Question and Answer Forum

MISCO Refractometer Q&A Forum

Find answers to many common questions concerning applications, operation, calibration, and maintenance of refractometers:

Beer (3)

Can your digital refractometer be used to determine balling (sugars) in distillers mash? The standard has been to use a balling hydrometer. Also would there be one to determine alcohol in the fermenting mash? The max is around 9% by volume.

Our Palm Abbe digital refractometer is ideal for measuring the sugar content of mash for beer makers. You can use either the Brix scale or the balling scale for this. Once fermentation begins a refractometer cannot be used to “directly’ measure either the sugar content or the ethanol content since they will interfere with each other. However, there are some indirect methods using the Brix scale to monitor fermentation.

We are a California manufacturer of a carbonated low-alcohol beverage and are looking for a relatively low-cost way to test samples to make sure alcohol is below 0.5%. Would your refractometer work for this?

Unless your beverage is just ethanol and water, a refractometer will not be able to directly measure the alcohol content. This is because sugars in the solution will conflict with a reading of alcohol and vice a versa. Probably the best way to test this is by distilling the beverage and measuring the distillate with a Palm Abbe digital refractometer equipped with an ethanol scale.

We use your Palm Abbe PA201 digital refractometer for making sorbet, and love it! But we’re confused as to how it operates on solutions that contain sugar and alcohol in combination: the readings don’t seem to make sense. Is there a way to compensate for this?

Unfortunately it is not possible to measure sugar contents and alcohol content in combination in a sorbet or other solution using a refractometer. Refractometers are very good at measuring binary solutions (two-part), such as water and sugar, where water is a constant and sugar is a variable. However, a refractometer is not very good for measuring multi-component solutions such as water, sugar, and alcohol. When there are several different components in a solution, such as water, sugar, and alcohol, it is difficult to tell what the contribution is that each component makes to the total refractive index. So, if the refractive index changes, it is impossible to say, with any certainty, which of the component parts changed. A refractometer only measures the total refractive index of a solution and cannot selectively read the refractive index of one particular component. All water soluble fluids look the same to the refractometer. So, depending on the concentrations of the other constituents, it may be difficult to get an accurate reading of any one component.

Food & Beverage (19)

Want to purchase an inline refractometer for the measurement of concentration of glucose fructose and fructose, which will give 4-20mA output which can be interfaced to a card.

One of our Inline Process Refractometers would be ideal for measuring the concentration of glucose and fructose in a process fluid. The VIP refractometer has a 4 to 20 mA output so it will be no problem interfacing with a card, PLC, or other controller.

Categories: Food & Beverage, Sugars

Can your digital refractometer be used to determine balling (sugars) in distillers mash? The standard has been to use a balling hydrometer. Also would there be one to determine alcohol in the fermenting mash? The max is around 9% by volume.

Our Palm Abbe digital refractometer is ideal for measuring the sugar content of mash for beer makers. You can use either the Brix scale or the balling scale for this. Once fermentation begins a refractometer cannot be used to “directly’ measure either the sugar content or the ethanol content since they will interfere with each other. However, there are some indirect methods using the Brix scale to monitor fermentation.

We would like to know about a refractometer that can be used for measuring sugar, glucose and fructose. Ours is an inline application.

Nearly any one of our Inline Process Refractometer is ideal for measuring the concentration of sugar, glucose, and fructose in a fluid. Virtually any scale that can be programmed into the Palm Abbe digital refractometer can also be programmed into the VIP inline refractometer. We have scales available for sugar, glucose, and fructose, and well as many other types of sugar.

What are all the different salt scales used for? I need to measure salinity content but don’t know what scale I need.

Chemically, salts are ionic compounds that result from the neutralization reaction of an acid and a base. There are several varieties of salts containing chlorides, acetates, fluorides, and sulfates. The most common salt is sodium chloride (NaCl) or regular table salt. Although we have a refractometer scale that will measure most common salts, we also have an extensive list of scales for sodium chloride. You may select from scales for measuring sodium chloride concentration in percent by weight, specific gravity, freeze point, parts per thousand (ppt), g/100g, density, percent saturation, and even Baume. The most common units of measure are percent by weight, percent saturation, and freeze point. The scale that is correct for you depend on what unit of measure you are most interested in. Multiple salt scales can be programed into the MISCO Palm Abbe digital refractometer so you can just change between different units of measure as your needs change. MISCO also has scales available for the salinity of seawater.

We required refractometer or any other suitable equipment to measure the sucrose in honey with accuracy. Is there any authorized dealer for this product in India? Or, who should we contact to purchase the same?

