A refractometer is a lab equipment that you use in measuring the fermentation level of a liquid. To measure the fermentation level the refractometer measures the amount of sugar (sugar weight or percentage Brix) in a solution.
Use Of The Refractometer
The equipment is mostly used by wine and beer makers. Winemakers use it to measure the ripeness of grapes and other fruits used in making the wine. Here the winemakers use the fruit juice from the fruits in order to determine if the fruits have reached their ideal level of natural fermentation. If the fruits have reached their ideal levels, the winemaker can go ahead and use them to make wine.
Refractometer is also used by beer makers where they use it to determine the specific gravity of their wort. A number of mathematical formulas are used in converting Brix percentage to specific gravity which is measured at the different stages of the brewing process. It's important for the beer makers to know specific gravity of the beer in order to achieve consistency.
How A Refractometer Works
As mentioned, the refractometer measures the sugar content in a solution. It does this using an optical device that works like a prism. When you place a liquid on the equipment, it reacts with light and turns the reaction into a given number on the Brix percentage scale.
The refractomer works just like a hydrometer, only that the refractometer requires just a small amount of liquid to operate.
How To Use The Refractomer
To use the equipment you need to start by calibrating it. For accurate calibration you should use distilled water. After calibrating you should add a drop of liquid (that you are measuring) under the sample plate and ensure that there are no air bubbles trapped. You should wait for 30 seconds and then read the refractometer by holding it up to a natural light source such as window or door.
You should look though the eyepiece and there should be a line on the meter that corresponds to the scale on the side of the viewing screen. The reading that you see is the percentage Brix.
This is what you need to know about refractometers. To achieve ideal results you should undertake careful calibration. For the equipment to last for a long time you should avoid exposing it to damp environment. You should also avoid measuring corrosive or abrasive chemicals.