This has been posted on forum a few times before Uncle Jessie was last to post it.Fourway was first I saw post it back on old forum. but it so reverent I'm putting a sticky on it.--------------
I thought this info might be useful to you, It is one of the most important pieces of info that I have gotten from this site, It might sound weird at first, but I can tell you, I no longer use a hydrometer at all. Anyway, this was given to me when i first started this hobby...
"just go by what's coming out.
you smell it.
you put it in a spoon and burn it.
you drip it on a plate and burn it.
you taste it.
you rub it on your hands and smell it.
you rub it on your hands and feel it.
you put it in a little vial or bottle and shake it and look at the bubbles."
"as long as it lights easily in a spoon it's over 100 proof.
When it won't light in a spoon but will light on a plate it's under 100 proof but over 75 or so.
If it burns clear and blue and steady with a flame you can't see in sunlight it's very pure.
If it burns with a yellow "beard" it's got some fusils and impurities... the bigger the beard the more off it is."
"See how much liquid is left in the spoon after the burning stops."
"Taste your output, compare it to the taste of the liquid left in the spoon after burning.
Tasting isn't very accurate for strength (and it gets less and less accurate the more you do it) but it is the most accurate test of how your stuff actually tastes (imagine that)."
"Catch some of the output and rub it between and all over your hands.
Move your hands from arms length toward your face, see how close you have to get to smell it.
Feel how fast it evaporates.
Feel when you rub it between your hands whether it feels oily or slippery (like soap) or scrunchy. "
"Learn to recognize how those feelings correspond to smell and taste and to how it burns."
"Put an half an ounce to an ounce of your output in a small glass bottle or vial with a tight fitting cap and give it a vigorous shake.
Look at the bubbles that form briefly along the edge of the liquid in a string like beads. (READING THE BEAD)
bigger more uniform bubbles happen at higher proof and it will stop "beading" altogether as you start to drop below 100 proof. "
"Do all these things at regular intervals every time you run.
Pay attention to how these sensory tests correspond to one another at different points in the run."
"Don't expect to understand exactly what you are seeing and smelling and tasting and feeling the first several times you do it.
Remember that you are training your senses as much as you are learning an intellectual set of tests... the senses learn through consistency and repetition."
"Just keep doing it, consider it an integral part of your process even if at first you can't tell what good it's doing."
"It will all come together. There are people who can nail proof within two or three points by rubbing the liquor between their hands. The only thing they've got that you don't is experience... and if you don't do the tests whether you "get" them or not you'll never gain the experience. "
Once you senses are trained to tell proof, purity, etc... then this dilution calculator might help.http://homedistiller.org/calcs/dilute
I hope this helps you out a bit.