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hydrometer vs refractometer

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Which is best to use a hydrometer or refractometer for home brewing

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Depends upon the circumstances. Prior to pitching yeast the refractometer is quickest and easiest. After fermentation that remains true however the refractometer will not give you an accurate or true gravity since the alcohol and water solution refracts light differently.

I use my refractometer to monitor changes in gravity. When specific gravity stops changing I use the hydrometer to take a final gravity reading. The sample goes into my trub bottle and my stomach.

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another thing i discovered with a refractometer..  if you dont stir the wort to mix it up before taking a measure, you get layers of different gravity.  i would leave the wort sit and then get to measuring the grav with the refractometer and wonder why i was always missing my target og.

 

 

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I use a refractometer exclusively.  There are calculators that give you adjusted gravity once fermentation has begun.  I agree with Zorak that you have to stir your initial wort or you won't get accurate gravity readings.  This is not an issue once fermentation has finished. 

 

I will say that it probably isn't the most reliable method, I believe my error rate is about .01 when checking final gravity.  In my book that is close enough.

 

It also depends on the type of refractometer you have, I have a digital refractometer, so I get pretty accurate readings.

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As noted, a cheap refractometer isn't very good.

 

The vast majority of homebrewers have a hydrometer.  Some have both.  Few have only a refractometer.

 

If you buy a hydrometer made of glass (most, Mr. Beer offers a non-glass one), buy two, they like to commit suicide.

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rick my glass hydrometer is from when i first started brewing  ages ago... it hasnt killed itself yet. the only piece of original equipment to commit suicide was my bottling wand... and it was plastic. while removing the tubing i heard SNAP.. sadness.  i find that by singing to my hydrometer as i lovingly unwrap it for use... and when i clean it, that it stays happy and healthy. 

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