Acoholometers are dumb Hydrometers

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DAD300
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Acoholometers are dumb Hydrometers

Post by DAD300 » Fri Jan 17, 2014 2:11 pm

I've picked up on a disturbing notion or trend lately. People mostly new distillers are confusing what an alcoholometer/alcometer is or does.

An alcoholometer is nothing more than a dumb hydrometer...

A hydrometer is an instrument used to measure the specific gravity (or relative density) of liquids; that is, the ratio of the density of the liquid to the known density of water. Water being the constant.

An Alcoholometer is a hydrometer, that has the normal Specific Gravity Scale, replaced with a percent of alcohol scale to correlate the specific gravity of a mixture of ethanol and water, relating the ABV of the mixture it is floating in.

Alcoholometers are dumb instruments. They assume you have put them into a mixture of ethanol and water. They do not tell you the purity of your distillate. They tell you that if you have ethanol and water in the flask, XX% is alcohol.

Now, why this disturbs me. I have read a few posts where the idea was, "Well, my alcoholometer reads 95+%, so my product is pure!"

No, it may not be. If you drop an alcoholometer into a bottle of drug store acetone, it will read above 96%.

We must use our knowledge of what we are distilling, our nose and taste buds to establish that the liquid in the flask is ethanol and water.

The first stuff out of the still is not ethanol and water...and the last stuff out of the still is not ethanol and water. Everything else being correct, we assume the stuff in the middle is ethanol and water.
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Re: Acoholometers are dumb Hydrometers

Post by ga flatwoods » Fri Jan 17, 2014 2:54 pm

Dad, why you hating on a hydrometer? LOL. The misinterpretation of what is does is truly the irresponsibility of the user. Good advice.
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Re: Acoholometers are dumb Hydrometers

Post by Prairiepiss » Fri Jan 17, 2014 2:58 pm

It's not a new trend. It's been happening for a very long time. They also think all 95% ABV spirits are neutral. Or the old burns blue so it has to be pure.
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Re: Acoholometers are dumb Hydrometers

Post by Odin » Fri Jan 17, 2014 3:14 pm

Purity and neutrality are two completely different beasts all together. As is 95%.

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Re: Acoholometers are dumb Hydrometers

Post by bellybuster » Fri Jan 17, 2014 3:21 pm

maybe purity should be defined in the new distillers reading lounge. Don't say glossary, no one actually reads that, they go to it for reference as it was intended.

Just for interest, it is "an" hydrometer.

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Re: Acoholometers are dumb Hydrometers

Post by Doogie » Fri Jan 17, 2014 4:06 pm

No, a alcoholmeter is an enhanced hydrometer with an internal invisible mechanism to rotate away from your field of view so you have to get up and spin it to read it
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Re: Acoholometers are dumb Hydrometers

Post by bellybuster » Fri Jan 17, 2014 4:14 pm

haha, right you are.

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Re: Acoholometers are dumb Hydrometers

Post by Maritimer » Fri Jan 17, 2014 4:30 pm

DAD300 wrote:We must use our knowledge of what we are distilling, our nose and taste buds to establish that the liquid in the flask is ethanol and water.
And don't forget the brain. Nothing like a headache to tell you there was something else in there.

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Re: Acoholometers are dumb Hydrometers

Post by DAD300 » Fri Jan 17, 2014 5:03 pm

Doogie made me laugh...

Glad we all seem to get this...it is one issue I'd like to see hammered to new guys.
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Re: Acoholometers are dumb Hydrometers

Post by Prairiepiss » Fri Jan 17, 2014 5:17 pm

The problem is they are being told by others on YouTube or the boob tube and such. All this stupid BS. Even when you try to tell them. It goes in one ear and out the other. Until they have a problem. Then they want to argue about it. Or just won't listen to you. Hell they don't read all the great info already provided. But yet want to ask the same question that already been asked 4 or 5 time the same day.

I need to shut up now. :silent:
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Re: Acoholometers are dumb Hydrometers

Post by S-Cackalacky » Fri Jan 17, 2014 5:42 pm

bellybuster wrote:maybe purity should be defined in the new distillers reading lounge. Don't say glossary, no one actually reads that, they go to it for reference as it was intended.

Just for interest, it is "an" hydrometer.
Only if you pronounce it ydrometer. "An" is normally used with words (nouns or adjectives) that begin with vowels or vowel sounds. Would be like saying, I have an head or an hand or an hammer. I took a drive up an high mountain. Kinda grates on the logical phonetical sensibilities.

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Re: Acoholometers are dumb Hydrometers

Post by Doogie » Sat Jan 18, 2014 7:48 am

Prairiepiss wrote:The problem is they are being told by others on YouTube or the boob tube and such. All this stupid BS. Even when you try to tell them. It goes in one ear and out the other. Until they have a problem. Then they want to argue about it. Or just won't listen to you. Hell they don't read all the great info already provided. But yet want to ask the same question that already been asked 4 or 5 time the same day.

