How to Calculate the Weight of Water & How Much Does it Weigh?
Calculating the weight of water might be important in real life if you’re working with a recipe that uses an unusual method of measuring liquids. However, it’s most likely that you’ll encounter a problem like this in science class.
The challenge of calculating the weight of water really comes down to understanding what it means to find the weight of water. This is because the use of the term is for a specific reason or is simply a colloquial way of asking for the mass of water. Anyhow, you can easily determine the result using the general formula for density and the density of water.
We are surrounded by water – for hydration, recreation and so much more. Likewise, understanding how temperature, state, and density affect the weight of water can help you when you’re cooking.
What Is the Weight of Water?
Scientists use two measurement systems to determine the weight of water. According to the National Library of Medicine, the unit weight of water is approximately 1 gram per cubic centimeter at 25 degrees Celsius in the metric system. This is widely used across the globe and in cooking. It is approximately 62.4 pounds per cubic foot at 77 degrees Fahrenheit in imperial measurements.
However, the weight of water is best understood when put in terms of common quantities:
- According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, a cup of water weighs 224 grams (half a pound).
- According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), a liter of water weighs approximately 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds).
- According to the USGS, a gallon of water weighs approximately 3.79 kilograms (8.35 pounds).
Variations in the weight of water
According to the USGS, water’s weight is approximate because it can vary based on factors like temperature and pressure. It can also fluctuate if there are substances in the water, such as salt.
Why It Matters
Water weight is crucial when it comes to cooking. It is common for recipes to be based on the weight of ingredients rather than fixed amounts like tablespoons or cups. Essentially, if you don’t have a food scale, understanding roughly how much certain quantities of water weigh can help you succeed at any meal.
As temperature and pressure increase and decrease, the density of any substance changes, and water is no exception, according to the USGS.
Density is a measure of the amount of mass a substance has, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). A small volume of a very dense material like lead will be heavy, but a big volume of a low-density material like Styrofoam will be lighter.
Density is normally expressed as mass per volume, such as grams per cubic centimeter. According to the USGS, this means that the density of water at room temperature is the same as the weights above.
Weight vs. Mass
People don’t distinguish between mass and weight, but to a scientist, these are two different measurements. NRC defines mass as the actual physical bulk of a substance. Weight is the force that gravity exerts on that mass.
A cat, for example, has more mass than a mouse. However, a cat on the moon might weigh less than a mouse on Earth due to the different gravitational pull. Because you’re likely only dealing with water on Earth, its weight won’t be affected by gravity.
How Water Density Varies
However, water’s weight and density can change depending on its state. In addition to the liquid form, water can also exist as a solid (ice) or gas (vapor), according to the USGS. The density of ice, gas, and liquid is different, which consequently changes water’s weight from form to form.
Ever wonder why ice floats? The answer is that it has a lower density than water. USGS reports that when water freezes at 32 degrees F (0 degrees C), its molecules spread out to form a more rigid structure.
According to the USGS, liquid water becomes vapor when it hits 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius), which causes the molecules to move around quickly and evaporate. As a result, gas is less dense than the other states of water.
Then there’s saltwater to consider. Saltwater is denser — and thus weighs more — than freshwater due to the added mass of salt, according to the USGS.