What is Specific Heat?

Specific Heat Concept

The concept of specific heat is used in the field of physics with reference to the heat required by a substance per unit mass to increase its temperature by one degree Celsius.

To understand the meaning of specific heat , therefore, we must clarify several ideas. Heat is called, in the context of physics, energy that moves from one body to another, causing changes in state and dilation.

Mass , on the other hand, is a physical quantity that refers to the amount of matter present in a body Finally, temperature is another physical magnitude, in this case oriented to the level of heat that the environment or the body has.

If we take these concepts and link them to the definition mentioned in the first paragraph, we can see that the specific heat is the energy required for a unit mass of a substance to increase its heat by one degree Celsius.


The specific heat, which can be represented by a lowercase letter C(c), is usually related to the initial temperature of the substance. It is an intensive property of matter : it is not related to its quantity or size.

As the specific heat of a substance increases, a greater amount of heat is required to achieve a temperature increase.

If we consider the case of substances in the gaseous state, we can see that nitrogen has a higher heat specific mass than oxygen. Therefore, more energy is required to achieve a heat gain in a unit mass of nitrogen than oxygen.

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