If you contact customer service, they will be happy to give you the name of our distributor in India. Our Palm Abbe digital honey refractometer measures percent moisture, or total solids content, of honey. Sucrose is just one of the solids that make up the total solids content of honey. In fact there is only about 1 to 1.5% sucrose in honey. Glucose, Fructose, Maltose, other sugars, and ash make up the majority of the solids content. The specific concentration of solids in any particular batch of honey depends, to a large extent, on the flowers available to the bees. Many people make the same mistake and try to test honey with a Brix refractometer which is designed for sucrose measurement. But since the sucrose level in honey is so low, a Brix reading can be off by 3% or more compared to an actual honey refractometer. For the full scoop, download a copy of our technical bulletin, “From Hive to Table; MISCO Digital Honey Refractometer Provides a Sweet Solution for Measuring Honey Moisture Content.

Category: Honey

I have one of your Maple Syrup Palm Abbe refractometers and was wondering if it is possible to add an additional scale for reading invert sugars by percent. And if so how much would it cost for you to add the scale to my device?

Thank you for purchasing the Palm Abbe digital refractometer for measuring maple syrup. You can add additional measurement scales to a Palm Abbe refractometer depending on the base Palm Abbe model that you have. All Palm Abbe refractometers that begin with model # PA201 can only contain a single scale. All Palm Abbe refractometers that begin with model # PA202 can contain up to two scales. All Palm Abbe refractometers that begin with model # PA203 can contain up to five scales. If you send your Palm Abbe refractometer back to us we can reprogram it for a fee. Reprogramming charges apply to scale changes and scale additions. We have several scales for invert sugar.

Categories: Maple Syrup, Sugars

Hi, I just bought the Palm Abbe refractometer with 5 scales from you. I have tried it at our office but I cannot get it come to the right results. We are only going to measure total sugar content and alcohol in wines (finished wines). I have calibrated it with distilled water and it seems to measure water to 0.0 every time which is ok. As soon as i measure alcohol in red wine it always shows too high digits – up to 18-20% ABV and the sugar is always too high. What may the problem be in this case?

The problem is that you cannot directly measure the alcohol content in finished wine using a refractometer. Once fermentation begins ethanol and the residual sugar interfere with each other and prevent an accurate reading of either sugar content or alcohol content. The best method for determining the alcohol content in the wine is distillation. There are also some good methods of estimating alcohol and sugar content during fermentation and later in the finished wine. For more information, download a copy of our free guide, “Using Refractometers to Increase the Efficiency of Vineyard Management and Winemaking “Using Refractometers to Increase the Efficiency of Vineyard Management and Winemaking.”

We are a small winery on premise in Michigan and we make our wines from Must and kits only, we don’t crush the grapes. Is there a refractometer you could recommend for our purposes which could tell us actual specific gravity and Actual Alcohol readings of finished wine?

A refractometer is very useful at nearly all stages of wine production. It can be used to help assess the ripeness of grapes before harvest, predict alcohol content from the must, measure the sugar content of must, monitor the fermentation process, and determine the alcohol by volume (ABV) of the finished wine. A refractometer with the Brix scale is the best method of determining the sugar concentration of the grapes and must. Scales are available that can predict the alcohol content of the finished wine based on must measurements. Once fermentation begins ethanol will interfere with sugar readings and you will not be able to take direct readings of either alcohol content or sugar content, without using special techniques. Once the wine is finished, the same refractometer, with an ethanol scale, can be used to measure the distillate of the wine to accurately determine alcohol content.
Click the following link to download a copy of our technical bulletin on “Using Refractometers to Increase the Efficiency of Vineyard Management and Winemaking.”

I am interested in the VIN06 refractometer for the determination of alcohol in fortified wines. What is the process for determining the alcohol – it appears you have to distil the wine before measuring it with the refractometer. How would I do this?

You cannot directly measure the alcohol content in a finished wine with a refractometer. However, you can distil the wine and then use the alcohol scale on the Palm Abbe digital refractometer to measure the ethanol content of the distillate. More information can be found in our technical bulletin  “Using Refractometers to Increase the Efficiency of Vineyard Management and Winemaking.

We are looking for a Quantitative Determination of Sucralose, in order to control the dosing accurately. Please tell me is there any solution.

Thank you for your question. The best method of measuring Sucralose and Splenda is with the Palm Abbe digital refractometer. Scales are available for this refractometer to accurately measure the concentration of both Sucralose (0 to 28% w/w) and Splenda (0 to 45 % w/w) with a resolution of 0.1%.

