How To Read A Hydrometer For Wine? (Question)

How do you use a hydrometer?

  • A hydrometer is a basic tool that is used to measure the ratio of a sample liquid’s density to the density of water. When it comes to brewing beer, a hydrometer is a necessary tool that will show you the degree to which the yeast is converting sugar into ethanol, ultimately, helping you gauge the health and success of the fermentation of your beer.


What should my hydrometer read for wine?

The starting gravity should usually be between 1.070 to 1.090 and the usual finished ABV will be between 10.5% to 13%. Finish Gravity is typically 0.990 (for dry wines) to 1.005 (for sweet wines).

What do the numbers on a hydrometer mean?

The most common scale on hydrometers is “specific gravity.” This is the ratio of the liquid’s density to the density of water. Pure water should give a reading of 1.000. A higher reading means the liquid is denser (heavier) than water, and a lower reading means it is lighter.

What should the specific gravity of wine be?

For example the starting specific gravity for an average ale or lager will be in the range 1.038-1.050 and for a wine, around 1.075-1.095. This reading is termed the original gravity, or OG. When the beer is undergoing fermentation the sugars in the liquid are converted by the yeast into alcohol and carbon dioxide.

How do you use a Baume hydrometer?

To use the hydrometer, fill the hydrometer jar with the sample liquid. Place the hydrometer in the jar and give it a quick twirl to dislodge any air bubbles. Once the hydrometer has settled, take the reading from the appropriate scale. In order for the measurement to be accurate, the sample liquid must be at 60°F.

How do you read alcohol content?

Formula for Calculating Alcohol in Beer

  1. Subtract the Original Gravity from the Final Gravity.
  2. Multiply this number by 131.25.
  3. The resulting number is your alcohol percent, or ABV%

How do I know when my wine is ready?

When Is My Wine Ready To Bottle?

  1. Your wine has to be completely clear. There should be no more sediment that needs to fall out.
  2. Your wine should read less than. 998 on the Specific Gravity scale of your wine hydrometer.
  3. The wine should be free of any residual CO2 gas. This is the gas that occurs when the wine ferments.

What are the 3 scales of hydrometer?

The Triple Scale Hydrometer is the basic tool used by brewers and vintners worldwide for measuring sugar content, gravity and potential alcohol. The three scales used are specific gravity, Brix and potential alcohol. Simply float this in a sample of liquid and read where the liquid line meets the hydrometer.

When reading a hydrometer it must be at what level?

To read a hydrometer, you need to look at where your water level is. A specific gravity reading of 1.02. Because the reading is higher than 1.000, this liquid is denser than pure water. Your reading should not be at the top of these waves, but where your liquid is when there are no waves.

What if my specific gravity is too high?

Specific gravity results above 1.010 can indicate mild dehydration. The higher the number, the more dehydrated you may be. High urine specific gravity can indicate that you have extra substances in your urine, such as: glucose.

What should my starting specific gravity be?

Normally you would want a starting specific gravity between 1.070 and 1.100 for wine. Yours was 1.116. This may be more than the wine yeast can handle.

How to Use a Hydrometer in Wine Making

A hydrometer is a hollow, cylindrical glass tube that is sealed at the bottom and has a graded scale that runs up the tube. Your hydrometer, like a thermometer, provides information about the quality of your wine—and it can perform even more tricks than just measuring temperature. Hydrometers that are hollow or sealed float in liquid, and the weight at the bottom causes them to float sticking straight up until the weight of the displaced liquid equals the weight of the hydrometer, at which point they sink.

How hydrometers help in winemaking

Hydrometers provide us with four critical pieces of information, but only if we pay attention and record the results of each measurement. First and foremost, your hydrometer measurement on day one tells you whether or not your wine has the required quantity of sugar to ferment out and produce an alcohol percentage acceptable for the style you are producing. It is important to double-check that the wine level is correct (6 US gallons/22.7 litres). If the reading is incorrect, the wine must be re-filled.

Sugar can collect at the bottom of a container and distort a reading.

It is pointless to look for foam or bubbles in the airlock since they do not indicate anything other than that CO2 gas is escaping from the wine and that the gravity may not be changing throughout this process.

Following that, your hydrometer will notify you when the fermentation process is complete.

Figuring out your alcohol level

Finally, your hydrometer will allow you to calculate the amount of alcohol present in your wine. The amount of sugar consumed may be determined by writing down the SG value at the beginning and comparing it to the number at the finish. All you have to do to figure out how much alcohol was produced is multiply the change in gravity by 131 to get the answer. Here’s how it’s done:

Finishing Gravity 0.998
Starting Gravity 1.088
Difference 0.900
0.900 x 131 11.79% ABV

Maintaining the accuracy of your hydrometer Hydrometers, like all other pieces of winemaking equipment, must be cleaned and sterilized on a regular basis. Hydrometers must be handled with care since, like thermometers, they were originally constructed entirely of glass. This meant that even a little bump or drop was enough to cause them to snap. In today’s world, however, we have an option, the Herculometer, to consider. Designed from polycarbonate plastic, it is significantly stronger than glass.

