An easy way to calibrate your thermometer: Now more than ever it’s important to learn how to calibrate a thermometer. Since we’re not all so lucky to own the world’s best and most accurate thermometer—which, btw, you should think about treating yourself to one—you’re going to have to learn how to test and adjust your thermometer.
A properly calibrated thermometer is key for achieving both safety and quality. The use of a properly calibrated thermometer is also key to determining if products are cooked to your preferred degree of doneness.
What is calibration of thermometer?
What is Calibrating Your Thermometer? Just like watches can run slow or fast, thermometers are subject to inaccuracies with use.
Thermometer accuracy can be affected by extreme temperature changes, or by being dropped or roughly handled. And if you’re using your thermometer frequently, you may want to check it monthly just to make sure it’s performing at its best. Luckily, you can test the accuracy of your thermometer and, in most cases, calibrate it to read accurately again.
How do you calibrate a thermometer?
Now more than ever it’s important to learn how to calibrate a thermometer. It’s the height of the pandemic, after all, and you’re going to need to check the temperature of all those patients you’re treating. Since we’re not all so lucky to own the world’s best and most accurate thermometer—which, btw, you should think about treating yourself to one—you’re going to have to learn how to test and adjust your thermometer so you are ready when needed. Here’s how:
How Do You Calibrate the Thermometer? You’ll want to check the package instructions of your device for exact instructions for calibrating your thermometer.
Many thermometers have a nut under their temperature dial that allows them to be adjusted, while most digital models have a reset button.
In rare cases, thermometers can’t be calibrated. Even if your thermometer can’t be calibrated, you can—and should—use these methods to check its accuracy and ensure that you’re getting a proper temperature read.
In this case, you can note the degree of inaccuracy and adjust your temperature accordingly. Or, in seeing that your thermometer is inaccurate, you could buy a new one.
There are two methods for testing the accuracy of your thermometer and calibrating accordingly: You can calibrate it in extremely high temperatures or using extremely cold temperatures.
Ice water method for thermometer calibration
The Ice-Water Method: An easy way to calibrate your thermometer is to put it in ice water and adjusting it to read.
- Fill a glass with ice and then fill it with cold tap water.
- Stir the ice water and let it sit for 2 minutes.
- Place your thermometer in the ice water, making sure to stick the probe at least 2 inches into the mixture, but not to touch the sides or the bottom of the glass.
- Stir the ice water with the probe to even out the temperature of the water and prevent the probe from resting against an ice cube.
- Wait at least 30 seconds for the thermometer to read the temperature.
- The temperature on your thermometer should read 32°F or 0°C. If it does not, adjust the nut on the thermometer, turning the head until the needle lands on 32°F (or use the reset button as instructed).
Thermometers calibrated in boiling water
The Boiling-Water Method:
- Bring water to a rolling boil in a deep saucepan.
- Place the stem of the thermometer in the boiling water.
- Again, make sure that it’s submerged at least 2 inches and wait at least 30 seconds.
- Your thermometer should read 212°F or 100°C.
- If it doesn’t, keeping the thermometer in the water, turn the adjusting knob until the needle reaches the 212°F mark.
An easy way to calibrate your thermometer is to put it in ice water and adjusting it to read
An easy way to calibrate your thermometer
Calibration and Adjustment: If the temperature retrieved during testing is inaccurate, consider the following adjustments.
- Dial Thermometers
- If you are using a dial thermometer and it is inaccurate or deviates from 32°F, turn the thermometer over and adjust the gauge by twisting the nut using pliers.
- Calibrate the thermometer again to ensure its accuracy prior to use.
- Digital Thermometers
- Digital thermometers can be more challenging because there are no adjustments that can be made.
- However, the inaccuracy can be added or subtracted to the final desired cooking temperature and the thermometer should be checked regularly.
- For a video demonstration of thermometer calibration, view How to Calibrate a Meat Thermometer courtesy of the North American Meat Institute.
Remember that water boils at lower temperatures in high-altitude areas. If you live in a high-altitude area, adjust your test accordingly. Use this boiling point calculator as a guide.
At the end of this process, you will have a tool for measuring temperature that you can absolutely trust. And this accuracy isn’t just useful for backyard grilling or searing steaks on your cast-iron skillet.
The freezing point method, also known as the ice point method, might be the easiest way to calibrate your thermometer. If you often use your thermometer to take the temperature, use this method.
The most read
The medical-grade thermometer features a large-screen HD LCD display that clearly gives simple instant readings, one-click measurements, and automatic power-saving shut down after 15 seconds of inactivity.
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