Difference Between Specific Heat and Heat Capacity (With Table)

Before going through the meaning of specific heat and heat capacity, it is also fundamental to clarify what heat means in the exact sense of the science. Heat is generally defined as energy to or from thermodynamic work. The  substituted amount of energy in the form of heat is marked by its interacting body’s state.

Specific Heat vs Heat Capacity

The main difference between specific heat and heat capacity is that in specific heat we need heat to increase the proportion of temperature by degree Celsius; on the other hand, one can state the heat capacity as the quantity of absorbed heat per unit.

The specific heat has Joule per kilogram per degree Celsius of SI unit. The formula to evaluate heat or specific heat can be represented as Q= mc.T. Here the heat energy per unit is Q, m= mass, C= specific heat, and T is the temperature which means the amount of heat indispensable to remake the temperature.

(Jk-1) or Joule per degree( J°c-1.) is the SI unit of heat capacity. Formula to evaluate the heat capacity scientifically, q=C ∆T, which means the amount of heat exchanged per unit in a reaction is proportional to the heat capacity of the substance times the mutation in temperature for the substance.

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    Definition When the amount of heat is absorbed or rescinded to change the temperature of the unit mass.While the heat is absorbed or rescinded to change the temp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

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 usually 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 commonly 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.

The Main 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 generally 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.


Both Specific heat and heat capacity are kind of similar. It relates heat to a change in temperature. It examines how the proportion of heat needed for a temperature variation is dependent on mass and the substance involved. That relationship is exemplified by the specific heat capacity of the substance, C.

Substances like water retain a greater specific heat, and during the boiling process it absorbs heat. Numerous factors like climate change, cooking, and season have direct influence on specific heat. Substances having higher specific heat will take more energy. 


  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