While it cannot withstand repeated impact, it can withstand little bumps and bangs and still be there when you need it. Check out Northern Brewer University’s Homebrew Video Courses if you’re looking to get started or extend your homebrewing knowledge.

Hydrometer Scales and What They Mean

Every now and then, there appears to be a little misunderstanding regarding the numerous scales that can be found on various wine hydrometers for amateur winemaking. So, I thought I’d spend a few minutes here to provide some background information and clarify what what happens when we take a hydrometer measurement. The Fundamental Concept Behind the Hydrometer The entire assumption of the hydrometer is that “the heavier the liquid being tested, the higher the hydrometer will float” – in other words, the buoyancy of the liquid increases in direct proportion to the weight of the liquid being tested.

  1. This is due to the fact that maple syrup weighs significantly more than water.
  2. Some people find it simpler to think about things in terms of thickness.
  3. What is the point of caring about how high or low a hydrometer floats?
  4. In other words, the juice is transitioning from a heavy to a light consistency.
  5. It is at this point in fermentation that the hydrometer will float at its maximum level.
  6. It will float wherever in the fermentation between those two readings, and it will do so throughout the fermentation.
  7. The Scales of the Hydrometer A SPECIFIC GRAVITY SCALE: This specific scale is the most often used among home wine makers, and it is referred to in the majority of home wine making publications as well.

It is based on the weight of water that the Specific Gravity scale is used.

When fermentation is just getting started, a normal measurement may be 1.090.

shop-hydrometers.png When all of the sugar has been converted to alcohol, you will have a Specific Gravity value that is less than that of water – often around.995.

Again, consider of the Specific Gravity scale as a relatively common scale that helps you to track the development of your wine’s fermentation and to keep on track with home winemaking books and wine recipes that mention it.

POTENTIAL ALCOHOL: This scale informs the winemaker of the amount of alcohol that can be produced from the sugars that are now present in the juice.

It can only inform the winemaker how much MORE alcohol can be produced depending on the existing weight or thickness of the liquid, or, in other words, how much sugar is still present in the juice after fermentation.

This indicates that at the time of mixing a recipe and taking a reading on the Potential Alcohol scale of 13 percent before the fermentation began, this signifies that there are enough sugars in the juice to possibly generate 13 percent of the amount of alcohol in the recipe.

You may then establish the current alcohol content of your wine by comparing the results of these two measurements.

By comparing the two measurements, you can see that the juice has increased in alcohol content to 12 percent.

SCALE OF THE BRIX: This hydrometer scale is primarily used by grape growers and commercial wineries to measure water content.

The Brix scale is based on the amount of sugar present in a liquid as a proportion of its total weight.

If you have a grape juice that measures 24 on the Brix scale, it signifies that the juice has 24 percent sugar by weight, according to the Brix scale.

This scale is used by wineries to assess whether or not the juice contains enough sugar to create the desired quantity of alcohol.

The measurements are expressed in ounces per gallon of water.

This means that for every gallon of juice you consume, you consume 35 ounces of sugar.

Some of the sugar comes from the fruit itself, which is also natural.

What is the significance of this?

In combination with other scales on a hydrometer, it may be extremely useful, if not extremely valuable.

As a result, you combine all of the ingredients according to the recipe’s directions, with the exception of the sugar.

On the sugar scale, here is where things get interesting.

Then you must determine how much sugar you must add to the juice in order for it to be converted to a reading of 1.072.

A Specific Gravity reading of 1.046 corresponds to the same amount of sugar as 20 ounces of sugar per gallon when using a hydrometer with both scales.

You can see from the comparison of these two readings that in order to boost the hydrometer value from 1.046 to 1.072, you must add 10 ounces of sugar for each gallon of the batch – this is the difference between 20 and 30 grams of sugar.

In the example above, if you have a Potential Alcohol reading of 8 percent and you want it to be 12 percent, all you have to do is find the matching ounces on the Sugar Scale and multiply them together to get the quantity of sugar you need.

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The difference is equal to 12 ounces of sugar per gallon of gasoline.

If you found this post informative, you may want to check out our other wine-making articles, or you may be ready to start your own wine-making business.

Ed Kraus is a third generation home brewer/winemaker who has been the proprietor of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He grew up in a family of home brewers and winemakers. For more than 25 years, he has been assisting folks in the production of superior wine and beer.

Being that the hydrometer is one of the most significant instruments a winemaker may have, it’s critical that you understand how to use it properly.

What Is A Hydrometer?

The hydrometer is a necessary piece of testing equipment that is utilized by both winemakers and brewers in their operations. With a weighted, bulbous bottom and long narrow stem, it’s commonly constructed of glass and is used in conjunction with a tall, thin measuring cylinder that holds the liquid within it. After being introduced into the sample in the cylinder, the design of the device allows it to float in the liquid with the bulbous end facing down. The reading is then obtained by comparing the surface of the liquid to a scale that has been marked on the stem, and noting where the surface matches the scale.

What Does A Hydrometer Actually Do?

