Designation: E 126 – 05a

Standard Test Method for

Inspection, Calibration, and Verification of ASTM Hydrometers1
This standard is issued under the fixed designation E 126; the number immediately following the designation indicates the year of original adoption or, in the case of revision, the year of last revision. A number in parentheses indicates the year of last reapproval. A superscript epsilon (e) indicates an editorial change since the last revision or reapproval. This standard has been approved for use by agencies of the Department of Defense.

1. Scope 1.1 This test method describes the principles, apparatus, and procedures for the inspection, calibration, and verification of ASTM glass hydrometers. This test method is applicable to ASTM hydrometers and may be used for other general hydrometers of the constant-mass, variable-displacement type.
NOTE 1— User must determine the applicability of this method for hydrometers other than ASTM hydrometers. Method studies were completed for ASTM hydrometers only and the precision and bias statements were developed using ASTM hydrometers only. References to other types of hydrometers are for user information only.

D 1657 Test Method for Density or Relative Density of Light Hydrocarbons by Pressure Hydrometer E 1 Specification for ASTM Liquid-in-Glass Thermometers E 77 Test Method for Inspection and Verification of Thermometers E 100 Specification for ASTM Hydrometers E 344 Terminology Relating to Thermometry and Hydrometry E 2251 Specification for Liquid-in-Glass ASTM Thermometers with Low-Hazard Precision Liquids 3. Terminology 3.1 Definitions: 3.1.1 The definitions given in Terminology E 344 apply. 3.2 Definitions of Terms Specific to This Standard: 3.2.1 API gravity, n—a relative index of density for petroleum products developed by the American Petroleum Institute. API gravity is defined as:
API Gravity, deg 5 [141.5/~rel. density 60/60 °F!# 2 131.5 (1)

1.2 The values stated in inch-pound units are to be regarded as the standard. The values given in parentheses are mathematical conversions to SI units that are provided for information only and are not considered standard. The metric equivalents of inch-pound units may be approximate. 1.3 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use. 2. Referenced Documents 2.1 ASTM Standards: 2 D 1265 Practice for Sampling Liquefied Petroleum (LP) Gases—Manual Method D 1298 Test Method for Density, Relative Density (Specific Gravity), or API Gravity of Crude Petroleum and Liquid Petroleum Products by Hydrometer Method

Values of API gravity are typically expressed in degrees API, that is, 39.60 °API.

1 This test method is under the jurisdiction of ASTM Committee E20 on Temperature Measurement and is the direct responsibility of Subcommittee E20.05 on Liquid-in-Glass Thermometers and Hydrometers. Current edition approved Nov. 1, 2005. Published December 2005. Originally approved in 1959. Last previous edition approved in 2005 as E 126 – 05. 2 For referenced ASTM standards, visit the ASTM website,, or contact ASTM Customer Service at For Annual Book of ASTM Standards volume information, refer to the standard’s Document Summary page on the ASTM website.

3.2.2 comparator, n— in this test method, a device to contain liquid, in which the readings of the test hydrometer may be evaluated against the values observed on the reference standard. Examples of suitable comparators are given in the Appendix. 3.2.3 density, n—mass of a unit volume of material. Discussion—Units of density in hydrometers include kg/l (kilograms per liter), kg/m3(kilograms per cubic meter), and g/l (grams per liter); each typically expressed as mass per volume at a specified temperature, that is, kg/m3 at 15 °C. As of this writing, only the kg/m3 at 15 °C scale is offered in ASTM hydrometers (see Specification E 100). 3.2.4 relative density (formerly specific gravity), n—ratio of the mass of a given volume of material at a stated temperature to the mass of an equal volume of gas-free distilled water at the same or different temperature. Both reference temperatures shall be explicitly stated.

