Brix Measurement

What is Brix?

Just like the various units of measurements being used for measuring several values, Degree brix or brix is used to measure the level of sugar content in liquid solution. For every 100 gm of the solution, 1 gm of sugar content or sucrose is represented by 1° of Brix. Brix measurement is done using various instruments, such as digital density meter, hydrometer, refractometer, pycnometer, etc. The results obtained by each of these instruments differ slightly when substances other than pure sucrose in water is measured. Brix measurement is widely used in the food and beverage industry, such as honey, wine, soft drinks industry, etc.

Refractive Index and density are some of the techniques used in brix measurement. The results calculated under both the methods are same when pure sucrose is measured. The above-mentioned techniques are heavily dependent on temperature. This high-temperature dependency is controlled by the instruments used for measurements which are portable and bench-top instruments. Between these two types of instruments, the bench-top instruments offer better accuracy than portable ones since they have an in-built temperature control known as Peltier.

Origin of Brix:

At the beginning of the 19th century, Karl Balling, Adolf Brix, and Fritz Plato conducted experiments. They prepared solutions containing sucrose whose measurement was already known. Each of them recorded specific gravity to 3, 5 and 6 decimal places. Using this specific gravity, not just Brix (which is the concentration of sucrose by percent mass) is found, but also °Plato (concentration of sucrose by percentage mass) was calculated too.

While measuring a sugar solution using the above methods, the value obtained often represents the level of dry solids dissolved in the solution if such dry solids are specifically sucrose. If that is not the case, the value obtained is not a representation of sucrose content but of the total sugar content in the solution. To know the actual dry solids content, empirical correction formulae must be developed based on solutions similar to the test samples.

Another factor to be taken into consideration is the fermentation process. When a measurement is made based on a sugar-based solution, it will show readings that are extremely low once the test sample has begun to ferment while using Brix measurement. Hence, it is important to make sure that the solution used as a test sample has not commenced to fermenting.

Specific Gravity:

Specific gravity is the backbone of Brix measurement. In fact, it plays an important role in the measurement of a liquid. Specific gravity is nothing but a ratio between the density of a given sample solution to the density of a solution used as a reference. Sometimes, it is also the ratio of mass between the two samples of the same volume.

In a nutshell, Brix is the amount of sucrose in grams for 100 gm of a sample solution. It is measured using different techniques and different instruments. Care should be exercised to start the measurement process before the sample begins to ferment since the scales are developed based on liquids containing sugar.