6 Difference Between Intensive And Extensive Properties With Examples

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Intensive and extensive properties are two main types of physical properties of matter. The two terms, extensive and intensive properties were first coined by physical chemist and physicist Richard C. Tolman in 1917. Intensive properties do not depend on the quantity of matter whereas extensive properties do depend on the sample size. The ratio between two extensive properties is an intensive property. For example, mass and volume are extensive properties, but their ratio (density) is an intensive property of matter.

What Are Intensive Properties?

Intensive properties also referred to as bulk properties or intensive quantities, are physical properties that do not depend on the amount of matter that is present. Intensive properties can be used to help identify a sample because these characteristics do not depend on the amount of sample, nor do they change according to conditions.

Examples of intensive properties include:

  • Boiling point
  • Color
  • Concentration
  • Density
  • Electrical conductivity
  • Luster
  • Magnetic permeability
  • Melting point
  • Molarity
  • Odor
  • Pressure
  • Surface tension
  • State of matter
  • Temperature
  • Refractive index
  • Viscosity

What You Need To Know About Intensive Property

  • Intensive properties are the microscopic properties of the system/matter which are independent of amount or quantity of material present in a system/matter.
  • These properties remain same whether system is divided into two parts.
  • The properties are used to determine the identity of a system.
  • The size of intensive properties does not change.
  • These properties cannot be computed.
  • Ductility, viscosity, conductivity, luster, odor etc are examples of intensive properties.

What Are Extensive Properties?

Extensive properties also referred to as extensive quantities are physical properties that do depend on the amount of matter in a sample. An extensive property is considered additive for subsystems. While extensive properties are great for describing a sample, they aren’t very helpful in identifying it because they can change according to sample size or conditions.

Examples Of Extensive Properties Include:

  • Energy
  • Enthalpy
  • Entropy
  • Gibbs energy
  • Heat capacity
  • Length
  • Mass
  • Size
  • Volume
  • Weight

What You Need To Know About Extensive Property

  • Extensive properties are the microscopic properties of the system/matter which are dependent on amount or quantity of a material present in the system/matter.  
  • These properties become half when the system is divided into two parts.
  • The properties cannot be used to define the identity of the system.
  • Size of extensive properties changes.
  • These properties can be computed.
  • Mass, volume, weight etc are examples of extensive property.

Also Read: Difference Between Scalar And Vector Quantity

Difference Between Intensive And Extensive Properties In Tabular Form

BASIS OF COMPARISON INTENSIVE PROPERTIES EXTENSIVE PROPERTIES
Description Intensive properties are the microscopic properties of the system/matter which are independent of amount or quantity of material present in a system/matter.   Extensive properties are the microscopic properties of the system/matter which are dependent on amount or quantity of a material present in the system/matter.   
Division Of Matter These properties remain same whether system is divided into two parts.   These properties become half when the system is divided into two parts.  
Use The properties are used to determine the identity of a system.   The properties cannot be used to define the identity of the system.  
Size The size of intensive properties does not change.   Size of extensive properties changes.  
Computation These properties cannot be computed.   These properties can be computed.  
Examples Ductility, viscosity, conductivity, luster, odor etc are examples of intensive properties.   Mass, volume, weight etc are examples of extensive property.  

Specific Properties

The ratio between two extensive properties is a special type of intensive property called a specific property. As an example, both mass and volume are extensive properties. Their ratio is density, which is an intensive property and a specific property. Other specific properties include specific volume (the reciprocal of density), specific heat capacity (heat capacity divided by mass), molar volume (volume per mole), and specific enthalpy.

 Easiest Way To Differentiate Between Extensive And Intensive Properties

One easy way to tell whether a physical property is intensive or extensive is to take two identical samples of a substance and put them together. If this doubles the property (e.g., twice the mass, twice as long), it’s an extensive property. If the property is unchanged by altering the sample size, it’s an intensive property.

A small amount of matter has the same density, temperature, and hardness as a large amount of the same substance. In contrast, an extensive property is additive. What this means is doubling the size of the sample doubles an extensive property. So, doubling the sample would make it twice as massive, twice as long, etc.