Converting Liters to Milliliters

By Joan Whetzel


Studying the metric system is part of math and science classess in US schools. Though we don’t use it for most thing in the US, it’s still good to understand how it works. The base unit of liquid measurement in the metric system is the liter. By attaching a prefix to the front of the word "liter" the measurement becomes larger (deka-, kilo-) or smaller (centi-, deci-, milli-). Liters and milliliters are used to measure everything from gasoline to sodas to medication dosages In some cases, knowing the exact meausurement can become a matter of life and death. In other cases, an approximate measurement is considered okay.



Liters and Liquid Measurements

Liters and milliliters are metric liquid measurements, with the liter as the base unit. As with all metric system measurements, liquid measurements are multiplied and divided by units of ten. The prefixes added to the front of the word liter define the number of liters or the fraction of a liter we’re talking about. A dekaliter equals 10 liters, a hectoliter is 100 liters, and a kiloliter means 1,000 liters. Going the other way, a deciliter stands for 1/10 (0.1) of a liter, a centiliter equals 1/100 (0.01) liter, and a milliliter is equal to 1/1000 (0.001) of a liter.


Converting Liters to Milliliters

Converting Liters to Milliliters
Converting Liters to Milliliters | Source

Using the above table, we can convert liters to milliliters. You went to the grocery store and bought a 1 liter bottle of soda.

  • How many milliliters is in that bottle? The table shows that that bottle holds 1,000 milliliters (ml).
  • If you only drink 1/10 (0.1) of the bottle, then you’ve just consumed 100 ml.
  • On the other hand if you drink ten 1-liter bottles of soda, then you’ve drowning your sorrows in 10,000 ml of soda.


Converting Milliliters to Liters

Converting Milliliters to Liters
Converting Milliliters to Liters | Source

Going the other way, converting milliliters to liters is also easy to understand. Let’s say your doctor gives you a prescription for cough syrup. You can see how much you are taking by looking at the above table.

  • If the doctors prescribes a 10 ml dose, then you’d be swallowing 1/100 (0.01) of a liter.
  • If the prescription tells you not to take more than 100 ml in 24 hours, then you know not to take more than 1/10 (0.1) liter in a day.


Converting Liters and Milliliters to Standard American Liquid Measurements

Metric to US Standard Measurement Conversions
Metric to US Standard Measurement Conversions | Source

So how does all this match up with the way we measure things here in the States? If you pour yourself an 8-ounce (1 cup)glass of milk for breakfast, you have just poured approximately 250 ml, or about ¼ of a liter of milk into your glass. You buy a 16 ounce bottle of your favorite sports drink at the convenience store, you get a 500 ml (1/2 liter) boost of energy. You empty a 1-gallon can of gasoline into your mower, that’s about 4,000ml or 4 liters of petrol.


The conversions between US liquid measurements and liters is not exact, more roughly equivalent measurements. For scientific measurements, an exact conversion table and a calculator will be necessary for the most accurate measurements.

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