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Physical & Chemical Properties


"The Atom"

What are Physical and Chemical Properties?
What are Physical and Chemical Properties? Sounds like a complicated question! It's not if you break it down. What are properties? Properties are attributes, qualities or characteristics of something. Properties are used to identify elements. Properties are the characteristics of a substance which distinguishes it from another substance. In chemistry these properties are called Physical properties and Chemical properties. Most common substances exist as solids, liquids and gases which have diverse physical and chemical properties. Matter can undergo physical and chemical changes called Phase Changes.

Physical and Chemical Properties - States of Matter
Substances are classified based on physical states, often referred to as the States of Matter. At room temperature and pressure the common Physical States of elements are solids, gases or liquids. Matter is classified first by its physical state as a solid, liquid, or gas. Secondly, we classify matter by it chemical constitution as an element, a compound, or a mixture.

Physical and Chemical Properties - What are Physical Properties?
What are Physical Properties? Definition: Physical properties are the characteristics can be observed without changing the substance into another substance. Physical properties of matter are usually those that can be observed using our senses. The observations usually consist of some type of numerical measurement. Examples of Physical properties include Color, Freezing point, Boiling point, Melting point, Density and Smell.

Physical and Chemical Properties - What are Chemical Properties?
What are Chemical Properties? Definition: Chemical properties are the characteristics that determine how it will react with other substances or change from one substance to another. Chemical properties, or characteristics, which are exhibited as one substance and then chemically transformed into another. Chemical properties are only observable during a chemical reaction. Reactions and changes to substances can be brought about by Burning, Rusting, Heating, Exploding and Tarnishing.

What are Physical and Chemical Properties - Understanding increased
The more Physical and Chemical Properties we can identify for a substance, the better we know the nature of the substance. Chemistry experiments can be used to illustrate the Physical and Chemical properties of elements and compounds and to provide examples of chemical change which can be explained by the rearrangement of atoms. The Physical and Chemical Properties of a substance enable chemists to understand how it will behave under various conditions.

Examples of Physical Properties 
Examples of Physical properties are:

  • Color (vividness of visual appearance)
  • Luster (a shine or glow)
  • Hardness (rigid and resistant to pressure)
  • Odor (distinctive smell)
  • Luminescence (emitting light not caused by heat)
  • Conductivity (transmission of heat or electricity or sound)
  • Solubility (ability to be dissolved)
  • Malleability (capable of being shaped or bent)
  • Ductility (easily pulled or stretched into a thin wire)
  • Density (the measure of the relative "heaviness" of objects with a constant volume)
  • Viscosity (resistance to flow - stickiness)
  • Compressibility (made more compact)
  • Freezing point (temperature below which a liquid turns into a solid)
  • Boiling point (temperature at which the vapor pressure is large enough that bubbles form inside the body of the liquid)
  • Melting point (temperature at which the solid melts to become a liquid)
  • Crystalline structure (geometric pattern e.g. rectangular, hexagonal)
  • Allotropic - Allotropes are forms of an element with different physical and chemical properties occurring in two or more crystalline forms in the same physical state. The physical properties can vary widely with the allotropic form. Example: Forms of Carbon are graphite and diamonds. Diamond is highly transparent. Graphite is opaque and black  

In a physical change, the substances are not altered chemically, but merely changed to another phase (i.e. gas, liquid, solid) or separated or combined.

Examples of Chemical Properties 
Examples of chemical properties are:

  • Flammability (the ability to catch on fire)
  • Toxicity (the ability to be poisonous)
  • Radioactivity (giving off ionizing radiation)
  • Heat of combustion (amount of heat released when the substance is completely burned)
  • Reactivity with water (what happens when a substance reacts with water)
  • Reactivity with acids (what happens when a substance reacts with an acid)
  • Oxidation (the combination of a substance with oxygen)
  • Corrosion (a corrosive substance that will destroy or irreversibly damage another surface)

In a chemical change, the substances are altered chemically and display different physical and chemical properties after the change.

Physical and Chemical Properties of Water
Water is unique because it is the only natural substance that can exist in three states of matter - solid, liquid, and gas - at the temperatures normally found on Earth. For more facts and information see the article on Water Properties.

What are Physical and Chemical Properties of Common Elements
The following articles provide important facts and information about the Physical and Chemical properties of common elements and substances.

Oxygen Properties
Iron Properties
Copper Properties
Sodium Properties
Carbon Properties
Hydrogen Properties
Gold Properties
Chlorine Properties
Lead Properties
Tin Properties
Aluminum Properties
Calcium Properties
Sulfur Properties
Magnesium Properties
Helium Properties
Silver Properties
Potassium Properties
Silicon Properties
Mercury Properties
Iodine Properties
Water Properties
Site Index
Phase Changes
States of Matter
Elements Map
Periodic Table

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