Product : Splenda-Sucralose Digital Refractometer

 Hello, I am looking for a perfect personal device for testing honey quality. I always use honey for medication. Unfortunately, I cannot note the difference between the good or bad honey. Some honey products involve high percentage of sugar and this really effects the quality of honey. So, Please let me know what the good device for testing honey.

The Palm Abbe digital refractometer is ideal for testing either the moisture content or total solids content of honey. There are three base honey models to choose from. Each of the three honey refractometers has different scale combinations. For more information on honey refractometers, search for honey or navigate to the Digital Handheld category and use the filters to view the selection of honey refractometers. A honey technical bulleting is available from MISCO customer service or from any of the honey refractometer pages.

Category: Honey

If the sugar you wish to measure is sucrose, that’s an easy question to answer. The PA201 Palm Abbe digital refractometer is a single scale refractometer that displays readings on the Brix scale from 0 to 56 %. Brix is the equivalent of percent sucrose by weight. If you are measuring another sugar, such as fructose, maltose, dextrose, invert sugar, or different corn syrup blends, including high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), there is a scale available that can be programmed into the Palm Abbe digital refractometer to meet your needs.

Suggested Base Product: Brix Refractometer – MISCO PA201

Categories: Food & Beverage, Sugars

Full question

We just purchased a MISCO digital salometer for measuring sodium chloride concentration. We have a process that needs to mix DI water with Sodium Chloride (NaCl) to 100% saturation. I am hoping that the meter I have bought is the correct version for this job?

The MISCO Digital Salometer is a refractometer that measures the percent saturation of sodium chloride (NaCl) salt in water. The refractometer will display the percent saturation of sodium chloride from 0 to 100% as well as display the freeze point of the solution in either Fahrenheit or Celsius (model dependent). A digital Salometer overcomes many of the problems associated with traditional analog Salometers. Traditional Salometers are cumbersome to use and time consuming. They are simply a glass or plastic hydrometer with a special scale that displays degrees SAL instead of specific gravity. In use, the traditional Salometer is floated in a graduated cylinder containing salt brine. The reading is taken at the point at which the surface of the fluid crosses the analog scale divisions; the temperature must then be read with a thermometer, followed by a manual temperature correction of the reading.

There is no method for field calibrating the apparatus; it is difficult to resolve the tiny scale divisions; it must be thoroughly cleaned and dried to prevent salt residue from influencing subsequent readings; and it is easily broken. The MISCO Digital Salometer is much easier to use and much more accurate. Simply place a couple of drops of sodium chloride solution on the measuring surface, close the evaporation cover, and press the button to initiate the readings. The percent saturation is displayed nearly instantly on the large LCD display.

Products

Sodium Chloride Salt Brine Refractometer Salometer,  Sodium Chloride Salt Brine , Percent Saturation , Freeze Point in °C

Sodium Chloride Salt Brine Refractometer Salometer,; Sodium Chloride Salt Brine,; Percent Saturation Freeze Point in °F

 

Our Palm Abbe digital honey refractometer measures percent moisture, or total solids content, of honey. Sucrose is just one of the solids that make up the total solids content of honey. In fact there is only about 1 to 1.5% sucrose in honey. Glucose, Fructose, Maltose, other sugars, and ash make up the majority of the solids content.

The specific concentration of solids in any particular batch of honey depends, to a large extent, on the flowers available to the bees. Many people make the same mistake and try to test honey with a Brix refractometer which is designed for sucrose measurement. But since the sucrose level in honey is so low, a Brix reading can be off by 3% or more compared to an actual honey refractometer. For the full scoop, download a copy of our technical bulletin, “From Hive to Table; MISCO Digital Honey Refractometer Provides a Sweet Solution for Measuring Honey Moisture Content.”

Category: Honey

We are a California manufacturer of a carbonated low-alcohol beverage and are looking for a relatively low-cost way to test samples to make sure alcohol is below 0.5%. Would your refractometer work for this?

Unless your beverage is just ethanol and water, a refractometer will not be able to directly measure the alcohol content. This is because sugars in the solution will conflict with a reading of alcohol and vice a versa. Probably the best way to test this is by distilling the beverage and measuring the distillate with a Palm Abbe digital refractometer equipped with an ethanol scale.

We use your Palm Abbe PA201 digital refractometer for making sorbet, and love it! But we’re confused as to how it operates on solutions that contain sugar and alcohol in combination: the readings don’t seem to make sense. Is there a way to compensate for this?

