Why can't a spring scale measure mass?

Updated: 9/22/2023
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11y ago

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It's quite difficult to directly measure mass. It's relatively easy to measure force, which is what a spring scale does.

(A balance scale measures force also, but it measures the force exerted by a known mass compared to the force exerted by an unknown mass. This corrects for local variations in gravity.)


Spring scales can measure mass by comparing the weight of an unknown amount of material to that of a known mass of material. Hence if you weigh a liter of water (with a constant mass of one kilogram) the scale will show a weight which is dependant on the local attraction of gravity (say about 0.17 kg on the moon). Weighing the unknown will show a weight (again on the moon it would show 0.34 kg) which can be related to the weight of the liter of water and used to determine the mass. In this case, as the weight is double that of the water, the mass would be double that of the water.

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Q: Why can't a spring scale measure mass?
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Related questions

What is a spring scale for?

A spring scale is used to measure force or mass

What is a spring scale used for?

A spring scale is used to measure force or mass

How do you use spring scale in a sentence?

spring scale is like we measure  he measurethe mass tool used to measure force 

How do you measure the mass of a cow?

Put her on a truck and have the truck weighed on a balance scale (NOT a spring scale). From this you can get true mass.

What can you use to measure with a spring scale?

Weight and/or mass

A spring scale is used to measure weight and a what is used to measure mass?

An equal-arm balance.

What unit of measure is spring scale to?

Mass (Newtons(N)) and Weight (grams(g))

Do a spring scale measures mass?

Weight is the property measured by a spring scale. That is Mass X Acceleration.

What is a spring scales unit of measurement?

Spring scales measure the the weight of an object or a pulling force. The scientific unit used is the Newton, the unit of force. In day to day use, the units used are often pounds, kilos, ounces, grams. It should be noted that a spring scale does not measure mass. Mass is a measure of the amount of a substance or object where as the weight is the downward force applied to an object due to gravity. The spring scale only ever measures force, never mass.

What does a spring scale messure?


What lab equipment would you use to measure?

In a modern lab, you would use a digital scale to measure mass. Historically, balances and spring scales were used.

What is a spring scale used to measure?

A spring scale measures weight. It is dependent on the gravity, and so one's weight in space, or on the moon would be different based on the spring scale. A balance measures mass, and since the standards in a balance are the same no matter what the gravity is, then the mass remains constant. However, for all practical purposes, the gravity on earth is constant so the weight and mass of the objects would be the same.