How to use an Alcometer (properly!)

First things first, an Alcometer is used to measure the proof of your distilled product. A Hydometer on the other hand is used to measure the alcohol by volume (ABV). The thing to remember is that an Alcometre is used to measure the proof of alcohol AFTER the fermentation process once your product has been distilled. A Hydrometer however, is used to measure the ABV percentage DURING the fermentation process. With that in mind let’s discuss how to use your Alcometer to measure the proof of your final distilled product.


While Alcometers are easy to use, there are a few housekeeping rules to follow to ensure accurate readings every time.

  • Sanitise the meter before each use
  • Also, sanitise the plastic test tube
  • Notice the lead weight at the end of the meter. Always try to handle the meter by the weight end. Natural oils from your fingers can result in incorrect readings

Directions for proper use:

  • With both meter and plastic test tube sanitised, begin by pouring your distilled sample into the plastic test tube which has been tilted on an angle. The reason to tilt the plastic test tube is to avoid CO2 & oxygen bubbles from surfacing during sampling transfer. Be sure to only fill tube to approximately ¾ full as the Alcometer will cause fluid levels to rise further once placed into the test tube. Set tube on a flat surface.
  • Handle the meter by grabbing the top and inserting into the test tube. Once inserted spin the meter gently in the sample to rid it of any excess bubbles.
  • Allow fluid to settle & meter to stop bobbing.
  • Take a reading from where the fluid cuts the meter. Two readings are possible, one is a Proofing scale and the other is a Tralle scale. The Tralle reading will always be half of your proofing reading. This is your ABV (Alcohol by Volume) percentage.

Trouble with your reading? 2 tips to remember:

  • Testing your alcohol is best done at 20 deg Celsius. Temperatures too high or too low will give incorrect readings.
  • Always test your alcohol in its raw form before it has been combined with essences and or sweeteners. Sugars in the distillate will give incorrect readings.
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