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Baumé scale


Note: The Baumé scale is NOT a temperature scale.

Additional Info

Named for its inventor, Antoine Baumé (1728-1804), the Baumé scale is actually two scales, one for liquids that are more dense (heavier) than water and one for liquids that are less dense (lighter) than water. The hydrometers are calibrated using the following rules:

For liquids heavier than water:

0 °Bé = distance the hydrometer sinks in pure water

15 °Bé = distance the hydrometer sinks in a solution that is 15% sodium chloride (salt, NaCl) by mass.

To convert from °Bé to specific gravity at 60 degrees Fahrenheit:

specific gravity = 145/(145 - °Bé)

For liquids lighter than water:

0 °Bé = distance the hydrometer sinks in a solution that is 10% sodium chloride (salt, NaCl) by mass

10 °Bé = distance the hydrometer sinks in pure water.

To convert from °Bé to specific gravity at 60 degrees Fahrenheit:

specific gravity = 140/(130 + °Bé)

Remember: you MUST specify whether you are using the "heavy" or "light" scale when stating a Baumé value. The two scales can not be interconverted - they DO NOT overlap. For example, 25 °Bé (heavy) and 25 °Bé (light) are NOT the same!!

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Convert Baumé to specific gravity at 60 °F:
For liquids Heavier   Lighter   than water
(Enter number on the left side; answer appears on the right side).

This many:


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The Baumé scale does not directly measure the concentration of a solution. For example, to determine the concentration of nitric acid from a hydrometer reading, you would need to determine the specific gravity and then utilize a table of known specific gravity values for nitric acid at known concentrations.

The Baumé scale has traditional usage in industries where hydrometer readings have long been used to indirectly determine the concentration of a solution. Examples include brewing, wine-making, honey production, and acid production. However, hydrometers and pycnometers can also read specific gravity directly, so use that instead of Baumé. It is a LOT less confusing to have only one scale (specific gravity) rather than two similar, confusing and non-overlapping scales (Baumé)!

SDS Relevance

You may find this term used on SDS's for concentrated acids or sugar-containing liquids used by the brewing industry.

We consider the Baumé scale to be archaic (old, outdated) and confusing (because it is really two different scales that do not overlap). We discourage its use anywhere, particularly on SDS's!

By OSHA regulation, the specific gravity is required information on an MSDS.

Further Reading

See also: mass units, volume units.

Additional definitions from Google and OneLook.

Entry last updated: Sunday, February 11, 2018. This page is copyright 2000-2018 by ILPI. Unauthorized duplication or posting on other web sites is expressly prohibited. Send suggestions, comments, and new entry desires (include the URL if applicable) to us by email.

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