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2. deep scratches. etching. If more convenient.1. 4 3 where: l = distance from the top line to any line.5 specific gravity. d2 = density value. or checks of one standard hydrometer against another. API and Baumé hydrometers are graduated with equal spacing. 439. 3.2 Standards shall be calibrated by either a national metrology body (such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology) or other laboratory competent to test instruments of such precision.1 Visual Inspection: 7.1 Standard Hydrometers—Standard hydrometers shall have similar dimensions and shape to the instruments to be tested.” National Institute of Standards and Technology. for the calibration and verification of hydrometers. and discoloration.1 Discussion—Common reference temperatures include 60 °F/60 °F.1. reject the instrument. 6.2. Reject the hydrometer if any of these defects are present.1.2° divisions) or ASTM 12F (-5/215 °F. and terminating at the first major graduation of the hydrometer scale. Details of the hydrostatic weighing apparatus can be found in the Dictionary of Applied Physics3 or Density of Solids and Liquids. and d1 = density value. 2 . n— obsolete term.2. It is desirable that the corrections be stated to one-tenth of a scale division. rough areas.4 Equipment.2 Micrometers.4 Inspect for the presence of a scale slippage indicator.2 Inspect the hydrometer carefully for loose pieces of ballast or other foreign material within the instrument. 5. looking for evidence of scratches. for checking linear dimensions. Typically. If a permitted scale slippage indicator is damaged. 4. replaced by relative density.5° divisions) found in Specification E 2251. for checking the thermometer portion of thermo-hydrometers is described in Test Method E 77.5° divisions) found in ASTM E1 or ASTM S12C (-20/102 °C.2 Dimensional Inspection: 7. 5. The historic term.E 126 – 05a 3. by examination of evidence. of the top line.4 statement of measurement uncertainty.1.3 Inspect the paper scale within the hydrometer stem.8 Other descriptions of terms relating to thermometers are included in Test Method E 77.7 verification. or not present. between the top and the bottom. 4. n—confirmation.2 Inspect the hydrometers for correctness of graduation spacing. 5. 487.1 The purpose of this test method is to establish a common method by which manufacturers and users of ASTM hydrometers inspect. the requirements for the maximum scale error and dimensions for the hydrometers given in Specification E 100 apply. specific gravity. 7. 0. 20 °C/20 °C. fused to the inside top of the stem. of the conventional type. The proper spacing shall be obtained from the following formula: l 5 L 3 d2/d 3 ~d 2 d1!/~d2 2 d1! (2) 6. n—glass hydrometer having a thermometer combined with a hydrometer in one instrument.1 Graduated Metal Scales. ASTM 12C (-20/102 °C. 3. 7. measurements of hydrometers retained by the testing laboratory for use as check standards. London. 7. d. such as etching a line on the glass corresponding to a reference line printed on the scale. 0. may still be found. Evidence of any of the effects warrants re-calibration. this is a thin strand of red glass. but is not limited to.5 Thermometer(s). NOTE 2—The relative density (specific gravity) of liquids used in testing hydrometers may be obtained by hydrostatic weighing instead of by the use of reference standards as described above. Significance and Use Discussion—In this test method. for checking diameters. The paper scale shall be straight and without twist. 5. and shall have the same or smaller graduation interval.2 Experience has shown that hydrometers may show drift with continued use. The calibration report shall provide traceability to a national metrology body and shall contain a Dictionary of Applied Physics. p. 0. 6. Circular No.1 and 5. metal templates may be used on which lines are ruled at suitable distances from reference points corresponding to the maximum and minimum values of the specified dimensions. incorrectly positioned. whichever is longer. other schemes are permitted.2° divisions) or ASTM S12F (-5/215 °F.3. Procedure 7.1 Check the linear dimensions and diameters for compliance with Specification E 100 requirements by comparing the hydrometer with the appropriate device described in 5.2. 7. “Density of Solids and Liquids.2 The goal is to provide a standard method that is simple.2.2. or calibrate their hydrometers. A procedure shall be in place to demonstrate continued validity of the calibration results for the standard hydrometer. Suitable types are described in the Appendix. Reference Standards 6. reject the instrument. If present.2.6 thermo-hydrometer. 3. See Specification E 100 for more details. The interval between graduations of density and relative density (specific gravity) hydrometers is smaller near the bottom of the scale. 3. Vol 3. or other obvious damage to the glass. MacMillan and Co. however. 20 °C/4 °C. verify. fissures. 0. 6. deposits on the glass. for use in pressure hydrometer cylinder comparator. easily understood. or relative density (specific gravity). and will produce reliable results.3 Comparators. 7.1 Inspect the hydrometer carefully to be certain there are no cracks. 3. Such a procedure may include: periodic re-calibration of the standard hydrometers.1 Visual inspection shall include. L = distance between the top and the bottom graduations of the scale. that the instrument fulfills specified requirements. 6.2.3 Standards shall be visually inspected every six months or prior to use. of the conventional type. 7. scale slippage. of the bottom line.. 5. Apparatus 5. or relative density (specific gravity).

