A ton, which is equal to 2,000 pounds, can be used to measure many different things. Because the size is so large, though, it can be difficult to get a feel for what items might be measured in tons. Familiarizing yourself with some examples can help.
Large animals are often measured in tons simply because they weigh so much, so using tons simplifies the numbers.
For example, an elephant might be said to weigh between 6,000 and 13,000 pounds, or, to simplify, you could say it weighs between 3 and 6.5 tons.
Whales are another animal that’s often measured by the ton.
For example, blue whales, which are the largest animals to ever live, can grow to weigh up to 150 tons.
Because they were so large, dinosaur weights are also commonly measured in tons. These weights are largely estimates, but thanks to many fossils and scientific observations, the weights are probably relatively accurate.
A Tyrannosaurus Rex would most likely have weighed around 8 tons. The largest dinosaur ever, Argentinosaurus, would probably have weighed between 55 and 110 tons.
This massive dinosaur would have been between 98 and 130 feet long. Even flying dinosaurs could be quite large. The biggest flying dinosaur, Quetzalcoatlus, was the size of a small airplane and had a wingspan of up to 69 feet.
This dinosaur had to be light enough to fly, though, so it weighed, at most, about 550 pounds or 1/4 of a ton.
Cars and Trucks
Vehicles are often measured in tons because they are so large. Any standard car, van, or truck will be measured in tons, and most vehicles weigh around 2 tons.
Larger vehicles, such as buses and commercial trucks, are also measured in tons.
Buses usually weigh between 12.5 and 20 tons, while semi-trucks weigh between 5 and 12.5 tons, while the trailer of the truck, without cargo, usually weighs another 5 tons.
Boats and Airplanes
Boats are also large enough to be weighed in tons. Ski boats usually weigh between 1 and 3 tons, sailboats are usually between 2 and 4 tons, and speedboats generally weigh around 4 tons.
Yachts usually weigh between 4.5 and 8 tons, although some yachts are much larger. Big commercial ships, such as cruise ships, are much heavier.
The largest cruise ship weighs about 236,857 tons.
Airplanes are another large vehicle that is also usually measured in tons. Most commercial planes weigh between 15 and 63.5 tons. Fighter jets are a bit lighter, weighing between 10 and 22.5 tons.
Small personal planes are the lightest aircraft.
They usually weigh between 740 pounds and just over 1 ton.
Dirt, Sand, and Gravel
When items such as loose dirt, sand, or gravel are sold in bulk, they’re often sold by the ton.
Using this measurement helps people ensure that they’re getting an exact amount of whatever they need, and it can make adding up prices much simpler.
When things like sand or dirt are sold by the ton, they’re often delivered using a dump truck.
Metal, particularly metal used for large construction projects, is often bought and sold by the ton.
The project’s contractor or designer might also use ton measurements to determine how much metal is needed.
Scrap metal is also often measured by the ton. Individuals can sell scrap to larger companies, which then purify and melt the scrap down.
Once the company has melted the scrap, it can be sold to manufacturers by the ton.
For example, a company that scraps aluminum might sell several tons of aluminum to a company that manufacturers soda cans.
Agricultural goods are often measured in or bought and sold by the ton. For example, a farmer might have harvested 3 or 4 tons of wheat.
The farmer can then divide this and sell it in smaller portions, or they can sell it in bulk to a company that can use a large amount of wheat.
Goods such as corn, rice, and other types of produce like fruits and vegetables, are also measured in tons.
This is also a good way for a region, state, or country to measure how much of a particular item is grown, harvested, and sold throughout the year.
Meat, such as beef, is also often grouped into tons to be sold to other companies or measured for product output.
Water is a liquid, so it would make sense to measure it in gallons, but large amounts of water aren’t easily measured or explained in a small unit like gallons.
Instead, tons are used. For example, a state might measure its water usage in tons to get a feel for how much water is used and what the overall cost is.
Companies can also buy and sell water in large quantities, measured in tons.
Tons are also used to measure natural water features, such as rivers, lakes, streams, and waterfalls.
For example, about 3,160 tons of water flow over Niagara Falls every second. This number can give observers a better feel for the true size and power of the falls.
In smaller quantities, fuel, such as gasoline, can be measured in gallons or barrels. In large quantities, though, it’s usually measured by the ton.
The company that has extracted the fuel might sell it by the ton to a refinery, which can then sell it in smaller quantities or sell it by the ton to a particular company.