Difference Between Heat and Temperature

Heat vs Temperature

Heat and temperature are two terms that are used very often in the study of physics and chemistry. The two concepts refer to same physical state of an object but are different from each other in many ways. People use the terms interchangeably which is erroneous. Of course heat of a body increases when its temperature goes up but is necessary to understand the difference between the two to have a clearer understanding of energy of an object.


Heat is the total energy contained by a body, both potential as well as kinetic energy. Potential energy is the stored energy while kinetic energy is the moving energy. It is measured in Joules (J).


Temperature is a measure of the kinetic energy of the molecules of an object. It is a number that is related to energy but is not energy itself. It is measured in a number of units such as Kelvin, Fahrenheit and Celsius.

When heat is introduced to a body, its molecules move faster. The molecules hit one another which produce more heat and the temperature of the body goes up. The measure of these collisions is temperature. This implies that temperature change results with heat being applied to a body. Introduction of heat can result in phase change such as ice melting to become water without any change in temperature.

Heat is the energy introduced to a body and is a measure of all the energy the body has while temperature is a measure of the kinetic energy of the molecules of the body only.

Temperature is an intensive property, while heat is an extensive property. This can be explained with an example. If the boiling temperature of water is 100 degrees Centigrade, it will remain the same whether we boil one liter or 50 liters of water. But the amount of heat generated when we boil 1 liter of water is less as compared to heat generated when 50 liters of water is boiled to 100 degree Centigrade.

Another example of difference between heat and temperature is the fireworks used. When we light up a sparkler, we see sparks coming off the sparkler. These are ejected particles of metal whose temperature can go up to 3000 degrees C. Even if some of these sparks touch your body, you are not burnt because they contain very little mass and hence are not able to contain heat. Though these sparks have such high temperatures, the amount of heat they contain is very small.

The formula to measure heat is as follows


Where Q is heat, C is specific heat capacity, M is mass of the body and T is its temperature.


• Heat and Temperature are physical properties of a body.

• While heat is a form of energy, temperature is a measure of how hot a body is.

• Temperature is directly proportional to the heat of the body, so when heat is introduced, the temperature of the body increases.