Chemical and physical properties of Water
Water is the chemical substance with chemical formula H2O: one molecule of water has two hydrogen atoms covalently bonded to a single oxygen atom.
Water appears in nature in all three common states of matter and may take many different forms on Earth: water vapor and clouds in the sky; seawater and icebergs in the polar oceans; glaciers and rivers in the mountains; and the liquid in aquifers in the ground.
The major chemical and physical properties of water are:
- Water is a tasteless, odorless liquid at standard temperature and pressure. The color of water and ice is, intrinsically, a very slight blue hue, although water appears colorless in small quantities. Ice also appears colorless, and water vapor is essentially invisible as a gas.
- Since the water molecule is not linear and the oxygen atom has a higher electronegativity than hydrogen atoms, it carries a slight negative charge, whereas the hydrogen atoms are slightly positive. As a result, water is a polar molecule with an electrical dipole moment. The net interactions between the dipoles on each molecule cause an effective skin effect at the interface of water with other substances, or air at the surface, the latter given rise to water’s high surface tension. This dipolar nature contributes to water molecules’ tendency to form hydrogen bonds which cause water’s many special properties. The polar nature also favors adhesion to other materials.
- Each hydrogen nucleus is bound to the central oxygen atom by a pair of electrons that are shared between them; chemists call this shared electron pair a covalent chemical bond. In H2O, only two of the six outer-shell electrons of oxygen are used for this purpose, leaving four electrons which are organized into two non-bonding pairs. The four electron pairs surrounding the oxygen tend to arrange themselves as far from each other as possible in order to minimize repulsions between these clouds of negative charge. This would ordinarily result in a tetrahedral geometry in which the angle between electron pairs (and therefore the H-O-H bond angle) is 109.5°. However, because the two non-bonding pairs remain closer to the oxygen atom, these exert a stronger repulsion against the two covalent bonding pairs, effectively pushing the two hydrogen atoms closer together. The result is a distorted tetrahedral arrangement in which the H-O-H angle is 104.5°.
- A result of interplay of these properties, Capillary action refers to the tendency of water to move up a narrow tube against the force of gravity. This property is relied upon by all vascular plants, such as trees.
- Water is a good solvent and is often referred to as the universal solvent. Substances that dissolve in water, e.g., salts, sugars, acids, alkalis, and some gases – especially oxygen, carbon dioxide (carbonation) are known as hydrophilic (water-loving) substances, while those that do not mix well with water (e.g., fats and oils), are known as hydrophobic (water-fearing) substances.
- The boiling point of water (and all other liquids) is dependent on the barometric pressure. For example, on the top of Mt. Everest water boils at 68 °C (154 °F), compared to 100 °C (212 °F) at sea level. Conversely, water deep in the ocean near geothermal vents can reach temperatures of hundreds of degrees and remain liquid.
- Water has the second highest molar specific heat capacity of any known substance, after ammonia, as well as a high heat of vaporization (40.65 kJ·mol−1), both of which are a result of the extensive hydrogen bonding between its molecules. These two unusual properties allow water to moderate Earth’s climate by buffering large fluctuations in temperature.
- The maximum density of water occurs at 3.98 °C (39.16 °F). It has the anomalous property of becoming less dense, not more, when it is cooled down to its solid form, ice. It expands to occupy 9% greater volume in this solid state, which accounts for the fact of ice floating on liquid water.
- Water is miscible with many liquids, such as ethanol, in all proportions, forming a single homogeneous liquid. On the other hand, water and most oils are immiscible usually forming layers according to increasing density from the top. As a gas, water vapor is completely miscible with air.
- Water forms an azeotrope with many other solvents.
- As an oxide of hydrogen, water is formed when hydrogen or hydrogen-containing compounds burn or react with oxygen or oxygen-containing compounds. Water is not a fuel, it is an end-product of the combustion of hydrogen. The energy required to split water into hydrogen and oxygen by electrolysis or any other means is greater than the energy released when the hydrogen and oxygen recombine.
from wikipedia for more about water