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Woowoo

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Good evening all, I have a quandary,
My first hydrometer trading before primary fermentation was 1050
Now after 3 days it's at 1010, may sound silly to some but are these numbers meant to go up or down??
Many thanks
 

BernardSmith

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Hi Woowoo - not silly at all. The numbers are meant to go down. Here's why. Your hydrometer is in fact an instrument that measures the relative density of a liquid. That is the density of a liquid relative to the density of water. The density of water is given a nominal value of 1.000 and water in which sugar , for example, has been dissolved will be more dense than pure water. So when you took a reading of the must (the fruit juice before the yeast began its job of converting sugar to alcohol) the density - relative to water was 1.050. That reading tells me that whatever volume of liquid you had in it there was 1 lb and 4 oz (approximately) of sugar in every gallon you are fermenting. The yeast chomps through the sugar and converts it to alcohol and carbon dioxide and after 3 days you took a second reading and Voila! the density has now dropped to 1.010. That means there is now far less sugar in the liquid - and much more alcohol. In fact a reading of 1.010 tells me that there is now only 4 oz (approximately) of sugar in each gallon, so that yeast has converted the equivalent of a lb of sugar (in each gallon) to alcohol in those 3 days. And over the next few days the yeast will convert more of the remaining sugar and the reading will continue to fall.
As a side note, alcohol is less dense than water and while you are not likely to ever find pure alcohol any wine or cider or mead you make where the yeast has converted every last molecule of sugar to alcohol (and carbon dioxide) there will still be a large volume of fluid made up of water so you can expect that an hydrometer reading at that point will be about .096 or .094. So long answer cut short - yes you want those numbers to drop towards 1.000 and perhaps even lower than 1 - to about .096 at which point there will be no more sugar in the wine for the yeast to chomp on. But know, that at that point although the yeast will have no more sugar to convert to alcohol that yeast will still be metabolizing all kinds of organic chemicals and the effect of that activity will be to "clean up" all kinds of waste matter produced as the yeast was active and the effect of that will be to improve the flavor of the wine you are making - so be prepared to age that wine (or cider or mead) for a few months.
 
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Woowoo

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Thankyou so much for that explanation, it has put my mind at rest to know my little yeasties are doing a grand job.
 
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