Difference Between Specific Heat and Latent Heat

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: September 20, 2022


Difference Between Specific Heat and Latent Heat Difference Between Specific Heat and Latent Heat

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All laboratory experiments are dependent on a variety of factors, and many more are developed from those experiments. Some of the variables are already known, while others are obtained via these tests. Depending on the circumstances and conditions of the experiment, these variables can have varying values. Specific and latent heat are examples of such variables.

In today’s article, let’s discuss the differences between latent heat and specific heat.

Specific Heat vs Latent Heat

The fundamental distinction between Specific Heat and Latent Heat is the measurement phase. The heat required to change the temperature of a substance by one degree is measured in specific heat. The material utilized should be 1gm in a constant pressure environment, whereas latent heat is a measurement of energy released or absorbed during a change of phase of a substance.

Difference Between Specific Heat and Latent Heat in Tabular Form

Table: Specific Heat vs Latent Heat
Parameters of Comparison
Specific heat
Latent heat
The definition
The heat required to adjust the temperature by one degree for a quantity of 1gm in constant pressure is known as specific heat.
The latent heat is a measurement of the energy exchanged during the process, which might be absorbed or released.
The time
It is the heat generated when the temperature of a substance changes.
It's the heat generated when a substance's phase changes.
The temperature
Temperature fluctuates throughout the process of specific heat.
There is no temperature change in the latent heat process.
The phase change
In the case of phase shift, specific heat is not taken into account.
A phase transition happens during the latent heat process.
In link with water
The amount of energy necessary to raise the temperature of the water by one degree Celsius is 4.186 J.
The temperature and energy required to convert the phase of water from liquid to air are 100 degrees Celsius and correspondingly (Difference Between Specific Heat and Latent Heat (With Table), n.d.).

What is Specific Heat?

So basically, the quantity or the amount of substance determines the heat capacity. The heat capacity that is actually independent of the number of substances is known as specific heat or specific heat capacity (s). With a specific heat of 4.186 Jg-1degree C-1, water has an extremely high specific heat. This actually means that to raise the temperature of 1 g of water by 1 degree Celsius, 4.186 J of heat energy is required. This high number basically corresponds to water's involvement in temperature control.

The French scientists Pierre-Louis Dulong and Alexis-Thérèse Petit proved in the early nineteenth century that measuring the specific temperatures of substances allows for the computation of their atomic weights.

Heat energy is injected into a substance, which, in addition to rising its temperature, usually produces an increase in its volume and/or pressure, depending on how the sample is contained. Even for the identical starting pressure p and starting temperature T, the choice made about the latter has an impact on the measured specific heat capacity. There are two options that are frequently used:

  • When the pressure is kept constant (for example, at atmospheric pressure) and the sample is allowed to expand, the force from the pressure displaces the enclosure or the surrounding fluid, generating work. That work must be fuelled by the heat energy available. The specific heat capacity acquired in this way is said to be measured at constant pressure (or isobaric), and is typically denoted as cp.
  • If the expansion is prevented actually— for example, by a sufficiently rigid enclosure or by increasing the external pressure to counteract the internal one — no work is produced, and the heat energy that would have gone into it must instead contribute to the sample's internal energy, which may include raising its temperature by a significant amount. The specific heat capacity acquired in this manner is said to be measured at constant volume (or isochoric) and is represented by cv.
  • Usually, the value of cv is less than the value of cp. This disparity is especially noticeable in gases, where constant pressure values are typically 30% to 66.7 percent higher than constant volume values. As a result, the heat capacity ratio of gases is typically 1.3 to 1.67.


A substance's specific heat capacity is normally measured by measuring the heat capacity of a sample of the substance, for example, with a calorimeter, and then dividing it by the mass of the sample. The heat capacity of a substance can be estimated using a variety of methods, including fast differential scanning calorimetry.

By confining the sample in a hard container, the specific heat capacity of gases can be determined at a constant volume. For liquids and solids, however, determining the specific heat capacity at constant volume can be prohibitively difficult, as it sometimes necessitates unreasonable pressures to avoid the expansion produced by even slight temperature increases.

Instead, it's more common to measure the specific heat capacity at constant pressure (allowing the material to expand and contract as it pleases), determine the material's coefficient of thermal expansion and compressibility separately, and then compute the specific heat capacity at constant volume using these data and thermodynamic laws (Specific heat capacity, n.d.).


For gases, liquids, and solids with a reasonably general composition and molecular structure, the specific heat capacity can be defined and measured. Gas mixtures, solutions, and alloys, as well as heterogeneous materials like milk, sand, granite, and concrete, can all be examined on a vast scale.

As long when the changes are reversible and gradual, the specific heat capacity can be established for materials that change state or composition as temperature and pressure vary. For example, the ideas can be defined for a gas or liquid that dissociates as the temperature rises, as long as the dissociation products recombine quickly and completely when the temperature falls.

