A ton is a measure of weight, whereas a cubic meter is a measure of volume, so the material must be known to be able to convert the units. One ton of pure water is equal to 1 cubic meter.

There are 1,000 liters in 1 cubic meter of pure water, and a liter of pure water weighs 1 kilogram. Therefore, 1 ton of water equals 1 cubic meter. Because saltwater is less dense than pure water, a ton of saltwater takes up less volume, only 0.97 cubic meters. One ton of steel is 0.13 cubic meters in volume, and 1 ton of gasoline takes up 1.34 cubic meters.