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What Is Tare Weight?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 23, 2024
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Tare weight is the weight of a vehicle or container when it is empty. This weight is used in calculations of net weight for tasks which range from properly charging customers for consumer goods to taxing laden trucks as they cross borders. To calculate the net weight of a load, the container is weighed to establish the tare weight, loaded and then weighed again for the gross weight; the tare is subtracted from the gross to find out how heavy the load is. This term can also be used in the culinary or food service industries, where it may refer to the weight of inedible parts of different foods.

Tare Weights in Transportation

Many vehicles have marking plates with information such as their tare weight. This is especially common with railway cars and trucks used in shipping, so that the net weight of the load can be easily calculated at any point without having to empty the vehicle to find out the tare weight. Such vehicles can be driven or pulled onto large and very sensitive scales for the purpose of weighing at borders and check-in stations.

In shipping, tare weight is extremely important, because it is used to determine the value of a load, and to calculate taxes. Truckers in many countries pay a set tax rate depending on how heavy their loads are, to ensure that trucking companies, which contribute to the degradation of the roadway, help to maintain it. Weights are also used to track loads, ensuring that no fraudulent activity occurs; this is especially important along borders where trade tariffs may be calculated. If a change in weight is noted from one stop to the next, then it may indicate that goods were unloaded illegally.

Smaller Scales and Consumer Use

Many scales have a “tare weight” setting, which allows the user to place an empty container on the scale and hit the tare button to zero the scale out. In some cases, regularly used weights can be saved in a scale. A store might want to save the setting for the glass jars it uses for olive oil, for example, so that oil sold by weight can be more quickly measured.

Cooking and Culinary Use

Many cooks use scales for recipes which call for ingredients by weight, rather than volume. Weight measurements are much more reliable than volume ones, which is why many baking recipes indicate ingredients by weight. Tare weight can also refer to the excess parts of food not used in cooking. A chef who needs five pounds of apples for a recipe, for example, needs to consider the weight of the core and seeds that are not used in making the dish. These components can be referred to as "tare" and are not part of the final weight needed in following a recipe.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a InfoBloom researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon232059 — On Nov 28, 2011

When I worked in a commercial cafeteria, I had to figure tare weights all the time. The unused food would be returned to my department on trays that all weighed 1 3/4 pounds, so I could easily subtract that weight before writing down the actual weight of the returned food.

Recipes also called for various weights of vegetables, so I had to know approximately how much of each vegetable would end up as waste or tare (outer leaves, cores, stalks, etc.). I knew that I needed to hand out 2 pounds of onions if the recipe actually called for a pound and a half, for example. Some cooks call this "clean weight" -- the amount of usable food after all the waste has been removed.

By bbpuff — On Jul 08, 2010

@somerset - It’s difficult to discern an apple core tare as the weight will most likely vary from apple to apple (even if just slightly).

The best way to describe tare is just as it’s written above in that it’s the empty portion of the container. Think of bulk candy stores and the way they distribute their candy – either in a bag or box. In order to properly charge you for the candy ONLY, they must first subtract the weight of the container.

It can vary, but normally there are appropriate buttons on their registers to do this. The same goes for their inventory process in that they must subtract the weight of the bins first in order to get an accurate count of goods.

By somerset — On Apr 21, 2008

The way I look at it is, net weight as opposed to gross weight. If you are on calorie restricted diet for example, and you weigh everything you eat you would want to make sure you weigh the food that you are actually going to consume.

So if 100 g of apple is 50 calories, you would slice the apple and weigh only the edible part, the core, which you would not eat, would be tare.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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