All matter is made up of the five elements. Hence, to understand the five elements at a deeper level, it is useful to know their qualities.
Fire is hot; all other elements are inherently cold. This is because they do not have their own internal source of heat. As fire is a component of Pitta, Pitta is hot. Heavy elements retain heat; light elements like air and ether disperse it. Hence, Vata dosha is the coldest dosha. Kapha dosha is also cold but not as cold as Vata dosha.
Water is moist; all other elements are inherently dry, as they have no internal source of moisture. Water is a component of Pitta and Kapha, hence both doshas are moist. Kapha dosha contains the most water and hence it is moister than Pitta dosha.
Earth and water are heavy. Fire, air and ether are light. Kapha is the combination of water and earth, hence it is the heaviest of the doshas. Pitta contains some water though it is mostly fire, hence it is neither too heavy nor too light. Vata is the lightest of the doshas.
Earth and water are gross. Air, fire and ether are subtle. As Kapha contains earth and water, Kapha is the grossest of the doshas. Gross is similar to the idea of large or that of having substance. Pitta is subtler and Vata is the subtlest.
Earth is the densest, followed by water. Water and fire are the most flowing. Air and ether are also considered to have a flowing quality to them although it is not a significant characteristic. Kapha, containing earth, is the densest. Ether is the least dense. Density decreases in order as follows: Earth, water, fire, air and ether. The dense quality increases Kapha. The flowing quality mostly increases Pitta but slightly increases Vata.
Tomorrow I will cover the other 5 qualities of water, fire, earth, air and ether.