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Hi there,

This is probably an incredibly stupid question but can someone explain what enthalpy is, exactly? I believe it's the change in temperature in a particular system, but reading my textbook it's only description is that it is "a state function". After doing a little more digging, I've just ended up confusing myself entirely. Is it essentially just the above?


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Enthalpy, according to my former teacher, is the "heat content of a system." It's not temperature, but I think it's related. I always imagined it as the amount of energy the system has, as in the bonds of the reactants and products. It's pretty much what you said at first.

Some things to note: I was taught that enthalpy itself can't be directly measured, only the change in it can. A negative change in enthalpy indicates that the reaction is exothermic [Imagine it like the reactants lost energy because they produced something more stable], whereas a positive change in enthalpy indicates an endothermic reaction. There are a lot of different "kinds" of enthalpy, like the [standard] enthalpy of formation, enthalpy of combustion, bond enthalpy. etc. Also, the change in enthalpy varies based on the state of the products and reactants.

It's been over a year since I did all this, so sorry if anything seems odd. Hope it cleared some confusion though!

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Thank you! Somehow I managed to get it to it somehow being the equilibrium amount of heat content, so I was a little concerned. Thank you! :)

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