Chemical Properties and Physical Properties

The color and volume of the balls are physical properties. Their flammability and reactivity are chemical properties.
The color and volume of the balls are physical properties. Their flammability and reactivity are chemical properties. PM Images / Getty Images

When you study matter, you'll be expected to understand and distinguish between chemical and physical properties.

Physical Properties

Basically, physical properties are those which you can observe and measure without changing the chemical identity of your sample. Physical properties are used to describe matter and make observations about it. Examples of physical properties include color, shape, position, volume and boiling point.

Physical properties may be subdivided into intensive and extensive properties. An intensive property (e.g., color, density, temperature, melting point) is a bulk property that does not depend on the sample size. An extensive property (e.g., mass, shape, volume)  is affected by the amount of matter in a sample.

Chemical Properties

Chemical properties, on the other hand, reveal themselves only when the sample is changed by a chemical reaction. Examples of chemical properties include flammability, reactivity and toxicity.

The Gray Area Between Physical and Chemical Properties

Would you consider solubility to be a chemical property or a physical property, given that ionic compounds dissociate into new chemical species when dissolved (e.g., salt in water), while covalent compounds do not (e.g., sugar in water)?

Chemical Properties | Physical Properties