Unfortunately it is not possible to measure sugar contents and alcohol content in combination in a sorbet or other solution using a refractometer. Refractometers are very good at measuring binary solutions (two-part), such as water and sugar, where water is a constant and sugar is a variable. However, a refractometer is not very good for measuring multi-component solutions such as water, sugar, and alcohol. When there are several different components in a solution, such as water, sugar, and alcohol, it is difficult to tell what the contribution is that each component makes to the total refractive index. So, if the refractive index changes, it is impossible to say, with any certainty, which of the component parts changed. A refractometer only measures the total refractive index of a solution and cannot selectively read the refractive index of one particular component. All water soluble fluids look the same to the refractometer. So, depending on the concentrations of the other constituents, it may be difficult to get an accurate reading of any one component.

Can you please kindly advise us if your company manufactures a refractometer with a range of 1.3330 – 1.3340 on the standard refractive index scale and/or 0 to 5 on the Brix Scale.

Scales are currently available for the Palm Abbe digital refractometer that can measure EG (ethylene glycol), PG (propylene glycol), TEG (triethylene glycol), DEG (diethylene glycol), MEA (Monoethanolomine), DEA (Diethanolomine), and DGA (Diglycolamine).

Please contact MISCO customer service for details on ordering, or see the Build-Your-Own section of our website.

I am looking for a small, digital refractometer to measure sugar, dextrose, and glucose up to 85 brix in the ice cream manufacturing business. Which is the right model for me?

Providing that the ratio of sugar, dextrose, and glucose in your solution is relatively constant, the Palm Abbe PA202 refractometer can measure Brix up to 85 Brix.

Might we suggest the PA-202 Brix Scale Handheld Refractometer to meet your needs.

Categories: Food & Beverage, Sugars

How accurate is your refractometer when alcohol is present? Can I measure R.S. [residual sugar] in wine? thanks

Alcohol and sugar interferes with each other when measuring finished wine with a refractometer. You cannot measure the alcohol content in a finished wine directly using a refractometer, nor can you directly measure the residual sugar content. There are however, a couple of tricks that you can use to determine alcohol content and residual sugar content using a refractometer. These methods and more are discussed in detail in our technical bulletin, “Using Refractometers to Increase the Efficiency of Vineyard Management and Winemaking.

Honey (3)

We required refractometer or any other suitable equipment to measure the sucrose in honey with accuracy. Is there any authorized dealer for this product in India? Or, who should we contact to purchase the same?

If you contact customer service, they will be happy to give you the name of our distributor in India. Our Palm Abbe digital honey refractometer measures percent moisture, or total solids content, of honey. Sucrose is just one of the solids that make up the total solids content of honey. In fact there is only about 1 to 1.5% sucrose in honey. Glucose, Fructose, Maltose, other sugars, and ash make up the majority of the solids content. The specific concentration of solids in any particular batch of honey depends, to a large extent, on the flowers available to the bees. Many people make the same mistake and try to test honey with a Brix refractometer which is designed for sucrose measurement. But since the sucrose level in honey is so low, a Brix reading can be off by 3% or more compared to an actual honey refractometer. For the full scoop, download a copy of our technical bulletin, “From Hive to Table; MISCO Digital Honey Refractometer Provides a Sweet Solution for Measuring Honey Moisture Content.

Category: Honey

 Hello, I am looking for a perfect personal device for testing honey quality. I always use honey for medication. Unfortunately, I cannot note the difference between the good or bad honey. Some honey products involve high percentage of sugar and this really effects the quality of honey. So, Please let me know what the good device for testing honey.

The Palm Abbe digital refractometer is ideal for testing either the moisture content or total solids content of honey. There are three base honey models to choose from. Each of the three honey refractometers has different scale combinations. For more information on honey refractometers, search for honey or navigate to the Digital Handheld category and use the filters to view the selection of honey refractometers. A honey technical bulleting is available from MISCO customer service or from any of the honey refractometer pages.

Category: Honey

Our Palm Abbe digital honey refractometer measures percent moisture, or total solids content, of honey. Sucrose is just one of the solids that make up the total solids content of honey. In fact there is only about 1 to 1.5% sucrose in honey. Glucose, Fructose, Maltose, other sugars, and ash make up the majority of the solids content.

The specific concentration of solids in any particular batch of honey depends, to a large extent, on the flowers available to the bees. Many people make the same mistake and try to test honey with a Brix refractometer which is designed for sucrose measurement. But since the sucrose level in honey is so low, a Brix reading can be off by 3% or more compared to an actual honey refractometer. For the full scoop, download a copy of our technical bulletin, “From Hive to Table; MISCO Digital Honey Refractometer Provides a Sweet Solution for Measuring Honey Moisture Content.”

