciate our work, consider supporting us on ❤️ patreon.
Basic Chemistry

Copy Article Cite

Thanks for your response!
Write a response

Join the Newsletter

Subscribe to get latest content in your inbox.


We won’t send you spam.