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Specific Heat Calculator

Created by Bogna Szyk
Reviewed by Steven Wooding
Last updated: Jan 18, 2024


This specific heat calculator is a tool that determines the heat capacity of a heated or a cooled sample. Specific heat is the amount of thermal energy you need to supply to a sample weighing 1 kg to increase its temperature by 1 K. Read on to learn how to apply the heat capacity formula correctly to obtain a valid result.

💡 This calculator works in various ways, so you can also use it to, for example, calculate the heat needed to cause a temperature change (if you know the specific heat). To find specific heat from a complex experiment, calorimetry calculator might make the calculations much faster.

Prefer watching over reading? Learn all you need in 90 seconds with this video we made for you:

How to calculate specific heat

  1. Determine whether you want to warm up the sample (give it some thermal energy) or cool it down (take some thermal energy away).

  2. Insert the amount of energy supplied as a positive value. If you want to cool down the sample, insert the subtracted energy as a negative value. For example, say that we want to reduce the sample's thermal energy by 63,000 J. Then Q=63, ⁣000 JQ = -63,\!000 \ \text{J}.

  3. Decide the temperature difference between the initial and final state of the sample and type it into the heat capacity calculator. If the sample is cooled down, the difference will be negative, and if warmed up - positive. Let's say we want to cool the sample down by 3 degrees. Then ΔT=3 K\Delta T = -3 \ \text{K}. You can also go to advanced mode to type the initial and final values of temperature manually.

  4. Determine the mass of the sample. We will assume m=5 kgm = 5 \ \text{kg}.

  5. Calculate specific heat as c=QmΔTc = \frac{Q}{m \Delta T}. In our example, it will be equal to:

    c=63,000 J5 kg 3 K=4, ⁣200 JkgKc = \mathrm{\frac{-63,000 \ J}{5 \ kg \cdot \ -3 \ K}} = \mathrm{4,\!200 \ \frac{J}{kg \cdot K}}

    This is the typical heat capacity of water.

Specific heat capacity formula

The formula for specific heat looks like this:

c=QmΔTc = \frac{Q}{m \Delta T}

QQ is the amount of supplied or subtracted heat (in joules), mm is the mass of the sample, and ΔT\Delta T is the difference between the initial and final temperatures. Heat capacity is measured in J/(kg·K).

Typical values of specific heat

You don't need to use the heat capacity calculator for most common substances. The values of specific heat for some of the most popular ones are listed below.

  • Ice: 2, ⁣100 J/kg ⁣ ⁣K\mathrm{2,\!100 \ {J}/{kg\! \cdot\! K}}
  • Water: 4, ⁣200 J/kg ⁣ ⁣K\mathrm{4,\!200 \ {J}/{kg\! \cdot\! K}}
  • Water vapor: 2, ⁣000 J/kg ⁣ ⁣K\mathrm{2,\!000 \ {J}/{kg\! \cdot\! K}}
  • Basalt: 840 J/kg ⁣ ⁣K\mathrm{840 \ {J}/{kg\! \cdot\! K}}
  • Granite: 790 J/kg ⁣ ⁣K\mathrm{790 \ {J}/{kg\! \cdot\! K}}
  • Aluminum: 890 J/kg ⁣ ⁣K\mathrm{890 \ {J}/{kg\! \cdot\! K}}
  • Iron: 450 J/kg ⁣ ⁣K\mathrm{450 \ {J}/{kg\! \cdot\! K}}
  • Copper: 380 J/kg ⁣ ⁣K\mathrm{380 \ {J}/{kg\! \cdot\! K}}
  • Lead: 130 J/kg ⁣ ⁣K\mathrm{130 \ {J}/{kg\! \cdot\! K}}

Having this information, you can also calculate how much energy you need to supply to a sample to increase or decrease its temperature. For instance, you can check how much heat you need to bring a pot of water to a boil to cook some pasta. Or, you can use the water heating calculator for convenience, where all this information was already taken into account for you.

Wondering what the result actually means? Try our potential energy calculator to check how high you would raise the sample with this amount of energy. Or check how fast the sample could move with this kinetic energy calculator.

FAQ

How to calculate specific heat capacity?

  1. Find the initial and final temperature as well as the mass of the sample and energy supplied.
  2. Subtract the final and initial temperature to get the change in temperature (ΔT).
  3. Multiply the change in temperature with the mass of the sample.
  4. Divide the heat supplied/energy with the product.
  5. The formula is C = Q / (ΔT × m).

What is specific heat capacity at constant volume?

The specific heat capacity is the heat or energy required to change one unit mass of a substance of a constant volume by 1 °C. The formula is Cv = Q / (ΔT × m).

What is the formula for specific heat?

The formula for specific heat capacity, C, of a substance with mass m, is C = Q /(m × ΔT). Where Q is the energy added and ΔT is the change in temperature. The specific heat capacity during different processes, such as constant volume, Cv and constant pressure, Cp, are related to each other by the specific heat ratio, ɣ= Cp/Cv, or the gas constant R = Cp - Cv.

What are the units for specific heat capacity?

Specific heat capacity is measured in J/kg·K or J/kg·°C, as it is the heat or energy required during a constant volume process to change the temperature of a substance of unit mass by 1 °C or 1 K.

What is the specific heat capacity value of water?

The specific heat of water at 25 °C is 4,181.3 J/kg·K, the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of 1 kg of water by 1 Kelvin.

What are the imperial units for specific heat?

Specific heat is measured in BTU / lb °F in imperial units and in J/kg·K in SI units.

What is the specific heat capacity value of copper?

The specific heat of copper is 385 J/kg·K. You can use this value to estimate the energy required to heat a 100 g of copper by 5 °C, i.e., Q = m × Cp × ΔT = 0.1 × 385 × 5 = 192.5 J.

What is the specific heat capacity value of aluminum?

The specific heat of aluminum is 897 J/kg K. This value is almost 2.3 times of the specific heat of copper. You can use this value to estimate the energy required to heat a 500 g of aluminum by 5 °C, i.e., Q = m × Cp × ΔT = 0.5 × 897 × 5 = 2242.5 J.

Bogna Szyk
Equation of specific heat
Energy (Q)
J
Change of temperature (ΔT)
°C
Mass (m)
kg
Substance (optional)
Custom ▾
Specific heat capacity (c)
J/(kg·K)
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