Category: Honey

Maple Syrup (1)

I have one of your Maple Syrup Palm Abbe refractometers and was wondering if it is possible to add an additional scale for reading invert sugars by percent. And if so how much would it cost for you to add the scale to my device?

Thank you for purchasing the Palm Abbe digital refractometer for measuring maple syrup. You can add additional measurement scales to a Palm Abbe refractometer depending on the base Palm Abbe model that you have. All Palm Abbe refractometers that begin with model # PA201 can only contain a single scale. All Palm Abbe refractometers that begin with model # PA202 can contain up to two scales. All Palm Abbe refractometers that begin with model # PA203 can contain up to five scales. If you send your Palm Abbe refractometer back to us we can reprogram it for a fee. Reprogramming charges apply to scale changes and scale additions. We have several scales for invert sugar.

Categories: Maple Syrup, Sugars

Other Food & Beverage (10)

Can your digital refractometer be used to determine balling (sugars) in distillers mash? The standard has been to use a balling hydrometer. Also would there be one to determine alcohol in the fermenting mash? The max is around 9% by volume.

Our Palm Abbe digital refractometer is ideal for measuring the sugar content of mash for beer makers. You can use either the Brix scale or the balling scale for this. Once fermentation begins a refractometer cannot be used to “directly’ measure either the sugar content or the ethanol content since they will interfere with each other. However, there are some indirect methods using the Brix scale to monitor fermentation.

What are all the different salt scales used for? I need to measure salinity content but don’t know what scale I need.

Chemically, salts are ionic compounds that result from the neutralization reaction of an acid and a base. There are several varieties of salts containing chlorides, acetates, fluorides, and sulfates. The most common salt is sodium chloride (NaCl) or regular table salt. Although we have a refractometer scale that will measure most common salts, we also have an extensive list of scales for sodium chloride. You may select from scales for measuring sodium chloride concentration in percent by weight, specific gravity, freeze point, parts per thousand (ppt), g/100g, density, percent saturation, and even Baume. The most common units of measure are percent by weight, percent saturation, and freeze point. The scale that is correct for you depend on what unit of measure you are most interested in. Multiple salt scales can be programed into the MISCO Palm Abbe digital refractometer so you can just change between different units of measure as your needs change. MISCO also has scales available for the salinity of seawater.

Hi, I just bought the Palm Abbe refractometer with 5 scales from you. I have tried it at our office but I cannot get it come to the right results. We are only going to measure total sugar content and alcohol in wines (finished wines). I have calibrated it with distilled water and it seems to measure water to 0.0 every time which is ok. As soon as i measure alcohol in red wine it always shows too high digits – up to 18-20% ABV and the sugar is always too high. What may the problem be in this case?

The problem is that you cannot directly measure the alcohol content in finished wine using a refractometer. Once fermentation begins ethanol and the residual sugar interfere with each other and prevent an accurate reading of either sugar content or alcohol content. The best method for determining the alcohol content in the wine is distillation. There are also some good methods of estimating alcohol and sugar content during fermentation and later in the finished wine. For more information, download a copy of our free guide, “Using Refractometers to Increase the Efficiency of Vineyard Management and Winemaking “Using Refractometers to Increase the Efficiency of Vineyard Management and Winemaking.”

We are a small winery on premise in Michigan and we make our wines from Must and kits only, we don’t crush the grapes. Is there a refractometer you could recommend for our purposes which could tell us actual specific gravity and Actual Alcohol readings of finished wine?

A refractometer is very useful at nearly all stages of wine production. It can be used to help assess the ripeness of grapes before harvest, predict alcohol content from the must, measure the sugar content of must, monitor the fermentation process, and determine the alcohol by volume (ABV) of the finished wine. A refractometer with the Brix scale is the best method of determining the sugar concentration of the grapes and must. Scales are available that can predict the alcohol content of the finished wine based on must measurements. Once fermentation begins ethanol will interfere with sugar readings and you will not be able to take direct readings of either alcohol content or sugar content, without using special techniques. Once the wine is finished, the same refractometer, with an ethanol scale, can be used to measure the distillate of the wine to accurately determine alcohol content.
Click the following link to download a copy of our technical bulletin on “Using Refractometers to Increase the Efficiency of Vineyard Management and Winemaking.”

I am interested in the VIN06 refractometer for the determination of alcohol in fortified wines. What is the process for determining the alcohol – it appears you have to distil the wine before measuring it with the refractometer. How would I do this?

