Water is a molecule composed of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen that has allowed life on Planet Earth and on which we depend to exist.
The characteristics of water, both physical and chemical, are what explain why it is such an important and unique element, with very special properties that give it enormous value on many levels; not only for life as we have mentioned, but for industry and engineering.
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General water characteristics
We begin the list of water characteristics focusing on the general characteristics. A selection of easy to understand and remember facts about different aspects.
1. It forms the Earth’s surface
It covers 71% of the surface of our planet . In fact, almost an entire face of the Earth is completely blue, even though it is minimized on the maps we usually consult.
2. It is in the oceans
If we said before that one of the characteristics of water is that it accounts for 71% of the planet’s surface , the truth is that 96.5% of the world’s water is in the oceans.
3. Water in industry
Of all the water consumed in the world, around 20% of drinking water is used by industry to cool, transport and dissolve different elements.
4. Water in homes
Despite what may be believed, one of the characteristics of drinking water is that only 10% is used for drinking and for homes in general . The rest, everything else.
5. Water in agriculture
Now now we had 20 and 10% of the use. Well, the remaining 70% of the water is used for agriculture.
6. Future scarcity
According to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), in the year 2030 1 out of every 5 countries will have a shortage of (drinking) water
7. Water in the universe
Most of the water that exists in the universe is in the form of ice or steam. This is due to two of the characteristics of water, its evaporation point and its freezing point.
8. Water in the solar system
Mercury has large amounts of water in the exosphere, Venus and Jupiter have minute amounts of water in the atmosphere. Enceladus (Saturn’s moon) has an atmosphere composed of 91% water and everything indicates that it also has oceans.
Mars, for its part, has variable amounts depending on the place and the season.
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Physical characteristics of water
We continue our list of water characteristics now focusing on the physical section of it. Many of these features can be studied in areas such as the exciting field of fluid mechanics.
We begin with one of the characteristics of water from the physical point of view that most attracts attention. It refers to when the gas changes from a gaseous state to a liquid. It does so when the temperature begins to drop below 100 ºC (with a pressure of 1 atmosphere).
Solidification is another characteristic of water and any chemical compound. This takes place when the temperature begins to drop below 0 ºC, as long as the water has walls nearby. If there are none, it should drop below approximately -42 ºC. Always assuming that the pressure is 1 atm.
This characteristic of water explains the transition from solid to liquid by the application of heat. It is 0 ºC (or more).
Evaporation is the change from liquid to gas. This in the case of water happens when the temperature rises above 100 ºC .
The density of (pure) water is 1g/cm3. In other words, a cubic centimeter of water weighs 1 gram. On the other hand, a very particular characteristic of water compared to other elements is that in the solid state, the density decreases (that is why it floats as ice in water).
heat Specific heat is a more complex characteristic of water. Describe the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1°C. This value is 1 cal/gºC .
15. Boiling point
It is the temperature needed for the vapor pressure in a liquid (in this case water) to equal the pressure of the outside atmosphere. In this case it coincides with the evaporation temperature: 100 ºC .
Chemical characteristics of water
At the atomic level, water has some very special characteristics that are what give it the physical and general characteristics that we know.
It does not release any element that activates the olfactory papillae.
A characteristic of water that we could incorporate into physical characteristics, but is explained by clearly chemical reasons. The rays of light pass through it, so as it does not bounce it has no color.
It does not have any kind of flavor.
Without a doubt, its chemical composition is known to almost everyone. Two molecules of hydrogen and one of oxygen. Hydrogen peroxide, for example, would have two hydrogen and two oxygen.
structure The crystal structure of water is one of the most striking chemical characteristics of water. Concretely building hexagons, this molecule has different properties thanks to this structure.
The acidity of water is 15.74 pKa.
22. Dipole moment
The dipole moment is an extremely important characteristic of water to understand its functioning and interaction with electric charges. It has a value of 1.85 D.
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