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# Why do some things float on water while others do not?

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Because they are less dense than the water.
We call the amount of mass in a given volume of space the density. For instance, we could measure the mass of some fresh water in a container. We would then divide the mass of the water by the volume of the container to find the density. However, if we filled the same container with salt water, it would have more mass because the ocean water has the mass of pure water plus the mass of the salt. Since there is more mass in the same volume, ocean water has a greater density then fresh water.
For something to float, it must have a density that is less than in what it is floating in.
It may seem odd that an enormous ship can float when steel is denser than water. However, if you look at the entire ship you see that there are many places filled with things less dense than water, like air. This means that the density of the entire ship is less dense than that of the water it floats in.

To understand why things less dense then water float in water, go to the question "What is the buoyancy principle?" in the Related Questions section below.
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