how do I make a one gram weight?

Without any balance or scale, how can I make a serviceable 1 gram or 10 gram weight? I have rulers. Does anyone know the approximate weight of a piece of printer paper, for instance, that I could use to cut a piece out of the weight I’m trying to make?

1 cubic centimeter of water weighs a gram.

A dollar bill is pretty close to a gram, nickles are about five grams.

Sources I’ve found online say that a small paperclip weighs about 1 gram (some say 1.1 g); also, as jnglmassiv said, a dollar bill. How precise do you need?

Coinage has well publicized masses … a relatively unworn coin makes a fine weight for a balance scale … water is also a good idea if you can tare the container properly and have accurate measuring devices …

Not terribly precise. I’m trying to illustrate how small a milligram is and even a microgram. If I could start with a piece of paper that weighs about a gram, I think I could make lines on it that could start to indicate a milligram and then from there to imagine a microgram. How much does a teaspoon of salt weigh? I could start from that, too.

Lines? Dollars? Grams?

Am I the only one triggered by these words?

I would use a section of wire and cut at the right length. Balance a length of wire with a coin of known weight and then cut off the percentage you need.

Thread might work well for what you are doing it might take about 10 ft of thread to make one gram. It would be easy to divide that up for an illustration.

Printer paper should be ideal. The packet should somewhere list the list the paper weight in gsm. That is grams per square metre. So you have a direct conversion from area of paper to the mass.

The range 90 - 150 gsm seems to cover it, but 120gsm is common. So 1 gram is 120th of a square metre. Or a square of paper 91mm on a side.

I think you’ll be spending a lot of money for a balance scale that reads down to the milligram, plus you’ll have to keep it covered for cat hair … there’s cheaper alternatives … 1 milligram is 3 healthy doses of LSD …

Microgram scales are going to bust your bank account and then some …

You can get scales down to milligram increments for 25 bucks. I got one. It works great, but, while it reads down to the milligram, it only claims an accuracy of ± 5 mgs, but users report accuracy down to the milligram.

Thank you, pulykamell, I’ve been looking for something like that! All I’d been able to find were 1-gram scales (which aren’t precise enough for some of the things I’d like to do) on one hand, and laboratory analytical scales (which run into the thousands of dollars) on the other hand. I knew that there had to be something in between, but was never able to get the right search terms.

I should probably include the direct link. It’s the Gemini-20. I bought it for cooking certain things where I required accurate resolution down to the gram (or 1/2 gram. Basically, I was tweaking recipes for small batches of sausage that I wanted to eventually scale up to 5- and 10-lb yields, and an error at this level would be scale up hugely. For example, generally sausage is about 1.5-2% salt, so for a 100g test drive of sausage, that’s 1.5-2g. Screw this up by a gram or so (say 3 or 3.5g) and you have one salty sausage, so you really need some precision.)

The catch for paper would be its moisture content, which will obviously vary with its environment.

Do you have a kitchen scale or similar? Can’t you weigh a whole ream of paper and divide by the number of sheets to get the weight of one sheet?

This page says one US cup of salt weighs 273 grams. Which implies 1 teaspoon weighs about 5.7 grams.

With a balance, the display resolution (a.k.a. count, readability) and incremental uncertainty is more important than the absolute uncertainty. If you’re trying to measure the absolute mass of something and you require low uncertainty, you need to use the single-substitution method or double-substitution method, along with standard weights.

This is probably not very helpful, but we used to measure stylus tracking force on turntables using pennies as counterweights. (We had small metal or plastic balances where the stylus sat on one end and we put weights on the other.) A recent (1980s or later) penny is almost exactly 2.5 grams. This was just about what we wanted in stylus tracking force. The balance usually had two or three grooves for the fulcrum piece, so we could split the weight in half (1.25 grams) or double it.

Four pennies is pretty darn close to 10 grams.

First practical solution on this thread.

This exemplifies the well known “Bones Daley theorem”, which states that if you want to measure any feature of any small entity, the way to do it is to measure an aggregate of thousands of them , and divide to get the required measurement of the individual entity.

Not to be too snide about it, but it also illustrates another axiom: before you answer the question, read it. I said I don’t have a scale.