How to Calculate Specific Heat Capacity of Metals


Metals have low specific heat capacities, which means that their temperatures rise quickly when you apply heat to them. This is because though most substances' particles are tightly bound together, the electrons in a metal form a free-moving sea around the atomic nuclei. The greater a metal's mass, however, the more heat it can absorb without its temperature rising significantly. Calculate the specific heat capacity from this mass, its temperature rise and energy change.

  • Find the metal's temperature rise by subtracting its temperature before it's heated from the final temperature. If it starts, for instance, at 25 degrees, and it rises to 70 degrees: 70 - 25 = 45 degrees.

  • Divide the amount of heat that produces this rise by the temperature difference. If, for instance, 8,000 joules enter the metal: 8,000 / 45 = 177.78.

  • Divide this answer by the metal's mass. If it weighs, for instance, 600 grams: 177.78 / 600 = 0.296. This is the metal's specific heat capacity, measured in j/gm°C.

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