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Intensive vs. Extensive Properties

Intensive vs. Extensive Properties

Lab Tool - Measuring Cylinders Introduction: To better understand the world around us, we often need to measure properties. Properties are a cornerstone of experimentation in chemistry. Two properties that are used to identify and quantify substances are intensive and extensive properties.

Intensive properties refer to properties that do not depend on the amount of substance that is present in a sample. Examples of intensive properties include boiling point and density. Intensive properties are especially important because they are used to identify substances. For example, the density of water differs from the density of aluminum metal.

Extensive properties, unlike intensive properties, do depend on the amount of substance that is present in a sample. Examples of extensive properties include mass and volume. Extensive properties are often measured in a laboratory setting.

One interesting property to note is density. Density, while being an intensive properties, is defined as the ratio of two extensive properties: mass and volume. The equation for density is written as follows:

[math]d=m/V[/math], where d=density, m=mass, and V=volume

Generally, when the mass increases, the density tends to increase. Conversely, when volume increases, the density tends to decrease. Because the density of a given substance always remains the same, if the mass of the sample increases, the volume must also increase to ensure that the density of the specific substance remains constant. For example, because water's density is 1.00 g/mL, a 1.00-gram sample of water has a volume of 1.00 mL, while a 2.00-gram sample of water must have a volume of 2.00 mL.

Directions for This Lesson: In this lesson, you will learn about intensive and extensive properties. First, try the practice questions to determine what you already know about intensive and extensive properties. Then, watch the video lesson to learn more about intensive and extensive properties.


1. Required Video

2. Activity
Learn more about intensive and extensive properties using this interactive game.

3. Practice
Practice what you have learned by completing the post-lesson worksheet.

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