Wine making hydrometer

Object Number: 
2002.1.3264
Date: 
1920-1960
Medium: 
Wood, glass, paper, mercury, wax
Dimensions: 
Case: 4 7/8 x 1 1/8 in. diameter; tool: 3 x 5/8 in diameter
Description: 
A tubular wood case with a glass tube inside holding a glass wine making hydrometer. The hydrometer is glass, with mercury trapped in the wide bottom compartment by a red wax seal and with a paper marked with a scale inserted into the narrow glass tube forming the top.
Gallery Label: 
The hydrometer, in the case of a beer or wine hydrometer, is calibrated to measure the density of the liquid being tested to determine the amount of sugar in the liquid. During the fermentation process, the amount of sugar present in the initial liquid prior to fermentation determines the amount of alcohol that will be produced by the action of the yeast on that sugar. The hydrometer is used to measure the density of the liquid at the onset of fermentation and periodically afterward to determine how much sugar has been converted to alcohol. The higher the density, the more sugar is present because sugar is heavier than alcohol. The lower the density drops, the more the sugar has been converted into alcohol. Thus the hydrometer can give you the following information: how much sugar is present when you start the fermentation; how much sugar remains to be fermented at any stage of the fermentation; and approximately how much alcohol will be produced by the fermentation. Finally, an unchanging reading on the hydrometer scale indicates the completion of fermentation.
Credit Line: 
Gift of Bella C. Landauer
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.
Creative: Tronvig Group