# Atomic Mass Calculator

Created by Steven Wooding
Reviewed by Dominik Czernia, PhD and Jack Bowater
Last updated: Apr 26, 2024

This atomic mass calculator shows you how to find the atomic mass of an atom using the atomic mass formula and explains the atomic mass definition. It also describes the atomic mass unit and explores why an atom needs neutrons.

## Atomic mass definition and atomic mass formula

The atomic mass is the mass of an atom, including its protons, neutrons, and electrons. However, because an electron is 1,836 times less massive than a proton, electrons account for an insignificant amount of mass of the atom in most atoms.

While you can state the atomic mass in kilograms, it is more usual to express it in atomic mass units ($\mathrm{u}$), also called daltons ($\mathrm{Da}$). One atomic mass unit (one dalton) equals $1/12$ the mass of a carbon-12 atom. That makes one atomic mass unit equal to $1.66 \times 10^{-27}\ \mathrm{kg}$. How to calculate atomic mass? To find a reasonable approximation of the atomic mass of an atom in atomic mass units, we can simply add the number of protons and neutrons. So the atomic mass formula is:

atomic mass (u) ≈ number of protons + number of neutrons

Or

$A = Z + N$

where:

• $A$Mass number (total number of protons and neutrons);
• $Z$Number of protons in the atom; and
• $N$Number of neutrons in the atom.

Note that the mass of an atom will be slightly less than its parts due to binding energy mass loss, which you can calculate using E = mc²: visit our E=mc2 calculator if you need a hand with those annoying orders of magnitude. This mass loss is a tiny amount for most atoms, and this calculator doesn't consider this effect.

## How to calculate atomic mass using this calculator

If you're asking yourself how to find atomic mass, then our atomic mass calculator is the perfect tool for you. You only need to follow the below steps:

1. Enter the number of protons in the atom. The calculator will warn you if you enter a value larger than 118, as this is the highest number of protons so far observed in an atom.

2. Enter the number of neutrons in the atom. The calculator will warn you if you enter a value larger than 177, as this is the highest number of neutrons observed in an atom so far.

3. The calculator then displays the atomic mass in the default unit of atomic mass units. You can change the units by clicking on the unit.

4. It also displays the atomic mass in kilograms, in case you need to use the atomic mass in some equation.

5. Finally, it shows the mass number for the atom.

Did you know, though sounding similar, atomic and average atomic mass are different from each other? Take a look at our average atomic mass calculator to find out more.

## Why do atoms need neutrons?

You might be thinking that as the neutron has no electric charge, why does the atom need them? Overall, an atom has a neutral charge. However, all of the positive charge is concentrated in the center with the protons. Like charges repel, so there is a force trying to break the nucleus apart. Countering this force is the attractive strong nuclear force that exists between protons and neutrons. Therefore, an atom can stop itself from breaking up by adding neutrons to increase the total amount of attractive strong nuclear force.

Some atoms are unstable and might only last for a limited time before ejecting some components and turning into something else. You can learn more about the decay of radioactive atoms in our half-life calculator.

And if you are still curious, you may want to check out the electronegativity calculator or our effective nuclear charge calculator.

## FAQ

### How do I find the atomic mass?

To find the atomic mass A of an atom:

1. Use the formula:

A = Z + N

2. Substitute the values for the numbers of protons Z and the number of neutrons N.

3. Perform the sum to obtain the atomic mass A value.

### What’s the atomic mass?

The atomic mass is the mass of an atom, including its protons, neutrons, and electrons. However, since an electron is 1836 times less massive than a proton, electrons account for an insignificant amount of mass of the atom in most atoms. This value is commonly expressed in atomic mass units (amu or u).

### What’s the average atomic mass?

The average atomic mass is the mean mass of all the isotopes of an element. To calculate the average atomic mass (AM), use the formula:

AM = f₁m₁ + f₂m₂ + … + fₙmₙ

where fₙ and mₙ are the natural abundance and the atomic mass of the nth isotope.

Note that atomic mass and average atomic mass are different concepts and involve different calculations. But don't worry – at Omni Calculator, we've got you covered with the average atomic mass calculator.

### What’s the difference between atomic mass and mass number?

The atomic mass refers to the sum of the atom's protons, neutrons, and electrons, whereas the mass number represents the sum of protons and neutrons. In other words, the main difference between the two concepts is that the atomic mass considers electrons.

### What’s the atomic mass of carbon-12?

The atomic mass of carbon-12 is 12 amu, resulting from its composition of 6 protons, 6 neutrons, and 6 electrons. Another way to express the atomic mass of carbon-12 is using the Dalton (Da or u), which is the unified atomic mass unit. Therefore, the atomic mass of carbon-12 is 12 amu or 12 Da.

Steven Wooding
Related calculators
Number of protons (Z)
Number of neutrons (N)
Atomic mass
u
Atomic mass (SI)
×10⁻²⁷
kg
Mass number
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