One of the most common instruments you’ll find in a lab is an analytical balance. You can’t get accurate results without an accurate method of weighing, and with an average of 60% of lab time dedicated to preparing samples, it’s vital that costly mistakes are avoided whenever possible.
Analytical balances come in a wide range of varieties, from basic models to more complex devices. No matter which type you’re using, we’ve got five ways to help improve weighing accuracy.
Choosing the Best Environment
The accuracy of your analytical balance can be affected by humidity, air pressure, and temperature, so it’s important to place the balance in an area where these factors will be constant. Some balances will monitor these variables while they are operating, but many don’t. You also want an area that’s free of vibrations (i.e. not close to a high-traffic area), but if you can’t find a good place, using a vibration-absorbing weighing table can help make up for it.
Calibrating and Taring
Ensuring that your balance is calibrated is an essential step to take before you use it. You’ll need to make sure it’s level first, either by adjusting its feet or by running the auto-leveller, if available. It’s also a good idea to tare the balance before each use, and to make a note of the weight of the container.
Appropriate Sample Handling
Samples with a warm or hot temperature should always be allowed to cool first, and hygroscopic samples should be weighed quickly with the doors of the balance closed in order to avoid moisture absorption. To ensure accurate weighing, be sure you place your samples in the center of the balance. Also, be sure you are using an appropriate capacity balance for the sample you are weighing; don’t use a balance that’s meant for very large samples to weigh a sample that’s very small, and vice versa.
Even something as seemingly insignificant as your fingerprints can affect the weight of your weighing container once it’s been tared, so use tongs or gloves. Avoid leaning on the table where the balance is located, as well. You may consider using draft shields to help minimize air disruption and encourage accuracy.
Leaving It Clean
In order to avoid contaminating your sample with anything that was weighed previously, make sure you leave the balance in the condition you’d want to find it. Clean your balance thoroughly in the appropriate method for its particular model – this will help all of your future data be as accurate as possible.
Looking for the right balance? Take a look at our catalogue and let us know if you’d like more information.