You cannot directly measure the alcohol content in a finished wine with a refractometer. However, you can distil the wine and then use the alcohol scale on the Palm Abbe digital refractometer to measure the ethanol content of the distillate. More information can be found in our technical bulletin  “Using Refractometers to Increase the Efficiency of Vineyard Management and Winemaking.

We are looking for a Quantitative Determination of Sucralose, in order to control the dosing accurately. Please tell me is there any solution.

Thank you for your question. The best method of measuring Sucralose and Splenda is with the Palm Abbe digital refractometer. Scales are available for this refractometer to accurately measure the concentration of both Sucralose (0 to 28% w/w) and Splenda (0 to 45 % w/w) with a resolution of 0.1%.

Product : Splenda-Sucralose Digital Refractometer

Full question

We just purchased a MISCO digital salometer for measuring sodium chloride concentration. We have a process that needs to mix DI water with Sodium Chloride (NaCl) to 100% saturation. I am hoping that the meter I have bought is the correct version for this job?

The MISCO Digital Salometer is a refractometer that measures the percent saturation of sodium chloride (NaCl) salt in water. The refractometer will display the percent saturation of sodium chloride from 0 to 100% as well as display the freeze point of the solution in either Fahrenheit or Celsius (model dependent). A digital Salometer overcomes many of the problems associated with traditional analog Salometers. Traditional Salometers are cumbersome to use and time consuming. They are simply a glass or plastic hydrometer with a special scale that displays degrees SAL instead of specific gravity. In use, the traditional Salometer is floated in a graduated cylinder containing salt brine. The reading is taken at the point at which the surface of the fluid crosses the analog scale divisions; the temperature must then be read with a thermometer, followed by a manual temperature correction of the reading.

There is no method for field calibrating the apparatus; it is difficult to resolve the tiny scale divisions; it must be thoroughly cleaned and dried to prevent salt residue from influencing subsequent readings; and it is easily broken. The MISCO Digital Salometer is much easier to use and much more accurate. Simply place a couple of drops of sodium chloride solution on the measuring surface, close the evaporation cover, and press the button to initiate the readings. The percent saturation is displayed nearly instantly on the large LCD display.

Products

Sodium Chloride Salt Brine Refractometer Salometer,  Sodium Chloride Salt Brine , Percent Saturation , Freeze Point in °C

Sodium Chloride Salt Brine Refractometer Salometer,; Sodium Chloride Salt Brine,; Percent Saturation Freeze Point in °F

 

We are a California manufacturer of a carbonated low-alcohol beverage and are looking for a relatively low-cost way to test samples to make sure alcohol is below 0.5%. Would your refractometer work for this?

Unless your beverage is just ethanol and water, a refractometer will not be able to directly measure the alcohol content. This is because sugars in the solution will conflict with a reading of alcohol and vice a versa. Probably the best way to test this is by distilling the beverage and measuring the distillate with a Palm Abbe digital refractometer equipped with an ethanol scale.

We use your Palm Abbe PA201 digital refractometer for making sorbet, and love it! But we’re confused as to how it operates on solutions that contain sugar and alcohol in combination: the readings don’t seem to make sense. Is there a way to compensate for this?

Unfortunately it is not possible to measure sugar contents and alcohol content in combination in a sorbet or other solution using a refractometer. Refractometers are very good at measuring binary solutions (two-part), such as water and sugar, where water is a constant and sugar is a variable. However, a refractometer is not very good for measuring multi-component solutions such as water, sugar, and alcohol. When there are several different components in a solution, such as water, sugar, and alcohol, it is difficult to tell what the contribution is that each component makes to the total refractive index. So, if the refractive index changes, it is impossible to say, with any certainty, which of the component parts changed. A refractometer only measures the total refractive index of a solution and cannot selectively read the refractive index of one particular component. All water soluble fluids look the same to the refractometer. So, depending on the concentrations of the other constituents, it may be difficult to get an accurate reading of any one component.

How accurate is your refractometer when alcohol is present? Can I measure R.S. [residual sugar] in wine? thanks

Alcohol and sugar interferes with each other when measuring finished wine with a refractometer. You cannot measure the alcohol content in a finished wine directly using a refractometer, nor can you directly measure the residual sugar content. There are however, a couple of tricks that you can use to determine alcohol content and residual sugar content using a refractometer. These methods and more are discussed in detail in our technical bulletin, “Using Refractometers to Increase the Efficiency of Vineyard Management and Winemaking.

Sugars (10)

Want to purchase an inline refractometer for the measurement of concentration of glucose fructose and fructose, which will give 4-20mA output which can be interfaced to a card.

