Refractometer Types And Uses Explained
This small handheld device is widely used in many industries today. Its accuracy is the top advantage of using it. It measures the specific gravity of the fluids, so other readings such as sugar contents and complex elements.
How a Refractometer works?: Let me explain this with a picture (https://www.mat.ucsb.edu/~g.legrady/academic/courses/10f200a/md/image/negative_refraction.jpg.) As seen the in the picture, the straw in the water-glass seems to bend. Well, we just see it as it is bent; but truly it’s not. The picture shows two glasses with each having a dipped straw, but they look different. The glass in which the straw seems to bend more has a higher sugar than concentration than that in the first glass. This theory is called the refraction of light. So, higher the concentration, more the refraction angle. A Refractometer uses this theory to evaluate the elements in a liquid. Modern Refractometers use Brix scale as the common scale, where the Brix reading=actual sucrose concentration. Anyway, for medical purposes, specific gravity is used, not the Brix scale. You can buy Refractometers with both the scales side by side today.
Refractometer types: Due to the increase in the use in many industries, many types of advanced Refractometers are available in the market now. Below is a list of different types:
* Abbe Refractometer: It’s the oldest of all the types of meters. Ernst Abbe is the inventor, so it’s named after its inventor. It’s a big instrument compared to the modern types (http://www.atago.net/images/products/img_l/nar-2t_l.jpg.) It’s a very accurate Refractometer considering the year of invention. Anyway, only a trained person can take accurate readings with it and relatively expensive due to its complex operation.
* Handheld Refractometer: This versatile device is very easy to use, and easily can go in a toolbox. It has more functions compared to the small size. Beekeepers, Winemakers, and beer brewers use this device to measure product quality (beekeepers measure the water content in bee honey, winemakers measures the sugar content in the grapes/fruits and aquarists measure the salt content in water for sea fishes.) The top advantages of using a handheld Refractometer is that you need only a few drops of the sample to measure.
Modern devices come with temperature correction options too, so you don’t have to worry about the sample temperature. Very simple and portable compared to the Abbe type (https://cdn-schmidthaenschgm.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/handrefraktometer_FREI.jpg.)
* Digital Refractometer: The accuracy of the reading you get from digital meters beat even the handheld meters. The operation is similar to the handheld type.
* Automatic Refractometer: The most accurate of all the types. Very expensive compared to all other types (the modern ones costs up to $10,000 to buy.) Used by the large-scale and multinational food/beverage makers (https://rudolphresearch.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/J457-011.jpg.)
* Process Refractometer: Used for continuous refractive index measurements without human involvement. Expensive than the handheld types, but cheaper than the automatic types.
Some final words: Many types of Refractometers are there in the market today. The handheld type is the most popular one due to its functions and relatively low price. Anyway, large-scale food makers use the automatic type for more accurate measurements. If you are looking for a one for home use, buying a handheld meter would be enough.