5 Properties of Water

Updated on February 7, 2019

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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      ANONYMOUS 

      2 months ago

      BTS IS LIFE

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      Party life with me 

      4 months ago

      This will help me with my science fair! *Sarcastically* woo hoo

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      Student 

      4 months ago

      This helped so much! I hope I will get a A on my bio test!

      God bless!

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      student 

      4 months ago

      this is really helpful

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      Mike Oxlong 

      4 months ago

      Noice. 10/10 would recommend

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      Sicko Mode 

      4 months ago

      Okay boomer

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      5 months ago

      This helped but I can't swim so I can't say I like it...

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      Jaguar 

      5 months ago

      Great info helped alot

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      6 months ago

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      6 months ago

      thanx for the info

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      6 months ago

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      6 months ago

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      6 months ago

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      6 months ago

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      Noice 

      6 months ago

      Thanks for this article! I got an A+ on my test, so I recommend it.

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      student 

      6 months ago

      ok...cool

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      Brendan_ROYAL 

      6 months ago

      This was very helpful!! I hope this gets me a good grade.

    • profile image

      shah 

      7 months ago

      thx! this was so simple yet so helpful!

    • profile image

      Julian 

      7 months ago

      Thanks

      It was amazing

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      Heather 

      7 months ago

      Try to find fifteen more

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      Humphrey 

      7 months ago

      This is awesome

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      clare maris 

      7 months ago

      best explanation ever

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      Fadl Abekah 

      8 months ago

      Nice explanation

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      zay 

      8 months ago

      honestly i have no question its simple

    • profile image

      mg 

      8 months ago

      thank you

    • profile image

      lauren 

      8 months ago

      JK ive been studing the whole time

    • profile image

      Lauren Taylor 

      8 months ago

      This was sooo helpful considering I didnt study eccept the night before

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      dyin 

      8 months ago

      i hope this article gives me back my A in bio

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      clown 

      8 months ago

      finna eat a 42 on the test

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      David 

      9 months ago

      Thanks for info I will thank you if i get a good grade on my biomolcule test

    • profile image

      Bill Nye de Russian Spy 

      9 months ago

      Why does the evaporation cool us down?

    • profile image

      Dania 

      9 months ago

      very useful information, I think you should also highlight or also state the rest of properties like;

      1)ionization

      2)reactivity

      3)pH

      4)incompressible

      5)latent heat fusion

      thank you in advance.....

    • profile image

      your gay 

      10 months ago

      nope

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      Mr.Boi 

      10 months ago

      SO TRUE

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      Aditya 

      10 months ago

      Fabulous information

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      nanana 

      10 months ago

      this was dope

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      #singlemomlifekaren 

      10 months ago

      this is wonderful, i loved reading about WATER

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      jaydon 

      10 months ago

      I think you miss out some but if i get A ill be sure to thank you.

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      10 months ago

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      Akhtar 

      11 months ago

      Good properties

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      prosper 

      14 months ago

      l have passed

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      14 months ago

      Easiest to know and simple

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      14 months ago

      my project finna b so lame

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      14 months ago

      Cool properties

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      15 months ago

      good stuff

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      15 months ago

      nice it was very helpfull

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      15 months ago

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      15 months ago

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      15 months ago

      cool

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      16 months ago

      thank you....it is very informative

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      emo_loser 

      16 months ago

      Helped me so much with a Water review due tomorrow

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      16 months ago

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      17 months ago

      so much thank you

      continue doing that

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      17 months ago

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      17 months ago

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      18 months ago

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      John Jacob Jingleheimer Smith 

      18 months ago

      YES QUEEN

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      OCHIENG BRIAN NYACHAO 

      19 months ago

      THANKS A LOT

      BUT DO YOU THINK PROPERTY NO. ONE CONTRIBUTED TO

      JESUS WALK ON WATER

    • profile image

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      19 months ago

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      19 months ago

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      19 months ago

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      20 months ago

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      21 months ago

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      someperson 

      21 months ago

      I think that this is a very helpful way to learn about the 5 properties of water ;)

    • profile image

      SomeRandomGuy 

      21 months ago

      Water is water, that is all

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      21 months ago

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      21 months ago

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      21 months ago

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      21 months ago

      who is the author

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      21 months ago

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      21 months ago

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      21 months ago

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      21 months ago

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      21 months ago

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      21 months ago

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      21 months ago

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      21 months ago

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      21 months ago

      In the properties of water what is able to support something

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      22 months ago

      bo eats rice

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      22 months ago

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      22 months ago

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      22 months ago

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      22 months ago

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      22 months ago

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      22 months ago

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      22 months ago

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      23 months ago

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      23 months ago

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      23 months ago

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      23 months ago

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      24 months ago

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      2 years ago

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      2 years ago

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      Maral Hermione 

      2 years ago

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      1) cohesion

      2) adhesion

      3) thermal

      4) solvent

      Also known as CATS

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