What Is Volume in Science?


In science, as well as in our day-to-day lives, volume is considered the measure of a three-dimensional space, whether it’s a substance inside of something or enclosed within something. Read on to learn more about what volume is, how it’s measured, and other important key chemistry terms.

What Can Volume Consist Of?

Volume is the measure of a three-dimensional space, and it can either be a liquid, solid, or gas. You can measure the volume of water in your cup, the volume of a concrete block, or the volume of nitrogen in an enclosed container. These are all measurable units and have a volume.

How Is Volume Measured?

How volume is expressed in measurement also has to do with what you’re measuring, either volume, liquid, or gas. According to the International System of Units (LI), volume is expressed by using cubic meters, which is expressed as m3. However, the metric system measures volume in a different way, in liters and its derivatives, such as milliliter (mL). If you’re trying to compare cubic meters to liters, one liter has the same amount of volume as that of a 10-cm cube.

How Do You Accurately Measure Volume?

Measuring of volume is tricky and depends on if the substance is a solid, liquid, or gas. If you’re measuring the volume of a liquid that’s in a container, volume is often equal to the shape of the container when filled. Another example is in a measuring cup, where volume is conveniently marked for you, such as when you’re cooking or baking. Gases are often sold in containers that are pre-measured in cubic centimeters, which is expressed as cm3. If you’re trying to measure the volume of a solid shape, there are common equations you can use to do so. For example, you must first calculate the surface area to determine the volume. To find the volume of a cylinder, you would first find the surface area using surface area = 2πr2 + 2πrh, followed by the volume equation, which is volume = πr2h.

What Is Matter?

There is often confusion between mass vs. volume. To first understand the difference, knowing what matter is, is important. Practically everything in the universe consists of matter. More specifically, matter is anything that exists that has both mass and volume. The only thing in the universe that does not contain matter is energy, such as with light and sound waves. 

What Is Mass?

Mass is how much matter an object contains. It is different than both weight and volume. Mass measures the amount of matter that an object contains, while weight measures an object’s force of gravity. Mass is expressed in kg (kilograms), which is the official measuring unit. Of course, derivatives may be used, such as grams or milligrams. 

What Is the Difference Between Mass and Volume?

Mass measures density, or how much matter that an object contains. Volume measures how much space that an object takes up. For example, if you were measuring the mass and the volume of a gallon of milk, they would be drastically different calculations. Similarly, the outcome of mass vs. weight calculations would also be different.