A physical property of a substance can change if no chemical change occurs. Is this true?

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garthman99's profile pic

garthman99 | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

Temperature is one example of a physical property of a substance. If we heat the substance, no chemical change occurs but the temperature of the substance increases. So this is one case where we can have a physical change without a chemical change occurring.

There are two types of physical properties: intensive properties which are a property of the material itself and do not depend on the amount of the material/substance present and extensive properties which depend on the amount of the substance present. Examples of intensive properties are density and color and examples of extensive properties are mass and volume.

Intensive properties do not change but it is possible for extensive properties to change and in fact they often do change in processes.

megamind-616's profile pic

megamind-616 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted on

A physical property of a substance has to do with a physical characteristic or state (solid, liquid, or gas) of that substance while a chemical property has to do with the substance’s chemical and molecular makeup.  Physical properties are easily observed whereas chemical are not. Examples of physical properties are: color, texture, shape, size, mass, current state, and so on. Examples of chemical properties are reactivity, flammability, heat of combustion, chemical stability, etc.

“Yes” is a simple answer to your question.  A physical property can easily be changed without changing the substance’s molecular composition. Take a piece of paper that has been torn for instance.  The paper’s shape and size, physical properties, have been changed. However, it is still the same kind of paper! - Molecularly there is no difference! 

rogerz's profile pic

rogerz | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

By all means, yes. In fact, the fact that it is a physical property means that it does not involve a chemical property. Heat ice and it changes from a solid form to a liquid form, and eventually a gaseous form, but chemically it is still H2O (or H-O-H to be more precise about the way it is put together).

The states of matter, temperature, color, and many other things are examples of physical properties. Chemical properties are the way the elements are arranged and the set of elements that the substance consists of.

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