sugar. and at the temperature of the liquid before immersing to take a reading. It is particularly important that the stem be clean so that the liquid will rise uniformly around the stem and merge into an imperceptible film on the stem. and weak alcoholic mixtures.3. Circular. 3 .E 126 – 05a 7. if the liquid used is different in surface tension from the specified liquid. such as mineral oils and strong alcoholic mixtures.2. as mentioned above. acids. or the air. Certain liquids. The liquids in Table 1 are suggested as suitable. see Test Method D 1298. care must be taken that the ventilating method does not cause strong air currents or drafts. 7. Hydrometer must be dry before being inserted in the acids. (Warning—EXTREME CAUTION–The cleaning process using concentrated sulfuric acid and fuming sulfuric acid is extremely hazardous.5.4 Influence of Surface Tension—When a hydrometer is floated in a liquid. hydrometers are washed with soap and water.1 Because a hydrometer will indicate differently in two liquids having the same density but different surface tensions. 7. the temperature of the liquid need not be considered since the correction required due to variation from the standard temperature is the same for both instruments.1. and wiped with a cloth moistened with alcohol to remove any residual soap film. a small quantity of the liquid rises about the 5 “Standard Density and Volumetric Tables.3. However. To ensure homogeneity and uniformity in the liquid.6 Ventilation—Adequate ventilation (fume hood) is desirable with some of the liquids used in calibration.2 Use of the comparators described in X1. 19.4 Performing a Comparison: 7. In one method. NOTE 3—Thermometers described in 5. otherwise. adhere to the stem very readily.3. the corrected readings of the standard hydrometer.3 Influence of Temperature—For a hydrometer to indicate the density or strength of a specified liquid correctly. hydrometers are dipped in a mixture of one part concentrated sulfuric acid and two parts fuming sulfuric acid. causing differences in density. wiping with a lint-free cloth moistened with acetone or alcohol and drying immediately before each reading is usually sufficient. thoroughly rinsed with water. the results of comparisons of dissimilar instruments in such a liquid shall be corrected for the effect of the surface tension. it is essential that the liquid be uniform throughout and at the temperature specified on the instrument.4. the hydrometer must be clean. In the other method. the observed readings of the hydrometer to be tested. A second method of avoiding these errors is to purify the surface of the test liquid by causing an overflow of the liquid before making an observation. and the surrounding atmosphere should be nearly equal during the comparison. since such movement of air might influence the calibration.4.1 may be appropriate. 7. with weak aqueous solutions of sugar. 7.) above the inside bottom.4. the liquid. liable to surface contamination sufficient to cause appreciable changes in hydrometer readings. 7. 7. No.3. the temperature of the liquid will be changing. scrupulous cleaning of the stem is required. and other liquids of relatively low surface tension are not. 7. although any liquid of proper density and surface tension may be substituted.3 General Considerations: 7. dry. two methods for preparing instruments for testing are in common use. Oils.) 7. and since surface tension is a specific property of liquids. permitting appropriate spaces for the values to be tested. such as aqueous solutions or mixtures of acids.5 7. and all other pertinent details of the test. NOTE 4—For further discussion of surface tension and of meniscus corrections.3.5 Test Liquids—Hydrometers shall be calibrated in liquids similar in density and surface tension to the liquids in which the hydrometer is designed to be used.3. However. The diameter shall be large enough so that there will be at least 12. and dried by wiping with a clean cloth. salts. the hydrometers.” National Institute of Standards and Technology. The operator shall allow enough time to achieve this equilibrium. 7. without error. and alcohol.3 Check the scale of hydrometers graduated to read percent of alcohol by weight or by volume by comparison with the values for master scales given in the Standard Density and Volumetric Tables.1 In order that readings shall be uniform and reproducible.2 In many liquids spontaneous changes in surface tension occur due to the formation of surface films of impurities.1 Hydrometers for Liquids Having Low Vapor Pressure and All Surface Tensions: 7. stem to form a meniscus. alkalies. But the temperatures of the liquid. Errors from this cause may be avoided by the use of liquids not subject to such changes. it is necessary to specify the liquid for which a hydrometer is intended. Intermediate densities may be obtained by mixing. For such liquids. thus increasing the depth of immersion.2 Cleanliness—The readiness with which proper cleanliness can be obtained depends somewhat on the character of the liquid. Although hydrometers of equivalent dimensions may be compared.4. This process should only be carried out in a laboratory setting with appropriate equipment and trained personnel. in a liquid differing in surface tension from the specified liquid.4.1. or thermometers with equivalent maximum permissible errors.3. In such cases. However. if desired. The stems can usually be kept clean during the testing by wiping with a lint-free cloth moistened with alcohol (preferably absolute) and drying before each reading.) between the inner wall and any hydrometer immersed in the jar. alcoholic mixtures of strength above 40% by volume. On the other hand. dried. 7.3. This liquid adhering to the stem above the general level of the liquid in which the instrument is floating has the same effect as adding to the mass of the hydrometer.1 Prepare a worksheet for the testing. which may come from the apparatus. thorough mixing is required immediately before making observations. The steam created by a wet hydrometer may splash acids on the operator. The cylinder shall have sufficient depth so that the hydrometers float freely at least 25 mm (1 in.3. a correction is required when dissimilar instruments are compared. in comparing two hydrometers having the same standard temperature and made of the same type of glass. salts. in general.5 mm (1⁄2 in.3 The necessity for such special manipulation is confined to the reading of hydrometers in liquids that are subject to surface contamination. may be used.4.

