## 12 thoughts on “WhatIsIt?”

1. It’s the world’s worst-designed thermometer.  Ouch!

1+
2. Time for a hint…

it approximately measures the specific gravity of a solution…

approximately = good enough to tell one something.

0

3. I don’t know for sure what it is, but I will guess. Based on the range of numbers, I think it measures alcohol content of distilled spirits by specific gravity – from 100 proof (50%) to 190 proof (95%). In my college days, when we distilled alcohol in our dorm room, we determined the specific gravity the hard way: filled a Le Chatelier flask with the liquid and weighed it on a sensitive scale in the physics lab. The alcohol content by weight is then found in a chart in the Handbook of Physics and Chemistry. This device (if I am correct) makes it easier. BTW, to make it palatable, we instantly aged our distillate by pouring it through powdered charcoal then mixed it with grape juice. Hangover city, here I come!

Is that a strawberry in the bottom?

1+
4. Nary a clue, but if it is a strawberry, maybe it’s to determine if it does ferment how strong it becomes?

1+
5. civil westman:
I don’t know for sure what it is, but I will guess. Based on the range of numbers, I think it measures alcohol content of distilled spirits by specific gravity – from 100 proof (50%) to 190 proof (95%). In my college days, when we distilled alcohol in our dorm room, we determined the specific gravity the hard way: filled a Le Chatelier flask with the liquid and weighed it on a sensitive scale in the physics lab. The alcohol content by weight is then found in a chart in the Handbook of Physics and Chemistry. This device (if I am correct) makes it easier. BTW, to make it palatable, we instantly aged our distillate by pouring it through powdered charcoal then mixed it with grape juice. Hangover city, here I come!

Is that a strawberry in the bottom?

No, you really wouldn’t want to drink the solution it would be testing.

And that is NOT a strawberry…

Time for another hint?

1+
6. KayofMT:
YES!

OK, Hint #2

Little Willie was a chemist,
Little Willie is no more,
What he thought was H2O,
was H2SO4

3+
7. Civil Westman got it… (but blurted out the answer).    🙁

Here is a view of the other side of it.

It’s small enough to fit into the filler opening in batteries. One would fill the battery to the split ring if the electrolyte was low and then plop this little beastie in to take a reading. It can be very useful when one has a bank of lead acid batteries like one would have with off grid power.

4+
8. G.D.:
It can be very useful when one has a bank of lead acid batteries like one would have with off grid power. (Link to more information)

The link explains how to use it, but not why it works.  Here are the basics.  A lead-acid battery has electrodes (plates) made of lead sulfate (PbSO₄) and an electrolyte of sulfuric acid (H₂SO₄) diluted with water.  When the battery is charged by running a current from one plate to another, the electrolyte reacts with the lead sulfate, removing sulfate groups from the plates and leaving the negative plate mostly elemental lead and the positive plate lead dioxide.  The sulfate from the plates goes into the electrolyte solution, increasing its concentration of sulfuric acid.  When a load is placed across the plates, the flow of current reverses the reaction, depositing sulfate in the plates and turning them both back into lead sulfate and, in the process, reducing the concentration of sulfuric acid in the electrolyte.

Sulfuric acid is 1.8 times denser than water, so measuring the density of the electrolyte solution provides a sensitive indication of the state of charge of the battery.  A hydrometer measures the density of a liquid by seeing how deeply an air-filled object with a weight at the bottom will sink in it; the tube of the hydrometer can be calibrated in units depending upon its use: density, battery charge, percent of alcohol in beverages, or quantity of sugar in fruit juice used in wine making.

7+
9. Thank you for affirming my somewhat parallax view – thinking of alcohol rather than sulfuric acid.. Here’s hoping you won’t charge me for leading everyone astray. I’m not trying to be a crank or insulate myself; just trying to keep current and discharge my duty as a Ratburgher.

2+