What is Molecular Mass?

What is molecular mass cartoon
What is molecular mass illustration

How to calculate molecular mass?

  1. Determine the molecular formula of the compound.
  2. Use the periodic table to determine the atomic mass of each element in the molecule.
  3. Multiply the atomic mass of each element by the number of molecules.
  4. Finally, add them all up!

 Example: Molecular Mass of Water H2O

hydrogen 1.00078 2 2.00156
oxygen 15.9949 1 15.9949
Total  18.0105 

Molecular mass of water

= 18.0105 amu

Molecular Mass can also be expressed as a Mole (g/mol)

Express molecular mass as AMU


molecular mass vs molar mass chemistry


Mass of Water

Expressed as a mole: 18.0105 g/mol
Expressed as molecular mass: 18.0105 amu

If you see molecular mass expressed in AMU, don’t worry! AMU and g/mol are equivalent to each other.



3 thoughts on “What is Molecular Mass?

  1. Beautiful presentation. Aren’t computers wonderful. When I taught chemistry, the best we had were calculators and overheads. You are so blessed. I’ll try to convey the way I approached the teaching of the mole. It would be easier to draw it than to type it, but I’ll try.
    If you have an email I could send a written copy to you if you are interested in my approach.
    dozen is 12; gross is 144; elom is 16. An object has a mass of 5 oz. What is the mass of an elom of them in pounds? 5 oz. x 1 lb. x 16 obj = 5 lbs.
    1 obj 16 oz. 1 elom 1 elom
    Since mole is 6.02 x 10 e 23 & there are 6.02 x 10 e 23 amu = 1 g, that’s why mass in amu is numerically equal to mass in grams { substitute amu for oz., grams for lb, and mole for elom in the above example. 16 was chosen for elom to numerically match 16 oz./lb So, 6.02 x 10 e23 was chosen to match 6.02 x 10 e 23 amu/g.}

  2. The example of water: you speak about atomic weight, it must be atomic MASS!! (weight is a force: mass * gravity).
    See you! Piet

    1. Thanks Piet for submitting your comment! I’ve changed the term “atomic weight” to “atomic mass” to be absolutely clear.

      Please see “Molecular Weight, Atomic Weight, Weight vs. Mass” in Chemwiki

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