One of our Inline Process Refractometers would be ideal for measuring the concentration of glucose and fructose in a process fluid. The VIP refractometer has a 4 to 20 mA output so it will be no problem interfacing with a card, PLC, or other controller.

Categories: Food & Beverage, Sugars

Can your digital refractometer be used to determine balling (sugars) in distillers mash? The standard has been to use a balling hydrometer. Also would there be one to determine alcohol in the fermenting mash? The max is around 9% by volume.

Our Palm Abbe digital refractometer is ideal for measuring the sugar content of mash for beer makers. You can use either the Brix scale or the balling scale for this. Once fermentation begins a refractometer cannot be used to “directly’ measure either the sugar content or the ethanol content since they will interfere with each other. However, there are some indirect methods using the Brix scale to monitor fermentation.

We would like to know about a refractometer that can be used for measuring sugar, glucose and fructose. Ours is an inline application.

Nearly any one of our Inline Process Refractometer is ideal for measuring the concentration of sugar, glucose, and fructose in a fluid. Virtually any scale that can be programmed into the Palm Abbe digital refractometer can also be programmed into the VIP inline refractometer. We have scales available for sugar, glucose, and fructose, and well as many other types of sugar.

I have one of your Maple Syrup Palm Abbe refractometers and was wondering if it is possible to add an additional scale for reading invert sugars by percent. And if so how much would it cost for you to add the scale to my device?

Thank you for purchasing the Palm Abbe digital refractometer for measuring maple syrup. You can add additional measurement scales to a Palm Abbe refractometer depending on the base Palm Abbe model that you have. All Palm Abbe refractometers that begin with model # PA201 can only contain a single scale. All Palm Abbe refractometers that begin with model # PA202 can contain up to two scales. All Palm Abbe refractometers that begin with model # PA203 can contain up to five scales. If you send your Palm Abbe refractometer back to us we can reprogram it for a fee. Reprogramming charges apply to scale changes and scale additions. We have several scales for invert sugar.

Categories: Maple Syrup, Sugars

Hi, I just bought the Palm Abbe refractometer with 5 scales from you. I have tried it at our office but I cannot get it come to the right results. We are only going to measure total sugar content and alcohol in wines (finished wines). I have calibrated it with distilled water and it seems to measure water to 0.0 every time which is ok. As soon as i measure alcohol in red wine it always shows too high digits – up to 18-20% ABV and the sugar is always too high. What may the problem be in this case?

The problem is that you cannot directly measure the alcohol content in finished wine using a refractometer. Once fermentation begins ethanol and the residual sugar interfere with each other and prevent an accurate reading of either sugar content or alcohol content. The best method for determining the alcohol content in the wine is distillation. There are also some good methods of estimating alcohol and sugar content during fermentation and later in the finished wine. For more information, download a copy of our free guide, “Using Refractometers to Increase the Efficiency of Vineyard Management and Winemaking “Using Refractometers to Increase the Efficiency of Vineyard Management and Winemaking.”

If the sugar you wish to measure is sucrose, that’s an easy question to answer. The PA201 Palm Abbe digital refractometer is a single scale refractometer that displays readings on the Brix scale from 0 to 56 %. Brix is the equivalent of percent sucrose by weight. If you are measuring another sugar, such as fructose, maltose, dextrose, invert sugar, or different corn syrup blends, including high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), there is a scale available that can be programmed into the Palm Abbe digital refractometer to meet your needs.

Suggested Base Product: Brix Refractometer – MISCO PA201

Categories: Food & Beverage, Sugars

We use your Palm Abbe PA201 digital refractometer for making sorbet, and love it! But we’re confused as to how it operates on solutions that contain sugar and alcohol in combination: the readings don’t seem to make sense. Is there a way to compensate for this?

Unfortunately it is not possible to measure sugar contents and alcohol content in combination in a sorbet or other solution using a refractometer. Refractometers are very good at measuring binary solutions (two-part), such as water and sugar, where water is a constant and sugar is a variable. However, a refractometer is not very good for measuring multi-component solutions such as water, sugar, and alcohol. When there are several different components in a solution, such as water, sugar, and alcohol, it is difficult to tell what the contribution is that each component makes to the total refractive index. So, if the refractive index changes, it is impossible to say, with any certainty, which of the component parts changed. A refractometer only measures the total refractive index of a solution and cannot selectively read the refractive index of one particular component. All water soluble fluids look the same to the refractometer. So, depending on the concentrations of the other constituents, it may be difficult to get an accurate reading of any one component.

