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Best Refractometer

8563 Views 18 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  AstroBee
Any recommendations?
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No but would like one under hundred$. And would work with mead making..
I bought one on EBAY for @ $50.00, looks ok. My problem is, what fluid is used to calibrate it?
SNL, Thanks for the Vaporizer-It works grate.
I bought a couple of the ebay ones as well. One for honey and one for maple syrup. I actually prefer using the refractometer for maple syrup better that using a hydrometer. They work fine. Can't recall the name but they were about $50-$60.
I've no clue as to how to use, calibrate it if needed..... that's why I was asking for recommendations
I bought one from EBAY too, could not no how to calibrate either.The seller did not know.He then said the comp. told him they are calibrated at the factory..
I went to YOUTUBE , they said to use apple vinegar or olive oil. I think vinegar was @ 71%..Ask utube.
Extra virgin olive oil is approximately 71.5 BRIX (ranges from 71 to 72, so calibrating to 71.5 puts you close). The refractometer should have a BRIX scale reading as well as % water- that's what's usually used for calibration.

I bought one from Amazon (Ade Advanced Optics Brix Refractometer - 58-90% range) that works pretty consistently, and was less than $30. Make sure you buy one that has the right range for honey.

Dioptric fluid (used for precise calibration) can be expensive, but another trick is to buy a small amount, calibrate the refractometer, then immediately measure a bottle of olive oil. Once you know the exact measurement of that specific bottle of olive oil, you can use it to do calibrations very inexpensively.

Good luck!

(Note: even a decent factory calibrated refractometer still requires calibration in use, because the reading varies with temperature- you need to calibrate it for the temperature of what you are measuring. There should be a small set screw that you turn for calibration that moves the scale reading as needed to zero it in.)
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THANKS knute, that will help everyone thinking of getting one--I know it helps me, Thank You
... Good luck!
Why do we have to put our trust in olive oil?
Isn't it ludicrous?
Why do we have to put our trust in olive oil?
Isn't it ludicrous?
You don't have to put your trust in olive can choose to spend much more money and buy dioptric fluid.
Why do we have to put our trust in olive oil?
Isn't it ludicrous?
Yep! It does seem a little funny to trust olive oil, but since there's a very specific refractive index standard that extra virgin olive oil needs to meet, it makes a convenient and inexpensive calibration fluid. There are lots of other options (glycerol, etc.) that could be used, but most people already have olive oil in their kitchen and few people have lab grade supplies lying around.

Here's the money quote: "Virgin olive oil is specified by the UN FAO in CODEX STANDARD FOR OLIVE OILS AND OLIVE POMACE OILS CODEX STAN 33-1981 (Rev. 2-2003) to have a refractive index from 1.4677 to 1.4705 at 20°C which corresponds to 71°Bx to 72°Bx."

Another thing that I should have mentioned about the Amazon unit is that the calibration instructions it comes with are for the wrong unit. Put a few drops of olive oil (or dioptric fluid) on the clean glass, flip down the hinged lid to "squish" the droplets into a nice consistent film, look through the eyepiece, then turn the calibration screw on the top until the boundary between the blue and the white zones is at 71.5 on the Brix scale for olive oil (or the desired Brix number if you are using calibrated dioptric fluid).
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Thanks, Knute;

I ordered one from Mann Lake after reading your post. I have a lot of supers with uncapped honey that you cant shake a drop out of. They seem to have quit capping and I am tired of guessing; is it, or is it not low enough water content!
Wow KQ6AR $330, I bet you DO like it! (smile).......
About 12 years ago, I bought one off ebay. It was OK for the first few years, but over time it got harder and harder to read. I say OK, because it never really had a super crisp line between the blue and white background. Now it is nearly useless. I'm a little hesitant to go back to ebay, as quality seems to be an issue. I'm most likely going buy one from the bee equipment vendors.
One of the best brands I have found.. VEE GEE REFRACTOMETER. Cost a little more but worth it. Stay away from Ebay no name ones.
I just got one from Amazon myself a couple of weeks ago. There were some really good utube videos of how to calibrate it. I also used virgin olive oil (just like the video). Total price including shipping was $30.
Ade Advanced Optics Brix Refractometer - High Measuring Range Honey tester 58%-90%
I've seen many of these cheaper units with plastics optics. Not sure how that impacts their accuracy or lifespan, but it seems like glass optics would be better. I've even seen some that have a plastic body.
One of the best brands I have found.. VEE GEE REFRACTOMETER. Cost a little more but worth it. Stay away from Ebay no name ones.
Does your VEE GEE have ATC? If so, what model number do you have?
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