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Difference Between Physical and Chemical Properties


All pure substances and mixtures around us are made of elements and compounds. Each of them has its particular properties that distinguish them from one another. The properties of a material are widely categorized as physical and chemical properties. One of the fundamental differences between physical and chemical properties is their representation. The physical properties refer to the appearance of the substance. However, chemical properties comprise the chemical composition and structure of the object. Physical and chemical properties hold significant importance when studying any material. Unlike chemical change, physical change does not affect the chemical properties of the substance.

Comparison Table

CharacteristicsPhysical PropertiesChemical Properties
FunctionDescribe a substance’s appearanceDescribe a substance’s structure
Chemical ReactionNot neededNeeded
Chemical BondsIndependentDependent
Impact of QuantityMay beDoes not affect
StructureDoes not changeChanges
ExamplesSize, shape, viscosityFlammability, chemical bonds

What are Physical Properties?

The physical properties of a substance are those which can be seen apparently. You can measure the physical properties of a material without altering its chemical composition. The states of matter are the most common examples of physical properties. When talking of the physical properties of a substance, the most initial factors are shape, size, weight, etc. The physical properties change per the substance and attribute to the apparent look. Melting point, boiling point, and viscosity are also physical properties as they do not modify the chemical composition of the material.


Physical properties are classified into two types; intensive and extensive properties. Intensive properties are those which are not affected by the amount of substance. On the other hand, extensive properties change per the material’s amount. Extensive properties do not give you much insight into the quality of the product as they are external. Intensive properties tend to provide more information about the nature of the substance. For example, mass is an extensive property. While it is an important physical attribute, it changes per quantity. On the contrary, melting point and viscosity are examples of intensive physical properties. They are the same for the material, independent of the amount.

Examples of physical properties include shape, texture, temperature, boiling point, solubility, viscosity, conductivity, etc.

What are Chemical Properties?

The chemical properties of a substance are not apparently visible. Yet, they play a critical role in determining the physical properties of a substance. The chemical structure contributes to how the object will look. You can observe the chemical properties (molecules, etc.) under an electron microscope, but not a student microscope.

A chemical property is defined as an attribute that causes changes in the substance’s chemical composition when studying it. Chemical properties are the main identity of a substance, as slight changes in the chemical composition can change the object altogether. Chemical changes are the basis for the production of new compounds.

Commonly studied chemical properties include flammability, chemical bonds, reactivity, etc. A common example of change in the chemical property is the formation of salt and water by the reaction of acid and base. When an acid and base react, they release ions, forming a water molecule. The rest of the compounds result in salt and by-products.


Differences Between Physical and Chemical Properties


Physical Properties

You can study the physical properties of a substance without chemical changes.

Chemical Properties

Chemical properties require chemical changes for studying the substance.


Physical Properties

Some physical properties, like mass, viscosity, shape, etc., are observable.

Chemical Properties

On the opposite, the chemical properties of a substance are observed during a chemical change only.


Physical Properties

Physical properties are usually used to describe a substance in looks.

Chemical Properties

Contrarily, chemical properties are studied to understand how the substance responds to others.

Chemical Reaction

Physical Properties

You do not need to conduct a chemical reaction to study physical properties.

Chemical Properties

While the chemical properties can be studied during a chemical change or reaction.

Chemical Bonds

Physical Properties

The physical properties are not directly related to the chemical bonds in a matter.

Chemical Properties

At the same time, the chemical properties of a substance have a direct relationship with the kind of chemical bonds.


Physical Properties

Studying the physical properties like viscosity does not have any effect on its chemical structure.

Chemical Properties

Yet, analyzing the chemical properties of a material may change its structure.


Physical Properties

Understanding the physical properties (extensive) of the material may sometimes depend on the quantity of the object.

Chemical Properties

However, the chemical properties are independent of the quantity of the substance.


Physical Properties

Examples of physical properties include size, shape, texture, temperature, conductivity, etc.

Chemical Properties

Chemical bonds, reactivity, acidity, and flammability are common examples of chemical properties.

The Bottom Line

The physical and chemical properties are essential in representing the state of matter. Observing the physical properties without a chemical change is the most significant difference between physical and chemical properties. You can easily observe a physical change independent of chemical bonds. The quantity of the material does not affect the chemical property.


What is the difference between the Physical and Chemical Properties of Water?

The physical properties of water include texture, color, odor, taste, temperature, specific gravity, etc. On the other hand, chemical properties include pH, molecular composition, etc.

Explain the difference between the Physical and Chemical Properties of Soil?

Some of the most commonly observed physical properties of soil are friction, density, compressibility, and cohesion. The chemical properties include various contents that makeup soil like SO3, CaCO3, Cl, and gypsum.

What are the Similarities of Physical and Chemical Properties?

While physical and chemical properties differ vastly, they both represent the state of matter. They also affect how the material looks.

Is density a Physical Property?

Density is a physical property as chemical bonding does not impact density. You can study the density of any material without a chemical change.

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