# Heat Capacity of Water vs. Heat Capacity of Oil

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#### Updated on Sep 30, 2013

Have you ever wondered why oil heats up so quickly in a pan, but water takes so long to boil?

Heat, which is the exchange of energy between a system and its surroundings, occurs in three major ways: conduction, convection and radiation.

Conduction is heat transfer through touch (physical contact between molecules). The hotter molecules are, the faster they move around and transfer their energy to other molecules. Convection is heat transfer through fluid flow, like when hot water is poured over ice or when cool air is blown over your warm soup. Radiation occurs when an object releases heat in the form of electromagnetic rays.

An object’s heat capacity describes the amount of heat required to change the temperature of that object by a certain amount. Specific heat is the amount of heat required to change the temperature of a substance by one degree (generally °C).

Liquids absorb heat in different ways. The temperature change in a particular liquid heated by conduction may not be the same trend of temperature change for the same liquid heated by radiation.

### Problem

How do different liquids absorb heat?

### Materials

• Water
• Salt water
• Olive oil
• Liquid soap
• Jars (however many liquids you have)
• Digital hot plate
• Digital thermometer
• Microwave
• Stopwatch
• Labeling tape
• Marker
• Any other liquid you want to test

### Preparation

A night before you do your heat testing, measure a ½-cup of liquid into each jar and label it accordingly. You should have 2 jars for each liquid. Set the jars aside so they will all be the same temperature when you test them the next day.

### Procedure

#### Microwave Testing

1. Record the initial temperature of the liquid you are testing. Make sure to record your temperatures in °C.
2. Place the jar with your first liquid in the microwave and heat on full power for 30 seconds. Record the temperature and any observations.
3. Repeat step 2 several more times, recording the temperature and any observations each time. Be careful, the glass jar will get hot! Ask an adult to help you remove the jar from the microwave.
4. Repeat steps 1-3 for your second liquid.

#### Hot Plate Testing

1. Set the hotplate to 80°C.
2. Record the initial temperature of the liquid you are testing.
3. Place the jar on the hot plate and start the stopwatch.
4. Record the temperature of the liquid every 2 minutes for 20 minutes. Record any observations.
5. Be careful of the hot glass and liquid!
6. Repeat steps 1-5 for your second liquid.