How to Calibrate a Thermometer

How to Calibrate a Thermometer

Would you know how to calibrate a thermometer if you needed to?

One of the most important things about cooking, baking, and storing food is temperature.

I am sharing how to calibrate a thermometer so that you can always be sure that your temperatures are true and correct.

This will ensure you get the most out of cooking and baking, and being sure foods are done.

I have always found thermometers fascinating, especially as a kid.

Such a simple thing as a glass tube with a liquid inside, that expands and contracts depending on the surrounding temperature.

I remember as a little boy when a thermometer had broken, playing with the ball of mercury that was released.

In hindsight, it was probably not the smartest thing to play with.

The school of hardknocks is full of lessons we may never otherwise learn.

But probably best to keep mercury away from your bare skin!

What is Calibrating a Thermometer?

To calibrate means to find the calibre or measure of something, and in this case it is used to make sure that the instrument you are using to reflect the correct temperature to the user is indeed the right one.

A couple of temperatures that remain pretty constant are the freezing points and boiling points, with a few variations depending on altitude.

We all agree that freezing is 32ºF (0ºC) and boiling is 212ºF (100ºC) and those are the temperatures that will be used for calibration since they remain constant.

How to Calibrate a Thermometer

It is best to make sure that both freezing, and boiling points are correct.

This is done with the use of water.

It is important to use distilled water rather than tap water.

Anything in the tap water can alter the pure readings on a thermometer.

Ice Water

How to Calibrate a Thermometer

The first thing to do is to put several ice cubes (from distilled water) in a bowl of water, add cold distilled water to it and stir the ice.

Let it sit for a few minutes until the ice cube don’t look like they are actively melting.

Place the thermometer in the ice water (ideally the middle) staying away from the bottom, or edges, or any of the ice cubes.

At this point, read the temperature and your thermometer should indicate a temperature of 32ºF (0ºC).

Boiling Water

How to Calibrate a Thermometer

The second thing to do is to fill a pan with distilled water.

Bring it to the boiling point of water which is 212ºF (100ºC).

Allow the water to reach a rolling boil.

Insert the thermometer into the center of the pan, making sure not to touch the sides.

The thermometer should read 212ºF or 100ºC.

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