Specific Heat vs Heat Capacity: Difference and Comparison

Everything that happens in nature always has science in it; the changes, the reactions, the atmosphere, etc., everything has something scientific behind it. Changes might be visible to people, but scientific reasoning is not visible to everybody.   

For example, in boiling water, if a person puts water to boil, the boiling will be visible to the person, the vapour, the temperature change, everything would be felt or seen, but the chemical reasoning behind it might get neglected, as boiling water is an extremely basic activity. 

Likewise, every basic to advance activity has some or the other scientific reasoning behind it. Heat, temperature, etc., are quite basic terms everybody comes across in day-to-day life, and the use of these terms in science is more often.

In science, heat is described as a form of energy transferred between two objects At different temperatures. 

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Key Takeaways

  1. Specific heat is the amount required to raise the temperature of one gram of a substance by one degree Celsius.
  2. Heat capacity is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of an object by one degree Celsius.
  3. While specific heat is a property of a substance, heat capacity depends on the mass and composition of an object.

Specific Heat vs Heat Capacity

Heat capacity is required to raise a substance by a certain amount. Specific heat is the amount required to raise a substance’s temperature by a certain amount, measured in (J/kg/K). It is an intensive property, independent of the amount of substance being considered.

Specific Heat vs Heat Capacity

Comparison Table

Parameters of Comparison Specific heatHeat capacity
DefinitionIt is the amount of heat energy required by a unit of mass of a substance to raise its temperature through1℃ or 1k.It is the amount of heat energy a substance requires to raise its temperature by 1℃ or 1 K.
Dependency on mass Does not depend on mass.Depends on mass.
SI unitJoule per kilogram per Kelvin (J Kg⎺1 K⎺1) or Joule per kilogram per degree Celsius (J Kg⎺1 ℃⎺1)Joule per Kelvin (J K⎺1) or Joule per degree (J ℃⎺1)
FormulaQ = mc TC = Q/ T  
Denoted bycC

What is Specific Heat?

Specific heat is defined as the amount of heat energy required by a unit of mass of a substance to raise its temperature through1℃ or 1 k. 

Specific heat can be calculated theoretically through a formula which is 

                                                 Q = mc T

  1. Q – heat energy
  2. m – mass
  3. c – specific heat capacity
  4. T – change in temperature 

Specific heat capacity does not depend on the mass of the substance. The SI unit of specific heat is Joule per kilogram per Kelvin (J Kg⎺1 K⎺1) or Joule per kilogram per degree Celsius (J Kg⎺1 ℃⎺1).

Specific heat can be explained through an example: on a beach, the sand might be hot, but the water is cold; although they both receive the same amount of heat from the sun, the temperatures are still different. This happens because every material has its heat capacity.

And this is known as specific heat capacity or specific heat. Specific heat or specific heat capacity can be seen in day-to-day life; it is the chemical reasoning of the heat process in different materials, which can be calculated theoretically through its formula.

specific heat

What is Heat capacity?

In science, heat capacity is defined as the amount of heat energy required by a substance to raise its temperature by 1℃ or 1 K. Unlike specific heat, heat capacity depends on the mass of the substance.

Heat capacity can be calculated theoretically through a formula which is

                                                       C = Q/ T  

  1. C – heat capacity
  2. Q – heat energy supplied to bring change in temperature of the substance
  3. T – rise in temperature 

Heat capacity depends on the mass of the substance. The SI unit of heat capacity is Joule per Kelvin (J K⎺1) or Joule per degree (J ℃⎺1). Unlike specific heat, it does not include the mass of the substance, due to which unit does not include kilograms or grams. 

Heat capacity can be explained through an example of iron heating or cooling down quickly because it has low heat capacity. On the other hand, water takes time to get hot or cold because it has a high heat capacity.

This means heat capacity is related to a substance’s potential to retain heat energy and the rate it will get cool or warm up. Heat capacity varies from substance to substance; water is said to have the highest heat capacity; in Other words, water requires more heat energy to raise its temperature.

The temperature change is sometimes different in different water bodies, as a smaller amount will get heated more quickly than in large water bodies like oceans.

heat capacity

Main Differences Between Specific Heat and Heat Capacity

  1. Specific heat is the amount of heat energy required by a unit of mass of a substance to raise its temperature through1℃ or 1k.On the other hand, heat capacity is the amount of heat energy a substance requires to raise its temperature by 1℃ or 1 K.
  2. Specific heat is not dependent on the mass of the substance. On the other hand, heat capacity depends on the substance’s mass.
  3. The SI unit of specific heat is Joule per kilogram per Kelvin (J Kg⎺1 K⎺1) or Joule per kilogram per degree Celsius (J Kg⎺1 ℃⎺1). At the same time, the SI unit of heat capacity is Joule per Kelvin (J K⎺1) or Joule per degree (J ℃⎺1).
  4. The formula for specific heat is Q = mc T; conversely, the formula to calculate heat capacity is C = Q/ T.  
  5. Specific heat is denoted by c; conversely, heat capacity is denoted by C.
References
  1. https://journals.aps.org/prb/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevB.4.2029
  2. https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/full/10.1146/annurev.physchem.56.092503.141202
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