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Blinded by Science: Forgot your Hydrometer? Here’s your answer!

2

September 4, 2015 by fhsteinbart


Erlenmeyer flasks with potassium iodide and potassium dichromate.

Erlenmeyer flasks with potassium iodide and potassium dichromate.

About every month or so I get a customer who wants to know what the alcohol content of their wine, beer, kombucha, etc. is. So I usually ask what their original (OG) and terminal (TG) gravity readings were from their hydrometer. Usually what happens is that they either forgot to take a reading, or their hydrometer was broken at the time. Well, no fear folks, science  has come to your rescue! You can actually determine your own alcohol by volume or weight (ABV/ABW) by using some good old fashioned high school chemistry items like a 250ml Erlenmeyer flask, 5~10ml burette, 5ml beaker or glass vials, 1ml and 10ml pipettes, (which we sell at FHS), sample to be tested, and optionally a heat source such as an incubator, or even your oven (set to 200°) can be used! Then you’ll need a few chemicals (like potassium dichromate, potassium iodide, and sodium thiosulfate) that you can obtain from Nurnberg Scientific. This process takes time, and may require and overnight hiatus to completely react all the ethanol with the dichromate. While this does involve some basic algebraic math, it still will give you an accurate assessment of the total amount of ethanol to a high degree of accuracy.

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2 thoughts on “Blinded by Science: Forgot your Hydrometer? Here’s your answer!

  1. Samuel says:

    Well, let’s just be thankful third world war does not erupt this weekend, with all the muslim terrorists, falling jets, black student riots, Europe shootings and socialist/fascist election debates. Let’s just quietly enjoy our turkeys tonight (if we can afford that) before we stomp on each other on black friday sales.

    Like

    • fhsteinbart says:

      Well, political and commercial aspects of the Holiday season aside, I think the world will be a better place if all the World’s leaders and all the people of the world would drink a bit of craft brewed beer in between episodes of interrogatives, just to make the world a better place. We can’t talk AND drink at the same time, so this may be how beer saves the world!
      Holiday Cheers to everyone, and to all Hoppy Holidays!

      Like

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