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How to Calculate Density

The density of a material is its mass divided by a unit of volume. This property of matter helps to distinguish between materials.


  • Step 1: Divide the mass of the object by its volume. This will give you the object's density. Don't forget to convert to standard units if you will be comparing this value with those of other materials.
  • FACT: Gold's density is 19.3 grams per cubic centimeter, while tungsten's density is 19.25 grams per cubic centimeter, only .26 percent lower.
  • Step 2: Calculate the volume of the object by water displacement if the shape is irregular. To do this, measure the difference in water volume before and after the object is placed in a graduated cylinder that has been partially filled with water.
  • TIP: For example, the volume of a cube is found by multiplying the lenghts of the 3 sides. The volume of a sphere is four-thirds times pi times the radius cubed.
  • Step 3: Compute the volume of the object. If the shape is regular, you should be able to calculate the volume from a geometric formula.
  • Step 4: Determine the object's mass. To do this, weigh the object whose density you wish to determine on a balance scale.

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