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What is an extensive property?

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Quick Answer

An extensive property is a characteristic of a substance that is dependent on the amount of the substance present. Examples of extensive properties are weight, volume, mass, length and overall charge.

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Extensive properties change as the sample size of a substance changes. For example, weight is an extensive property because the value of its measurement increases when the amount or size of a substance increases, and weight decreases if a portion of a substance is removed. If a cup of vegetable oil is added to a container already holding a certain amount of vegetable oil, the container weighs more despite it still containing the same substance. Similarly, the volume of water in a container increases as more water is poured into the container and decreases if some of the water is poured down a sink.

Whereas an extensive property varies with amount, an intensive property is a characteristic of matter that remains the same regardless of how much matter is present. Color, malleability, luster, boiling point, molecular weight and odor are all examples of intensive properties. Malleability refers to the extent to which a substance can be pressed into sheets. Titanium metal is not very malleable because it shatters went pounded down, while aluminium is highly malleable. These two metals retain these properties regardless of how much of either is present at any given time.

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