Water Properties

Water's Physical Properties

  • Water is the only natural substance that occurs in all three states; liquid, solid(ice), and gas(steam); at temperatures normally found on Earth. The Water Cycle is dependent on this.

  • Water is unusual in that the solid form is less dense than the liquid form. Water is heaviest at 39.2oF. This property is important to life in lakes. How would a frozen lake be different if water was like most substances and the solid form was heavier than the liquid?

  • Water has a very high surface tension. It tends to clump together in drops rather than spread into a thin film like oil does on water. Surface tension is responsible for capillary action, which allows water to move through the roots of plants and through tiny blood vessels in our bodies. One hundred foot trees could not exist without capillary action and neither could you.

  • Water has a high specific heat index. Water can absorb a lot of energy before it gets hot. This makes water valuable as a coolant. This property of water also slows the rate at which air changes temperature and makes our seasons change gradually rather than suddenly.