Intensive and extensive properties: 30 examples

The universe is made of matter (at least a percentage of that considered baryonic) and has certain characteristics. We see, therefore, a nail and we can say that it is made, materially speaking, of iron; and also a human being, established from what, in general terms, is called organic matter. So, within matter, we can find two types of very specific properties: extensive and intensive.

Extensive properties are those that depend on mass, that is, they are quantities whose value is in proportion to the system they describe, so they are additive. On the other hand, the intensive properties are those that do not depend on the mass or the size of the body; ergo, they are not additive, keeping the values ​​unchanged.

Intensive propertiesExtensive properties
DefinitionThey are those that do not depend on the amount of matterThose that depend on the amount of matter
CharacteristicsThey are not additive; its result does not vary with the change of the quantity of matter.They are additive; its result is modified by the amount of matter.
ExamplesTemperature, color, flavor, boiling point, melting point, pressure, among others.Mass, weight, volume, length, force, inertia, among others.

The intensive properties are those that do not depend on the amount of matter, therefore, the development of different subsystems will not imply a summation that would give rise to a final result; there is no variance or a non-additivity is also seen. A clear example is the boiling point: it occurs at a certain temperature (100 degrees Celsius), so if another liter is added to a test of one liter, in reality the point will remain the same.

On the other hand, the extensive properties are those that do depend on the amount of matter or size, which results in that the different values ​​from this logic can be added. The clearest example is weight, from which values ​​or subsystems can be constantly added to infinity.

Examples of intensive properties


Temperature, in a scientific sense, is the measure of the average kinetic energy of the same atoms. The Celsius scale, better known as centigrade, is the most common worldwide to measure temperature. And it is intensive because precisely the temperature does not change according to the amount of matter. Therefore, a sample can have the same temperature, be it, for example, a two-liter or 200 cm3 container.

Boiling point

The boiling point is the maximum temperature at which a liquid matter reaches or, put against the grain, it is the temperature from which it passes from the liquid state to the gaseous state. And the boiling point is intensive because the amount of matter you have does not matter: two liters or 200 liters, in truth, it does not modify the point, which is precisely 100 centigrade.

Melting point

It refers to a temperature at which it goes from a solid to a liquid state. In general, although there are exceptions, the melting point is equal to the freezing point, which is zero degrees. For silver, on the other hand, the melting point is 961 degrees. That is why it is intensive, because it is independent of the amount of matter (not to be confused with the type of matter).


This is a physical quantity that measures the projection of a force in a perpendicular direction per unit area. It is measured in newtons or pascals. And in fact, if atmospheric pressure is measured, the measurement is hectopascals, which is equal to 100 pascals (the pressure of the atmosphere above the earth). This is another clear example of intensive ownership.


Density is the relationship between the mass of a body or matter and the volume it occupies (that is, on the one hand a physical quantity, on the other a scalar one). Here it is calculated by dividing the amount of mass in grams by the volume in milliliters. It is an intensive property because the density does not vary whether you measure a kilogram or two tons of matter.


Viscosity can be defined as a property of fluids to resist flow. The more viscosity, the thicker the fluid itself. This, in general, (something that is easily perceived) decreases with increasing temperature. Viscosity is measured in newtons-seconds per square meter and is intensive because it does not vary according to the amount of matter. For example, the viscosity of a honey at a certain temperature is the same whatever amount it is.

Surface tension

Surface tension is a property of liquids to resist the forces applied to its surface. It is the result of the forces that hold the molecules of the liquid on the surface together. And it is intensive because the intermolecular forces are equal over the entire surface of the fluid.

Specific heat

Specific heat is a property that describes how much heat is needed to increase the temperature of a unit mass of a material. Its unit of measurement is Joules per kilogram centigrade.


Resistivity is the property of a material to resist the flow of electrical charges, regardless of its size or shape, which clearly makes it intensive. The unit here is the ohm meter.

Thermal conductivity

Thermal conductivity is the ability of materials to transmit heat. Units are measured here in watts per meter and kelvin.


Here we refer to how a matter looks to the human eye. For example, the color of a material can be orange and there will really be no variation with respect to the quantity, so it is clearly intensive.


Although chemistry often does not work with the flavor of substances, since many are toxic, it must always be borne in mind that they are part of the intensive properties of matter. So the lemon flavor is sour, no matter how many lemons are.


It is the ability of some materials to return to their original shape after having suffered deformations by an external force. In other words, in this case there is a reversibility with little concern for the amount of matter.


Velocity is a physical quantity of a vector nature that relates the change in position with time.

Refractive index

It is the quotient between the speed of light and the speed of light of the matter or substance from which we consider the index. The faster the light passes through the substance, the less the refractive index. Therefore, it is intensive because little depends on the amount of matter: for air it will always be 1.0002926 and for diamond it will always be 2.42.

Examples of extensive properties


This is a measure of force, to be exact, the gravitational force acting on an object. On the earth’s surface, the weight of an object is equal to its mass. However, for example, the weight of the same body or object on the moon would be much less, even though the mass is the same. It is clearly extensive, because it is additive in relation to the amount of matter.


It is the amount of matter in a body and to measure it, like weight, the unit of measurement is used, which is the kilogram. It is a scalar quantity and an extensive property.


It is the extension of an object in three dimensions; a quantity derived from the length. The most common units are the liter and cubic centimeters, which are clearly additive. If I add a liter to another liter, intensively, the boiling point will be the same; but extensively I will have two liters, as a simple sum.


Length is a physical measure of distance: the separation between two objects, the space in which an object travels, the length of a cable, among countless other examples depend on length. The classic unit is the meter. And clearly it is extensive: if I cut an object into pieces or add, think of a thread, clearly the original length is going to be affected.


Inertia is the property that bodies have to resist changes in motion or rest. It is associated with mass: the more it is, the more inertia there will be. It is clearly extensive, since the inertia of a toy is not going to be the same as that of a vehicle.

Heat capacity

Heat capacity is the amount of heat required to change the temperature of a substance. In the international system it is Joules per kelvin. It is extensive, since it depends on the amount of substance or matter, in addition to pressure and temperature.


Enthalpy is the amount of energy that a system absorbs or releases from its surroundings. In the international system the unit is the Joules.


Entropy is the measure of disorder of a system. In principle, it is an extensive property because the larger the system, the more disorder. The tendency in nature is for disorder. Whether it is disorder or a greater number of subsystems, the truth is that our universe at the moment has low levels of entropy.

Electric charge

Electric charge is a property that produces forces to attract or repel matter. The unit of charge, which can be positive or negative, is the Coulomb.


Resistance is the electrical property that prevents the passage of current. In the international system its unit is the Ohm and it is extensive, because it will depend on the shape and length of the object.

Kinetic energy

It is the energy of a body according to the speed of its movement. It is extensive, because it will precisely depend on the amount of matter of the object in question.

Potential energy

The potential energy of an object is the energy stored according to its position. And since it depends on mass, weight and volume, it is naturally an extensive property.

Number of molecules

The number of molecules in a material varies depending on its quantity, which makes it extensive. One mole of a substance contains 602,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 molecules.


If we consider the surface as that which has length and width (topologically two-dimensional), it clearly becomes part of an extensive property.


Force is a vector quantity that measures the rate of change in linear momentum between two particles or systems of particles. The unit of force is the newton and its property is extensive.

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