I need to shut up now. :silent:
The only suggestion I can make is a condensed "how-to" for a basic still construction and a basic wash/mash prep, and a basics of distillation. While there is a ton of material on here, if you 1) dont know what to look for, 2) are not that good at searching, then it can be a daunting mountain of info.

While it would be a bunch of volunteer work, if it was done, then it could be sent as a link when registering
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Re: Acoholometers are dumb Hydrometers

Post by dirtymax731 » Sat Jan 18, 2014 8:22 am

The funny thing is that most the people who ask those types of questions bought a still not built one. They do it half assed and expect a good product without a complete understanding of what they are making.

People dont want to research they want things handed to them
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Re: Acoholometers are dumb Hydrometers

Post by Doogie » Sat Jan 18, 2014 5:04 pm

dirtymax731 wrote:The funny thing is that most the people who ask those types of questions bought a still not built one. They do it half assed and expect a good product without a complete understanding of what they are making.

People dont want to research they want things handed to them
I can agree it is easier you ask than search, but you have to look at the fact that some may not be all inter-web saavy ... the point I was making is there is a lot of info on this site - maybe a "how to search" mandatory reading (maybe a link in the registration email?) may help

And I would like to see your figures for the **assumption** that dumb questions only come from those that bought a still.
I would like to see your figures for the **assumption** that bought still owners are "half-ass"ing their production
I would assume that while some make horrible youtube stills, there are a few on here that have T500s or better yet MileHi stills that, from reviews, seem to be very well built stills with start up support.
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Re: Acoholometers are dumb Hydrometers

Post by dirtymax731 » Sat Jan 18, 2014 5:38 pm

I can agree it is easier you ask than search, but you have to look at the fact that some may not be all inter-web saavy ... the point I was making is there is a lot of info on this site - maybe a "how to search" mandatory reading (maybe a link in the registration email?) may help

And I would like to see your figures for the **assumption** that dumb questions only come from those that bought a still.
I would like to see your figures for the **assumption** that bought still owners are "half-ass"ing their production
I would assume that while some make horrible youtube stills, there are a few on here that have T500s or better yet MileHi stills that, from reviews, seem to be very well built stills with start up support.[/quote]

I agree. Thats why I said most not all. There are plenty of people making quality stuff with store bought equipment. Some of the stuff they sell across the pond is off the hook. I dont mean to offend anyone. Im just tired of half asses wondering why their boose tastes like shit. If you make effort its not impossible to make decent stuff and figure out 90% of the questions asked by some users.

Anyway not trying to hijack thread with an arguement.
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Re: Acoholometers are dumb Hydrometers

Post by dirtymax731 » Sat Jan 18, 2014 5:43 pm

dirtymax731 wrote:I can agree it is easier you ask than search, but you have to look at the fact that some may not be all inter-web saavy ... the point I was making is there is a lot of info on this site - maybe a "how to search" mandatory reading (maybe a link in the registration email?) may help

And I would like to see your figures for the **assumption** that dumb questions only come from those that bought a still.
I would like to see your figures for the **assumption** that bought still owners are "half-ass"ing their production
I would assume that while some make horrible youtube stills, there are a few on here that have T500s or better yet MileHi stills that, from reviews, seem to be very well built stills with start up support.
I agree. Thats why I said most not all. Or should have said "most people who ask the simple questions" There are plenty of people making quality stuff with store bought equipment. Some of the stuff they sell across the pond is off the hook. I dont mean to offend anyone. Im just tired of half asses wondering why their boose tastes like shit. If you make effort its not impossible to make decent stuff and figure out 90% of the questions asked by some users.

Anyway not trying to hijack thread with an arguement.[/quote]
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Re: Acoholometers are dumb Hydrometers

Post by F6Hawk » Sat Jan 18, 2014 6:14 pm

bellybuster wrote: Just for interest, it is "an" hydrometer.
I believe this to be incorrect, sir. "AN" is used before words that begin with a silent "H", such as herb or hour. "A" is used before words with a breath "H", such as historical or heavy (a donkey would NEVER carry AN heavy burden, but A heavy burden).

It's a hydrometer.
No it's not.
Yes it is.
How can you tell?
Cuz it's in many small pieces on my floor.


ETA: Sorry, S-Cacka, I responded before I read your correction. :)

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Re: Acoholometers are dumb Hydrometers

Post by Doogie » Sat Jan 18, 2014 6:40 pm

ya, it is "a" not "an" ... or even "eh"
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Re: Acoholometers are dumb Hydrometers

Post by F6Hawk » Sat Jan 18, 2014 8:27 pm

Doogie wrote:ya, it is "a" not "an" ... or even "eh"
Unless you're in Canada. Or North Dakota.

