Difference Between Physical Properties and Chemical Properties

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: August 08, 2022


Difference Between Physical Properties and Chemical Properties Difference Between Physical Properties and Chemical Properties

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The matter is all that we can see and touch in our environment. Every substance possesses a certain set of qualities and traits that aid in its classification and identification. Physical and chemical characteristics allow for the classification of all substances. Physical attributes are different from chemical properties because a chemical reaction reveals the chemical property of any molecule or object.

Today, let’s understand the major differences between physical and chemical properties.

Physical Properties vs Chemical Properties

The primary distinction between chemical and physical properties is that when a substance undergoes a chemical reaction, its molecular structure alters. While a substance's identity and chemical makeup can be determined by its physical qualities.

If there is any physical change, it just involves a rearrangement of the materials; the structure stays the same.

Difference Between Physical and Chemical Properties in Tabular Form

Table: Physical Properties vs Chemical Properties
Parameters of Comparison
Physical Properties
Chemical Properties
Basic Nature
Here, physical change takes place.
Here, ca chemical change occurs.
Here, no chemical reaction is required to demonstrate a change in the property.
Here, a chemical change is required to show a change in properties.
Here, no such exact bonding is required that has any impact on the properties.
Chemical bonding within a substance has an impact on its qualities.
Weight, volume, freezing point, and ma mmelting point of molecules
Flammability, toxicity, radioactivity, compressibility, and viscosity

What are Physical Properties?

Now, any measurable characteristic whose value describes the condition of a physical system is referred to as a physical property. A system's transitions between fleeting states can be described by changes in its physical attributes. Also, observables are a term used to describe physical characteristics. These attributes are not modal. Physical amount refers to a physical property that may be measured.

Intensive and extensive properties are frequently used to describe physical properties. While an extended property displays an additive relationship, an intense characteristic does not determine the size or extent of the systems or the amount of matter inside the object. These divisions are typically only accurate when the cumulative effects of the sample's smaller subdivisions do not interact physically or chemically.

Additionally, properties can be categorized according to how directed their nature is. Anisotropic qualities, on the other hand, do have spatial variance while isotropic traits do not change with the direction of observation.

Determining whether a particular property is a material property or not can be challenging. For instance, color can be observed and quantified, but what is perceived as color is an interpretation of how reflective a surface is and how the light that illuminates it is.

Many allegedly physical qualities are referred to as supervenient in this sense. A real property that is superfluous to another reality is known as a supervenient property. This is comparable to how supervenience applies to atomic structure when objects are present. The physical characteristics of a cup, such as its mass, shape, color, and temperature, may depend on its underlying atomic structure, which itself may depend on its underlying quantum structure.

Also, any measurable characteristic whose value captures the condition of a physical system is referred to as a physical property. A system's transitions between fleeting states can be explained by alterations in its physical characteristics. The arrangement of the matter in a sample can be changed by the measurement of a physical attribute, but the molecular structure cannot. Or to put it another way, a change in a physical feature may be physical but not chemical.

Moreover, Physical attributes come in two types: intensive properties and extensive properties.

  • Intensive properties: An intensive property is a bulk property, meaning it is a physical characteristic of a system that is unaffected by the size or composition of the system's materials. Some examples of intense attributes include an object's temperature, refractive index, density, and hardness.

As an illustration, when a diamond is cut, each of the separate fragments maintains its natural hardness (until their size reaches a few atoms thick).

  • Extensive properties: An extensive property is additive for isolated, non-interacting subsystems. The quantity of material in the system affects the property.

The amount of matter measured has an impact on examples of extensive attributes like mass and volume.

Extensive features depend on the amount of the material present and are external, meaning they cannot be utilized to identify the substance. The ability to distinguish a substance as oil or water cannot be achieved by measuring 10g of either.

There is a physical change without any alterations in the molecular structure. Both before and after the alteration, the identical element or compound is present. The same molecule is present throughout the modifications. Physical changes are related to physical attributes since some measurements call for changes.

Examples of physical modifications include:

  • An example of a particular kind of physical change is status changes.
  • State changes, such as going from a solid to a liquid or gas or vice versa.

Examples of physical characteristics include:

  • The assessment of a two-dimensional surface in a plane is called an area.
  • The degree at which a liquid vaporizes is known as the boiling point.
  • The hue, saturation, and luminance of the reflected light are used to visually assess an object's or substance's quality in terms of the light it reflects.
  • Mass per unit volume of a substance is known as density
  • The quantity of repetitions in a particular amount of time is known as frequency.
  • How resistant a solid is to outside forces is determined by its hardness.
  • The longest dimension of a thing is its length.
  • The term "mass" refers to an object's total amount of matter.
  • Now, the temperature at which a solid turns into a liquid is known as the melting point.
  • The smell of a substance is called odor.
  • The perpendicular force per unit area is known as pressure.
  • Strength is a force or power's intensity or potency.
  • Temperature is a way to quantify heat and cold.
  • A substance's volume is the quantity of space it occupies.
  • Weight is the measure of an object's mass.
  • States of matter are also a physical attribute because all materials can live in a solid, liquid, or gas phase based on energy loss or gain.

It is necessary to measure all physical quantities. A physical quantity's value can be calculated by multiplying its numerical value by the unit in which it is expressed. The idea of significant figures is used to convey how accurate a number is. Measurement units are expressed using S.I. units.

Now, everything that we can see and touch is considered the matter. Every substance possesses distinct qualities and traits that help in classification and identification.

