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How to Convert Between Fahrenheit and Celsius

Learn an easy way to convert temperatures from Fahrenheit to Celsius (and vice versa)—and check if the weather outside is frightful.

By
Jason Marshall, PhD,
May 3, 2013
Episode #086

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How to Convert Between Fahrenheit and Celsius

Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful. And since we’ve no place to go…let’s talk about temperature conversions!

I know, you actually have lots of places to go and a bunch of important things to do. But with wintry weather starting to sweep across the northern hemisphere, there’s no better time for us to learn how to easily convert between the two most commonly used temperature scales: Fahrenheit and Celsius. That way you’ll be able to do the conversions and tell your friends on the other side of the world who use the other temperature scale all about that frightful weather and delightful fire.!

What are the Fahrenheit and Celsius Scales?

How do we measure temperature? Well, we use a thermometer. And depending on where you live, those thermometers have scales marked in degrees Fahrenheit or degrees Celsius. Actually, a lot of thermometers have both scales marked on them, which means that there must be a way to convert between them. We’ll get to that soon enough, but first let’s look a bit deeper at the two most commonly used temperature scales.

First, Mr. Fahrenheit. This scale dates back to 1724 and rather inconveniently (since it’s hard to remember) says that water freezes at 32 degrees and boils at 212 degrees. In contrast, Mr. Celsius’s temperature scale proposed around 1742 rather conveniently says that water freezes and boils at the easy to remember temperatures of 0 and 100 degrees. The Fahrenheit scale is the primary temperature scale in the United States and a smattering of other places around the world, but the Celsius scale is used in the metric system and is by far the standard of choice everywhere else.

What are Some Common Temperatures?

Besides the temperatures at which water freezes and boils, it’s handy to have a few additional point-of-reference temperatures to give you a feel for the two scales. For example, the temperature of a pleasant day at the beach is 75 degrees Fahrenheit or 24 degrees Celsius; the temperature of the human body is about 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit or 37 degrees Celsius; and a typical oven baking temperature is about 350 degrees Fahrenheit or approximately 175 degrees Celsius.

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