I was wondering if there is a test or way to find out how sweet any drink is? For example, if I mix sugar in water, how can I test its level or number of sweetness?

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ I mean you can check for the presence of a sugar, such as how much sucrose is present, and base the level of sweetness off that. Check out this other thread as the answer also can pertain to this question chemistry.stackexchange.com/questions/51107/measuring-sweetness $\endgroup$ Feb 13, 2020 at 6:34
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ No. Sweetness is a highly specific characteristic of compounds. Some sweet compounds have nothing in common and some carbohydrates (sugars) are not sweet. $\endgroup$
    – permeakra
    Feb 13, 2020 at 6:57
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ There must be a scale of the type Scoville I guess. But if I knew it I forgot. I just guess this based on the fact that each sugar and each sweetener has a number expressing its sweetening power. So there should be a kind of reference albeit subjective. If it is so someone here should know for sure. But you can't check chemically for sweetness, strictly speaking. $\endgroup$
    – Alchimista
    Feb 13, 2020 at 8:10
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Alchimista what you are mentioning is the perceived sweetness level compared to sucrose :) $\endgroup$
    – user32223
    Feb 13, 2020 at 12:59
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @permeakra, I was referring to identifying specific sugars, such as sucrose, not sugars in general. $\endgroup$ Feb 13, 2020 at 22:18

2 Answers 2


As asked by the OP, I think the answer to the question has to be no. If it was known that a drink contained only glucose as a sweetener, then it would presumably be possible to measure accurately the glucose concentration in the drink. But maybe other substances in the drink would be interferences in the measurement. Following on, as @Alchimista commented, perhaps a Scoville-type sweetness test could be used. But the possible interferences problem complicates this as well. In addition, perceptions of sweetness may also be affected by seemingly innocuous substances in the drink, e.g., I find that a dash of table salt makes watermelon taste sweeter and I have no clue how that might arise.

Then there is the matter of inorganic substances. The old fashioned name for lead acetate was ‘sugar of lead’. Poisonous though it is, it earned its deadly sweet name. As well, some salts of beryllium ('glucine'; all berylium salts are highly poisonous) and yttrium are sweet tasting: see wiki. So it is not just various organic substances that can taste sweet and who knows what else is sweet tasting: no sane chemist (nowadays) tastes chemical substances.

My guess is that there are quite a few chemicals that would taste sweet, but we will probably never know what they are. Then how would sweetness levels of two lead acetate aqueous solutions be compared? I don’t see how it can be assumed, a priori, that sweetness is directly proportional to lead ion concentration and no one should do such an human subjects experiment anyway. And what about a drink containing glucose and lead acetate? Even if the lead acetate did not interfere with the quantification of the glucose concentration, the drink would be sweeter than expected from just the glucose measurement result.

  • $\begingroup$ Please consider giving the green checkmark to the most helpful of the posted answers. It encourages people to put some thought and time into crafting answers that are factually correct, relevant, understandable and likely to be of benefit to those, in future, who encounter the question and accepted answer. It is a small reward for those who volunteer their considerable time, effort and experience to aid others and they might well look favorably at future questions from the same person. Thanks for considering this! $\endgroup$
    – Ed V
    May 26, 2020 at 1:38

if I mix sugar in water, how can I test its level or number of sweetness?

Number of sweetness is perhaps subjective. However, sugar content can be measured by refractive index changes (if you are just talking about sugar and water and no colors). Refractive index linearly increases with sugar content in water.

Keep in mind it is not a highly selective test but it quite routinely used as well. You need a refractometer for that purposes.

Another simple test is density measurement for sugar content, and there is a special unit. Read more about Brix unit elsewhere.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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