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Re: Acoholometers are dumb Hydrometers

Post by Beerbrewer » Sun Jan 19, 2014 7:14 am

F6Hawk wrote:
bellybuster wrote: Just for interest, it is "an" hydrometer.
I believe this to be incorrect, sir. "AN" is used before words that begin with a silent "H", such as herb or hour. "A" is used before words with a breath "H", such as historical or heavy (a donkey would NEVER carry AN heavy burden, but A heavy burden).
Except I pronounce herb with a non silent H, the right way :D

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Re: Acoholometers are dumb Hydrometers

Post by the pure drop » Wed Feb 12, 2014 8:07 am

This is a good point you bring up, but those making such a confused initial misunderstanding will soon realise (or should unless they have totally shot taste buds) that the percent doesn't equal purity when they proof[align=][/align] the likker and take that first sip. If they made good cuts they'll know it. If they made bad cuts they'll know it and then follow up with another noob move and dump it all down the drain rather than adding it to their feints collection to 're run later or to put it in their thump keg instead (in essence 're running it). So I think that although this is good advice, is something that would be learned by error unless the individual was intuitive enough to pick this up from the start. I would add that what is also important is to know the average temp the distillate is leaving the condenser and do the math based on temp relative to alcoholmeter and make the proper conversion to get an accurate reading. It would also be helpful to periodically test the accuracy of the alcoholmeter with water and with alcohol of a known abv as your control. Just my 2 cents.
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Re: Acoholometers are dumb Hydrometers

Post by T-Pee » Wed Feb 12, 2014 8:50 am

Beerbrewer wrote:
F6Hawk wrote:
bellybuster wrote: Except I pronounce herb with a non silent H, the right way :D
Unless it's the crabby old bastard down the street then one does indeed pronounce the H (and more).

tp (but I further digress)

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Re: Acoholometers are dumb Hydrometers

Post by scree » Fri Feb 14, 2014 3:38 am

Prairiepiss wrote:The problem is they are being told by others on YouTube or the boob tube and such. All this stupid BS. Even when you try to tell them. It goes in one ear and out the other. Until they have a problem. Then they want to argue about it. Or just won't listen to you. Hell they don't read all the great info already provided. But yet want to ask the same question that already been asked 4 or 5 time the same day.

I need to shut up now. :silent:
and when I do try to research, I read thread after thread complaining about questions yet providing no answers. What's worst?
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Re: Acoholometers are dumb Hydrometers

Post by scree » Sat Feb 15, 2014 5:35 am

Sooo...the only difference between an alcoholmeter and a S.G. hydrometer is the scale?

Couldn't I just measure s.g. and convert?
Is there a difference in quality between brands?
What do you have?
While there is good instruction in the reading lounge, I'm very slow at comprehension unless I have something in my hands.

Anyways, that's four newbie questions in one post. Much appreciation to anyone kind enough to offer any info. :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: For the rest of ya...I was going to ask five questions, but I was afraid of giving y'all a coronary. :moresarcasm:
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Re: Acoholometers are dumb Hydrometers

Post by DAD300 » Sat Feb 15, 2014 9:17 pm

scree... only the paper scale in the center!

"Couldn't I just measure s.g. and convert?" Yes there are charts for that with the conversion.

"Is there a difference in quality between brands?" Yes, but there is also a great price dif. I bought several cheapies and calibrated them against water and a commercial booze. And they are very fragile.

"What do you have?" Two cheapies...I know I'm going to break one.

I wish we had a hydrometer like auto's use for anti freeze...the bulb that sucks up the liquid.

People learn several dif ways, I have a grand daughter that I can give the concept for anything and she has it. Another sees it once and has it forever.
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Re: Acoholometers are dumb Hydrometers

Post by Bagasso » Sun Feb 16, 2014 1:00 am

scree wrote:Sooo...the only difference between an alcoholmeter and a S.G. hydrometer is the scale?

Couldn't I just measure s.g. and convert?
No, because the hydrometer for s.g. usually measures down to .9 and ethanol is 0.787. That means that dropping an s.g hydrometer in anything with a lower density will have you looking at a section of glass without any scale, if it isn't below the surface of the liquid. In either case you will not have a clear reference.

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Re: Acoholometers are dumb Hydrometers

Post by scree » Sun Feb 16, 2014 4:06 am

Ah-ha. Now it's all sinking in... Your granddaughter is smarter than I am. Got one of those myself. I've learned a lot from her.
Seriously though, that does put it into perspective. for me, cheap is fine. Just don't drop or bump. One of each.
I'll spend the extra money on a Pyrex vial.
Much appreciation to both of ya.
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