Danielle has taught middle school science and has a doctorate degree in Environmental Health
What Is a Chemical Property?
Have you ever seen rust? Maybe it was a shiny penny that turned to rust. Or, it could have been a metal bucket sitting in your backyard slowly rusting away. Whatever object you saw it on, rust is a classic example of a chemical property.
A chemical property is measured or observed following the chemical change to a substance--these properties result from a change with the chemical makeup or nature of a substance. How do we define a chemical change? Well, if we break a bond or form one, that's a chemical change. As shown in the image below, the creation of substances by forming bonds, or breakdown of substances by breaking bonds, shows us that a chemical change is taking place.
But how in the world can we spot chemical changes? Unfortunately, they are quite hard to identify. You have to ask yourself what chemical reaction is taking place to cause a change in that material. And if you can measure or observe that change, then bingo! That is your chemical property.
This all sounds good and dandy, but why are chemical properties important to us, as scientists? Well, to answer this question, we have to consider our earlier statement about the chemical makeup or nature of a substance. If we can identify one or more chemical properties, we can learn so much about the nature of that substance. This window to learning can be very useful to, for instance, the manufacturing industry, which can take this newfound knowledge and use it as a guide when producing a variety of products.
Examples of Chemical Properties
There are many different examples of chemical properties. Keep in mind when you look for a chemical property that you want to see evidence that a chemical change occurred. Let's look at a couple of examples:
Toxicity: This is a word you may have heard before. Toxicity simply refers to the ability of a material to damage living organisms. We often measure toxicity according how much damage or harm a chemical can cause. And so, this property is super helpful when trying to keep yourself safe from harm when working with chemicals.
Reactivity: Chemicals can often be very hostile toward each other. Sometimes, a chemical fight can break out just by putting two opposing chemicals close to each other. In contrast, chemicals that are amicable will have no reaction or explosive fight. This concept relates to the chemical property of reactivity. Reactivity focuses on the ability for substances to chemically combine with one another. Certain substances are very reactive with one another. Others like to keep the peace by remaining un-reactive.
Oxidation: Oxidation is the loss of electrons in a compound. As shown in the following example, a metal that oxidizes will lead to the formation of a rusty object. It is this chemical change in the metal that leads to the bronze-brown color we see on rusted objects.
Although not described here, there are honorable mentions we certainly cannot leave out: Flammability, heat of combustion, and heat of enthalpy are also examples of chemical properties.
Name That Chemical Property!
We have learned what a chemical property is and why it's important to science, and we've explored examples. Now let's apply what we have learned to a scenario. Keep in mind that a chemical change must happen in order to characterize the scenario as a chemical property.
Say you're camping and decide to create a fire. As the wood burns, oxygen from the air allows your fire to grow bigger and stronger. What chemical property is this scenario an example of?
This is an example of of the chemical property flammability, which refers to a substance that is capable of burning. In this case, wood is the substance that can burn.
A chemical property is a property that is measured or observed following a chemical change to a substance. The breaking or formation of bonds in a substance are examples of chemical changes. There are several different examples of chemical properties ranging from flammability to oxidation and reactivity.
To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account
Register to view this lesson
Unlock Your Education
See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com
Become a Study.com member and start learning now.Become a Member
Already a member? Log InBack