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TIP OF THE DAY: Ounces Vs. Fluid Ounces

Measuring cup for both fluid ounces and dry
ounces, from Taylor. This one has an easy
digital readout.
  Do you know the difference between ounces (that is, between dry ounces and fluid ounces)?

If you don’t, it’s easy to screw up recipes by substituting one for the other. Make sure to use either a fluid ounces measuring cup or a dry measuring cup, as appropriate to the recipe. The measuring cup shown in the photo has fluid ounce markings on one side and dry ounces on the other. But it’s easier to measure dry ingredients from a set of graduated cups (1 cup, 3/4 cup, 2/3 cup, 1/2 cup, 1/4 cup and 1/8 cup).

  • The ounce (dry ounce or avoirdupois ounces, abbreviated as .oz) measures mass or weight.
  • The fluid ounce (fl. oz.) measures volume.
  • Weight and volume are not analogous to solid and liquid. Weight and volume have nothing to do with the property of the materials. How much a fluid ounce will weigh, for example, depends on the density of the fluid.
    What Makes Things Confusing

  • There are 16 ounces in a pound, and 16 fluid ounces in a pint. But that doesn’t mean you can substitute a dry measurement for liquid measurement.
  • A fluid ounce of water weights a bit more than a dry ounce (1.043 ounces per fluid ounce), so here the substitution is almost equal. But for any other liquid (olive oil or juice, for example) substitution will result in very different quantities.
    What To Do About It

  • Make sure you’re using the right measure—especially if you have a dual-measuring cup that has fl.oz. markings on one side and dry ounce markings on the other.
  • Study the differences in this chart.

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