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Cubic ton

The cubic ton is a measure of volume (compare fluid ounce). It is no longer used in the United Kingdom but seems to be still in use in the United States.



A mass-derived unit of volume must be defined by reference to the density of some material. In the case of the fluid ounce, this is water. For the cubic ton, the situation is more complex—there are different cubic tons for different materials.

The 1964 Reader's Digest Great Encyclopaedic Dictionary gave the following ton-derived volumes:

The nearest thing to a standard cubic ton seems to be the "timber" cubic ton (40 cubic feet or 1.133 cubic metres) which is used by freight transport operators in the US.[1][2]


Converting cubic tons (i.e., volumes) to measures of weight presents difficulties because organic materials such as timber vary in density.

Approximate volume conversions, based on a timber cubic ton of 40 cubic feet:

  • 1 ton (40 cubic feet) = 1.133 cubic metres
  • 1 cubic metre = 0.883 cubic tons (35.32 cubic feet)

Use by the BBCEdit

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has used the term cubic tonne on at least three occasions:

The BBC later amended the internet article by changing cubic tonnes to cubic metres.[3]

See alsoEdit