Can you please kindly advise us if your company manufactures a refractometer with a range of 1.3330 – 1.3340 on the standard refractive index scale and/or 0 to 5 on the Brix Scale.

Scales are currently available for the Palm Abbe digital refractometer that can measure EG (ethylene glycol), PG (propylene glycol), TEG (triethylene glycol), DEG (diethylene glycol), MEA (Monoethanolomine), DEA (Diethanolomine), and DGA (Diglycolamine).

Please contact MISCO customer service for details on ordering, or see the Build-Your-Own section of our website.

I am looking for a small, digital refractometer to measure sugar, dextrose, and glucose up to 85 brix in the ice cream manufacturing business. Which is the right model for me?

Providing that the ratio of sugar, dextrose, and glucose in your solution is relatively constant, the Palm Abbe PA202 refractometer can measure Brix up to 85 Brix.

Might we suggest the PA-202 Brix Scale Handheld Refractometer to meet your needs.

Categories: Food & Beverage, Sugars

How accurate is your refractometer when alcohol is present? Can I measure R.S. [residual sugar] in wine? thanks

Alcohol and sugar interferes with each other when measuring finished wine with a refractometer. You cannot measure the alcohol content in a finished wine directly using a refractometer, nor can you directly measure the residual sugar content. There are however, a couple of tricks that you can use to determine alcohol content and residual sugar content using a refractometer. These methods and more are discussed in detail in our technical bulletin, “Using Refractometers to Increase the Efficiency of Vineyard Management and Winemaking.

Wine (4)

Hi, I just bought the Palm Abbe refractometer with 5 scales from you. I have tried it at our office but I cannot get it come to the right results. We are only going to measure total sugar content and alcohol in wines (finished wines). I have calibrated it with distilled water and it seems to measure water to 0.0 every time which is ok. As soon as i measure alcohol in red wine it always shows too high digits – up to 18-20% ABV and the sugar is always too high. What may the problem be in this case?

The problem is that you cannot directly measure the alcohol content in finished wine using a refractometer. Once fermentation begins ethanol and the residual sugar interfere with each other and prevent an accurate reading of either sugar content or alcohol content. The best method for determining the alcohol content in the wine is distillation. There are also some good methods of estimating alcohol and sugar content during fermentation and later in the finished wine. For more information, download a copy of our free guide, “Using Refractometers to Increase the Efficiency of Vineyard Management and Winemaking “Using Refractometers to Increase the Efficiency of Vineyard Management and Winemaking.”

We are a small winery on premise in Michigan and we make our wines from Must and kits only, we don’t crush the grapes. Is there a refractometer you could recommend for our purposes which could tell us actual specific gravity and Actual Alcohol readings of finished wine?

A refractometer is very useful at nearly all stages of wine production. It can be used to help assess the ripeness of grapes before harvest, predict alcohol content from the must, measure the sugar content of must, monitor the fermentation process, and determine the alcohol by volume (ABV) of the finished wine. A refractometer with the Brix scale is the best method of determining the sugar concentration of the grapes and must. Scales are available that can predict the alcohol content of the finished wine based on must measurements. Once fermentation begins ethanol will interfere with sugar readings and you will not be able to take direct readings of either alcohol content or sugar content, without using special techniques. Once the wine is finished, the same refractometer, with an ethanol scale, can be used to measure the distillate of the wine to accurately determine alcohol content.
Click the following link to download a copy of our technical bulletin on “Using Refractometers to Increase the Efficiency of Vineyard Management and Winemaking.”

I am interested in the VIN06 refractometer for the determination of alcohol in fortified wines. What is the process for determining the alcohol – it appears you have to distil the wine before measuring it with the refractometer. How would I do this?

You cannot directly measure the alcohol content in a finished wine with a refractometer. However, you can distil the wine and then use the alcohol scale on the Palm Abbe digital refractometer to measure the ethanol content of the distillate. More information can be found in our technical bulletin  “Using Refractometers to Increase the Efficiency of Vineyard Management and Winemaking.

How accurate is your refractometer when alcohol is present? Can I measure R.S. [residual sugar] in wine? thanks

Alcohol and sugar interferes with each other when measuring finished wine with a refractometer. You cannot measure the alcohol content in a finished wine directly using a refractometer, nor can you directly measure the residual sugar content. There are however, a couple of tricks that you can use to determine alcohol content and residual sugar content using a refractometer. These methods and more are discussed in detail in our technical bulletin, “Using Refractometers to Increase the Efficiency of Vineyard Management and Winemaking.