freezing point. seen as an ellipse. and then introduce a standard hydrometer into the jar.657 to 1.750 to 1.15 10. The point where this line cuts the hydrometer scale is the reading of the instrument.5967 0.4.830 1.6 Repeat the comparison until three successive readings of the hydrometer being calibrated agree within one-fifth of one scale division.1.6310 0. NOTE 10— The validity of this method of comparison calibration for non-ASTM hydrometers and thermo-hydrometers has not been evaluated.5844 0. 7. 15° and 20° API. Estimate to one-tenth scale division.08 10. two or even three hydrometers can be read before a second reading of the standard hydrometer has to be made.1.7.000 and above A Because there are at present no standardized hydrometers available in the 0. Slowly immerse the standard hydrometer to slightly beyond the test point and allow to float freely. In these cases. the following values were realized: Corrected Reading of Standard 10.500 to 0. Remove the standard hydrometer and slowly immerse the hydrometer to be tested to slightly beyond the test point. or chromatographic analysis of the material and will be accurate to 60.1.00 °API would be -0.650 relative density and 500 to 650 kg/m3. In these cases.4.12 10.4. the material with a smaller surface tension will tend to concentrate at the surface. In practice.05 7.8 Repeat the procedure outlined in 7.600 to 0.4 Introduce enough of the appropriate test liquid into the comparator so the hydrometer will float as described in 7. allow it to float freely. These corrections are data that can be presented in a report of calibration. NOTE 8—Certain ASTM hydrometers. and read it and record the observed value. Apply the correction (if any) from its calibration report and record the corrected value on the worksheet.4.830 to 2. For example.100 7.” The relative density value given on the label will be based on a spectrographic. and the comparator thoroughly prior to beginning the comparison.11 Reading of Test Hydrometer 10. NOTE 6—This method has not been evaluated for non-ASTM hydrometers or when the standard hydrometer and test hydrometer are dissimilar. The liquid shall have a density within three scale divisions of the nominal density being measured. conduct an examination of the data and determine corrections at each test point and for each hydrometer tested.water mixtures Thoulet solutions (prepared by adding potassium iodide and mercuric iodide to water) Very heavy solutions alcohol and tetrabromoethane 1. respectively) have ranges which cannot be fully tested due to fluid limitations. with test liquids of appropriate densities. 1.625 0. notably ASTM 10H and 60H (89/101 °API) and 101H and 310H (0. normally high. in the testing at 10 °API of test hydrometer s/n 12345. the standard hydrometer and the hydrometer being calibrated may be placed in the comparator at the same time.E 126 – 05a TABLE 1 Liquids Having Suitable Surface Tensions for Comparison Tests Relative Density.4. a decision can be reached as to whether or not a particular hydrometer complies with the permitted scale error (see Specification E 100) appropriate for its specification. If the instrument is determined to comply with that requirement.10 10.7504 0. expressing the correction to the nearest one-tenth of one scale division. low and mid scale.9 When all comparisons have been made as explained above. Holding a white card behind the comparator just below the liquid level will improve the visibility of the surface. Repeat this evaluation of data for each test point. API. 7.1.4. 