How do the specific heats of metals compare with water?

1 Answer
Mar 15, 2014

The specific heat of metals are lower than that of water.

Specific heat capacity is the measurement of how much energy (in J) has to be added to 1 kg of a substance to increase the temperature of that substance by #1^oC#. Simply, substances with a low specific heat capacity heat up quickly - but then they lose their heat quickly. Substances with a high specific heat capacity require a large amount of heat to be added to change their temperature - but then they hold their heat much longer.

Think of heating a pot of soup on the stove and stirring it with a metal spoon. If you leave the spoon sitting in the pot for even a few minutes and you return, the spoon will be hot enough to burn your hands - and the soup will feel only slightly warmer. This happens because the specific heat capacity of the metal spoon is much lower than that of the water in the soup. Water has the highest specific heat capacity of any liquid.