Density ?

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Density (ρ)


a physical quantity defined, for a homogeneous substance, as the substance’s mass per unit volume. The density

Table 1. Density of substances, materials, and minerals (kg/m3)
Gases1 Liquids2Solids (average values)2
1 At a temperature of 0°C and a pressure ρ = 1.0332 kilograms-force per sq cm (kgf/cm2), or 101,325 pascals
2 At 20° C and ρ = 1 kgf/cm2, or 98,066 pascals
Hydrogen (H2)0.090Hydrogen (–253°C)70.8Cork240
Helium (He)0.178Oxygen (–200°C)122.5Wood 
Methane (CH4)0.717Gasoline680-720birch (dry)650
Ammonia (NH3)0.771Ethyl alcohol (C2H6O)789.4oak (dry)750
Acetylene (C2H2)1.171Acetone (C3H6O)791Paraffin890
Nitrogen (N2)1.251Turpentine865Ice (0°C)900
Ethylene (C2H4)1.260Vegetable oils (15°C)914–962Textolite1,350
Air (dry)1.293Water (H2O)998.2Concrete2,150
Nitric oxide (NO)1.340Nitrobenzene (C6H5NO2)1,203Porcelain2,350
Oxygen (O2)1.429Acetic acid (C2H4O2)1,049Graphite, glass2,500
Hydrogen chloride (HCl)1.639Glycerin (C3H8O3)1,260Granite2,600
Carbon dioxide (CO2)1.977Chloroform (CHCl3)1,489Aluminum2,700
Sulfur dioxide (SO2)2.927Nitric acid (HNO3)1,510Mica2,900
Chlorine (CI2)3.214Carbon tetrachloride (CCI4)1,594Corundum4,000
Xenon (Xe)5.851Sulfuric acid (H2SO4)1,840Tin (gray)5,850
Radon (Rn)9.730Mercury13,546Steel (carbon steel)7,750

of an inhomogeneous substance is the limit of the ratio of mass to volume when the volume shrinks to the point at which the density is determined.

The ratio of the density of one substance to the density of a reference substance under specified standard physical conditions is called the relative density. For liquids and solids it is usually determined with respect to the density of distilled water at 4°C, and for gases, with respect to the density of dry air or hydrogen under normal conditions. The mean density of a body is defined as the ratio of the body’s mass m to its volume V; that is, ρ = m/V. The unit of density in the International System of Units is kg/m3; in the centimeter-gram-second system it is g/cm3. Other units of density, such as the g/liter and ton/m3, are also widely used.

Densimeters, pycnometers, hydrometers, and hydrostatic weighing are used to measure the density of substances. Other methods of determining density are based on the relation between density and the parameters of state of a substance or on the dependence of the processes occurring in a substance on the substance’s density. Thus, the density of an ideal gas can be calculated from the equation of state ρ = pμ/RT, where ρ is the gas pressure, μ is the molecular weight of the gas, R is the gas constant, and T is the absolute temperature. The density of an ideal gas can also be determined, for example, from the rate of propagation of ultrasound Density, where β is the adiabatic compressibility of the gas.

The range of values of the density of natural bodies and media is exceptionally broad. For example, the density of the interstellar medium does not exceed 10-21kg/m3. The mean density of the sun is 1,410 kg/m3, and that of the earth 5,520 kg/m3. The maximum density of metals is 22,500 kg/m3 (osmium). The density of atomic nuclei is 1017 kg/m3. Finally, the density of neutron stars can apparently reach 1020 kg/m3.

The values of the densities of some widely used substances and materials are presented in Table 1.

For porous and bulk materials a distinction is made between the real density, wherein the voids in the body are not considered, and the apparent density, which is the ratio of the mass of the body to the entire volume occupied by it. Density generally decreases with increasing temperature—as a result of thermal expansion—and increases with rising pressure. Such substances as water, cast iron, and amorphous quartz behave anomalously. For example, the density of water has a maximum value at 4°C and decreases with both increasing and decreasing temperature. During changes in aggregation state of a substance, the density changes discontinuously. Upon a transition from a liquid to a solid state, the density usually increases. Water, however, is an example of a substance that behaves in a different way—its density decreases when it freezes.


Spravochnik khimika, 3rd ed., vol. 1. Leningrad, 1971.
PerePman, V. I. Kratkii spravochnik khimika, 6th ed. Moscow, 1963.
Tablitsy fizicheskikh velichin: Spravochnik Moscow, 1976.
Izmerenie massy, ob”ema i plotnosti. Moscow, 1972.
GOST 2939—63: Usloviia dlia opredeleniia ob”ema.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.