water’s angular shape and hydgrogen-bonding characteristics give it extra-ordinary properties

·         the following table summarizes, explains, describes the effects, and gives an example of each unique property of water:


What Water Does






water clings






hydrogen bonds form between water molecules



Great surface tension


a tooth pick floats on water





hydrogen bonds form between water molecules and other polar materials



capillary action


water climbs up xylem of trees



water holds onto heat


relatively high specific heat capacity



hydrogen bonding causes water to take in large amounts of heat before its temperature is increases and also causes it to lose large amounts of heat before its temperature decreases significantly



maintenance of temperature


high heat capacity helps organisms maintain a constant body temperature


high specific heat of vaporization



hydrogen bonding causes liquid water to absorb a large amount of heat to become a vapour (gas)



evaporative cooling


many organisms, including humans, lose body heat by evaporation of water from surfaces, such as skin (by sweating) and tongue (by panting)



solid water is less dense than liquid water



highest density at 4˚C


as water molecules cool below 0˚C, they form a crystalline lattice (freezing) – the hydrogen bonds between the V-shaped molecules spread the molecules apart, reducing the density below that of liquid water


ice floats on liquid water


fish and other aquatic organisms are able to survive in winter