Math CentralQuandaries & Queries


Question from Kathleen:

Is there a simple formula to convert the following from tons to cubic yards:
Sand base
Fill dirt

Please help?

Hi Kathleen,

You need to know the density of the specific material. You can get some information on the web. For example I typed What is the density of topsoil in pounds per cubic foot? into the Google search window and got a number of responses, one of which said

One cubic yard of topsoil weighs approximately 1,080 pounds.

One ton is 2,000 pounds which is a little less than twice 1,080 pounds and hence a ton of topsoil is almost 2 cubic yards. To be more precise one ton of topsoil is $\large \frac{2000}{1080} \normalsize = 1.85$ cubic yards.

You should do something similar for your three materials. You will likely find a range of densities, depending in particular on the moisture content but you should get an idea of the conversions.

I hope this helps,

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