60/60 °F Liquid NOTE 7—If the comparator is large enough.4. NOTE 9—Provided the immediate environment is stable. 7.4-7.600 relative density range. In the use of these materials care should be exercised to observe the safety precaution given in Practice D 1265.000 sulfuric acid .775 (the relative density of mineral spirits can be lessened with the addition of petroleum ether or increased by the addition of a tetrabromoethane) 3-methylsulfolane safrole Hydrometers for Alcohol 0. the hydrometers may be tested at two test points.5077 0. and readings made on both instruments. NOTE 5—With a liquid mixture. Each hydrometer shall be tested at a minimum of three test points.0002.070 1.000 ethanol and water Hydrometers for Heavy Liquids 1.1.8000 to 2. 4 The reported correction for this test hydrometer at 10.1. pure grade propane and n-butane may be used as standardizing liquids.05 -0.6247 0.2.6 for each hydrometer tested.2-dimethylbutane isooctane cyclopentane mineral spirits.1.1. it may be stated that the test hydrometer has been verified to be in compliance with the maximum scale error requirements of Specification E 100. The user must determine the suitability of this method when calibrating or . may be practical to test a number of hydrometers at one test point at a time before proceeding with the next.100 pure grade propaneA pure grade n-butaneA dimethylpropane isopentane petroleum ether n-pentane 2. Hydrometers for Light Liquids Other than Alcohol 0.4.000 to 1. Corrections are determined by subtracting the reading of the tested hydrometer from the corrected reading of the standard. Average the three corrections obtained at each test point.7 Method of Reading—Observe a point slightly below the plane of the liquid surface and then raise the line of vision until this surface. Record the reading as described above. Pour the liquid down the side of the comparator to avoid the formation of air bubbles. 7. a hydrometer with a range of 9° to 21° API shall be tested at (approximately) 10°.1. avoiding the formation of air bubbles.6962 0.04 -0. the hydrometer(s) to be tested.3 Clean the reference hydrometer.6540 0. it may be beneficial to have a liquid with density within one-half to one scale division of the nominal density being measured. From examining the compiled corrections.16 Correction for Test Hydrometer -0. For example.6 Orders should carry the notation “For ASTM Hydrometer Standard—show relative density on label. Read the standard hydrometer as directed in 7.4. spaced approximately equally across its range.5 Stir the liquid. 7. with a relative density of approximately 0. becomes a straight line. A final rinse or wipe with the same fluid being used to perform the comparison is recommended.

