What’s a Refractometer and Its Link to the Brix Scale?

Light is one of the most studied elements in the universe, and while scientists know pretty much everything about how it moves, it remains as a mysterious thing that continues to be subjected to different measurements, observations, and tests. One of the remarkable characteristics of light is when it travels through the liquid and at an angle, it naturally refracts or bends, which in turn results into slowing it down and changing its direction once it moves to a new medium.


The natural tendency of light allows for the accurate measurement of the concentration of a liquid solution. It is possible when light refracts more when it travels through suspended solids such as that of sugars and salts. The device or instrument used for this measurement is called a refractometer, and the index is measured for a liquid and assigned a value based on the Brix meter or scale.



What is the Brix Scale?


When light bends as it passes through a liquid, the level of refraction is measured on the Brix scale. The reading you get out of the refractometer is given a specific value based on the meter or scale, which in turn makes it convenient to compare different concentrations in any solution. The easiest way to understand the measurements using the Brix scale is to learn that pure water with the absence of suspended solids has a value of zero in the Brix meter. On the other hand, water which contains minerals or solids in its solution will refract light and eventually produce a higher value on the Brix scale.


Today, there are several models of refractometers available, but the reality is that all of them are classified as either analogue or digital. Refractometers, regardless of them being analogue or digital, are described as handheld devices built and designed for multiple uses. Different industries and professions use the equipment, including students, farmers, and scientists. The device works based on the concept that light will move slowly in more concentrated solutions. As the light slows down, it also tends to change direction, which in turn will alter the reading that the refractometer produces.


The analogue refractometer does not require an external power source for it to work. For you to get a Brix reading from a solution, all you must do is have a few drops of the liquid on top of a prism that’s covered by a lid. The refractometer is held perpendicular to a light source.


On the other hand, a digital refractometer is designed to produce its beam of light from an LED. Hence, it does not use daylight or other sources. You place the liquid inside the receptacle and the light beams through the sample. A computer will assign the refraction with a numeric value according to the Brix scale.