The United States is one of only three countries in the world that still uses the English system of measurement, which expresses temperature in degrees Fahrenheit. Because it represents one of the world's largest appliance markets, manufacturers have to include both Celsius and Fahrenheit measuring capabilities in stoves and ranges. This makes a big difference for anyone wanting to cook a meal.
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If your oven displays temperature in degrees Fahrenheit, and you think it's measuring in Celsius, you won't even be able to boil water. Water boils at 100 degrees Celsius, but 100 degrees Fahrenheit is just over normal body temperature. On the other hand, you'll scorch your food rather quickly if you think the temperature is in Fahrenheit degrees when it's really Celsius and you set the oven to 350. In fact, the oven will probably shut down before it gets that hot – 350 degrees Celsius is 660 degrees Fahrenheit!
What Is the Difference between Celsius and Fahrenheit?
The zero point of the mostly obsolete Fahrenheit scale is the freezing point of a saturated salt solution. Based on this zero-point, pure water freezes at 32 degrees and boils at 212 degrees. The zero point of the Celsius scale, on the other hand, is the freezing point of pure water, and the boiling point of water is defined as 100 degrees. This makes a Celsius degree 9/5 larger than a Fahrenheit degree.
Converting Between Scales Using Math
To convert a temperature from Celsius to Fahrenheit, multiply by 9/5 and add 32. For example, 0 C is 32 F and 100 C is 212 F. The outdoor temperature on a balmy spring day may be 21 C. That's a comfortable 70 F – more or less.
To convert from Fahrenheit to Celsius, you do the inverse operation, that is, multiply by 5/9 and subtract 32. That makes an oven temperature of 450 F equal to 232 C.
Changing the Setting on Your Oven Control
You can use a more-or-less standard procedure to convert the oven temperature displayed on your oven control from Celsius to Fahrenheit and back again. It works for stoves from major appliance manufacturers like Frigidaire and GE. You may have to consult your owner's manual if you have an appliance from a different manufacturer and this standard procedure doesn't work. Chances are, though, that the procedure you find there isn't much different.
Your oven should display the temperature followed by the temperature scale. For example, it might read 200 C or 350 F. To change the scale, locate the Bake or Broil button, then press it and hold it in for three to five seconds. On some models, you may have to press the Cancel button at the same time. The temperature display will begin flashing, and when it does, you can change the scale by pressing the temperature up or down button. Release the Bake/Broil button when the correct scale appears, and you're done.
Chris Deziel is a contractor, builder and general fix-it pro who has been active in the construction trades for 40 years. He has degrees in science and humanities and years of teaching experience. An avid craftsman and musician, Deziel began writing on home improvement topics in 2010. He worked as an expert consultant with eHow Now and Pro Referral -- a Home Depot site. A DIYer by nature, Deziel regularly shares tips and tricks for a better home and garden at Hunker and Family Handyman.