# 33 Hydrostatic Weighing

# Hydrostatic Weighing Equation

The method of hydrostatic weighing allows us to determine the average density () of an object without the need for a volume measurement. Instead, we only need to know the object’s weight (), apparent weight () and the density of water () and then enter them into the equation below to calculate the density.

(1)

Keep in mind that if you look up these equations from other sources you might see different symbols used, but the equations are actually the same. For example, the image below shows how the body density, residual volume, and body fat equations are related, but the symbols used are: body density = , water density = , body weight = , and apparent weight = (for under-water weight).

### Reinforcement Exercises

Now that we understand mass, volume, density, weight, apparent weight, and static equilibrium, we are ready to see where the previous equation comes from. We start with the definition of the density of an object.

Using the standard model for weight near Earth’s surface we know that mass is can be calculated as weight divided by *g.*

Inserting that result for mass we have:

When an object is completely submerged then it will displace a volume of water that is equal to its own total volume and we can replace with the displaced water volume ().

Using the definition of density again, we can replace with the displaced water mass () divided by water density () and then simplify a bit:

Notice that we now have the mass of displaced water multiplied by *g*. That is exactly how we would calculate the weight of the displaced water (), so we could make that substitution. However, we also know that Archimedes’ principle tells us that the weight of displaced water is equal to the buoyant force , so we can actually replace the displaced water weight (m_dg) with

We also learned in the last chapter that the buoyant must be the difference in in the magnitudes of the weight and the apparent weight.

Making that replacement in our density equation we have:

We now have an equation that allows us to calculate the density of an object by measuring only its weight and apparent weight, as long as we know the density of the fluid we are using.

# Specific Gravity

The ratio of the density of a substance to that of water is known as the specific gravity. Specific gravity can be determined by hydrostatic weighing. If we simply divide both sides of our hydrostatic density equation by water density we will have a formula for the specific gravity:

(2)

### Reinforcement Exercises

a technique for measuring the mass per unit volume of a living person's body. It is a direct application of Archimedes' principle, that an object displaces its own volume of water

relation between the amount of a material and the space it takes up, calculated as mass divided by volume.

a quantity of space, such as the volume within a box or the volume taken up by an object.

the force of gravity on on object, typically in reference to the force of gravity caused by Earth or another celestial body

the reading on a scale that is used to measure the weight of an object that is submerged in a fluid

the ratio of the density of a substance to the density of a standard, usually water for a liquid or solid, and air for a gas