How to Use an Electronic Balance

By Kenrick Callwood

Electronic balances have become standard equipment for many high school and college chemistry departments. They allow the user to quickly and accurately measure the mass of a substance to a level of accuracy impossible for traditional balances to achieve. This is especially important in experiments that require precise amounts of each substance to achieve the desired results. The popularity of the electronic balance is also due to its extreme ease of use for any skill level.

Place the electronic balance on a flat, stable surface indoors. The precision of the balance relies on minute factors and wind, shaky surfaces, or similar forces will cause the readings to be inaccurate.

Press the "ON" button and wait for the balance to show zeroes on the digital screen.

Use tongs or gloves to place the empty container you will use for the substance to be measured on the balance platform. Fingerprints and other greases from your hands add mass and must be avoided for accurate measurements.

Press the "Tare" or "Zero" button to automatically deduct the weight of the container from future calculations. The digital display will show zero again, indicating that the container's mass is stored in the balance's memory.

Carefully add the substance to the container. Ideally this is done with the container still on the platform, but it may be removed if necessary. Avoid placing the container on surfaces that may have substances which will add mass to the container such as powders or grease.

Place the container with the substance back on the balance platform if necessary and record the mass as indicated by the digital display.