Specific Heat vs Heat Capacity – Difference and Comparison

What is Specific Heat?

Specific heat in simple words is the energy  required on one gram of a substance to raise it by one degree Celsius. Specific heat gives an idea about the heat-storing capacity of the substance in the transient state. The substance with high-speed heat can conserve large amounts of heat without a considerable increase in its temperature. 

For instance, water is a fluid with very high specific heat; for that reason, water bodies are used to repudiate wastewater heat from the industries. The utensils made of metal used in cooking have a low specific heat capacity that needs less heat to boost the temperature. It is calculated in Joules of heat energy needed to put up one kilogram of a substance from 1 degree Celsius. 

Delicate thermometers must also be made from materials with small specific heat capacities so that the temperature can change promptly and accurately. Water is a great heat conductor system due to its high specific heat capacity; we can conserve heat elicited by solar radiation for design later in residential heating applications. 

Copper has 0.385 specific heat, which is quite a lich means that a piece of copper is relatively easy to heat up.

What is Heat Capacity?

Some energy is needed to put up the temperature of that substance by one unit. The difference is important for calculating the specific heat. This heat energy is modified to more molecular motion within the substance; the kinetic energy of gas molecules, trembling of chemical bonds, faster rotation of dipoles, etc.

In the case of water, you need to add one calorie or 4.184 Joules to heat it by one degree. In metals, you need to add tinier energy, so metals appear to heat faster than water. For instance, 1 g of water has an elevated heat capacity than 1g of Al metal. 

It means that it takes extra energy for 1g of water to increase by 1K than to increase the temperature of 1g Al metal by 1 K. It is reasonable for the heat capacity to be negative. There are some specific systems or instances where the heat capacity is negative. It is mainly conveyed as calories per degree in stints of the actual amount of material being considered.

It is most a mole Heat capacity furthermore scales the amount of energy discharged when matter cools down. So, when a gram of hydrogen cools down by a degree, it discharges 14.3 J of heat, and a gram of gold releases 0.129 J.

Difference Between Specific Heat and Heat Capacity

  1. The specific heat means how much energy is needed to extend one gram by one degree Celsius; however, energy is absorbed to change the temperature by one unit in heat capacity.
  2. Specific heat is independent of the mass of the material, whereas, Heat capacity is dependent on the mass of the material only.
  3. In the case of variables, specific heat has an intensive variable; on the other hand, Heat capacity goes with the extensive variable.
  4. Specific heat is acceptable since it is used in theoretical functions while heat capacity is practical. 
  5. During the heating process, the pressure remains consistent in the case of specific heat. On the contrary, the pressure doesn’t remain constant in heat capacity inasmuch it takes more heat to reach the same amount of temperature.

Comparison Between Specific Heat and Heat Capacity

Parameters of comparison Specific Heat  Heat Capacity 
Definition When the amount of heat is absorbed or rescinded to change the temperature of the unit mass.While the heat is absorbed or rescinded to change the temp
UnitJoule per kilogram per degree Celsius.Joule per Kelvin (or Joule per degree. 
Formula to calculateQ = mc TC = Q/ T  
Dependency on     mass Does not depend on mass However, it does depend on mass. 
Denoted by As in small letter        cIn capital letter C


  1. https://acsess.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.2136/sssabookser5.1.2ed.c38
  2. https://aip.scitation.org/doi/abs/10.1063/1.2890431