A hydrometer is a device that allows a winemaker to determine the specific gravity, also known as specific gravity (SG = is the ratio of the density of must or wine to the density of water) of a wine. A must or wine’s natural sugar content is thus measured using this method. It enables winemakers to assess and change their recipe based on the results of the measurements gathered. An experienced winemaker is also able to monitor the progress of the fermentation process and make timely modifications as needed.

Reasons why a winemaker might want to use a hydrometer:

  • Specific gravity (SG) is a measure of the density of a must or wine. Natural sugar content is measured in a wine or must to determine the quantity of sugar contained. It is necessary to assess the possible alcohol content at the time of chaptalising and yeast addition. For the purpose of being able to make correct calculations while artificially raising the alcohol concentration
  • It is necessary to monitor the development of fermentation. By comparing the “before” and “after” readings, it is possible to quantify the percentage of alcohol conversion during fermentation. This will help the winemaker to assess when fermentation has finished or at what stage it should be halted.

When you buy a hydrometer, take into account.

  • The range of readings (from highest to lowest), in order to ensure that it will be appropriate for your scenario. The usual range for amateur winemakers is between 0.990 and 1.120 percent alcohol by volume. In other words, if you want to make a wine with a 12 percent alcohol content, you’ll want to start the fermentation process at SG1.090.
  • What sorts of liquids are measured by the hydrometer. Many laboratories will just measure specific gravity (SG), but the majority will test SG, potential alcohol (P.A. ), and sugar content. The temperature at which the hydrometer is calibrated. The most often seen calibration temperature is 60° F. How to convert SG measurements dependent on the temperature of the sample. Whether the sugar content scale is represented in ounces per gallon (US/Imperial) or in grams per litre, it is important to understand how the scale works. It should fit in your measuring cylinder if it is the correct size. If it comes with a protective case, which it should because they are so delicate, use it.

How A Hydrometer Works

The easiest approach to illustrate the operation of a hydrometer is via the use of a visual illustration.

Taking a sample

A sample of the must* is obtained and placed into a measuring cylinder to be measured later. The hydrometer is gently dropped into the cylinder while being spun in a smooth circular movement. After that, it will bob up and down a bit until it reaches its equilibrium. A picture of two hydrometers in measuring cylinders may be seen here. The one on the left, which is located higher up in the cylinder, has a higher SG, indicating that it contains more sugar than the other. An example of a wine with very little sugar is shown on the right side of the image.


* Must is an abbreviation for unfermented grape juice.

How to read a hydrometer

Following are a few simple steps to help you complete the reading:

  1. Sodium metabisulfate or a similar sterilant should be used to sterilize the hydrometer, wine thief, and measuring cylinder. Lie the measuring cylinder on a level surface
  2. Use the wine thief to take a sample ofmust or wine from the bottle. Make certain that the samples are clean and free of sediment or solid particles, since they can alter the results. Make sure you have enough liquid in the measuring cylinder to just barely float the hydrometer – generally approximately 80 percent of the way filled
  3. When you’re finished, gently lower your hydrometer into the measuring cylinder and spin it to ensure that no bubbles adhere to the bottom of the hydrometer (which can also alter results). Take a reading across the bottom of the meniscus, making that the hydrometer is not contacting the walls of the measuring cylinder and is floating freely
  4. Then repeat.

A meniscus is a curvature on the upper surface of a liquid that is near to the edge of a vessel. The reading should be written as something along the lines of: SG 1.030, rather than abbreviated to SG 30, since this may cause misunderstanding in subsequent stages of the process.

  • Always fully clean your hydrometer, measuring cylinder, and any other containers that you may have used before storing them. Accustom yourself to obtaining accurate readings and maintaining meticulous notes of your findings. I promise that you will need to refer to them at some point in the future.

Types of hydrometer

There are several distinct varieties of hydrometers, some of which have only one scale, some which have two, and others which have three. Specific gravity (SG), sugar content, and potential alcohol content are the three readings that a winemaker wants from a hydrometer. The standard deviation scale is typically between 0.990 and 1.120.

When you submerge your hydrometer in water (as mentioned above), the surface should be at or near the 1.000 mark, indicating that it has reached its saturation point. The hydrometer will float higher in the water as sugar is dissolved in the water.

Some weights for consideration

Always remember to double-check your measurements and computations to ensure that they are correct. While it may not be absolutely necessary to get everything exactly right when making wine at home, it is a good habit to develop in order to prevent producing too much or too little alcohol as a result of inaccurate measurements during the process. Hydrometer readings about 1.046221 are obtained by dissolving one pound sugar in one gallon of water in the United States. For example, one U.S. gallon is equal to 128 fluid ounces, which is 3.7853 liters, which is 0.833 imperial gallons.


gallons equals forty-six Imperial gallons, and five Imperial gallons equals six U.S.

Different SG scales

Sugar can be measured in quantities such as ounces per gallon (oz/gall), however there are a number of reliable measuring scales in use for easy reference, including the metric system. The degrees Balling, Brix, Baumé, and Oeschle are varied depending on where you are on the planet and what region of the globe you are in. Across the world, balling is mostly utilized in South Africa, Oeschle in Germany and other areas of Europe, while Brix is used in almost every other country. It is entirely up to you which one you want to use.

