Measuring the Specific Heat of a Substance with a Calorimeter

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A substance of mass with a temperature is submerged into a calorimeter with 600 g of water initially at 4 °C. After some time, the system reaches an equilibrium temperature that determines the specific heat of the substance. The heat lost by the substance is gained by the water. For accurate results, the system should be thermally insulated.

Contributed by: Enrique Zeleny (March 2011)
Open content licensed under CC BY-NC-SA



The equation to solve is , where and are the specific heats of the substance and water in cal/g °C units, and are the masses, and and are the absolute differences in temperature from the equilibrium temperature.

The area of the gray rectangle that represents the substance is proportional to its density.

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