The calorie is a pre-SI metric unit of energy. It was first defined by Nicolas Clément in 1824 as a unit of heat, entering French and English dictionaries between 1841 and 1867.[1] In most fields its use is archaic, having been replaced by the SI unit of energy, the joule. However, in many countries it remains in common use as a unit of food energy. Definitions of a calorie fall into two classes: • The small calorie or gram calorie (symbol: cal)[2] approximates the energy needed to increase the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1 °C. This is about 4.2 joules. • The large calorie, kilogram calorie, dietary calorie or food calorie (symbol: Cal)[2] approximates the energy needed to increase the temperature of 1 kilogram of water by 1 °C. This is exactly 1,000 small calories or about 4.2 kilojoules. In an attempt to avoid confusion the large calorie is sometimes written as Calorie (with a capital C). This convention, however, is not always followed, and not explained to the average person clearly (and is sometimes ambiguous, such as at the beginning of a sentence). Whether the large or small calorie is intended often must be inferred from context. When used in scientific contexts, the term calorie refers to the small calorie. The gram calorie, however, is a very small unit for use in nutritional contexts. Instead, the kilocalorie (symbol: kcal) or large calorie is used. In such context calorie and kilocalorie are equivalent.

The energy needed to increase the temperature of a given mass of water by 1 °C depends on the starting temperature and is difficult to measure precisely. Accordingly, there have been several definitions of the calorie. The two perhaps most popular definitions used in older literature are the 15 °C calorie and the thermochemical calorie. The conversion factors used to convert calories to joules are numerically equivalent to expressions of the specific heat capacity of water in joules per gram or kilogram.
Name Symbol Conversions Notes

Thermochemical calorie


≡ 4.184 J ≈ 0.003964 BTU ≈ 1.163 × 10−6 kWh ≈ 2.611 × 1019 eV ≈ 4.204 J ≈ 0.003985 BTU ≈ 1.168×10−6 kWh ≈ 2.624×1019 eV ≈ 4.1855 J ≈ 0.0039671 BTU ≈ 1.1626×10−6 kWh ≈ 2.6124×1019 eV


4 °C calorie


the amount of energy required to warm one gram of air-free water from 3.5 °C to 4.5 °C at standard atmospheric pressure.

15 °C calorie


the amount of energy required to warm one gram of air-free water from 14.5 °C to 15.5 °C at standard atmospheric pressure (101.325 kPa). Experimental values of this calorie ranged from 4.1852 J to 4.1858 J. The CIPM in 1950 published a [3] mean experimental value of 4.1855 J, noting an uncertainty of 0.0005 J. the amount of energy required to warm one gram of air-free water from 19.5 °C to 20.5 °C at standard atmospheric pressure.

20 °C calorie


≈ 4.182 J ≈ 0.003964 BTU ≈ 1.162×10−6 kWh ≈ 2.610×1019 eV ≈ 4.190 J ≈ 0.003971 BTU ≈ 1.164×10−6 kWh ≈ 2.615×1019 eV

Mean calorie



⁄100 of the amount of energy required to warm one gram of air-free water from 0 °C to 100 °C at standard atmospheric pressure.

6132×1019 eV calIT ≡ 4.163 mW·h = 4.1630×10−6 kWh ≈ 2. the international joule is about 1. This is primarily expressed as joules per gramme mole and secondarily as thermochemical calories per mole derived by dividing by 4.000165 J. [4] Figure depends on the conversion factor between international joules and absolute (modern) joules.00019 J. 1992.182 J ≈ 0. Notes and references [1] Etymology: French calorie. unibas.000495 Ω. ch/ personal/ schirmer/ teaching/ blockkurs/ 2008/ Formelsammlung_physik_Konst.0039683 BTU ≈ 1.00034 V (http:/ / www.18674 J. International Steam Table calorie (1956) 1. com/ dictionary/ calorie [3] International Standard ISO 31-4: Quantities and units – Part 4: Heat. from Latin calor meaning "heat". pdf)). 1.Calorie [4] 2 International Steam Table calorie (1929) ≈ 4.000330 V) it is about 1.00049 Ω. "The adoption of joules as units of energy" (http:/ / www. htm). especially regarding the conversion factor.6132×1019 eV ≡ 4. fao.1868 J exactly. International Organization for Standardization. [2] Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary Def 1a http:/ / www. The standards used in calorimetric work in nutrition is ultimately the heat of combustion of an internationally graded standard benzoic acid. Using the mean international ohm and volt (1. org/ docrep/ meeting/ 009/ ae906e/ ae906e17. basically it is the thermochemical calorie. a factor which has been approved by the Committee on Nomenclature of the IUNS. giving 4. This definition was adopted by the Fifth [3] International Conference on Properties of Steam (London.18684 J and 4. respectively [5] FAO (1971). IUNS calorie This is a ratio adopted by the Committee on Nomenclature of the International [5] Union of Nutritional Sciences. merriam-webster. Annex B (informative): Other units given for information." .1630×10−6 kWh ≈ 2.182. 1. .1868 J ≈ 0.610×1019 eV 1 ⁄860 international watt hours = 180⁄43 international joules exactly. "While the nutritional calorie has not been defined.0039683 BTU ≈ 1.1868 J ≈ 0.003964 BTU ≈ 1. using the US international ohm and volt (1.162×10−6 kWh ≈ 2. July 1956). biozentrum.

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