Examples of Chemical Properties

 Chemical properties and physical properties are characteristics of matter that can be used to help identify and describe it. Chemical properties are those that you can observe only if matter experiences a chemical change or chemical reaction. In other words, you need to change the chemical identity of a sample in order to observe and measure its chemical properties.

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Chemical Property Examples

Flammability is an example of a chemical property of matter.
Flammability is an example of a chemical property of matter. Pleasureofart, Getty Images

It's important to know chemical properties of a sample because this information can be used to:

  • classify it
  • identify an unknown sample
  • purify it
  • separate it from other substance
  • predict its behavior
  • predict its uses

Let's take a closer look at some examples of chemical properties...

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Toxicity as a Chemical Property

Toxicity is a chemical property.
Toxicity is a chemical property. Chris Collins, Getty Images

Toxicity is an example of a chemical property. Toxicity is how dangerous a chemical is to your health, a particular organ, another organism, or to the environment. You can't tell by looking at a chemical whether or not it is toxic. How poisonous a substance depends on the situation, so this is a property that can only be observed and measured by exposing an organic system to a sample. The exposure causes a chemical reaction or set of reactions. The net result of the chemical changes is the toxicity.

Relative Toxicity of Chemicals

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Flammability as a Chemical Property

Flammability is a chemical property that describes how well a substance burns.
Flammability is a chemical property that describes how well a substance burns. PM Images, Getty Images

Flammability is a measure of how readily a sample ignites or how well is can sustain a combustion reaction. You don't know how easily something will burn until you try to ignite it, so flammability is an example of a chemical property.

Flammable vs Inflammable

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Chemical Stability

When chemical stability is reached, the sample will be at equilibrium with its surroundings.
When chemical stability is reached, the sample will be at equilibrium with its surroundings. Paper Boat Creative, Getty Images

Chemical stability is also known as thermodynamic stability. It occurs when a substance is at chemical equilibrium in its environment, which is its lowest energy state. This is a property of matter that is determined by its specific conditions, so it can't be observed without exposing a sample to that situation. Thus, it is a chemical property of matter.

Chemical stability is related to chemical reactivity. While chemical stability pertains to a given set of circumstances, reactivity is a measure of how likely a sample is to participate in a chemical reaction under a variety of conditions, and how quickly a reaction might proceed.

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Oxidation States or Oxidation Number

Transition metal solutions display vivid colors because of their oxidation states.
Transition metal solutions display vivid colors because of their oxidation states. Ben Mills

 Each element has a preferred set of oxidation states or oxidation numbers. It is a measure of the loss of electrons or oxidation of an atom in a compound. Although integers (e.g., -1, 0, 2) are used to describe oxidation states, the true level of oxidation is more complicated. Because oxidation can't be known until an element participates in a chemical reaction to form chemical bonds, this is a chemical property.

Rules for Assigning Oxidation Numbers

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More Examples of Chemical Properties

flames of fire on black background
Yamada Taro / Getty Images

There are many chemical properties of matter. In addition to toxicity, flammability, chemical stability, and oxidation states, other chemical properties include:

Basically, if it is a characteristic that may only be observed as a result of a chemical reaction, it is a chemical property.

What Is Matter?