What is specific heat measured in?

Dec 29, 2014

Specific heat represents the amount of heat required to change a unit mass of a substance by one degree Celsius. This is expressed mathematically as:

$q = m \cdot c \cdot \Delta T$, where

$q$ - the amount of heat supplied;
$m$ - the mass of the substance;
$c$ - the respective substance's specific heat;
$\Delta T$ - the change in temperature.

So, if we want to determine the units for specific heat, we'll just isolate the term in the above formula to get

$c = \frac{q}{m \cdot \Delta T}$. Since heat is measured in Joules (J), mass in grams (g), and temperature in degree Celsius ($C$), we can determine that

$c = \frac{J}{g {\cdot}^{\circ} C}$.

Therefore, specific heat is measured in Joules per g times degree Celsius.