Is Heat a Matter? (And Why?)

No, heat is not matter. Heat is a form of energy that is transferred between objects or systems due to temperature differences. 1 It is the result of the random motion of particles within matter, but it is not matter itself.

Well, this was just a simple answer. But there are few more things to know about this topic which will make your concept super clear.

So let’s dive right into it.

Why is heat not a matter?

Heat is not considered matter because it does not possess mass or volume, which are defining characteristics of matter. Matter refers to anything that has mass and takes up space. 2 Heat, on the other hand, is a form of energy that can be transferred between objects or systems. 3

When we feel the sensation of heat, we are actually perceiving the transfer of thermal energy from a hotter object to a cooler object. This transfer of energy occurs due to the difference in temperature between the objects. 4

Heat is a result of the random motion of atoms and molecules within a substance. As the atoms and molecules move and collide, they transfer energy to one another, resulting in a change in temperature.

Although heat is associated with the motion of particles, it is not a substance itself. It does not have a physical presence or occupy space like solid, liquid, or gaseous matter. Heat is more accurately described as the energy transferred between objects or systems as a result of temperature differences.

What are the differences between heat and matter?

Here’s a comparison highlighting the key differences between heat and matter:

DefinitionForm of energy transferPhysical substance with mass and volume 5
NatureEnergyPhysical entities
PresenceNot a physical substancePhysical substance or material
MassDoes not possess massPossesses mass
VolumeDoes not occupy spaceOccupies space
TransferTransferred between objectsCan be transferred or transformed
PerceptionFelt as a sensation of warmthPerceived through physical properties
ExamplesThe heat from a fire or sunlightSolid, liquid, gas, plasma, etc. 6

It’s important to note that while heat and matter are distinct concepts, they are often related. Heat can affect the temperature and state of matter, causing changes such as melting, boiling, or evaporation. Matter, in turn, can absorb, store, and release heat energy.

Further reading

Is Water a Matter?
Is Sound a Matter?
Is Electricity a Matter?
Is Fire a Matter?
Why is Air a Matter?

About author

Jay is an educator and has helped more than 100,000 students in their studies by providing simple and easy explanations on different science-related topics. He is a founder of Pediabay and is passionate about helping students through his easily digestible explanations.

Read more about our Editorial process.


  1. Heat | Definition & Facts. (n.d.). Encyclopedia Britannica.
  3. Heat – Wikipedia. (2016, May 1). Heat – Wikipedia.
  4. Heat.
  5. What is Matter ? (n.d.). NRC Web.
  6. State of matter – Wikipedia. (2010, February 23). State of Matter – Wikipedia.

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