Now, if you've heard about density, you might have heard about specific gravity. Specific gravity represents the density of a substance divided by the density of water at the same temperature. Since the units cancel out when it comes to specific gravity, we're going to say that it is unitless. So specific gravity has no units involved. As the temperature changes, the density of water changes. If we take a look here, we have the specific gravity of water, and again that's the density of a substance in grams per milliliter if we're assuming it's in liquid or solid form, divided by the density of water. The units would cancel out, and that's why specific gravity is unitless. We just said that as the temperature changes, the density of water changes. We tend to see here that the density of water is 1.0 grams per milliliter. That is not exactly true. That's only true when the temperature is exactly 3.98 degrees Celsius. If the temperature were to change, the density of water slightly changes. We can see here the density of water at negative 30 degrees Celsius, 0 degrees Celsius, 10 degrees Celsius, 25 degrees Celsius, and 100 degrees Celsius. We see that the density is slightly changing as we increase the temperature. The general trend is that it is decreasing as we go higher and higher in terms of temperature. So just remember, specific gravity is the density of a substance divided by the density of water. Units cancel out means that specific gravity has no units.

- 1. Matter and Measurements4h 29m
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- 24. Lipid Metabolism1h 45m
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- The Genetic Code6m
- Introduction to Translation7m
- Translation: Protein Synthesis18m

# Specific Gravity - Online Tutor, Practice Problems & Exam Prep

Specific gravity is defined as the density of a substance divided by the density of water at the same temperature, making it a unitless measure. The density of water is approximately 1.0 g/mL at 3.98°C, but it varies with temperature, generally decreasing as temperature increases. Understanding specific gravity is essential in fields like chemistry and physics, as it relates to concepts such as density, buoyancy, and material properties.

From the simplest view, **Specific Gravity** represents density without the units.

## Understanding Specific Gravity

### Specific Gravity

#### Video transcript

### Specific Gravity Example 1

#### Video transcript

Here we're told that if the specific gravity of sulfuric acid is 1.27 at room temperature, which is 25 degrees Celsius, what is its mass in milligrams for 2.3 liters? Alright. So remember, specific gravity equals the density of the substance, which is sulfuric acid, divided by the density of water. So let's fill in the parts that they're telling us. They tell us that the specific gravity of sulfuric acid is 1.27. With the temperature, we can look at the chart and see what the density of water at 25 degrees Celsius is. That would be 0.99700 grams per milliliter. And here, this will be our x. We don't know what the density of sulfuric acid is. Alright. So what we're gonna do first is we're gonna cross multiply these 2 together, so 1.27 times the density of water at 25 degrees Celsius. When we do that, that's going to give me x=1.26619 grams per milliliter. Okay? That's gonna be grams per 1 milliliter. Now they're giving us 2.3 liters. Here, if we convert that to milliliters, that comes out to 2300 milliliters. And what we need to realize here is that now if I bring in the 2300 milliliters here, they will cancel out with the milliliters from the density we isolated, and that would give me the mass of sulfuric acid at this point, which would come out to 2912.237 grams. But remember, they're not asking for the answer in grams, they want it in milligrams. So we have to do one more conversion. Grams go on the bottom, milligrams go on top. Remember, milli, the metric prefix is 10^{-3}. Milligrams cancel out and now we're gonna have milligrams as our answer, which is gonna come out to 2.9×10^{6} milligrams when you convert it into scientific notation. Here, we have our answer as 2.9, which has 2 significant figures because 2.3 has 2 significant figures, this has 3 significant figures, this has 2 significant figures. Remember, we go with the least number of significant figures. So, again, our answer here would be 2.9×10^{6} milligrams for sulfuric acid.

What is the specific gravity of lithium metal (in g/mL) at 10.0ºC if a cube measures 0.82 cm x 1.45 cm x 1.25 cm and has a mass of 0.794 g?

Ethyl alcohol has a specific gravity of 0.7892 at 10ºC. What is the volume of 250 g of ethyl alcohol?

## Do you want more practice?

### Here’s what students ask on this topic:

What is specific gravity and how is it calculated?

Specific gravity is a unitless measure that compares the density of a substance to the density of water at the same temperature. It is calculated using the formula:

$\frac{\rho \left(\mathrm{substance}\right)}{\rho \left(\mathrm{water}\right)}$

where $\rho \left(\mathrm{substance}\right)$ is the density of the substance and $\rho \left(\mathrm{water}\right)$ is the density of water. Since the units cancel out, specific gravity is dimensionless.

Why is specific gravity considered unitless?

Specific gravity is considered unitless because it is the ratio of the density of a substance to the density of water at the same temperature. When you divide the density of the substance (in units like g/mL) by the density of water (also in g/mL), the units cancel out. This leaves a pure number without any units, making specific gravity a dimensionless quantity.

How does temperature affect the specific gravity of water?

Temperature affects the specific gravity of water because the density of water changes with temperature. At 3.98°C, the density of water is approximately 1.0 g/mL. As the temperature increases or decreases from this point, the density of water changes slightly. Generally, the density of water decreases as the temperature increases, which in turn affects the specific gravity calculations for other substances when compared to water at different temperatures.

What is the significance of specific gravity in scientific fields?

Specific gravity is significant in various scientific fields such as chemistry, physics, and engineering. It helps in identifying substances, determining material properties, and understanding buoyancy. For example, in chemistry, specific gravity can help identify unknown substances by comparing their densities to water. In engineering, it is used to design systems involving fluids, ensuring materials will float or sink as required. Understanding specific gravity is crucial for accurate measurements and applications in these fields.

How does specific gravity relate to buoyancy?

Specific gravity is directly related to buoyancy, which is the ability of an object to float in a fluid. If the specific gravity of a substance is less than 1, it will float in water because its density is less than that of water. Conversely, if the specific gravity is greater than 1, the substance will sink. This principle is used in designing ships, submarines, and other floating structures, ensuring they remain buoyant in water.

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