Skip to main content
Chemistry LibreTexts

Properties of Liquids

  • Page ID
    9245
  • Ensemble properties result from being or relating to the greater in number of atoms in a sample. This are in contrast to atomic or molecular properties.

    • Capillary Action
      Capillary action can be defined as the ascension of liquids through slim tube, cylinder or permeable substance due to adhesive and cohesive forces interacting between the liquid and the surface. When intermolecular bonding of a liquid itself is substantially inferior to a substances’ surface it is interacting, capillarity occurs. Also, the diameter of the container as well as the gravitational forces will determine amount of liquid raised.
    • Cohesive and Adhesive Forces
      Cohesive and adhesive forces are associated with bulk (or macroscopic) properties and hence the terms are not applicable to discussion of atomic and molecular properties. When a liquid comes into contact with a surface (such as the walls of a graduated cylinder or a tabletop), both cohesive and adhesive forces will act on it. These forces govern the shape which the liquid takes on.
    • Contact Angles
      Contact angle is one of the common ways to measure the wettability of a surface or material. Wetting refers to the study of how a liquid deposited on a solid (or liquid) substrate spreads out or the ability of liquids to form boundary surfaces with solid states. The wetting, as mentioned before is determined by measuring the contact angle, which the liquid forms in contact with the solids or liquids. The wetting tendency is larger, the smaller the contact angle or the surface tension is.
    • Surface Tension
      Surface tension is the energy, or work, required to increase the surface area of a liquid due to intermolecular forces. Since these intermolecular forces vary depending on the nature of the liquid (e.g. water vs. gasoline) or solutes in the liquid (e.g. surfactants like detergent), each solution exhibits differing surface tension properties.
    • Unusual Properties of Water
      With 70% of our earth being ocean water and 65% of our bodies being water, it is hard to not be aware of how important it is in our lives. There are 3 different forms of water, or H2O: solid (ice), liquid (water), and gas (steam). Because water seems so ubiquitous, many people are unaware of the unusual and unique properties of water, including:
    • Vapor Pressure
      Pressure is the average force that material (gas, liquid or solid) exert upon the surface, e.g. walls of a container or other confining boundary. Vapor pressure or equilibrium vapor pressure is the pressure of a vapor in thermodynamic equilibrium with its condensed phases in a closed container. All liquids and solids have a tendency to evaporate or sublime into a gaseous form and all gases have a tendency to condense back to their liquid or solid form.
    • Viscosity
      Viscosity is another type of bulk property defined as a liquid’s resistance to flow. When the intermolecular forces of attraction are strong within a liquid, there is a larger viscosity. An example of this phenomenon is imagining a race between two liquids down a windshield. Which would you expect to roll down the windshield faster honey or water? Obviously from experience one would expect water to easily speed right past the honey, a fact that reveals honey has a much higher viscocity than wate
    • Wetting Agents
      A substance is referred to as a wetting agent if it lowers the surface tension of a liquid and thus allows it to spread more easily.

    Thumbnail: A water drop on a lotus leaf surface showing contact angles of approximately 147°. (Public Domain; Na2jojon).