Intrinsic Property Definition (Chemistry)

Container showing density in chemistry
Density is an intrinsic property of matter. It is the same regardless of the size of a sample. Dave King / Getty Images

In chemistry, an intrinsic property is a property of a substance that is independent of the amount of the substance present. Such properties are inherent qualities of the type and form of matter, mainly dependent on chemical composition and structure.

Key Takeaways: Intrinsic Property of Matter

  • An intrinsic property is independent of the size of a sample or the amount of matter that is present.
  • Examples of intrinsic properties include density and specific gravity.

Intrinsic Versus Extrinsic Properties

In contrast to intrinsic properties, extrinsic properties are not essential qualities of a material. Extrinsic properties are affected by external factors. Intrinsic and extrinsic properties are closely related to intensive and extensive properties of matter.

Examples of Intrinsic and Extrinsic Properties

Density is an intrinsic property, while weight is an extrinsic property. The density of a material is the same, regardless of the conditions. Weight depends on gravity, so it is not a property of matter, but depends on the gravitational field.

The crystal structure of a sample of ice is an intrinsic property, while the color of the ice is an extrinsic property. A small sample of ice may appear clear, while a large sample would be blue.


  • Lewis, David (1983). "Extrinsic Properties." Philosophical Studies. Springer Netherlands. 44: 197–200. doi:10.1007/bf00354100
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Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Intrinsic Property Definition (Chemistry)." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2020, August 27). Intrinsic Property Definition (Chemistry). Retrieved from Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Intrinsic Property Definition (Chemistry)." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 21, 2023).