Is calorie a compound or element?

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gsenviro's profile pic

gsenviro | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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A calorie is neither a compound nor an element. A calorie is a unit of energy.

1 calorie is defined as the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1 degree Celsius. This unit is abbreviated as 'cal'. 

A calorie is related to the standard energy unit (in MKS system), Joule as:

1 cal = 4.184 J (joule)

It is related to another famous energy unit, British Thermal Units (or Btu) as:

1 Btu = 251.9988 cal.

Just a note, the Calorie used in food ratings is actually equal to 1000 calories or 1 Kilocalorie.

i.e., 1 Cal = 1000 cal.

This was first defined in 1824 as a unit of Heat. Also note that the traditional definition of calorie is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water from 14.5 degrees Celsius to 15.5 degrees Celsius.

rogerz's profile pic

rogerz | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

Neither.  As others have said here, it is a unit of energy. Perhaps an analogy is the best way to explain it. A calorie is a measurement, just like a mile, or a pound. Just as one would say that a mile is not a compound or an element, the same holds true for a calorie.

However, it is a measure of the amount of energy(usually in the form of heat, but can also be mechanical energy), specifically the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of 1 gram pure water one degree Celsius.  

rozinaakhter1768's profile picture

rozinaakhter1768 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted on

A calorie is neither a compound nor an element.It is a unit of energy.

akburch's profile pic

akburch | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

 A Calorie in a measure of energy. It is not a function of matter and therefore is not a compound or an element. However the energy of a compound  such as Sucrose can be expressed in calories. 

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