If the substance, for example, suffers irreversible chemical changes or a phase transition, such as melting or boiling, at a sharp temperature within the measurement's range of temperatures, the specific heat capacity is meaningless.

What is Latent Heat?

The term "latent" , comes from the Latin word "latere," which meaning "to conceal or conceal." This actually explains the notion of latent heat, which is the additional heat required to alter a substance's state. For instance, if a substance is solid, latent heat gives the additional energy required to change its state to liquid, and then from liquid to gaseous. This heat is required in addition to the heat used to melt or vaporise the substance, and it acts without changing the substance's actual temperature, regardless of its existing state.

Now, the latent heat of fusion, or melting, of a solid is the amount of heat in joules necessary to convert a solid to a liquid at its melting point with no temperature change. 3.34 × 105 joules per kilogramme (or 3.34 x 105J/Kg) is the latent heat of fusion of ice.

Experts believe that the latent heat that measures the amount of substance dissolved when transitioning from a solid to a liquid state is the enthalpy change during melting or fusion.

So basically, A substance in its liquid state requires more inward energy to convert to its solid state, which means energy must be provided to the solid state to convert the substance into its fluid state. As a result, when the substance returns to its solid state, it releases energy in the form of latent heat. Also, With the exception of Helium-3, the enthalpy of melting is often a positive amount.

According to the experts, the amount of heat necessary to convert a liquid at its boiling point to a gas at a fixed temperature is referred to as latent heat of vaporisation. The latent heat of vaporisation varies depending on the liquid. The liquid in the diagram above is being converted to vapour by heating.

At 100 degrees Celsius (373 degrees Fahrenheit), water vapour particles contain more energy than liquid water at the same temperature. This is because excess energy is assimilated in the form of latent heat of vaporisation.

The heat of vaporisation is defined as the amount of energy (heat) necessary to turn 1 gramme of liquid into a gas with no change in the liquid's temperature. As a result, the latent heat of vaporisation, like the heat of fusion, measures the heat applied to a liquid in order to convert it to a gaseous state. The energy of boiling water at which it changes form without changing temperature is the latent heat to transform it into vapour in the case of water. The amount of latent heat is 22.5105 J/kg (Latent Heat, n.d.).

Other than changes between the solid, liquid, and vapour phases of a single substance, latent heat is connected with processes. Many solids exist in several crystalline forms, and transitions between them usually entail the absorption or evolution of latent heat. Heat is often involved in the process of dissolving one substance in another; if the solution process is completely physical, the heat termed latent heat. However, in other cases, the process is accompanied by a chemical change, and part of the heat produced is due to the chemical reaction (latent heat, n.d.).

Main Differences Between Specific Heat and Latent Heat In Points

Now, let’s look at the main key differences between specific heat and latent heat. This will further enhance our understanding about the same.

  • When a substance basically, undergoes a phase change, latent heat is the energy absorbed or released.
  • The amount of heat required to increase the temperature of one gram of a substance by one degree Celsius (or one Kelvin) at constant pressure is known as specific heat.
  • When a substance is actually undergoing a phase change, specific heat does not apply.
  • Specific heat causes temperature changes, but latent heat has no effect on temperature (Difference Between Latent Heat and Specific Heat, n.d.).
  • There is no temperature change in the latent heat process, and all of the energy is consumed for the conversion.
  • The temperature of the specific heat fluctuates in the process of specific heat. When it comes to phase shift, specific heat isn't taken into account because the phase changes regardless of temperature.


Thus, to conclude, it can be said that in reality, both the specific heat and the latent heat, have their own pros and cons. Each is important and has its own applications and usage. The conceptual understanding of each topic becomes very necessary for gaining more knowledge and becoming intellectual and smart. It’s important to read thoroughly about their definitions, their measurement, the abbreviations that are used, the units that are used, their influencing factors, and so on. Moreover, it’s very vital to understand the key differentiating points between specific heat and latent heat. Actually, it requires extra time to read and learn about such topics in depths.

Then only, does the true sense of knowledge and understanding will get imbibed into our brains. This will not only enhance our brain’s capacity to grasp more things easily but also, it’ll show that we consider studies and knowledge seriously for our growth and professional success. Henceforth, one should keep reading scientific topics, and keep learning more and more.


  • latent heat. (n.d.). Retrieved from Britannica: https://www.britannica.com/science/latent-heat
  • specific heat. (n.d.). Retrieved from Britannica : https://www.britannica.com/science/specific-heat
  • Specific heat capacity. (n.d.). Retrieved from WIKIPEDIA: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Specific_heat_capacity


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"Difference Between Specific Heat and Latent Heat." Diffzy.com, 2022. Sun. 25 Sep. 2022. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-specific-heat-and-latent-heat-468>.

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