On Jack Keller’s website, Using Your Hydrometer and Hydrometer Conversion Chart, you may find further important information.

Using a Hydrometer

The hydrometer, how I love thee. Even though it’s one of the most simple, it’s also one of the most crucial pieces of equipment available to amateur winemakers. A hydrometer, which costs less than ten dollars, can tell us the sugar level of our must, measure the process of fermentation, and provide an estimate of the amount of alcohol in our finished wine. A hydrometer is a device that determines the specific gravity of a fluid solution. For example, in the winemaking industry, a hydrometer is used to measure the density of must or wine, which is increased by fermentable sugars and other must/wine constituents.

The specific gravity of the solution drops as the yeast consumes the sugar.


Formed of glass with a weight at the bottom and three scales of measurement along the sides of its long thin stem, hydrometers are used to measure the flow of water. Specific gravity, Balling/Brix (the percentage of sugar by weight), and potential alcohol are the three parameters used to make this determination. When submerged in liquid, the bottom of the weighted end is submerged while the top of the weighted end floats above the liquid. Calculate the reading taken at the top of the liquid (because of surface tension, the liquid will tend to climb the edges of the hydrometer slightly, generating a “meniscus” — calculate the reading taken at the bottom of this meniscus).

A typical range of specific gravity measurements is between 0.990 and 1.120. The specific gravity of pure water at 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 degrees Celsius) is 1.000, or 0 degrees Brix.


Using a sample of the must or wine in a transparent cylinder, take readings for each component (hydrometers are often sold in a plastic protective case that can be used, or you can buy a hydrometer jar or flask). This enables for a simple line of sight to obtain a measurement and eliminates the possibility of contaminating the entire batch by dipping the hydrometer directly into the ferment. Using a clean, disinfected wine thief or ladle, take a sample from the fermenter and place it in a separate container.

  1. This is because the top of the fermenter is coated with CO2 when fermentation begins, which will preserve the wine for the brief period of time that the fermenter is open.
  2. After that, carefully insert the hydrometer into the sample, ensuring sure that the hydrometer is floating and not completely submerged in the sample’s water (if this happens, you need more liquid).
  3. This will prevent the hydrometer from becoming buoyant.
  4. Many hydrometers are calibrated to measure liquid at 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 degrees Celsius).


Having an understanding of the specific gravity (and, consequently, the sugar content) of your wine may be beneficial before, during, and after fermentation. This measurement, taken before to fermentation, provides a basis for estimating the quantity of alcohol that may be generated throughout the fermentation process. It is possible to quantify the amount of sugar that has been eaten by yeast during fermentation, which will provide an indication of how rapidly the fermentation process is progressing.

It will also indicate when you have achieved your final specific gravity and when it is time to rack the wine to remove the yeast and sediment from the wine.

There are a number various approaches that may be used to do this, all of which provide comparable effects.

Consider this: If the starting gravity is 1.090 and the end gravity is 0.990, then 0.100 x 131 = 13.1% alcohol by volume is calculated (ABV).

For this, subtract the final potential alcohol from the pre-fermentation potential alcohol to obtain the final alcohol by volume (ABV) value. Using a hydrometer is simple, and if you learn how to use it correctly, you can eliminate a lot of the guesswork that goes into winemaking entirely.

Hydrometer Basics For Home Brewing And Wine Making

The hydrometer has been created expressly for the needs of wine and beer producers. It has a reasonably wide range of applications, and as a result, it reduces the need for a number of instruments with narrower applications to complete the work. A hydrometer is an instrument that is used to determine the density of a liquid in relation to its surrounding water. Water is assigned the arbitrary value of 1.000, and all other liquids are measured in relation to this value. Their specific gravity is defined as the outcome of this process (often abbreviated to SG).

During fermentation, sugar is transformed into carbon dioxide and alcohol, which is lighter than water, resulting in a fall in specific gravity number.

Determining Alcohol Content

Hydrometers are useful for a variety of tasks, but the most common one performed by wine, beer, and mead producers is determining the alcohol percentage of their creations. Actually, it’s fairly simple to do this.

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Step 1:Take Reading Prior to Fermentation

It is difficult to precisely quantify the amount of alcohol present in a fermented beverage without taking this initial measurement. There should be a scale on your hydrometer that is termed the potential alcohol (PA) scale. Using this scale, you may calculate the quantity of alcohol that could be created if a batch of beer is fermented to dryness (SG of 1.000 or less). The quickest and most straightforward method of taking a reading is to sterilize a wine thief or “gravy baster,” then extract a sample of the must or wort and place it in the test stand (this can even be the plastic tube the hydrometer comes packed in).

Make a slight spin with your thumb and middle finger on the hydrometer to check its accuracy.

When the hydrometer has settled, use your eye to take the SG (and/or potential alcohol) measurement at the surface level of the liquid and record it.

