Properties of Water

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Water – Chapter 3

Properties of Water: 

Properties of Water Polar molecule Cohesion and adhesion High specific heat Density – greatest at 4oC Universal solvent of life

Polarity of Water: 

Polarity of Water In a water molecule two hydrogen atoms form single polar covalent bonds with an oxygen atom. Gives water more structure than other liquids Because oxygen is more electronegative, the region around oxygen has a partial negative charge. The region near the two hydrogen atoms has a partial positive charge. A water molecule is a polar molecule with opposite ends of the molecule with opposite charges.


Water has a variety of unusual properties because of attractions between these polar molecules. The slightly negative regions of one molecule are attracted to the slightly positive regions of nearby molecules, forming a hydrogen bond. Each water molecule can form hydrogen bonds with up to four neighbors. Copyright © 2002 Pearson Education, Inc., publishing as Benjamin Cummings Fig. 3.1


HYDROGEN BONDS Hold water molecules together Each water molecule can form a maximum of 4 hydrogen bonds The hydrogen bonds joining water molecules are weak, about 1/20th as strong as covalent bonds. They form, break, and reform with great frequency Extraordinary Properties that are a result of hydrogen bonds. Cohesive behavior Resists changes in temperature High heat of vaporization Expands when it freezes Versatile solvent

Organisms Depend on Cohesion: 

Organisms Depend on Cohesion Cohesion is responsible for the transport of the water column in plants Cohesion among water molecules plays a key role in the transport of water against gravity in plants Adhesion, clinging of one substance to another, contributes too, as water adheres to the wall of the vessels. Hydrogen bonds hold the substance together, a phenomenon called cohesion


Surface tension, a measure of the force necessary to stretch or break the surface of a liquid, is related to cohesion. Water has a greater surface tension than most other liquids because hydrogen bonds among surface water molecules resist stretching or breaking the surface. Water behaves as if covered by an invisible film. Some animals can stand, walk, or run on water without breaking the surface. Copyright © 2002 Pearson Education, Inc., publishing as Benjamin Cummings Fig. 3.3

Moderates Temperatures on Earth: 

Moderates Temperatures on Earth What is kinetic energy? Heat? Temperature? Calorie? What is the difference in cal and Cal? What is specific heat?   Water stabilizes air temperatures by absorbing heat from warmer air and releasing heat to cooler air. Water can absorb or release relatively large amounts of heat with only a slight change in its own temperature.

Specific Heat is the amount of heat that must be absorbed or lost for one gram of a substance to change its temperature by 1oC.: 

Three-fourths of the earth is covered by water. The water serves as a large heat sink responsible for: Prevention of temperature fluctuations that are outside the range suitable for life. Coastal areas having a mild climate A stable marine environment Specific Heat is the amount of heat that must be absorbed or lost for one gram of a substance to change its temperature by 1oC.

Evaporative Cooling: 

Evaporative Cooling The cooling of a surface occurs when the liquid evaporates This is responsible for: Moderating earth’s climate Stabilizes temperature in aquatic ecosystems Preventing organisms from overheating

Density of Water: 

Density of Water Most dense at 4oC Contracts until 4oC Expands from 4oC to 0oC The density of water: Prevents water from freezing from the bottom up. Ice forms on the surface first—the freezing of the water releases heat to the water below creating insulation. Makes transition between season less abrupt.


When water reaches 0oC, water becomes locked into a crystalline lattice with each molecule bonded to to the maximum of four partners. As ice starts to melt, some of the hydrogen bonds break and some water molecules can slip closer together than they can while in the ice state. Ice is about 10% less dense than water at 4oC. Copyright © 2002 Pearson Education, Inc., publishing as Benjamin Cummings Fig. 3.5

Solvent for Life: 

Solvent for Life Solution Solute solvent Aqueous solution Hydrophilic Ionic compounds dissolve in water Polar molecules (generally) are water soluble Hydrophobic Nonpolar compounds

Most biochemical reactions involve solutes dissolved in water.: 

Most biochemical reactions involve solutes dissolved in water. There are two important quantitative proprieties of aqueous solutions. 1. Concentration 2. pH

Concentration of a Solution: 

Concentration of a Solution Molecular weight – sum of the weights of all atoms in a molecule (daltons) Mole – amount of a substance that has a mass in grams numerically equivalent to its molecular weight in daltons. Avogadro’s number – 6.02 X 1023 A mole of one substance has the same number of molecules as a mole of any other substance.

Molarity : 

Molarity The concentration of a material in solution is called its molarity. A one molar solution has one mole of a substance dissolved in one liter of solvent, typically water. Calculate a one molar solution of sucrose, C12H22O16. C = 12 daltons H = 1 dalton O = 16 daltons 12 x12 = 144 1 x 22 = 22 16 x 11 = 176 342 For a 2M solution? For a .05 M solution? For a .2 M solution?

Dissociation of Water Molecules: 

Occasionally, a hydrogen atom shared by two water molecules shifts from one molecule to the other. The hydrogen atom leaves its electron behind and is transferred as a single proton - a hydrogen ion (H+). The water molecule that lost a proton is now a hydroxide ion (OH-). The water molecule with the extra proton is a hydronium ion (H3O+). Dissociation of Water Molecules Copyright © 2002 Pearson Education, Inc., publishing as Benjamin Cummings Unnumbered Fig. 3.47


A simpler way to view this process is that a water molecule dissociates into a hydrogen ion and a hydroxide ion: H2O <=> H+ + OH- This reaction is reversible. At equilibrium the concentration of water molecules greatly exceeds that of H+ and OH-. In pure water only one water molecule in every 554 million is dissociated. At equilibrium, the concentration of H+ or OH- is 10-7M (25°C) .

Acids and Bases: 

Acids and Bases An acid is a substance that increases the hydrogen ion concentration in a solution. Any substance that reduces the hydrogen ion concentration in a solution is a base. Some bases reduce H+ directly by accepting hydrogen ions. Strong acids and bases complete dissociate in water. Weak acids and bases dissociate only partially and reversibly.

pH Scale: 

pH Scale The pH scale in any aqueous solution : [ H+ ] [OH-] = 10-14 Measures the degree of acidity (0 – 14) Most biologic fluids are in the pH range from 6 – 8 Each pH unit represents a tenfold difference (scale is logarithmic) A small change in pH actually indicates a substantial change in H+ and OH- concentrations.


Problem How much greater is the [ H+ ] in a solution with pH 2 than in a solution with pH 6? Answer: pH of 2 = [ H+ ] of 1.0 x 10-2 = 1/100 M pH of 6 = [ H+ ] of 1.0 x 10-6 = 1/1,000,000 M 10,000 times greater


Buffers A substance that eliminates large sudden changes in pH. Buffers help organisms maintain the pH of body fluids within the narrow range necessary for life. Are combinations of H+ acceptors and donors forms in a solution of weak acids or bases Work by accepting H+ from solutions when they are in excess and by donating H+ when they have been depleted.

Acid Precipitation: 

Acid Precipitation Rain, snow or fog with more strongly acidic than pH of 5.6 West Virginia has recorded 1.5 East Tennessee reported 4.2 in 2000 Occurs when sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides react with water in the atmosphere Lowers pH of soil which affects mineral solubility – decline of forests Lower pH of lakes and ponds – In the Western Adirondack Mountains, there are lakes with a pH <5 that have no fish.

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