The Fresh Loaf

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My scale can't make up its mind

Janknitz's picture

My scale can't make up its mind

I have a Primo Escali that I got for Mother's Day and I'm mostly happy with it.  But sometimes it can't seem to make up its mind.  I weigh something at--say--60 grams, then turn to pick up the next ingredient.  When I look at the scale again, now it says 61 grams.  Then a second later it returns to 60 grams.

I suspect this is happening when I'm "in between" grams--say the weight of that particular ingredient is actually 60.5 grams but since the scale measures only to the whole gram it "waffles".  I know for 50 or more grams wieghed, 0.5 grams more or less is not going to make a huge difference, and that it's not going to be totally reliable for very small measurements like salt and yeast.  So I'm OK with using volume for those (though I would love to have a second set of measuring spoons so I don't get yeast in my salt or salt in my yeast!). 

Is my half gram theory correct, or is there a problem with my scale? 

SulaBlue's picture

Mine does that, too. You can always subtract a tiny little pinch and that will usually stop the waffling.

Mustang 51's picture
Mustang 51

I sell measuring equipment for a living. To simplify, there are a couple of things happening here. One is accuracy, the other is the graduations on the scale. Although they are similar, they are different. Many times, gauges have a resolution that is finer than the actual accuracy of a given instrument. This will often result in a lack of repeatability of the measurement. Overall accuracy may or may not be stated by the manufacturer. (In my business it almost always is.) If it is stated, it usually will refer to the least significant digit, i.e. 1 gram and a percentage of the full scale (maximum reading).

To illustrate, let's look at some simple numbers. If the full scale reading is 100 grams and the accuracy is +/-5%, your reading will be within 5 grams (5% of 100 grams). Usually they would add +/- the least significant digit. So if you have resolution down to 1 gram, you can add 1 gram to the above reading. That being said, your actual reading could be +/- 6 grams from reality. Your scale is probably rated for more than 100 grams, but the math was easier that way. It may look bad, but the one gram fluctuation is probably very small in comparison to the maximum your scale is rated for. I hope this helps.

Keep this in mind when you want to buy a scale that will measure 50 pounds, but you will never measure more than 2 pounds. 


sphealey's picture

I have also noticed that the readout on my MyWeigh varies as much as +/- 2g as I step up to and away from the counter.  My countertop is a monolithic piece of Swanstone(tm) and should be fairly flat and rigid, but the floor and the base cabinets are flexible.  

Also, when it starts doing this I check to see if the flexible dots on the bottom of the feet need to be replaced - if one of those gets compressed more than the others, or if they all get hard, the readout will bounce.


Had a Dell laptop once and lost one of the rubber feet on the bottom.  Kept meaning to stop by the hobby store and get some replacements but it was always one of those "do tomorrow" things.  When the unit failed it was under comprehensive warrenty so I was able to call Dell for service; the repair tech told me that the loss of that one, 1.5mm thick rubber foot had put enough strain on the case to crack the motherboard.  Never expected that one and I have seen some weird hardware failures in my day.

althetrainer's picture

I just bought a cheap one that read both oz and gram from IKEA and it does exactly the same thing.  My old scale never did that unfortunately it only read oz.

flournwater's picture

Mine "bounces" periodically, especially when the battery is getting weak.  But I never worry about 1 or 2 grams.

SulaBlue's picture

Isn't much when you're weighing flour, but it's a lot when you're weighing your salt or yeast.

Just Loafin's picture
Just Loafin

In reality, you're asking too much of a coarse resolution scale designed to weigh large items to weigh salt and yeast. I do the same as you and try to get as best a  reading as possible, but the most accurate thing to do would be to buy a separate scale with a finer resolution to weigh your light ingredients. I intend to do just that within the next paycheck or two. When weighing out 7 or 8 hundred grams of flour, a few grams don't make a big difference, but when weighing out salt and yeast, that variance indeed makes a difference. So far, I haven't had a disaster, but I would like a bit more accuracy. The scales with a finer resolution, say around .1 or .5 gram, aren't much more expensive than the ones designed to weigh heavier things. They just can't handle much more than about 100 grams or so total.

- Keith

Yumarama's picture

In the case of the ~$25 Primo, it's not exactly primo in scale quality, it's an adequate, low cost kitchen scale. One shouldn't be expecting a scale at this price point to be doing much better than ~1-2g fluctuation.

Frankly, for teaspoon measures, I'll use a teaspoon, skip weighing 3.6 grams or whatever because I've tried to do that and getting the scale to realize there's any salt or yeast at that amount is questionable. I wanted about 8 grams of sugar or something once and I'd already put about a tablespoon on the scale before it finally hopped up from zero. That's when I decided it was simpler to stick to the actual teaspoons.

I have four different sets of teaspoons in the kitchen - I don't know how I got so many but there it is anyway ;) - and I checked the weights of a teaspoon of regular table salt from each set, they were all showing 6 grams. So I'm going to assume the rest of the sets are also fairly accurate. But if someday I really do want to get into 3.6 grams of something, I'll have to accept I need a better scale and get the finer, smaller types.

flournwater's picture

I agree.  I'd never try to weigh, for example, three grams of yeast or salt.  But most of the recipes I've used combine the dry ingredients before marrying them to the wet ingredients so I weigh my flour first, then sprinkle the few grams of yeast, salt etc. on top of it when the error potential is less severe.  Weighing a few grams from "zero" can be difficult but when I sprinkle it in on top of a couple hundred grams of other dry ingredients the liklihood of serious error is reduced.

hullaf's picture

My scale is getting older and does the same or flashes on obscure numbers, until I let it sit for a minute or two. Part of this is due to the fact that I need to clean the removable plate, and/or under this plate. I do tend to fling my flour around!   Anet