Step 2: After Fermentation Is Complete, Take Another Reading

The potential alcohol reading at this time should be subtracted out of the potential alcohol reading at the beginning of fermentation. The difference between the two values is the amount of alcohol that you have really created during the fermentation process. For example, if the first reading is 13 percent and the final reading is 1 percent, then the real alcohol content is 12 percent (or 13 percent minus 1 percent = 12 percent) of the sample. Note that if your beverage ferments entirely dry (SG of 1.000 or below), the alcohol content will be the same as your original prospective alcohol value (in the example above, 13 percent minus 0 percent equals 13 percent alcohol).

There will be no dry wines or meads that end with gravities more than 1.000. (e.g.995). Almost all beers and sweeter winesmeads will conclude with a score greater than one thousand.

Uses For Wine Makers

With the use of a hydrometer, you may find out how much natural sugar is there in the must. In most cases, more sugar should be added to the must in order to ensure that the alcohol concentration of the final wine is high enough to allow the wine to be kept for an extended period of time. Because alcohol is a preservative, you should make sure that your wine has an alcohol concentration of at least 9 – 10 percent before serving it. Wines with lower alcohol content will be more prone to deterioration.

It is common practice to start the must with a specific gravity (SG) of 1.090, since this results in a potential alcohol by volume of 12 percent.

Hydrometer Procedure For Wine Makers

After thoroughly sterilizing a wine thief or gravy baster, take a sample of the must and place it on the test stand to be evaluated. Once you’ve taken a reading, look to the hydrometer chart below for further guidance. This will provide information on the natural sugar content of the must.

Step 2:

For determining how much extra sugar is required to get the must to the specified specific gravity (let’s say 1.090), refer to the chart below. As an illustration: Assuming that the initial gravity reading is 1.040, then each gallon of juice includes the natural sugar content equivalent to 1 pound and 1 ounce. According to the chart, at a desired level of 1.090 (12 percent alcohol), the sugar content should be 2 pounds, 6 ounces at the desired level of 1.090 (12 percent alcohol). Now it’s time to do the math.

At an initial original gravity (OG) of 1.040, there are the following results: – One pound and one ounce of sugar per gallon of water The amount of sugar that has to be added is as follows: 1 pound, 5 ounces of sugar per gallon It is possible to calculate how much extra sugar should be added to a gallon of water by subtracting the two sugar amounts.

It should be noted that, as a general rule of thumb, 1 pound of sugar dissolved in 5 gallons of must will increase the potential alcohol concentration by roughly 1%.

Please keep in mind that this is for 5-gallon recipes.

Hydrometer Chart

Specific Gravity (SG) Potential Alcohol (PA) % by Volume Amount of Sugar Per Gallon
1.010 0.9 0 lbs. 2 oz.
1.015 1.6 0 lbs. 4 oz.
1.020 2.3 0 lbs. 7 oz.
1.025 3.0 0 lbs. 9 oz.
1.030 3.7 0 lbs. 12 oz.
1.035 4.4 0 lbs. 15 oz.
1.040 5.1 1 lb. 1 oz.
1.045 5.8 1 lb. 3 oz.
1.050 6.5 1 lb. 5 oz.
1.055 7.2 1 lb. 7 oz.
1.060 7.8 1 lb. 9 oz.
1.065 8.6 1 lb. 11 oz.
1.070 9.2 1 lb. 13 oz.
1.075 9.9 1 lb. 15 oz.
1.080 10.6 2 lbs. 1 oz.
1.085 11.3 2 lbs. 4 oz.
1.090 12.0 2 lbs. 6 oz.
1.095 12.7 2 lbs. 8 oz.
1.100 13.4 2 lbs. 10 oz.
1.105 14.1 2 lbs. 12 oz.
1.110 14.9 2 lbs. 14 oz.
1.115 15.6 3 lbs. 0 oz.
1.120 16.3 3 lbs. 2 oz.
1.125 17.0 3 lbs. 4 oz.
1.130 17.7 3 lbs. 6 oz.

Correcting For Sample Temperature Deviations

Temperatures greater or lower than 60 degrees Fahrenheit must be rectified when using most hydrometers, which are calibrated at 60 degrees Fahrenheit. In order to calculate the amount of the adjustment, refer to the correction chart that has been provided. For example, if your sample has a measurement of 1.045 but is at 84 degrees Fahrenheit, you must add.003 to get an adjusted reading of 1.048, which is 1.048.

Temperature Correction Chart

Temperatureof Sample (degrees F) Specific Gravity (SG) ReadingCorrection
50 -.0005
60 .000
70 +.001
77 +.002
84 +.003
95 +.005
105 +.007

Using a Hydrometer

In every setting where wine or beer is being made, a hydrometer should be present. It will measure the Specific Gravity (SG) of the liquid you are about to ferment, and this will provide you with an indication of the amount of Alcohol by Volume (ABV) you will be able to create as a result of the fermentation. The hydrometer will subsequently be utilized throughout the fermentation process to confirm that sugar is being transformed into alcohol is taking place as intended. We shall be able to know by the daily decline in the gravity if this is the case.

Example: The starting gravity of a typical wine will range between 1.075 and 1.090.

This will fluctuate by around 10 points on a daily basis, although it is dependent on temperature and diet. A few days later, the gravity will have declined to around 1.040 and will conclude in the range of 1.000 to 0.990.

