Lowry, Brian J. Department of Chemical Engineering, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, Canada.
Last reviewed:April 2019
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The mass of an object divided by its volume. Density is conventionally represented by the Greek letter rho: ρ. The most common units for density are g/cm3 or specific gravity, which is dimensionless. The modern SI units of kg/m3 are increasingly common (1 g/cm3 equals 1000 kg/m3). Specific gravity for liquids or solids is usually defined as the density of a material divided by the density of water at 4°C, which is 0.999975 g/cm3 (see illustration). Liquid water has a density close to 1 g/cm3 at any reasonable temperature (the density of water is 0.997 g/cm3 at 25°C; it drops to 0.958 g/cm3 at 100°C, or boiling). There are also a variety of archaic, industry-specific systems in which density is measured in degrees. An example of this is °API, still used in the petroleum industry. Degree measures of density are generally used as quantitative expressions of quality or composition, not as explicit measures of density. See also: Hydrometer; Mass; Metric system; Petroleum; Temperature; Water
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