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Mass Conversions

Key Concepts

  • Mass is a direct measure of the amount of matter in an object.

  • The SI unit of mass is the kilogram which is given the symbol kg .

  • Chemists in a laboratory usually deal with much smaller masses than kilograms, often grams or milligrams, so we need to be able to convert from one unit of mass to another.

Mass Conversions

SI Unit Conversions

factors 1012 109 106 103 102 101 10-1 10-2 10-3 10-6 10-9 10-12 10-15 10-18
prefix tera giga mega kilo hecto deca deci centi milli micro nano pico femto atto
symbol T G M k h da d c m µ n p f a

1 kilogram (1kg) = 103 grams (1000g) 1 gram (1g) = 1 ÷ 103 kilograms = 0.001kg
1 milligram (1mg) = 10-3 grams (0.001g) 1 gram (1g) = 1 ÷ 10-3 milligrams = 1,000mg
1 microgram (1µg) = 10-6 grams 1 gram (1g) = 1 ÷ 10-6 micrograms = 106µg

Examples of Mass Conversions Using SI Units

  1. Convert 1 kilogram to grams

    From the table above we see that kilo = 103 = 1,000
    1 kg = 1,000 g

  2. Convert 2.5kg to grams

    1kg = 1,000 g
    2.5 kg = 2.5 x 1,000g = 2,500 g

  3. Convert 5 milligrams to grams

    From the table above we see that milli = 10-3
    5mg = 5 x 10-3g = 0.005g

  4. Convert 250g to kilograms

    1,000g = 1kg
    1g = 1 ÷ 1,000 kg = 0.001 kg
    250g = 250 ÷ 1,000 = 0.250 kg

  5. Convert 25 µg to kilograms

    1 µg = 10-6g
    25 µg = 25 x 10-6g = 2.5 x 10-5g

    1g = 1 ÷ 1,000 kg
    2.5 x 10-5g = 2.5 x 10-5 ÷ 1,000 kg = 2.5 x 10-8kg

Empirical Units of Mass

  • 1 ounce = 0.0625 pounds = 28.35 grams
    1 oz = 0.0625 lb = 28.35 g

  • 1 pound = 16 ounces = 0.4536 kilograms
    1 lb = 16 oz = 0.4536 kg

Examples of Conversion Between Empirical Units and SI Units of Mass

  1. Convert 10 ounces to grams

    1 oz = 28.35 g
    10 oz = 10 x 28.35 g = 283.5g

  2. Convert 2.5 pounds to kilograms

    1 lb = 0.4536 kg
    2.5 lb = 2.5 x 0.4536 kg = 1.134 kg

  3. Convert 900 grams to pounds

    1 lb = 0.4536 kg
    and 1 kg = 1,000 g
    so 1 lb = 0.4536 x 1,000 g = 453.6 g
    so 1g = 1 ÷ 453.6 lb = 0.002205 lb

    900g = 900 x 0.002205 lb = 1.9845 lb

  4. Convert 0.25 pounds to milligrams

    1 lb = 0.4536 kg
    0.25 lb = 0.25 x 0.4536 kg = 0.1134 kg
    and 1kg = 103g
    So 0.1134 kg = 0.1134 x 103 g = 113.4g

    1 mg = 10-3g
    So 1g = 1 ÷ 10-3 mg = 103mg = 1,000mg

    113.4g = 113.4 x 103 mg = 113400 mg (1.134 x 105mg)

  5. Convert 430 milligrams to ounces.

    1mg = 10-3g
    430mg = 430 x 10-3g = 0.430g

    1 oz = 28.35g
    So 1g = 1 ÷ 28.35oz = 0.03527oz

    0.430g = 0.430 x 0.03527 oz = 0.0152 oz


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