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A refractometer is used to measure the density of a solution, in our case how much malt sugar is in solution.
Featuring both a Brix scale AND a Specific Gravity Scale
Our refractometer is unique in that it features both a Brix Scale and a Specific Gravity Scale, the scale most homebrewers use.
Why use a Refractometer you ask?
Are you tired of not hitting your desired target gravities? Have you tried to cool a large sample so you could use a hydrometer and see what your gravity is? A refractometer allows you take instant gravities readings, with just one drop, at any point during the boil, or even during the run off of the sparge during an all-grain brew. These 'during the process' readings allow you to add more water or boil longer so you can attain exactly the gravity you desire.
Our refractometer is hand held with a metal body, flexible eye piece and rubber grip. It features a 0 to 32% Brix scale and from 1.000 to 1.120 on the Specific Gravity Scale with .2% resolution and ATC (Automatic Temperature Compensation). Traditional refractometers without ATC are calibrated to work at 68 degrees Fahrenheit. The ATC function allows you to use the refractometer in an ambient temperature range of 50-86 degrees Fahrenheit (10-30 Celsius.) Because your sample is just one drop, and will quickly adjust to the temperature of the refractometer, the temperature of the sample is irrelevant. Our unit also comes with a manual calibration knob that is secured with a lock nut. To calibrate place one drop of distilled water on the testing platform and adjust to zero if necessary.
Getting Geeky about why the Specific Gravity Scale on our unit is accurate
Some dual scale refractometers feature a linear scale that multiplies brix by 4 to get Specific Gravity. This is okay at lower gravities up to around 1.040 but the higher your starting gravity goes, the less accurate the conversion is. For example, take a Brix reading of 10, multiply by 4, and you get a SG reading of 1.040 - the accurate SG reading is 1.041. Take a Brix reading of 20, multiply by 4, and you get 1.080 - the accurate conversion is 1.084. We worked with our Refractometer manufacturer to create a unit with a non linear conversion and thus this model can be accurately used for Specific Gravity readings.
NOTE - Refractometers will not read correctly if alcohol is present. We have a spreadsheet that can be used to help determine your actual gravity or brix, and this can be found in the "Documents" tab above.