What is hydrometer?

A hydrometer is an instrument which is used to measure the relative density
of a liquid. Hydrometer is made of glass and primarily consists of two parts:
 A cylindrical stem with graduation marks

 A bulb at bottom weighted with mercury
The lower the density of the liquid the more the hydrometer will sink.
Consider water and petrol for example. The density of petrol is lower than
that of water. Therefore the depth of immersion of a hydrometer will be more
in case of petrol than water.

Why is hydrometer used for particle size analysis?
In case of fine grained soil, sieve analysis test does not give reliable test
result. This because a fine grained soil consist of different sizes of particles
starting from 0.075 mm to 0.0002 mm and it is not practicable to design
sieve having such small screen size. Also there is a chance of loss of sample
during sieving. Therefore hydrometer analysis is done for grain size analysis
of fine grained soils (i.e.) soil passing through 75 µ sieve.
The hydrometer measures the SG of suspension at a point indicated by the
centre of the immersed volume. If stem volume is neglected, the value it
measures is the SG of the suspension at the centre of the bulb.

Calibration of hydrometer

1. Take about 800ml of water in one measuring cylinder. Place the cylinder
on a table and observe the initial reading.

2. Immerse the hydrometer in the cylinder. Take the reading after the

3. Determine the volume of the hydrometer (VH) which is equal to the
difference between the final and initial readings.

Alternatively, we can also weigh the hydrometer and calculate its volume.
The volume of the hydrometer in ml is approximately equal to its mass in
grams, assuming that the specific gravity of it is 1.

As the hydrometer is inserted in the jar. The hydrometer readings are recorded after subtracting unity from the value of the SG and multiplying the remaining digit by 1000. Since He depends on Rh a calibration chart can be obtained using the above equation.015 is represented by a hydrometer reading Rh of (1. The effective depth He is: Where.The depth of any layer A-A from the free surface B-B is the effective depth at which the SG is measured by the hydrometer (Fib (b)). A= cross-sectional area of the jar.015-1) x 1000 = 15. . h= height of the bulb. VH= volume of the hydrometer. H= depth from the free surface B’-B’ to the lowest mark on the stem. Thus a reading of 1. The graduations on the right side of the stem give R h reading. A-A rises to A’-A’ and level B-B rises to B’-B’.

and the effective depth increases. The hydrometer reading Rh thus decreases. the specific gravity of the suspension decreases. After stirring. the hydrometer goes deeper and deeper. Procedure: 1.As the sedimentation progresses. Exactly 1000mL of suspension is prepared. . the suspension is washed into a 1000mL jar and water is added to it to bring the level to 1000mL mark.

5. Take hydrometer reading (R h) after 1/2. . Place the measuring cylinder on the table and start the stop watch. Immerse the hydrometer gently to a depth slightly below the floating depth. and then allow it to float freely. 8 and 24 hours reckoned from the beginning of sedimentation. Remove the hydrometer. Remove the bung after the shaking is complete.2. Place the rubber bung on the open end of the measuring cylinder containing the soil suspension. 4. Further readings are taken after 8. 7. 15 and 30 minutes and 1. 4. 2 and 4 minutes without removing the hydrometer from the cylinder. Take out the hydrometer from the cylinder. rinse it with distilled water. Shake it vigorously end-over-end to mix the suspension thoroughly. Float the hydrometer in another cylinder containing distilled water with the dispersing agent added to the same concentration as in the soil suspension. 3. 6. About 20 seconds should be taken while taking the reading. rinse it and place it in the distilled water after reading. 1. 2.