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Old 11-10-2011, 12:14 AM   #1
Alellujah
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Default Hydrometer vs Refractometer Reading

I'm getting a major difference in the readings between my hydrometer and my newly purchased refractometer. hydrometer reads around 1.030 and refractometer is reading around 1.060.

I can't figure out why there would be such a wide difference between the two.

I used distilled water on the refractometer to calibrate it when it first arrived and it's supposed to have Automatic Temperature Compensation.

Anyone?

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Old 11-10-2011, 12:17 AM   #2
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What does your hydrometer read in distilled water? You may have to calibrate the refractometer to your hydrometer. Beersmith has a utility to do that.

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Old 11-10-2011, 12:20 AM   #3
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Are you reading sugar water/wort with the two, or beer? Alcohol throws off the refractometer's reading and needs to be corrected with a simple calculation.

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Old 11-10-2011, 12:22 AM   #4
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Bigbeergeek is right, are you testing unfermented wort of fermenting beer? Once fermentation has begun alcohol and co2 through off the readings in a refractometer. There are online calculators that supposedly can compensate for those elements, but I don't trust them.

I only use my refract for pre-yeast pitch reading, but once fermentation begins I go back to the hydrometer.

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Old 11-10-2011, 12:26 AM   #5
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I guess I assumed that 1.030-1.060 wouldn't be beer yet. Never mind.

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Old 11-10-2011, 12:47 AM   #6
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Thanks, guys. Alcohol throwing off the refractometer makes sense from what you're saying. I'm reading a beer that's in secondary. It started out at 1.124 (hydrometer read), and there's a lot of alcohol in there (smell and taste).

I have Beersmith, I'll check in there. Otherwise, is there somewhere i can go to find the compensating formula?

Thanks again!

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Old 11-10-2011, 12:50 AM   #7
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Also, you really should calibrate your refractometer everytime you use it. Everytime you jar it you potentially knock the optics out of alignment.

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Old 11-10-2011, 01:18 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Revvy View Post
Also, you really should calibrate your refractometer everytime you use it. Everytime you jar it you potentially knock the optics out of alignment.
Will do.
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Old 11-10-2011, 01:45 AM   #9
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Found this: Page of Calculators that seems to be fairly accurate.

Kind of sucks that I can't get an accurate read of where I'm at without thiefing out a bunch of beer as opposed to a few drops. Live and learn.

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Old 11-10-2011, 08:19 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alellujah View Post
Found this: Page of Calculators that seems to be fairly accurate.

Kind of sucks that I can't get an accurate read of where I'm at without thiefing out a bunch of beer as opposed to a few drops. Live and learn.
It only takes 1/3 of a cup of beer to fill my hydrometer testing column... that's only 3 ounces. Hydrometers "waste" a negligible volume of beer.
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