7 Properties of Water with example

Water (H2O) is an inorganic polar compound composed of molecules of hydrogen and oxygen. The most crucial property for all the other properties is the polarity of water.

7 properties of water

7 Properties of Water

1.Water is polar.

To understand the importance of polarity, we must know the bonds in water.

Which are the bonds in water?

Water molecule has two types of bonds:

Covalent Bond: Each water molecule is formed by two hydrogen atoms covalently bonded to one oxygen atom. A covalent bond is formed when two atoms share electrons. Unequal sharing of electrons makes water a polar molecule. The oxygen end of the molecule is slightly negative and hydrogen end is slightly positive.

Hydrogen bond: H-bonds are formed between water molecules due to the polar nature of the water molecule. The hydrogen atom of one water molecule; with partial positive charge is attracted to the oxygen atom of another water molecule; carries a partial negative charge. This is due, where the oxygen atom and the hydrogen atom carry a partial positive charge.

2. Water as Solvent

It can dissolve more substances than any other liquid. That is why, Water is called as the “universal solvent.” This property is crucial because it means that wherever water goes, whether through the air, the ground, or through our bodies, it carries along valuable chemicals, minerals, and nutrients. The solvent property of water is primarily due to its polarity and ability to form hydrogen bonds.

Solvent property of water

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Example: when NaCl crystals are added to water, NaCl dissociate into Na+ and Cl– ions, and spheres of hydration form around the ions. The positively charged sodium ion is surrounded by the partially negative charge of the water molecule’s oxygen. The negatively charged chloride ion is surrounded by the partially positive charge of the hydrogen on the water molecule. This is called as a sphere of hydration, or hydration shell and serves to keep the particles dispersed in the water.

Importance of water as solvent

  • Medium for Chemical reactions: Water makes up about 70% of our cell. All metabolic reactions essential for life takes place in a watery environment inside our cell. This is due to the solvent property of water.
  • Transportation of Nutrients: Water’s ability to dissolve various substances allows it to carry valuable chemicals, minerals, and nutrients inside our body and also in the environment.
  • Formation of Solutions: Water can form solutions with a wide range of substances like sugar solution and salt solution vital for many biological and physical phenomena.

3.High Specific Heat: The ability of water to absorb a significant amount of heat with a relatively small temperature increase. The property of water to resist changes in temperature is known as its high specific heat capacity.

This property of water plays a crucial role in maintaining the Earth’s climate. Large bodies of water like oceans can absorb a lot of heat during the day without their temperature rising significantly. At night, this heat is slowly released, helping to moderate temperatures.

Let us consider a simple example of water and a metal, like aluminum, under the sun. Both water and aluminum receive the same amount of sunlight and thus absorb the same amount of heat energy. However, you will notice that the aluminum gets hot very quickly, while the water heats up much more slowly.

As the temperature rises, the hydrogen bonds between water continually break and reform, allowing for the overall temperature to remain stable, although increased energy is

4.High Heat of vaporization refers to the high amount of energy required to change a substance from liquid to gas.

Example: When you exercise, your body heats up. To cool down, your body produces sweat, which is mostly water. As the sweat evaporates from your skin, it takes with it a large amount of heat due to water’s high heat of vaporization. This is why you feel cooler when your sweat evaporates.

This property water plays a crucial role in many natural processes, including weather, climate, and temperature regulation in organisms.

5 & 6. Adhesion and Cohesion

Adhesion: The ability of water to sticks to other surfaces. A simple example of adhesion is capillary action, where water “climbs” upwards through thin glass tubes (called capillary tubes) placed in a beaker of water. This upward motion against gravity depends on the attraction between water molecules and the glass walls of the tube (adhesion), as well as on interactions between water molecules (cohesion). The same thing happens in water transport through xylem in plants.

Cohesion: The property of water molecules to attract with each other, leading to phenomena like surface tension. Water striders walking on water surface due to surface tension.

7. The lower density of ice: This is an unusual property of water as solid state (ice) is less dense than liquid state (water)causes it to float at the surface of liquid water. Water bodies freeze from top down and ice acts as an insulating barrier protecting aquatic life below the ice layer. The reason for this unusual property is Hydrogen bonding. The lattice structure of ice makes it less dense than the freely flowing molecules of liquid water, enabling it to float on water. This arrangement leaves cage-like spaces in their bonding, causing the volume of ice to become greater and thus less dense.
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