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You have a mathematician from 3rd Century BC to thank for your ability to find the volume of an object. Archimedes used salami slices as a way of figuring out the volume of a sphere.

Today, calculating the volume of an object isn't that difficult. Our volume calculator just requires a few measurements to determine the volume of various three-dimensional shapes. You can easily calculate the volume of a ball, cone, cube, cylinder, or tank.

In the guide below, we explain what volume is, how it's used, and how to calculate it.


Why use a volume calculator?

Figuring out the volume of an object can involve some complicated math. While you can get out paper and pencil and do it by a hand, a calculator is faster.

Finding volume is important if you need to know how much a container can hold. Or if you need to know how much space something will take up.

In certain cases, you will need to know volume when ordering specific items wholesale or in bulk. These items are usually expressed as a volume instead of individual units or weight.

What is volume and how is it used?

Volume is the space inside of an object. Think of it as the area of a shape turned three dimensional.

Solid, liquids, gas, and plasma all have a certain space that they take up. A volume calculation expresses this space.

Simple shapes like spheres and cubes have a standard formula. While irregular shapes (like a house) need integral calculus for volume.

If you have a one-dimensional shape it has a volume of zero. A one-dimensional shape would be a line.

Volume vs. Mass

Volume is not the same as mass. Volume measures the space the substance takes up.

Mass measures the amount of matter it has. Combine the two and you have a substance's density.


The most common place you will see volume is buying liquids. Look at any bottle of water or soda and you will see milliliters, liters, or ounces. Or, think about last time you went to a bar and ordered a pint of beer.

When you are at the gas pump you are paying by volume. Your tank holds a certain amount of gallons, and you pay for how much gas you take to fill it.

When you are cooking, a recipe might call for a certain amount of oil or other liquid. This is a volume measurement of your liquid ingredients.

Pools and hot tubs also use volume when determining chemical and cleaner use. The amount of chemical you use gets adjusted for the pool's capacity.

When you do your laundry, and you add a certain amount of detergent, that is volume. The same goes for any concentrated cleaning products that you mix with water. This uses a certain volume of water to dilute the strength of the cleaning product.

Water conversation efforts rely heavily on figuring out the water volume. This is how those statements on shower heads stating gallons per minute get factored.

What is the formula for volume?

First, you need to determine the shape of the object to know which formula to use.

In general, you'll start with three numbers because you are measuring three-dimensional objects.

When you use a formula for an area the number gets squared. For volume, the number gets cubed.

Cube or Rectangle

To calculate the volume of a box you multiply the length, width, and height.

For a cube they are all the same, so you can multiply the single number to the third power.

Using the formula above, your cube would have a height, length, and width of 2 inches. While the total volume of the cube is 8.

Ball or Cylinder

How to calculate the volume of a circle shaped object starts with finding the radius.

For a ball, you need to multiply the radius by (pi) and 4/3.

For a cylinder, you need to include the height of the cylinder. Think of a cylinder as two circles with space in between.

Sphere Volume= 4/3 x (pi) x radius to the power of 3

Cylinder volume= height x (pi) x radius to the power of 2


The volume of a cone gets more complicated.

Cone volume = 1/3 x (pi) x height x radius to the second power.

The radius is a straight line from the center to the outer edge of the widest part of the cone.

Odd Shapes

The best way to tackle calculating an odd shape is to break it down into simpler shapes. Start by breaking the shape down into a cube, cylinder, or sphere. Once you figured out the volume for the individual shapes you can add the individual volumes.

What is the standard unit of volume?

The basic unit of measurement for volume is the liter when using the metric system. This is the volume that 1 kilogram of water takes up.

If you use the English or Imperial system, the volume is expressed as ounces, pints, quarts, or gallons. It is best to stick with one system as it is not easy to convert your volume measurement from English to Metric or vice versa.

Final thoughts?

When calculating volume, start with taking the measurements of the object. For cube-shaped objects measure the height, width, and length.

For round objects, you need to measure the radius. Then multiply by neccessary formula to find the volume.

If needed, once you find the volume you can then convert that measurement into other units.

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