Using Brix Refractometer for Honey
I have a refractometer that is calibrated in 0-40 Brix for sucrose (I was a homebrewer - [beer & mead] long before I got into honey). I figured that Brix is convertable to %sugar, honey is sugar, so ... Since Honey should be ~82% sugar and 18%water, I diluted the honey with 3 parts by volume of distilled water to get the readings in range of my refractometer. Reading came up @26, which meant 104% sugar (multiply by 4 to compensate for the dilution) - ooops, not possible. So I research and find that sucrose and honey behave differently in a refractometer and could find references to another scale, but no where could I find the conversion factor to convert Brix (sucrose) to % water (honey) [or %sugar as 100% - %sugar = %water.]
Anyone know how to convert from Brix(sucrose) to %water(honey) so I don't have to buy another refractometer?
PM Jim Fischer, he can give you the answer.
There is a correction table in 'The Hive and the Honey Bee' that can be used. The table in my edition of the book, which I think is still current, is on page 892.
Here's a handy photo of a honey refractometer that can be
used to eyeball the conversions.
The most commonly used degrees Brix scale is EXACTLY
the same thing as the "% Sugar" scale in the middle
of the photo, so calibrating to 78 degrees Brix is
equivalent to 20.4 % moisture.
Readings below 81 degrees Brix are "too wet" and should
not be harvested, and readings above 81 degrees Brix
are good to go.
There is a table in the current edition of Hive and Honebee
(p. 892) and a table in the older 36th ed. of ABC & XYZ.
(p. 438) giving moisture contents for % Sucrose and
in degrees Brix (º Brix) in detail.
But there are several different things called "Brix" out
there, so take care to know that you are NOT using a
urine refractometer or brewing refractometer, which
only measure at the lower end of the Brix scale,
and are useless for honey.
If you get trapped in a twisty maze of confusing
terms and incompatible measuring systems,
this site can rescue you:
But yeah, I give refractometers as wedding and
anniversary presents. I should get a sales commission
from the people who make 'em but never explain 'em well enough.
Just don't drop your refractometer.
They don't like that at all.
I am with you about the using a brewing refractometer - that is exactly what I have. But...what I don't understand is what happened when I diluted the honey 1 part honey to 3 parts distilled water (by volume) and came up with a sugar (Brix) reading of 26% (an impossibility). What I expected was something like 20% sugar. Then I multiply by 4 to get 80% in original sample which means 20% water (I am ignoring the fractional percent of minerals, etc). Is that what you think should have happened?
I can come with 2 possibilities - 1) I was careless with my measurement (don't think so), or 2) I should have diluted by weight instead of volume. The volume possibility is something I am not sure about. But I did do some quick mental math, and assuming that water is 66% the weight of honey that would have put me into the 80% range ( 0.66 * (.26*4) = 68%). That puts me in the ballpark. Should I have used weight instead of volume for dilution?
I can buy a honey refractometer if I have to, but I have very few hives. Few enough that diluting the honey and then multiplying the result by 4 is OK by me. That leaves me $75 to spend on some other toy (er a tool). I even considered using a hydrometer and diluting, but that is such a waste of honey if I can get the refractomer working. But then the same question applies to the hydrometer - do I do the dilution based on volume or weight? The margin of error might not be big if we were talking about grape juice (approximately the same weight as water), but honey is a different story.
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