We explain what specific heat is and what its units are. Also, the formulas used to calculate it and some examples.

## What is specific heat?

In physics, it is understood by **specific heat** (also called *specific thermal capacity* either *specific caloric capacity)* the amount of heat required for one unit of a substance to increase its temperature by one unit of degree Celsius.

The specific heat **varies according to ** **physical state of matter** That is, it is different if the matter is in a solid, liquid or gaseous state because its particular molecular structure affects the transmission of heat within the system of particles. The same occurs with atmospheric pressure conditions: the higher the pressure, the lower the specific heat.

See also: Properties of matter

## Specific Heat Units

Since in the International System of Measurements** The unit for heat is joules (J)** the specific heat is expressed in this system in joules per kilogram and per kelvin (J.Kg

^{-1}.K

^{-1}).

Another common form of measurement involves the use of the calorie per gram and per degree centigrade (cal.g^{-1}.°C^{-1}), and in countries or areas that use the Anglo-Saxon system, it is measured with BTU's per pound and per degree Fahrenheit. These last two, outside the SI.

## Specific heat formulas

**The most common formula to calculate the specific heat of a substance is: **

ĉ = Q / m.Δt

where *Q* represents the transfer of heat energy between the system and its environment, *m* the mass of the system and Δt the temperature variation to which it is subjected.

Thus, the specific heat (*c*) at a given temperature (*T*) will be calculated as follows:

c = lim (Δt→0) . Q / m.ΔT = 1/m . dQ/dT

The greater the specific heat of a substance against a certain heat supply, the less its temperature will vary. For example, **we prefer to use a wooden spoon to cook** and not an aluminum one since the specific heat of wood is considerably higher than that of aluminum.

## Examples of specific heat

A simple example of specific heat is that of water. It takes one calorie to raise a gram of water at room temperature by one degree Celsius, that is, the specific heat of water is 1 cal.g^{-1}.° C^{-1} . On the other hand, it takes 0.5 calories to increase the temperature of ice to -5°C by one degree.

Water is the common substance with the highest specific heat and therefore plays a very important role in regulating the planet's temperature.

Other specific heat records are:

**Aluminum**0.215 calories per gram per degree Celsius**Copper**0.0924 calories per gram per degree Celsius**Gold**0.0308 calories per gram per degree Celsius**Iron**0.107 calories per gram per degree Celsius**Silicon**0.168 calories per gram per degree Celsius**Potassium**0.019 calories per gram per degree Celsius**Glass**0.2 calories per gram per degree Celsius**Marble**0.21 calories per gram per degree Celsius**Wood**0.41 calories per gram per degree Celsius**Ethyl alcohol**0.58 calories per gram per degree Celsius**Mercury**0.0033 calories per gram per degree Celsius**Olive oil**0.47 calories per gram per degree Celsius