How to calculate the weight of your parcel without scales

We all know the sneaky trick question: 'What weighs more - a ton of feathers or a ton of bricks?', as well as the answer that they're both the same. Having comparisons, though, can help you determine an item's weight before sending it.
While not an exact science, if you are without scales it can be helpful to use household items, for example, to calculate an approximate weight of your parcel.
Food is a handy choice as it is, obviously, sold by weight. Happily labelled; a bag of sugar, tin of beans or bag of
Wotsits can help you guesstimate an item's weight.

Handy comparisons

A pack of Wotsits weighs 17.5g, which is roughly about the same as a small silver ring or lightweight necklace. DVDs, meanwhile, will typically weigh about 180g.
A regular can of Baked Beans weighs 415g. This is a useful one for when it comes to calculating the weight of clothing items such as jeans. While these can vary in weight, an average mid-weight pair of jeans usually comes in at approx. 340g-450g. Your favourite beans could therefore give you a good basis for guesstimating the weight. Lightweight jeans average at less than 340g, though, while a heavyweight pair will be over 450g, so maybe grab a few pairs to check.
Heavier items, for example something like Converse trainers, usually weigh around 780-800g, although this will of course be dependent of the shoe size. Hunt around for any pre-packed items you have in the house; big bags of dog food are a good comparison as these can come in 800g bags. A handy 1kg bag of sugar will also help; if your shoes feel heavier than this then you know for sure your parcel will weigh over 1kg, which can sometimes bring with it added postage expense.
Books will vary massively in weight depending of course on page number, whether they're hardback and their overall size. Magazines are easier to calculate but often surprise people on their weight; a glossy magazine weighs on average 500g.

Taking into account packaging weight

Remember your packaging will also add to the overall weight of your parcel so take this in to account. Fairly light in weight, padded envelopes are ideal for sending items such as DVDs, brochures or smaller items such as costume jewellery or gifts. If you are setting up a business, we recommend weighing each of the different size envelopes and taking a note of their weight. Then you can calculate this easily into your shipping costs on your website or eBay shop.
Cardboard boxes will protect your items more, but may also weigh more. In addition you'll need to factor in the extra padding you'll need to protect around your items such as bubble wrap or air pockets.
While this guide can help you get a ballpark weight for your items, it's always best if you can be more exact. If you're likely to be sending items regularly through the post, it's a great idea to invest in a pair of scales. Even a basic set will be accurate enough for postage purposes without having to break the bank.

Also see our related content...

Sending a parcel UK and domestic 

Sending a parcel internationally 

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