How does it work?

It will be able to determine the amount of sugar present in the beverage. The higher the reading, the more sugar there is in the beverage. The higher the concentration of alcohol in the liquid, the lower the reading (that is after fermentation as the sugar has now been converted into alcohol). The hydrometer, for example, will register 1.000 if the water temperature is 20 degrees Celsius. This is always helpful to know so that you can put your hydrometer through its paces. In principle, the denser the liquid (i.e., the higher the concentration of sugars in it), the higher the gravity measurement.

How do I use the Hydrometer?

Many individuals choose to use a hydrometer in conjunction with a trial jar. Roughly 35mm in diameter, the trial jar is 200mm in length and is approximately 35mm in diameter. It is composed of transparent plastic and allows you to fill it with the liquid that you are ready to test it with. Fill the jar up to roughly 35mm from the top with liquid, and then drop the hydrometer into the liquid to measure it. You should take your reading from the lower level of the two levels that you can see while looking down the side of the test jar, as shown on the right.

Make sure that the hydrometer does not become stuck to the edge of the trial jar; it is advisable to gently rotate it to avoid this from taking place.

If the wine is still bubbling, the reading will only serve as a guide (since there will be bubbles in the liquid), and if froth (in the case of beer) is present, gently blow it away to ensure that the reading is accurate.

If the liquid temperature is 5°C greater than 0.001, and if it is 5°C lower than 0.001, then subtract 0.001.

How do I use this to calculate ABV?

ABV may be calculated quite simply by subtracting the start gravity from the finish gravity and multiplying the result by 7.362. For example, the beginning point for our wine is 1.080, and it ferments down to 0.990 after a period of fermentation. The decrease is a total of 90 points. This is equal to 12.23 percent ABV when divided by 7.362.

When making wine

The starting gravity should be between 1.070 and 1.090 (the usual ending ABV will be 10.5 percent) (normal finished ABV will be 13 percent ). The finish gravity should range from 0.990 (for dry wines) to 1.05 (for sweet wines) (for sweet wines). In general, we recommend that wine be fermented down to dryness, and if you like a sweeter wine, you may add sugar or grape juice at the end to get the desired sweetness level.

It is a risky business to try to stop the fermentation process too soon. Finally, we would argue that the hydrometer is arguably the most important piece of equipment for consistently producing high-quality wine and beer with consistent results. It’s also the finest deal in terms of value for money.

When making beer

Because there are so many variants, it is quite difficult to provide guidance on this. But the average beer will start at 1.045 (which is what you’ll see on the pump label in your local pub) and conclude at 1.012, representing an ABV decline of 32.6 points, or 4.5 percent (divided by the 7.362) during the course of the beer’s life.

Useful Links


How to Use/Read a Hydrometer for Wine and Beer(The Easy Way)

How to Use a Hydrometer (with Pictures) (The Easy Way) Submitted by BREW MART On this day, I’m going to demonstrate EXACTLY how simple it is to use a hydrometer. To be more specific, this is the same approach that has enabled me to produce exceptional beer and wine over the previous five years. And I’ll let you in on a little secret: it’s not rocket science at all. In fact, even if you are not a scientific person like myself, you will appreciate this simple to follow approach. LET’S GET STARTED RIGHT AWAY

  1. Understanding How to Make Use of a Hydrometer (The Easy Way) BY BREW MART TECHNOLOGY, INC. Today, I’m going to demonstrate EXACTLY how simple it is to utilize a hydrometer in a practical setting. To be more specific, this is the same approach that has enabled me to produce exceptional beer and wine over the past few years. And I’ll tell you a little secret: it’s not rocket science at all. This tutorial is so simple to follow that even those who are not scientific will find it useful. FIRST AND FOREMOST, WE’LL DIVE IN.

How to Use a Hydrometer Properly (The Easy Way) According to BREW MART Today, I’m going to demonstrate EXACTLY how simple it is to use a hydrometer. In reality, this is the same approach that has allowed me to produce exceptional beer and wine over the previous five years. And I’ll tell you a little secret: it’s not rocket science. In fact, even if you are not a scientific person like me, you will appreciate this simple to follow approach. LET’S GET RIGHT TO IT.

How to Read a Hydrometer

Documentation Download Documentation Download Documentation In liquid density testing, a hydrometer, which is typically composed of a weighted glass tube, is used to determine the density of the liquid. According to the theory underlying the hydrometer, if you hang a solid item in a liquid for a given amount of time, the solid object will float to the same extent as the weight of the displaced fluid. If the tool is submerged in a less thick liquid, it will sink further. Brewers use hydrometers to measure the progress of beer or other fermented beverages because the density of the liquid drops as yeast converts sugar to alcohol, making it easier to follow the progress of the beverage.

