I had troubles the other day using a balance that goes to the tenth of a milligram place (i.e. .0005 vs .001 g), when trying to determine how much solid I transferred. I would take some amount of mg, record it, and then set it aside. I'd take the receiving flask, tare it, and add the solid to said flask. The # I would get would either be wildly lower or slightly lower. I am very sure I am not mispouring anything.

So I am wondering, is it possible these sensitive balances cannot handle things with larger masses, or if the receiving flask is not perfectly flat, would that mess up the mass? Similarly, would the location where I put the flask or weigh paper on the balance matter (e.g. dead center, to the left, right, etc.)? Is there another thing I could do? technically I could take the difference in weigh paper with solid vs without, but that doesn't tell me what got into the receiving flask.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Like many manipulations in chemistry, there is technique involved in weighing. Did you touch anything with your bare hands? Was the balance pan swinging? Is the substance being weighed hygroscopic? If you're weighing to the milligram using weighing paper just seems wrong. $\endgroup$ – MaxW Jan 12 '19 at 9:04

Accurate weighing requires you to be aware of enormous amount of factors. It is not possible to cover them all in one answer. For starters, where do you put your balances? Are they levelled? Are there any heat or vibration sources nearby? Are there any sudden air flows? Is your mains power reliable? Were the balances calibrated properly? Is the ambient temperature or humidity too high or too low? Do they change much? Is there much static electricity (depends on the materials you are working with and on the ambient humidity)? Do you use gloves? How much do you weigh? I mean, not you weigh, but isn't it something less than the minimum weight requirement for your balances? Et cetera, et cetera.

Returning to your questions: in general, sensitive balances can handle large masses which are within the specification. However, the measurement uncertainty depends on the mass. Then, if the receiving flask is not perfectly flat, there should not be any problem unless the flask is wobbly or unsteady. The location where you put the flask should be as close to the center of the weighing pan as possible. It matters.

As for the other things you could do, I'd like to recommend you to check out some weighing practice manuals. You can start with the balances manufacturers - Mettler has brief Good Weighing Practice whitepapers, maybe others like Sartorius have something similar. Analytical chemistry handbooks should have something to offer. Then, check out the manual for your balances. Aren't you trying to weigh something more accurately than the accuracy of the balances (remember, accuracy $\ne$ resolution)? Then, if you don't, just ensure that you are following the recommended weighing practices as closely as humanly possible.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.