What are the physical properties of matter?

The same physical state of matter: solid, liquid or gaseous, defines a set of characteristic properties for each one. For example, the physical properties of solid water, ice, are not the same as for its liquid or vapors, even when the water molecule remains unchanged in these three states.

Also, the physical properties of ice are very different from, for example, a plastic doll. Both have mass and volume , but their molecules are different. Consequently, their surfaces differ in texture, as do their densities and hardnesses.

Physical properties are essential to evaluate and characterize (describe) a material, be it plastics, metals, wood, fabrics, papers, among others.


Mass is the amount of matter in a body. Mass is commonly expressed in grams (g) or kilograms (kg). In delicatessens, for example, meats are bought according to their mass.


It is a physical property that expresses the extension of a body in only one dimension: the length. Length is measured in centimeters, meters, kilometers, etc. For example, the Pan-American highway is approximately 30,000 km long.


It is the space occupied by a body, which has three dimensions: length, width and height. Volume is measured in cubic meters (m 3 ), cubic centimeters (cm 3 ), liters (l), milliliters (ml), etc. For example, the volume of planet Earth is approximately 1 trillion km 3 .


It is a form of energy transfer between two bodies. Heat flows from higher-temperature bodies to lower-temperature bodies. The amount of heat can be expressed in calories. For example, when a flame or a block of super frozen ice is touched, a sudden transfer of heat takes place, which ends up burning the skin.


Two objects with different density

It is the relationship between the mass of a body and the volume that the body occupies. It is usually expressed in g / mL, kg / L or g / cm  . For example, the density of mercury is 13.6 g / mL, which means that 1 milliliter of mercury has a mass of 13.6 grams. Therefore, a 1-liter container of mercury would weigh 13.6 kilograms.

The concentration of a solution indicates the relationship between the mass of the solute and the volume of the solution. It has many ways of expressing itself, such as: percentage by weight of the solute in relation to the volume of the solution, grams or moles of solute per liter of solution, etc. For example, the hydrogen peroxide that is usually bought in pharmacies has a v / v percentage of 3%.


It is a physical property related to the amount of heat in a body. It is expressed in degrees Celsius, Fahrenheit, or Kelvin. For example, body temperature normally oscillates around 37ºC.


It is a physical property that depends on the chemical stimulus produced by the molecules on the olfactory cells. There are several types of scents, including: fragrant, fruity, chemical, minty, lemon, spicy, foul, etc.


It is related to the sensation that a food or drink produces when it comes into contact with the taste buds. There are 4 basic flavors: sweet, salty, bitter, and sour.

Physical state

It indicates the physical state or phase of matter: gaseous, liquid, solid or plasma.


It is the property of certain materials to be permanently deformed or molded by the application of a force. An example is the materials used by children to make figures with their hands.


Elasticity is the property of an elastic body to be deformed by an applied force, and to return to its original shape once the deforming force ceases. Springs are examples of elastic bodies, as well as resistance bands used in physical therapies.


It is the property of some metals to be molded in thin foil, less than 1 mm, and which are used to wrap food and especially chocolate bars. Aluminum foil would not exist if this metal was not malleable.


It is the property of some metals to be used for the manufacture of very thin fibers. For example, copper is used in the form of fibers or wires in cables for the transmission of electric current.


It is the resistance that a liquid encounters to flow due to the friction experienced by a sheet of liquid to move relative to another sheet. An example of a viscous liquid is honey, which flows slowly when you want to pour it out of the container that contains it.


It is a property contrary to viscosity: fluids with low viscosity can flow freely, since they do not find resistance to do so. This is the case with water and many other liquids.


It is the resistance that a material presents to undergo a localized deformation, produced by the pressure exerted by a sharp object. It is also the resistance that a material offers to its surface being scratched by another material. In this sense, diamond is the material with the highest hardness, while talc is the one with the lowest hardness.


It is a property of materials known as magnets (magnets) to exert an attractive or repulsive force on other magnets. They too exert an attractive force on some iron materials.

Transparency and opacity

Transparency is a property of an object to be pierced by light and allow the objects behind it to be clearly visualized. Examples of transparent bodies are water and glass.

Meanwhile, opacity is the property of an object of not allowing light to pass through it. A brick wall is an example of an opaque body.


It is the force that is exerted on a surface. When a balloon is inflated, the air exerts a force on the surface of the balloon, an example of pressure.

Boiling point

Is the temperature at which a material changes from the liquid state to the gaseous state . For this, heat energy must be supplied to break the chemical bonds existing in the material. For example, water has a boiling point close to 100ºC.

Melting point

It is the temperature at which a material goes from the solid state to the liquid state. For example, the melting temperature of ice is 0 ° C: at this temperature, ice turns into liquid water.

Refractive index

It is a measure of the property of a material to deflect the direction of a ray of light that falls on its surface. When the surface of the water is viewed from above, objects placed within it appear closer than they actually are. This is due to the refractive index of water.

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