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Old 09-17-2007, 05:38 AM   #1
Aug 2007
Posts: 43

I have two questions about hydrometer use:

1. I have an old hydrometer that only has two scales instead of three. It has a Balling scale and a potential alcohol scale, but no specific gravity (SG) scale. I have a chart that converts Brix/Balling readings to SG, but this Balling scale conversion chart stops at 6.0! Does anyone have a link for a complete chart to convert Balling/Brix numbers to SG?

2. I noticed that when taking test readings of water the only times the hydrometer gave a correct reading of zero for water was when I filled the container to the very top so that it overflowed a little and left a meniscus that was higher than the top of the container. Is this the best or correct way to take a reading?

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Old 09-17-2007, 12:36 PM   #3
Thalon's Avatar
May 2007
St. Louis Park, MN
Posts: 356

1.) According to our friend Palmer:
°Balling, °Brix, or °Plato - These three nearly identical units are the standard for the professional brewing industry for describing the amount of available extract as a weight percentage of cane sugar in solution, as opposed to specific gravity. Eg. 10 °Plato is equivalent to a specific gravity of 1.040.
So basically multiply the Balling reading by 4, and that becomes the number of thousandths of the specific gravity reading.

2.) Take the reading at the level of the liquid that isn't sticking to the sides of the walls or sticking up the hydrometer. Take it from the level part of the liquid. Sorry I don't know exactly what to call it, forgot my high school chemistry terminology...

Hydrometers are usually calibrated to read 1.000 for distilled (or Reverse Osmosis-treated) water at 60°F. If your water was at room temperature, for example, that could explain why it was a couple thousandths off. Also if you were using tap water that may have dissolved salts and minerals in it, that will also throw off a calibration reading.

Give it a shot again with distilled water as close to 60°F as you can. If the hydrometer is good, that will show you exactly how to take a reading. If it still reads off, the hydrometer may need to be replaced.

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