I wanted to figure out what kind of honey/water solution I could make for this honey wheat ale experiment. Through an email conversation, Mike gave me information on how to determine the specific gravity of a honey/water solution.
Seeing how the gravity of honey is going to vary a bit from season to season/batch to batch, I tried to figure out the best way to get to the SG value. Here is what I figured out:
Best thing is you can apply this method to any new sugar or sugar solution you may want to determine the SG and PPG for (agave nectare, fruit extracts, maple syrups, etc…)
Specific gravity is a measure of points per pound per gallon. Therefore, let’s put a pound of honey in one gallon and see what the hydrometer says….but that would be a waste of honey.
So we’ll calculate it down to a reasonable level.
I’ll assume that you need two cups of volume to get adequately fill a hydrometer tube.
One gallon is 16 cups.
So two cups is 1/8th of a gallon.
Conveniently enough, one pound is equal to 16 ounces by weight.
1/8 of 16 oz is 2 oz.
So if you put 2oz of honey into a total FINAL volume of 2 cups, you can read that with the hydrometer and get an SG and figure out the PPG as well [PPG=(SG-1)*1000]. Reason being, is that 2 oz of honey in 2 cups of water would be the same thing as 16 oz (1 pound) in 16 cups (1 gallon).
The way to do this is to put a measuring cup on your scale, tare it to zero, then squeeze in 2oz (BY WEIGHT) of honey. Then add some tap water until you hit the 2 cup mark. You can’t add two cups of water to the honey, because the honey has volume too and some water in it (albeit very little H2O). Stir well until you think all the honey is dissolved. Then transfer to the hydro tube and read it.
Now the only thing left to do is figure out how many of points of honey you want to add and decide if that is a reasonable number of pounds or ounces of honey to achieve a desired effect in the final product from a flavor perspective.
Advanced Lesson: If you are really clever, you could even use one ounce of honey in a final volume of two cups, then multiply the resultant PPG times 2 to account for the extra dilution. Why would you do this? Save on honey. You can dilute it even more, but keep in mind that you may slip below the accuracy of the hydrometer at too low a gravity (reading 1.004 probably isn’t very accurate). I would only dilute it once anyway because I think the gravity of 2oz in 2 cups is going to come it around 1.045-1.035.
I think I would like to shoot for a SG of 1.060 for the honey solution. After we run this little experiment, we’ll know how much honey to add or subtract from a gallon of water.
Update: I just ran this experiment (mixing 2 cups of water with 2 oz by weight of honey) and got a hydrometer reading of 1.040! Using Mike’s post (see below), I will need 1.5 lbs of honey to dissolve into 1 gallon of water to get a 1.060 SG.
If you would like to know more about this subject, read this post about working with Points Per Pound Per Gallon and Specific Gravity.
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