How to Use an Alcohol Meter:
An alcohol meter is used to measure the Proof of your distilled product. The same way you use a hydrometer to measure ABV (Alcohol by Volume), but with an important difference:
A hydrometer is used to measure ABV percentage during the fermentation process
An alcohol meter is used to measure the proof of alcohol after the fermentation process and once your product has been distilled with a alcohol distiller.
How an Alcohol Meter Works:
If you happened to take a look at our blog page about hydrometers, we mentioned that because it has the same density as water, when the sugar is added it becomes too dense for the meter to stay under water and makes the hydrometer rise. Well, with an alcohol meter, it has the same density as alcohol, which is lighter than water. This means, when you first insert it into your test jar, it will float high at the top. As the alcohol content increases in your test jar, the meter stops becoming outweighed by the water and sinks lower and lower.
Before and During Use:
Alcohol meters are easy to use, but have some measures you’ll need to take to ensure an accurate reading.
For one, you’ll want to wipe off the meter with a clean rag when you first pull it out of the plastic encasing. Notice the end of your alcoholmeter will have a lead weight. Make sure to always grab at that end when handling an alcoholmeter as the oils from our fingers can really mess with readings. It’s also recommended to sanitize your molded test jar before testing for proof.
With both products thoroughly sanitized, tip the test jar to an angle and pour in your sample. This is to prevent most C02 or oxygen bubbles from surfacing during transfer. You’ll still want to grab the alcoholmeter at the top once it’s inserted in the test jar and spin it gently in the alcohol to get rid of any excess bubbles. Make sure when pouring the sample in, you only fill the jar about 3/4’s of the way up, as the alcoholmeter will cause the levels to rise. Wait until all fluids settle and the meter stops bobbing. Also, make sure the meter is free, and not stuck on the sides or the bottom of the test jar.
Simply match the scale reading with the highest level of fluid in the jar
You’ll notice when taking the reading, you have two different scales for measurement. One is a Proofing scale and the other is a Tralle scale. The Tralle reading will always be half of your proofing reading. This is your ABV (Alcohol by Volume) percentage.
A couple of elements will interfere with your reading. Note that any distilled liquor with traces of sugar will not give you accurate percentages. This means liqueurs and spirits that have been combined with essence flavorings and sweeteners. Always test your alcohol percentage when the spirit is in raw form prior to adding any additives. Temperature of the spirit is best checked at 68F. If the temperature is too low or too high the alcohol meter will not give you accurate percentages.