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The 15 physical and chemical properties of water

The 15 physical and chemical properties of water

May 10, 2024

Water is undoubtedly one of the most important elements for us, to the point that every form of life known until now would not have been possible without its existence. It is part of each and every one of the cells of our body, and we must drink frequently in order to survive.

The importance of water is capital, but beyond that the truth is that this element has different properties of interest at a scientific level. That is why throughout this article we will see a brief exhibition of some of the main physical and chemical properties of water .

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Physical and chemical properties of water

These are some of the properties of this element, some of them highly known by most people and others more technical and less taken into account.

1. It is colorless

Although when we see the sea or a river it can seem that the water can have a bluish-greenish or sometimes brownish color, this is due to the way in which it reflects the light and to which Easily absorbs short wavelengths (with which it is easier for our eyes to appear in bluish tones). However, we can not perceive any color in it (unless it is mixed with another substance), being transparent to our eyes.

2. It has no taste or smell

Water is a substance that, unlike others, does not have a specific taste or smell by itself. In case the water knows something, it is because it has been adulterated in some way (for example by adding flavorings) or because it has dragged particles of other elements (for example, fruit or other foods, minerals, lime, plastic or contaminants) when it reaches us.

3. It is found in nature in all three states

There are many substances that are complicated to find in nature beyond a particular state of matter. However in the case of water we can observe it easily in any of the states: the liquid water of the seas, rivers and rain, in gaseous form can be observed as water vapor and in solid form can be found as ice and snow.

4. It has a fixed transformation temperature

Although water can be mixed with other substances, the truth is that At a physical level we can contemplate how this element always evaporates or freezes at the same temperature , with a freezing point at 0ºC and boiling at 100ºC.

5. Compound and not element

Although since ancient times water has been thought of as one of the basic elements, the truth is that as indicated by its chemical formula, H2O, we are not dealing with an element in itself but with a compound in which each molecule is formed by two hydrogen atoms attached to an oxygen atom.

6. It is a solvent

Perhaps the word solvent is usually used at the popular level for other types of substances, but the truth is that at a chemical level, water does act as such. And is that many substances dissolve in contact with H2O , being the water capable of changing its structure and properties.

In fact, it is an almost universal solvent of polar substances (that is to say of those substances whose molecules have a positive pole at one end and another negative at the other), such as alcohol or salts. Outside chemical laboratory reactions, this property is essential to explain for example the functioning of living cells in our body.

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7. It has a neutral electric charge

The atoms of a water molecule have a neutral electrical charge, although this does not mean that its components have no charge but that it is usually balanced. In general, each molecule consists of ten protons and electrons, in which the electrons are concentrated near oxygen. A) Yes, around oxygen the electric charge tends to be somewhat more negative , while near hydrogen is more positive.

8. Stable density

In the same way that the freezing and boiling points are usually fixed, water is also characterized by maintaining a very stable density regardless of its environmental situation. Pure water without any other component (ie, distilled) has a density of 1 kg / l.

However, normally when it is in a liquid state at a temperature of around 20ºC it has a density of 0.997-0.998 kg / l . In the case of ice, its density is usually 0.917 Kg / l.

9. Difficult to compress

Compressing a certain volume of water is highly complex (although not impossible), given that this substance has a high level of cohesion (meaning that its molecules have a high capacity to remain together due to the strong bond they make).

10. Adhere

The water gets wet. This phrase, although it may seem obvious and even ridiculous, is talking about another of the physical properties of the liquid element: The ability to adhere to other surfaces and materials .

11. Low electrical conductivity

We have probably heard of someone who has died electrocuted or suffered a domestic accident when the water comes in contact with an electrical element. As most of you know, these types of accidents are very real and dangerous.

However, it must be borne in mind that the person in charge is not really water, but the different salts and other components that you carry with it . In fact, distilled or pure water is not electrically conductive but insulating, since it does not have free electrons that can conduct it.

Now, it is important to note that we are talking about distilled water in which there is nothing more than water molecules: the water that we drink, with which we shower and bathe and the water we find in rivers and seas does conduct electricity since It contains a large amount of minerals and other components with conductive potential.

12. Ph relatively neutral

Another characteristic of water is that in general and on average it usually has a neutral or almost neutral pH, its pH oscillating between 6.5 and 8.5 (a totally neutral pH would be 7). This implies that usually water it can be slightly acidic or slightly basic , but unless their degree of acidity is manipulated or mixed with other substances, the pure water molecules are usually practically neutral.

13. Participates in multiple chemical reactions

Another aspect to take into account water is its high level of interaction with other elements, in such a way that it produces different chemical reactions and becomes part of different processes or substances.

For example, as we have seen, it is capable of dissolving polar substances, as well as reacting with basic and acid oxides to form compounds such as calcium hydroxide or sulfuric acid. As well can generate different reactions on different types of metals , and participates in processes such as oxidation or the creation of hydrates.

14. High surface tension

This property refers to the force necessary to overcome the force of attraction between water molecules at surface level .

Its high value (in the case of water has a value of 72.8 dynes / cm) makes it generally when we are facing a surface of calm water this store to remain stable, something that makes it difficult to break its shape if it is not applied a considerable force. That is why leaves or other objects tend to float above without generating excessive alteration in the shape of the surface.

15. Regulates the temperature

Another interesting and well-known property of water is its ability to regulate temperature. And is that water is able to retain heat, something that causes it to cool more slowly than other substances. Likewise, it also takes longer to warm up. An example we see it in the effect that the sea has on the temperature of the coast, usually more moderate than in the interior.

Bibliographic references:

  • Marín Galvín, R. (2010). Physical, chemical and biological characteristics of the waters. School of Industrial Organization. [On-line]. Available at: //
  • Marín Galvín, R .; Rodríguez Mellado, J.M. (1999). Water physicochemistry Editorial Díaz de Santos.
  • Félez Santafé, M. (2009). Current status of the status of biological purification. Explanation of the methods and evidence. Escola d'Enginyeria de Barcelona- E.T. Industrial, specialization in Industrial Chemistry. Polytechnic University of Catalonia [Online]. Available at: //

10th Class Chemistry, ch 15, Properties of Water - Matric Class Chemistry (May 2024).

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