following the procedure outlined in 7.2. 7.2 Hydrometers for Liquids Having High Vapor Pressure (Warning—This is an extremely hazardous procedure that should only be carried out in a laboratory setting with appropriate equipment. Exercise care to prevent damage to the hydrometer. surface tension. hydrometers.6 Disconnect the comparator from the source of supply of test liquid and place it in a water bath maintained at 15.4.5 % of full scale. relative density.2 Insert the test hydrometer and the thermometer in the comparator and attach the cover plate. To accelerate thermal adjustment. tilt to a horizontal position.3 When the connections have been purged.2 End user should consult manufacturer if test results differ from manufacturer’s results by more than 0.8 Withdraw the liquid and repeat the testing with a second test liquid sample. close the inlet valve and examine the apparatus for leaks. close the inlet valve and open the outlet valve. Keywords 9. trained personnel.3 °C (60.7 while the hydrometer is floating freely. 8.4. If any are detected.4. after which it should be closed.1 A suggested comparator is described in X1. and replace in the water bath.0005 relative density (specific gravity). an operator can expect duplicate tests of a given hydrometer to yield readings which agree within 0.2.2. correct the leaky condition and repeat the purging and filling operations. The two observations should be considered suspect if they differ by more than 0. specific gravity.3 No bias has been determined for this test method.2. Take the relative density (specific-gravity) value furnished by the producer of the test liquid being used as the true value for purposes of correction calculation.2.4. occasionally remove the comparator from the water bath.4 When the comparator has been filled. Precision and Bias 8. If necessary. The two readings should be averaged in calculating the correction.4.6).2. 7. this method does not presume to undertake consideration of calibration uncertainties or required test/ accuracy ratios.2. 7.4. NOTE 11— Although a laboratory should give an uncertainty statement on the calibration report. Connect the source of supply of propane or normal butane to the inlet valve and ascertain that the connections are free from leaks.4. until it is completely full. 9. however named. cool the comparator (see 7. This is most readily accomplished by repetition of the purging operation. permitting the liquid to enter the comparator.0 6 0. comparators.5 °F) until thermal equilibrium has been obtained. 7.1 Using this test method.4. reference standards.1.4. filling the comparator to a level at which the enclosed hydrometer floats freely. 8.4.1 calibration. 7. 8. and facilities for dealing with the highly flammable and potentially explosive vapors that are generated during this procedure. verification 5 . If the vapor pressure is too high to permit adequate filling. close the outlet and vent valves and open the inlet valve.5 % of full scale. rock gently a few times to ensure mixing. 7. permitting the liquid to be withdrawn completely and the pressure inside the comparator to be reduced to that of the ambient atmosphere. 7.2.7 Remove the comparator from the water bath and make the hydrometer readings as quickly as possible.E 126 – 05a verifying non-ASTM instruments.2.): 7.2.6 6 0.4.5 Close the outlet valve and open the inlet valve. When the comparator is adequately filled. The user should evaluate these subjects with due consideration to metrological requirements. Open the outlet valve and purge the connections by opening the inlet valve slightly. the vent valve may be opened slightly to permit complete filling. 7. withdraw the liquid.

5 mm (1⁄2 in.1). thermometer.) between hydrometers. Any clear-glass jar can be used (see Fig.) above the inside bottom. The diameter shall be large enough so that there will be at least 12.E 126 – 05a APPENDIX (Nonmandatory Information) X1.5 mm (1⁄2 in.1 Typical Comparator Jar for Hydrometers (without stirrer. X1. provided it has sufficient depth that the hydrometers can float freely at least 25 mm (1 in. or hydrometer in place) 6 .1. APPARATUS X1.1 Stirrer—shall consist of an annular ring of glass or metal with a handle of sufficient length so that it can be conveniently moved up and down when stirring the liquid. if the standard and the hydrometer to be tested are immersed at the same time.2. and also at least 12.) between the inner wall and any hydrometer immersed in the jar. X1.40 MPa (200 psig).2 Comparator—suitable for calibrating and verifying hydrometers in liquids of high vapor pressure is shown in Fig. The comparator shall be designed and constructed to safely withstand a working pressure of 1. X1.1 Comparator—equipped with stirrers is suitable for calibrating and verifying hydrometers designed for use in liquids of all surface tensions. X1. X1. FIG.

2 Pressure Hydrometer Cylinder Comparator 7 .E 126 – 05a FIG. X1.

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