Science, Tech, Math › Science Difference Between Physical and Chemical Properties How to Tell Them Apart and Examples of Each Share Flipboard Email Print The volume of a sample is an examples of a physical property. Siede Preis/Getty Images Science Chemistry Basics Chemical Laws Molecules Periodic Table Projects & Experiments Scientific Method Biochemistry Physical Chemistry Medical Chemistry Chemistry In Everyday Life Famous Chemists Activities for Kids Abbreviations & Acronyms Biology Physics Geology Astronomy Weather & Climate By Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Chemistry Expert Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Updated May 07, 2019 Measurable characteristics of matter may be categorized as either chemical or physical properties. What is the difference between a chemical property and a physical property? The answer has to do with chemical and physical changes of matter. A Physical Property A physical property is an aspect of matter that can be observed or measured without changing its chemical composition. Examples of physical properties include color, molecular weight, and volume. A Chemical Property A chemical property may only be observed by changing the chemical identity of a substance. In other words, the only way to observe a chemical property is by performing a chemical reaction. This property measures the potential for undergoing a chemical change. Examples of chemical properties include reactivity, flammability and oxidation states. Telling Physical and Chemical Properties Apart Sometimes it can be tricky to know whether or not a chemical reaction has occurred. For example, when you melt ice into water, you can write the process in terms of a chemical reaction. However, the chemical formula on both sides of the reaction is the same. Since the chemical identity of the matter in question is unchanged, this process represents a physical change. Thus melting point is a physical property. On the other hand, flammability is a chemical property of matter because the only way to know how readily a substance ignites is to burn it. In the chemical reaction for combustion, the reactants and products are different. Look for Tell-Tale Signs of a Chemical Change Usually, you don't have the chemical reaction for a process. You can look for tell-tale signs of a chemical change. These include bubbling, color change, temperature change, and precipitation formation. If you see signs of a chemical reaction, the characteristic you are measuring is most likely a chemical property. If these signs are absent, the characteristic is probably a physical property.