What’s the difference between heat and temperature?


Heat and temperature are not the same thing, they in fact mean two different things;

  • Temperature is related to how fast the atoms within a substance are moving.
  • Heat is a measure of how many atoms there are in a substance multiplied by how much energy each atom possesses.

So for example there is more heat in an ice cube than in a flame.
Why? Because although the atoms in an ice cube are moving about three times slower than the atoms in a flame, there are around 1000 times more atoms in an ice cube than in a flame!

It is normal to make an analogy with water.

Water ‘flows’ when there is a difference in the ‘levels’ of water in different places. It doesn’t matter if there is more water in one place or another. Water from a puddle can flow into a reservoir or the other way around. The ‘temperature’ of an object is like the water level – it determines the direction in which ‘heat’ will flow.

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