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Intensive Property vs. Extensive Property: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 6, 2023
Intensive property doesn't change with the amount of substance (e.g., temperature), while extensive property does (e.g., mass).

Key Differences

Intensive property articulates a characteristic of matter that remains unaltered regardless of quantity. It is impervious to the magnitude or amount of material present. A discernible feature of an intensive property is that it can be equated with intrinsic attributes that each particle or unit of the material inherently possesses. Examples of intensive properties include temperature, color, and boiling point.
On the contrary, extensive property expressly delineates characteristics of matter that are explicitly contingent upon the quantity present. Therefore, this category of property is dependent, shaped, and influenced by the size or the amount of material under consideration. When one explores extensive properties, the mass and volume of a material are quintessential examples to ponder upon.
Envisaging an intensive property, one might dwell upon the temperature of a system, which remains the same regardless of the size of the system. For instance, whether one observes a spoonful or a potful of boiling water, the temperature stays pegged at 100 degrees Celsius under normal atmospheric pressure. This illustrates the intrinsic and independent nature of intensive properties, unhindered by extent or mass.
In a juxtaposition, considering an extensive property like mass, a crucial distinction is that the mass of a material system will deviate with variations in size. A liter of water at sea level weighs approximately 1 kilogram, whereas two liters will weigh approximately 2 kilograms. It's paramount to notice the dependency of the extensive property (mass) on the amount of material present in the system.
In scientific and engineering realms, the demarcation between intensive and extensive properties becomes pivotal. While formulating hypotheses or conducting experiments, recognizing whether a property under inspection is intensive or extensive ensures precision in measurement and data interpretation, fundamentally affecting the outcome and applications of the study.

Comparison Chart

Dependence on Quantity

Independent of the amount of substance present.
Dependent on the amount of substance present.


Temperature, pressure, density.
Mass, volume, total energy.

Division of Substance

Remains constant even when the substance is divided.
Changes when the substance is divided.


Not additive, cannot be summed up for subsystems.
Additive, can be summed up for subsystems.

Identifying Homogeneity

Useful in identifying whether a system is homogeneous.
Not useful in identifying system homogeneity.

Intensive Property and Extensive Property Definitions

Intensive Property

Intensive property is an intrinsic attribute, identical in every part of the material.
The density of a pure substance, an intensive property, is consistent throughout.

Extensive Property

Extensive property alters when the substance quantity changes.
Doubling the volume of a gas in a chamber exemplifies a change in an extensive property.

Intensive Property

Intensive properties cannot be summed up for subsystems within a larger system.
Pressure, an intensive property, cannot be aggregated across separate containers of gas.

Extensive Property

Extensive property affects macroscopic traits that involve system size or amount.
The length of a metal rod, an extensive property, influences its overall reach and utility.

Intensive Property

Intensive property aids in identifying whether a system is homogeneous.
Uniform temperature throughout a system, an intensive property, indicates homogeneity.

Extensive Property

Extensive property can be additive across a system's subsystems.
The total energy of a system, an extensive property, is the sum of the energies of its subsystems.

Intensive Property

Intensive property does not alter with a change in system size or mass.
The boiling point of water remains 100 degrees Celsius irrespective of the quantity.

Extensive Property

Extensive property is dependent on the amount of substance present.
The mass of water increases as more is poured into the container, demonstrating an extensive property.

Intensive Property

Intensive property is independent of the quantity of a substance.
The color of gold, an intensive property, does not change regardless of the piece’s size.

Extensive Property

Extensive property values change when the substance is divided.
Splitting a sugar cube reduces its mass, showcasing the variability of an extensive property.


What happens to extensive properties when a system is divided?

Extensive properties will change, becoming proportionally smaller based on the division.

Can you give an example of an intensive property?

Density is an example of an intensive property.

Can the boiling point, an intensive property, identify a liquid?

Yes, boiling point can help identify a liquid as it is consistent and material-specific.

Does temperature change in system subsections demonstrate an intensive property?

Yes, temperature is an intensive property as it remains constant in system subsections.

Provide an example of an extensive property.

Mass is a typical example of an extensive property.

How do intensive properties behave under system division?

Intensive properties remain unchanged under system division.

Is volume an extensive property?

Yes, volume is an extensive property as it depends on the amount of substance.

How does extensive property relate to system size?

Extensive properties directly correlate with system size, changing as size changes.

Is it correct that all properties of matter are either intensive or extensive?

Generally, yes – properties can typically be classified as either intensive or extensive.

How does the volume, an extensive property, change when material is tripled?

The volume will triple when the amount of material is tripled, showcasing its extensive nature.

What defines an intensive property?

An intensive property is independent of the amount of substance present.

Can intensive properties identify substances?

Yes, intensive properties like density can be used to identify substances.

Are extensive properties useful in determining material identity?

No, extensive properties like mass or volume are not specific to material identity.

Do extensive properties remain the same when a substance is halved?

No, extensive properties will halve when the substance is divided into two equal parts.

What is the utility of intensive properties in science?

Intensive properties help identify homogeneity and determine substance identity.

Can intensive properties be added together?

No, intensive properties are non-additive and remain constant regardless of subsystems.

What characterizes an extensive property?

Extensive properties depend on and change with the amount of substance present.

How does changing the amount of substance impact extensive properties?

Changing the amount will proportionally change the extensive property.

Can extensive properties be used to confirm material uniformity?

No, extensive properties do not provide information about material uniformity.

Is pressure an intensive or extensive property?

Pressure is an intensive property, not dependent on the amount of substance.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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