The refractometer to measure water salinity

What is salinity in water?

Currently, salinity is usually defined as the concentration (g/L or ppt) of dissolved salts, i.e. the amount of salt in the water, which is not dependent on temperature. It should be noted that the original concept emerged around the 1901s, when the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (CIE) commissioned Danish Martin Knudsen to conduct research on the ionic properties of seawater and how it related to the chloride content. Knudsen defined the concept of salinity, based on the average chlorinity of ocean water and established the equation Salinity = 0.030 + 1.805 Cl – expressed in g/L. It was modified over time and by 1967 it became 1.80655 Cl – by international agreements.

In 1985, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization defined absolute salinity as the ratio of salts dissolved in seawater to the total body of seawater (kg of dissolved salts/kg of seawater).

Importance of measuring salinity

Salinity is an important parameter for decision making at the industrial level. Salt is found in different types of water and varies significantly by reactions that occur during the hydrological cycle. High salt content can cause significant environmental and economic damage:

Affect the yield of salt-intolerant crops.

Reducing biodiversity in an ecosystem

Deteriorate infrastructure

Increasing costs in water purification

Flows sea currents related to the planet’s system of temperature rise

Refractometer for measuring salt water

The refractometer is the easiest instrument to use, its operation is based on measuring the amount of curvature of a beam of light that passes through a liquid. The deviation of the light is proportional to the amount of salts present in the solution. With this method approximate values are obtained, however it has the advantage of being fast and only using a few drops of sample.

One type of commonly used refractometer is the portable, they are small (handheld) and practical, easy to handle ideal for both industry and field work, these can be analog or digital. It is distinguished from other equipment such as hydrometer and probes for its accuracy and convenience, as it does not require a complex preparation of the samples to be evaluated.

Instructions for use of the refractometer to measure salinity in water

Initially you should clean the prism and prism cap thoroughly with a damp cloth and warm water at 20ยบC.

Before any measurement you must calibrate the equipment, for this with the help of a micropipette suck distilled water and place a few on the glass. The liquid should be evenly distributed over the sample holder.

Finally, clean the instrument with a damp cloth with distilled water and store it in its case.

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