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Difference Between Intensive and Extensive Property

Last updated date: 07th Dec 2023
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Intensive and Extensive Property: Introduction

In the realm of physics and chemistry, properties play a fundamental role in understanding and describing matter. They provide us with essential information about the characteristics and behavior of substances. Two significant classifications of properties are intensive and extensive properties. These concepts are of utmost importance for students preparing for the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) Mains, as they form the foundation for various scientific principles. In this article, we will delve into the distinction between intensive and extensive properties, exploring their definitions, examples, and applications.


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Difference Between Intensive and Extensive Property

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What is Intensive Property?

Intensive properties are those physical or chemical characteristics of matter that remain unaffected by the amount or size of the substance being considered. These properties do not depend on the mass, volume, or quantity of the substance and instead describe its inherent nature. In simpler terms, the value of an intensive property remains constant regardless of the sample's size or amount.

Examples of Intensive Properties:

To gain a better understanding, let us examine some common examples of intensive properties:


Density is the ratio of mass to volume and is defined as an intensive property. Regardless of the amount of substance being considered, its density remains constant. For example, the density of water at room temperature and pressure is approximately 1 g/cm³, whether it is a glassful or an ocean.

Melting Point and Boiling Point:

The melting point and boiling point of a substance are both intensive properties. These values remain constant regardless of the quantity of the material. For instance, the melting point of pure water is 0 degrees Celsius, and its boiling point is 100 degrees Celsius, regardless of the sample size.

Color and Luster:

Color and luster are examples of intensive properties as they describe the appearance of a substance and remain unchanged regardless of the amount of the material. For instance, gold maintains its characteristic yellow color and shiny appearance, whether it is a small nugget or a large bar.

Refractive Index:

The refractive index of a substance, which describes how light bends when it passes through it, is an intensive property. It is a characteristic property of a material and remains constant irrespective of the quantity considered.

What is Extensive Property?

In contrast, extensive properties are directly proportional to the size or amount of matter being considered. These properties depend on the mass, volume, or quantity of the substance and change with the sample's size. Extensive properties vary as we increase or decrease the quantity of the substance.

Examples of Extensive Properties:


Mass is an extensive property that depends on the amount of matter present. If we increase or decrease the amount of substance, the mass changes accordingly. For instance, if we have 1 kg of a substance, doubling the amount to 2 kg will result in a proportional increase in mass.


Volume is another extensive property that changes with the quantity of a substance. If we have a certain volume of a liquid, doubling the amount will also double the volume. For example, if we have 100 mL of water, doubling the quantity will result in a volume of 200 mL.


Energy, whether it is in the form of heat or work, is an extensive property. It is directly proportional to the size or amount of a system. If we have a certain amount of energy, doubling the quantity of substance will also double the energy content.

Total Charge:

The total charge of a system is an extensive property that depends on the number of charged particles. Increasing or decreasing the quantity of charged particles will alter the total charge proportionally.

Differentiate Between Intensive and Extensive Property:

Property Aspect

Extensive Property

Intensive Property


Depends on the quantity or size of the substance

Remains constant regardless of the sample size


Mass, volume, energy, total charge

Density, boiling point, melting point, refractive index

Size Dependence

Varies with the amount of substance

Independent of the quantity of the substance

Equation Representation

Proportional to the size or amount

Not proportional to the size or amount


Describes the amount of matter present

Describes the inherent nature of the substance

Equilibrium Analysis

Considered when calculating changes in systems

Used to determine equilibrium conditions

Material Design

Influences material properties and engineering

Essential for optimizing materials for specific uses

This tabular representation should provide a clear overview of the main distinctions between extensive and intensive properties, making it easier to comprehend their contrasting characteristics.


Intensive and extensive properties provide valuable insights into the nature and behavior of matter. Intensive properties are independent of the sample size, while extensive properties depend on the quantity of the substance being considered. By understanding these distinctions, students preparing for the JEE Mains can develop a solid foundation in the sciences and apply this knowledge to various scientific fields. Recognizing the importance of intensive and extensive properties opens doors to further exploration and understanding of the physical and chemical world.

FAQs on Difference Between Intensive and Extensive Property

1: What is the fundamental difference between extensive and intensive properties?

The main distinction lies in their dependence on the quantity or size of the substance. Extensive properties, such as mass and volume, vary with the amount of matter being considered, while intensive properties, like density and boiling point, remain constant regardless of the sample size.

2: Why are extensive properties important in thermodynamics?

Extensive properties play a vital role in thermodynamics as they help characterize systems and determine their behavior. Equations and principles, such as the ideal gas law, involve extensive properties to describe the relationships between variables like pressure, volume, and temperature.

3: Can you provide some examples of extensive properties?

Certainly! Examples of extensive properties include mass, volume, energy, total charge, and the number of particles. These properties change proportionally when the quantity or size of the substance is altered.

4: How are intensive properties useful in material science and engineering?

Intensive properties are crucial for material design and engineering. They describe the inherent nature of a substance and remain constant regardless of the sample size. Properties like density, refractive index, and melting point are essential considerations when designing materials for specific applications.

5: Can an extensive property become intensive under certain conditions?

No, extensive properties cannot become intensive properties under any conditions. The classification of a property as extensive or intensive is intrinsic to its nature and remains constant regardless of external factors.