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What are the properties of solids?


Candlewax, a plastic solid with a low melting pointCandlewax, a plastic solid with a low melting pointBesides their chemical make-up (what kind of atoms and molecules they are made of), solid materials have different qualities or physical properties. These include, for example, whether they are hard or soft, heavy or light, or shiny or dull. Some materials are stronger than others. Some are denser (have more mass per cubic metre) than others. Some are more elastic (stretchy) than others. Some are more malleable (can be bent or moulded without breaking) than others. Other properties are: how well the material conducts heat and electricity, whether it dissolves in water or other liquid or not, and what its boiling and melting points are. 

Crystals of quartz, a mineralCrystals of quartz, a mineral


Many solid materials are not irregular lumps, but have fixed shapes. Their atoms or molecules are arranged in regular patterns, known as crystals. These have sharp edges and flat sides. Some solids, for example glass, have no regular pattern in their molecules. 

Molecules of salt (pictured below, left) are are arranged in a regular pattern forming a cube. Salt crystals (below, right) are therefore cube-shaped.

Rubber is highly elastic, but at very low temperatures it becomes brittle. It shatters into fragments if tapped with a hammer.

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