Also, the major difference between physical and chemical properties is that when a substance undergoes a chemical reaction, its molecular structure alters. The chemical identity and makeup of a substance can be determined by its physical characteristics.

What are Chemical Properties?

Any quality that can only be formed by altering a substance's chemical identity is referred to as a chemical property, and it can occur during or after a chemical reaction. Simply put, it is impossible to detect a substance's chemical properties by looking at it or feeling it; instead, a substance's internal structure needs to be significantly altered before its chemical qualities can be examined. A substance's properties will alter significantly as a result of a chemical reaction, leading to the chemical change. A catalytic property, on the other hand, would also be a chemical property.

Physical qualities, which may be identified without altering the substance's structure, can be contrasted with chemical attributes. The distinction may only be relevant from a researcher's point of view for many qualities that fall under the purview of physical chemistry and other fields at the interface between chemistry and physics. Physical and chemical features of materials might be seen as supervenient, or secondary to the underlying reality. There could be several layers of supervenience. Chemical classes can be created using chemical attributes. Additionally, they can help identify unidentified chemicals and in separating or purify them from other substances. To determine a material's applications, materials science typically takes into account the substance's chemical properties.

Chemical attributes are qualities of a substance that emerge as a result of a chemical reaction or chemical transformation. People must alter the material's true structure to examine chemical qualities; these properties cannot be observed by looking at or touching a sample of the substance.

Physical attributes can be seen by looking at or touching a sample, whereas chemical properties can only be determined by altering a substance's chemical identity.

To determine a substance's chemical properties, internal attributes must be changed. For instance:

  • Flammability, or how quickly something will burn or ignite, is a chemical quality because it cannot be determined by simply looking at something. To find out how difficult or simple it will be to get a certain substance to burn, fire testing is done. Building codes, fire codes, insurance requirements, and the handling, storage, and transportation of highly flammable items all make use of flammability information.
  • Now, the quantity of energy that is released as heat when a substance burns with oxygen is known as the "heat of combustion," a chemical characteristic. So, examples of this chemical feature include the quantity of heat produced by burning different fuels and the number of calories that are converted to energy inside the body.
  • Toxicity: A substance's toxicity refers to how much harm it can do to an animal, plant, cell, organ, or other entity. Lead, chlorine gas, hydrofluoric acid, and mercury are examples of materials exhibiting the chemical attribute of toxicity. The organism's response to lead, chlorine gas, mercury, or any other material is used to determine its toxicity, or more simply, how much harm and how rapidly it causes harm to the organism. For instance, lead is a poisonous metal that can harm the bones, heart, kidneys, intestines, nervous and reproductive systems, among other aspects of the human body.
  • The ability to oxidize is a chemical trait that causes a substance's oxidation number to change. It occurs when a substance gains oxygen, loses hydrogen, or loses electrons. Rust is a prime example of this. Iron and steel (which is formed of iron) corrode with time. However, when mixed with pure oxygen, they will rust more quickly. The way an apple goes brown after being chopped, how a penny turns green, and how a vehicle fender can rust are all examples of oxidation.
  • A chemical feature known as radioactivity is the emission of radiation from an atom with an unstable nucleus. The elements on the periodic table that don't have stable isotopes are classified as radioactive. Hydrogen, beryllium, carbon, calcium, cobalt, zinc, and iron are a few of the most radioactive elements.
  • Chemical stability, also known as thermodynamic stability of a chemical system, is the property of a chemical system that occurs when it is at its lowest energy state, which is a condition of chemical equilibrium, or balance, with its environment. Unless something happens to alter the system, this equilibrium will exist forever.

Main Differences Between Physical and Chemical Properties In Points

  • Rather than the composition changing as a result of a chemical process, physical attributes reflect the features of the matter. Electric conductivity, density, color change, and many other significant physical characteristics are only a few.
  • Chemical properties are when a substance undergoes a chemical reaction and transforms into a different kind of substance. The heat of combustion, reactivity, acidity, flammability and many other characteristics are crucial aspects of chemistry.
  • Chemical qualities alter the chemical identity of the substances, whereas physical attributes alter the states of matter without affecting the molecular structure.
  • Additionally, unlike physical attributes, which do not alter the structure of the material, chemical properties do.
  • A substance must go through certain chemical reactions to identify its chemical qualities; in contrast, a substance does not need to go through any chemical reactions to identify its physical properties.
  • Physical attributes are often used to determine the physical composition of a substance, whereas chemical properties are frequently used to determine how a substance interacts.


Both chemical and physical qualities are present in every substance. However, given that physical characteristics such as melting and boiling points, hardness, density, and color establish the identification of a substance, both properties are different from one another.

While the process by which matter changes chemically is determined by its chemical characteristics. People examine the chemical alteration to determine a substance's qualities. Different forms of matter can be formed by any chemical alteration of matter.


  • Chemical property. (n.d.). Retrieved from WIKIPEDIA: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemical_property
  • Examples of Chemical Properties. (n.d.). Retrieved from YOUR DICTIONARY: https://examples.yourdictionary.com/examples-of-chemical-properties.html
  • Physical Properties. (n.d.). Retrieved from BYJU'S: https://byjus.com/chemistry/physical-property/
  • Physical property. (n.d.). Retrieved from WIKIPEDIA: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physical_property


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"Difference Between Physical Properties and Chemical Properties." Diffzy.com, 2023. Mon. 27 Mar. 2023. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-physical-properties-and-chemical-properties-837>.

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