  1. 1 Verify that your hydrometer’s temperature calibration is correct. Hydrometers are used to measure the density of a liquid, but liquids expand and contract as a result of variations in temperature. You must test liquids at the temperature that your hydrometer was designed to work at in order to obtain an accurate result. This temperature should be specified on the hydrometer label or in the instructions included with the hydrometer package.
  • The majority of homebrew hydrometers are calibrated at 59–60°F (15–15.6°C), whereas the majority of laboratory hydrometers are calibrated at 68°F (20.0°C), respectively. Over time, the accuracy of hydrometers might deteriorate. If you’re utilizing an outdated tool, you might want to put it through its paces first.
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2 Take the temperature of the liquid into consideration. If the result is more than a degree or two higher or lower than the hydrometer’s designed temperature, record the information. Your temperature reading will be inaccurate, but you may adjust it by referring to the temperature chart at the conclusion of this guide.

  • When evaluating homebrewed wort, avoid contaminating it with a thermometer that has not been properly sterilized. Use an adhesive strip thermometer that adheres to the edge of the container, or take a sample rather than the entire batch.

Advertisement number three Fill a clean container halfway with a sample. The hydrometer should be placed in a clear jar or cup that is large enough so that it may float without striking the edges or bottom of the container. Using a funnel, transfer a sample of the liquid to the container.

  • Before pitching the yeast, check the wort for visible evidence of fermentation once the visible symptoms of fermentation have finished, but before brewing. Use a sterilized siphon, wine thief, or baster to transfer the sample to the lab
  • If accuracy is critical, a little amount of the liquid should be used to rinse the container before adding the entire sample.

4Put the hydrometer into the liquid and read the reading. Check to verify that the hydrometer is dry before dropping it into the liquid slightly below the point at which it would naturally float to the bottom. When the hydrometer bulb has settled, be sure it does not come into contact with the sides or bottom of the jar. 5Gently spin the hydrometer to read the water level. This will release any air bubbles that may have clung to the tool and caused the measurement to be inaccurate. Wait for the hydrometer and liquid to come to a complete stop, as well as for bubbles to disappear.

In some cases, the fluid’s surface may cling to both the hydrometer and the container walls, resulting in the formation of a meniscus curve.

It is not necessary to utilize the mark where the fluid comes into contact with the hydrometer.

The “specific gravity” scale is the most frequently encountered on hydrometers.

This is the relationship between the density of a liquid and the density of water. A reading of 1.000 should be obtained from pure water. A higher value indicates that the liquid is denser (heavier) than water, whereas a lower reading indicates that the liquid is lighter (less dense).

  • There is a wide range in the specific gravity of wort (also known as original gravity or OG by brewers). The greater the amount of sugar in a wort, the higher the original gravity (OG) and the higher the alcohol percentage in the finished beer. Most original gravity (OG) values are in the range of 1.030 to 1.070, although they can be much higher.

8 Define the Plato, Balling, and Brix scales in your own words. It’s possible that your hydrometer uses one of these scales instead, or that you’ll need to adjust your measurement in order to follow a recipe. Using these three units, here’s how to calculate the density of matter:

  • The Plato scale is used to determine the proportion of sucrose in a wort
  • For example, a Plato scale reading of 10 degrees indicates that 10 percent of the wort is sucrose by weight. For a specific gravity calculation that is near enough for homebrewing needs, multiply the Plato measurement by 0.004 and add 1. The specific gravity of a 10 degrees Plato wort is 10 x.004 + 1 = 1.040, which is the product of the temperature multiplied by the specific gravity. In general, the further you stray away from this number, the less precise the conversion is.
  • When it comes to home brewing, the Balling and Brix scales are both used to quantify sugar content in a solution
  • However, the units are near enough to the Plato scale that you may use them interchangeably. For commercial brewing, more precise conversion formulae are used, and breweries undertake their own experiments to calibrate the Brix scale in accordance with numerous criteria.

In brewing, the Plato scale is used to determine the proportion of sucrose in a wort. For example, a Plato scale reading of ten degrees indicates that ten percent of the wort is sucrose by weight. The specific gravity estimate is near enough for homebrewing purposes if you multiply the Plato measurement by 0.004 and add 1. The specific gravity of a 10 degrees Plato wort is 10 x.004 + 1 = 1.040, which is equal to the product of the temperature and the specific gravity. In general, the more you stray away from this figure, the less accurate the conversion becomes.

For commercial brewing, more precise conversion formulae are used, and breweries undertake their own experiments to calibrate the Brix scale in accordance with several parameters;

  • A few outliers exist, but for the most part, most beers have a FG in the range of 1.007-1.015
  • Home brewers seldom get the precise FG anticipated by their recipe, particularly on their first few efforts. It is more crucial that the beer tastes excellent, but it is also necessary to keep records and continue to research the process in order to get a more consistent product.

10 Calculate the amount of alcohol consumed in a given amount of time. How much sugar was converted to alcohol may be determined by measuring the difference between the initial gravity and final gravity. In order to translate this into a volume of alcohol, the formula 132.715 x (OG + FG) can be utilized (ABV). Please keep in mind that this is simply an estimate, and that it is most accurate for beers with a final gravity of approximately 1.010.

