Laboratory work often requires extremely accurate measurements of samples, and analytical balances are perfect when it comes to semi-micro weighing.
With their ability to measure small mass in the sub-milligram range, it is no wonder that analytical balances are among the essential tools for research and product development.
However, to ensure that the balances yield accurate results, it is important to use them correctly.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when using analytical balances:
Use the analytical balance in the right environment
The accuracy of your balance can easily be compromised by temperature, humidity and wind. When selecting a location to use the balance, go for a place that is away from direct sunlight and HVAC vents. The spot should also be vibration-free, so ensure that the balance is placed levelly on a worktable that is out of high traffic areas. If that is not possible, you may need to use a vibration-absorbing weighing table.
Start with calibration
A poorly calibrated balance will affect your data accuracy negatively, so it is important to ensure that your balance is calibrated before using it. There are three rules to remember when it comes to calibrating an analytical balance:
a) It must be calibrated at the place where it will be used
b) It must be recalibrated every time it is moved
c) It should be recalibrated regularly
Be careful when handling samples
Some errors may be caused by the mishandling of samples. Some samples may be non-conductive, and these may carry an electrostatic charge that should be neutralised before weighing. Other samples may need extra care, for example, hot samples should be cooled first. All samples should be at room temperature, and they should be placed in the centre of the balance. Also, be sure to choose the correct size of balance and weighing vessel for the amount you will be weighing so that you get the most accurate measurements.
Avoid direct contact
The tare of sample pans can be affected by your fingerprints or oil from your fingers. Use gloves, tongs or tweezers when handling samples to avoid getting an incorrect reading. Avoid leaning or touching the weighing table in any way as well, because any vibrations no matter how small can cause inaccuracy in the analytical balance.
Keep the balance clean
When you are done, clean your analytical balance to avoid contamination of your sample in future use. Use a soft brush to remove loose samples or clean it with mild soap and polish with a dry cloth. If you need to remove and clean the doors enclosing the weighing area, make sure you follow instructions in the manual so that you do not damage the balance.
Other quick tips on maintaining your analytical balance
- Do not use aggressive cleaning agents to clean your balance.
- The ideal ambient temperature in which to operate your balance is between 18°C and 30°C.
- Do not exceed the weight capacity of the balance, as it will damage internal weighing mechanisms.
- Try not to move the balance often.
- Do not stab the keypad with pens, utensils, or other sharp objects.
- Keep your balances away from extremely dusty areas.
- When storing your balance, use a dust cover to keep it free from debris.