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Old 10-09-2012, 12:25 AM   #11
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Well, that might just be it! My hydrometer reading says 1.014. Can someone explain why such a great difference in the readings?
Refractometer measure the refractive index (how the liquid bends light). It converts the refractive index of a sugar water solution into a gravity. But alcohol had a different refractive index than sugar water, so it throws off the reading.


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Old 10-09-2012, 12:27 AM   #12
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So measure with a refractometer when it's wort and the the hyrdometer when it's done fermenting?


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Old 10-09-2012, 12:28 AM   #13
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So measure with a refractometer when it's wort and the the hyrdometer when it's done fermenting?
Yes.
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Old 10-09-2012, 12:30 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by RustyPitchfork View Post
Well, that might just be it! My hydrometer reading says 1.014. Can someone explain why such a great difference in the readings?
I could explain it scientificly, wait no, I can't. It just is. It has something to do with how light is refracted (sorry to sound stupid just stating the obvious).

Rule of thumb is don't use refractometer when alcohol is present. Hydrometer all the way.
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Old 10-09-2012, 12:32 AM   #15
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Thanks everyone! If nothing else, I can say I learned something today.
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Old 10-09-2012, 12:32 AM   #16
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So measure with a refractometer when it's wort and the the hyrdometer when it's done fermenting?
Or convert using a brewing calculator. But hydrometer is most accurate, since it's closer to measuring what you actually want.

Fyi, water has an r.i. of 1.33, ethanol is 1.36, and sugar increases r.i of water, which is why alcohol makes it look like there's more sugar per the refractometer.


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