  • Consider the following scenario: Your original gravity (OG) was 1.041 and your final gravity (FG) was 1.011, and your ABV was about 132.715 times (1.041 – 1.011) = 3.98 percent.
  1. 1Fill a container half-full of water. To determine whether or not the hydrometer is accurate, use pure water or reverse osmosis water to do the test. Use tap water or untreated bottled water to test your brewing recipes instead of distilled water or purified water. However, the mineral content will modify the findings, and you will learn how to adjust your readings for brews brewed with that specific water from this information
  2. 2Raise the temperature of the water to the appropriate level. Ideally, the calibrated temperature of the hydrometer should be indicated on the hydrometer label or in the packaging instructions
  3. 3 The density of the water should be measured. Place the hydrometer in the water and gently spin it around to remove any air bubbles before waiting for it to settle. If the hydrometer is fully calibrated, it will display a reading of 1.000 for pure water.
  • 0.00o will be read using a hydrometer that operates on the Plato or Balling scale. For a more complete explanation of how to use the hydrometer, refer to the instructions above.

4 In the event that the hydrometer is erroneous, make a note of the adjustment. If you receive a result that is less than 1.000, the hydrometer is not working properly (or your water contains minerals). Make a note of the amount that has to be added or subtracted from future readings in order to remedy this inaccuracy.

  • For example, if your hydrometer reads 0.999 in clean water, round all measurements up to the next 0.001
  • If your hydrometer measures 1.03 in tap water, for example, deduct 0.003 from all readings of beverage produced with that particular tap water. If you switch water sources, make sure to test the hydrometer again.

5 You should think about replacing or changing your thermometer. Whenever your hydrometer’s readings are drastically wrong, it’s usually preferable to replace it with a new one. The old one may become even less accurate with time, but it is still feasible for the thrifty brewer to adjust it by following these steps:

  • To raise the weight if the measurement is incorrect, use tape, nail paint, or any other substance to hold the weight in place until the measurement is accurate. If the measurement is very high, file the edge to eliminate excess material from the measurement. In order to guard against glass dust or sharp edges, coat the rough surface with nail polish.

Create a new question

  • Question What are the units of measurement for a hydrometer reading? a. The most often used scale, specific gravity, does not have any units associated with it. It does a comparison between the density of the liquid and the density of water, and the result is expressed as a percentage or as a ratio. In the case of a density result of 1.050, it signifies that the liquid is 1.050 times more dense than water. Question How do you calculate the proportion of sugar based on the reading of specific gravity? A hydrometer equipped with the Plato scale provides you with the following result: One degree Plato is equal to one percent of sucrose by weight in a solution. To convert (approximately) from specific gravity to Plato, subtract 1 from the specific gravity value and divide the result by 0.004. Question Is it possible to evaluate the salt content of water with a hydrometer? Yes. Although you aren’t measuring the salt level of the water, you are assessing its density when compared to ideal, pure water (which is what you want). To be clear, if you’re testing seawater, you’re actually evaluating the salinity by testing the density of the water, for all intents and purposes. It is important to note that the density of water fluctuates with temperature (and to a lesser and irrelevant for your purposes degree, pressure). You may use mathematical formulas to alter your measurement dependent on the temperature
  • For example: Question What should I do if the FG is higher than the OG in a certain situation? It all depends on what you’re trying to measure. In the case of homebrew products such as wort or mead, there must be something wrong with your batch of wort or mead. Because the yeast consumes the sugar and converts it to ethanol and CO2, the FG will always be lower than the OG. Question In what range does a hydrometer fall on the pricing spectrum? Approximately $17-$23 dollars, plus or minus a few cents. However, unless you live in close proximity to a brewery, this will not cover delivery charges.

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Temperature Adjustment

  • Temperature should be adjusted for a normal hydrometer. You may use the following chart to determine the accuracy of your hydrometer if it is calibrated at 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.6 degrees Celsius). Find the temperature of the liquid in column 1 or 2, then multiply the temperature by the value from the same row of column 3 to get the specific gravity:
  • Specific gravity readings are often pronouced as two 2-digit values in the beer industry. To give an example, the reading of 1.072 is referred to as “ten-seventy-two.”
  • Commercial brewers monitor density on a regular basis during the brewing process and keep meticulous records in order to track variations or the effects of various brewing techniques. Having said that, each time you lift the lid, there is a chance of contamination occurring. In a domestic setting, it is normally ideal to check on the beer as rarely as possible
  • But, in a commercial setting, it is often necessary.


  • It’s important not to send a wort or beer sample back to the fermentation container after testing because this might contaminate the entire batch. Then you may taste it to evaluate how the beer is progressing, and then you can toss it away.


About This Article

Summary of the Article A sample of the liquid you wish to analyze should be placed in a clean, clear container before reading the hydrometer. Gently lower the hydrometer into the liquid and swirl it around, being careful not to let it come into contact with the container’s side walls. Take a reading from the hydrometer scale at the lowest spot on the liquid’s surface at the lowest point. Specific gravity is the most often used scale on hydrometers, and pure water has a specific gravity of 1.000.

Continue reading for advice from our reviewer on how to interpret scales such as the Plato, Balling, and Brix. Did you find this overview to be helpful? The writers of this page have together authored a page that has been read 159,701 times.

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