Question Video: Cubic Centimeters in a Milliliter Chemistry

How many cubic centimeters (cm³) are there in a milliliter (1 mL)?


Video Transcript

How many cubic centimeters, cm cubed, are there in a milliliter, one ml?

Cubic centimeters and milliliters are both units of volume. While the cubic centimeter is described as a length multiplied by a length multiplied by a length, that is a length cubed. While a milliliter is a fraction of a fixed volume. We need to go a bit deeper to discover what the definition of that volume is.

One cubic centimeter is the volume occupy by a cube that is one centimeter along each length. One centimeter times one centimeter times one centimeter is equal to one centimeters cubed. The letter “c” is a prefix that means one one hundredth. So, one centimeter is one one hundredth of a meter. The meter is a measurement of length, equivalent to the distance moved by light in a vacuum in one 299792458th of a second. This is about one three hundred millionth of a second.

The unit centimeters cubed is equivalent to the whole unit centimeters to the power of three. So, it’s not the same as one one hundredth of a cubic meter. It actually takes a million cubic centimeters to occupy the same volume as one cubic meter.

What about the milliliter? The milliliter has a symbol ml. “Milli”, or “m”, means one one thousandth, while the letter L refers to liter. A liter is the same volume occupied by a cube which is 10 centimeters by 10 centimeters by 10 centimeters. So, a whole liter is equal to 10 centimeters times 10 centimeters times 10 centimeters, which is 1000 centimeters cubed.

Now we’ve already shown that one milliliter is one one thousandth of a liter. So, one milliliter is equal to one one thousandth of 1000 centimeters cubed. So, one milliliter is equivalent to one cubic centimeter. You may see the liter described as one cubic decimeter, or one one thousandth of a cubic meter. These are all equivalent volumes.

So, by going back to the definition of the cubic centimeter and the milliliter, we’ve demonstrated that there is exactly definitionally one cubic centimeter in one milliliter.

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