Chemical Property Definition and Examples

Learn About Chemical Properties of Matter

Flammability, toxicity, and corrosiveness are chemical properties.
Flammability, toxicity, and corrosiveness are chemical properties. Simon McGill / Getty Images

A chemical property is a characteristic or behavior of a substance that may be observed when it undergoes a chemical change or reaction. Chemical properties are seen either during or following a reaction since the arrangement of atoms within a sample must be disrupted for the property to be investigated. This is different from a physical property, which is a characteristic that may be observed and measured without changing the chemical identity of a specimen.

Key Takeaways: Chemical Property

  • A chemical property is a characteristic of a substance that may be observed when it participates in a chemical reaction.
  • Examples of chemical properties include flammability, toxicity, chemical stability, and heat of combustion.
  • Chemical properties are used to establish chemical classifications, which are used in labels on containers and storage areas.

Examples of Chemical Properties

Examples of chemical properties of a substance can include:

Remember, a chemical change must occur for a chemical property to be observed and measured. For example, iron oxidizes and becomes rust. Rusting is not a property that can be described based on analysis of the pure element.

Uses of Chemical Properties

Chemical properties are of great interest to materials science. These characteristics help scientists classify samples, identify unknown materials, and purify substances. Knowing the properties helps chemists make predictions about the type of reactions to expect. Because chemical properties are not readily apparent, they are included in labels for chemical containers. Hazard labels based on chemical properties should be affixed to containers, while full documentation should be maintained for easy reference.

Sources

  • Emiliani, Cesare (1987). Dictionary of the Physical Sciences: Terms, Formulas, Data. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-503651-0.
  • Masterton, William L.; Hurley, Cecile N. (2009). Chemistry: Principles and Reactions (6th edition). Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning.
  • Meyers, Robert A. (2001). Encyclopedia of Physical Science and Technology (3rd ed.). Academic Press. ISBN 978-0-12-227410-7.