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5 Properties of Water

Updated on June 13, 2016

What are the Main Properties of Water?

This article will discuss the five main properties of water:

  1. Its attraction to polar molecules
  2. High-specific heat
  3. High heat of vaporization
  4. The lower density of ice
  5. High polarity

1. Water's Attraction to Other Polar Molecules

Cohesion

Cohesion, otherwise known as water's attraction to other water molecules, is one of the major properties of water. Water's polarity lends it to be attracted to other water molecules. The hydrogen bonds in water hold other water molecules together. Due to water's cohesiveness:

  • Liquid water has surface tension. This allows for insects, such as Water Striders, to walk on water.
  • Water is a liquid at moderate temperatures, and not a gas.

Adhesion

Water's attraction between molecules of a different substance is called adhesion. Water is adhesive to any molecule it can form hydrogen bonds with. Due to water's adhesiveness:

  • Capillary action occurs. For example, when you have a narrow tube in water, the water will rise up the tube because of water's adhesiveness to the glass "climbing" up the tube.

2. Water's High-Specific Heat

Water can moderate temperature because of the two properties: high-specific heat and the high heat of vaporization.

High-specific heat is the amount of energy that is absorbed or lost by one gram of a substance to change the temperature by 1 degree celsius. Water molecules form a lot of hydrogen bonds between one another. In turn, a lot of energy is needed to break down those bonds. Breaking the bonds allows individual water molecules to move freely about and have a higher temperature. In other words: if there are a lot of individual water molecules moving about, they’ll create more friction and more heat, which means a higher temperature.

The hydrogen bonds between water molecules absorb the heat when they break and release heat when they form, which minimizes temperature changes. Water helps maintain a moderate temperature of organisms and environments.

Water takes a long time to heat up, and holds its temperature longer when heat is not applied.

3. Water's High Heat of Evaporation

Water's high heat of vaporization is the other property responsible for its ability to moderate temperature.

Water's high heat of evaporation is basically the amount of heat energy needed to change a gram of liquid into gas. Water also needs a lot of energy in order to break down the hydrogen bonds. The evaporation of water off a surface causes a cooling effect. Much like among humans—when we get hot, or energy inside our body is breaking chemical bonds, we sweat as a cooling effect. In this case, the same process occurs: as the water evaporates off the the surface of the skin, it cools down the surface.

4. The Lower Density of Ice

At cooler temperatures, the hydrogen bonds of water molecules form ice crystals. The hydrogen bonds are more stable and will maintain its crystal-like shape. Ice—the solid form of water—is less dense than water because of the hydrogen bonds being spaced out and being relatively apart. The low density is what allows icebergs to float and are the reason that only the top part of lakes are frozen.

5. Water's High Polarity

Water is a polar molecule that has a high level of polarity and attraction to ions and other polar molecules.

Water can form hydrogen bonds, which make it a powerful solvent. Water molecules are attracted to other molecules that contain a full charge, like an ion, a partial charge, or polar. Salt (NA+ CL-) dissolves in water. Water molecules surround the salt molecules and separate the NA+ from the CL- by forming hydration shells around those two individual ions.

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      Dang 16 hours ago

      This comment section is trash. :/

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      hola 7 days ago

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      the U of D Jesuit Scholor Athlete of the Year 2 weeks ago

      this is great for my bio class it is basically what my teacher is teaching in class rn

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      Logan n mitch 2 weeks ago

      Why is water so wet?

    • profile image

      Itz yr boy joseph 2 weeks ago

      Very good but it too long

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      N I G G E R D I K 2 weeks ago

      Water makes me so wet 3=========D

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      vividucks808 2 weeks ago

      LOVE learning about water and other WET things. -go ducks!

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      this helps thank u 2 weeks ago

      this helps thx

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      George 2 weeks ago

      This help. Thanks :)

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      John Cena 3 weeks ago

      wow who would've known I like orange cream pie??

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      ramsey printup 3 weeks ago

      this website didnt help me learn how to drink water

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      Marc 3 weeks ago

      Very good but make it short

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      Rissa Wolfe 3 weeks ago

      Thanks this helped me a lot.

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      jojo 3 weeks ago

      thank you

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      slim shady 3 weeks ago

      thank you this website helped so much in biology class.

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      me 3 weeks ago

      ty i just dont understand how water could be this good of a meme hit me line if u tryna blow tht vapor

    • profile image

      Bent Dover 4 weeks ago

      Thanks mate, because of you , Im going to ace my biology test. Good Stuff

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      james 4 weeks ago

      great content

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      Laurel 4 weeks ago

      This helped so much. Thanks :)

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      Billy Mays 4 weeks ago

      Is this what caused IRMA?

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      Billy Cliton 4 weeks ago

      Useless

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      Brandon 4 weeks ago

      Hello! This helped me in my lab in biology tank you.

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      Ismael 5 weeks ago

      which water property is important for shape of eye for vertebrates animals

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      Mr mugabi 6 weeks ago

      Well explained

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      Tronald Dump 6 weeks ago

      So what happens if I build a wall around a droplet of water? And maybe deport it? Will it still stay in a droplet?

    • profile image

      mr. mysterious 6 weeks ago

      it t'was beautiful

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      student 6 weeks ago

      nice

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      Lp 7 weeks ago

      Thank you for the information, It was very much needed.

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      Student 8 weeks ago

      Is waters ability to form droplets caused by it's attractions to polar molecules from hydrogen bonds?

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      matthew 2 months ago

      how does a water strider float on top of water

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      febin 3 months ago

      water moves in a circular path when pressure exerts on it.

    • profile image

      Rohit padme 3 months ago

      Help me in bio mechanical modalities thank you

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      Chris Bajao 3 months ago

      what are the three properties of water that makes it vital to our health?

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      Parvez 4 months ago

      I like it

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      harsh 4 months ago

      this is very nice discusstion about the properties of water

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      naddy wat wat 6 months ago

      I did a mock exam and a question on the properties of water was on it and I did not know shit about it as we have never done it before....so this is really helpful

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      Darnold Trump 7 months ago

      Believe me it's a good article

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      bleach 8 months ago

      Very nice I like it

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      Angelis55 8 months ago

      I think this is a good way to learn more about the properties of water.

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      Hi 8 months ago

      This is awesome - this just gave me all my homework answers.

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      ha 10 months ago

      ha ha

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      It helps me a lot

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      lol wat 12 months ago

      i love how theres more than 4 comments that say

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      but yea i used this for homework thanks :D

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      Pinky boo 12 months ago

      You need to put it in sentences which are helpful not to say that the answer s are very helpful though thanks any way

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      queation 12 months ago

      describe how waters poalarity effects 2 of the major properties of water

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      RainbowPuppyFace 13 months ago

      its good information for my school project in science class

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      selina ramos 2 years ago

      what are two properties of water that are related to hydrogen water

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      noor ud din 2 years ago

      more informative and well writeded..

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      ArockDaNinja 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

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