List of Articles in the Category Moisture Balance

Moisture Analysis – A Close-up Look

Moisture Analysis - What You Need to Know

Moisture content is an important quality control criterion across the board and relates to establishing or conforming to specified levels of moisture in a product.  Correct moisture levels are established by government, trade and professional organizations and relate to the percentage of water and other liquids in a product.  Therefore, moisture analysis, can be viewed as first establishing recommended moisture content then checking to confirm that products meet the criterion during and after processing prior to packaging.

All of us experience the impact of incorrect moisture content.  Salt and sugar, for example, absorb moisture from the air and cake up.  Crispy potato chips quickly get gummy on humid picnic days.  Portland cement will turn into a block if left unsealed in the garage.

On the other side, when you buy a product by weight you don’t want to pay for excess water.  If water is intentionally added to a product … Read the rest

How to Measure Wild Bird Seed Moisture Content

Proper moisture content helps ensure wild birdseed quality

Proper moisture content helps ensure wild birdseed quality

According to statistics published by the Wild Bird Feeding Industry (WBFI), approximately $5 billion was spent in the US and Canadian markets for bird seed in 2014. Moisture content in wild bird seed plays an important role in the products’ shelf life. The WFBI’s Quality Standards Program lists maximum recommended moisture standards for a wide variety of wild bird seed – examples being 12% for buckwheat, 9% for flax seed and 10% for sunflower chips.

Moisture and Birdseed Quality

Carolina Farm Stewards offers a publication “Seed Processing and Storage” by Jeffrey H. McCormack, PhD noting that “for each one percent increase in seed moisture, longevity decreases by half. This rule applies to seed with moisture content between 5 and 13%.” It also noted that “above 13% moisture content, seed storage fungi and increased heating due to respiration cause longevity to decline at … Read the rest

Swimming in Bacteria: Moisture Content and Food-Borne Illnesses

As many Americans prepare for the Independence Day holiday as well as summer road trips and vacations, they often take with them their favorite summertime meals. Breads, meats, cheeses and other foods are all traditional holiday favorites, but many of these party foods can carry unwelcome guests: bacteria. Food-borne illnesses, such as those caused by salmonella and E. coli, force thousands of people each year into emergency rooms. Before the processors ship these foods to stores, they insure that each product has the ideal moisture content level to prevent spoilage.

Bacteria and Moisture in Food
The moisture content in food gives it texture, taste and appeal. This moisture can also make foodsome foods an inviting home for bacteria. Foods that contain high levels of sugar, salt and other dissolved materials prevent the bacteria from accessing the moisture they need to survive, while dried foods have moisture levels below those that … Read the rest

Space Case: Moisture Analyzers, Curiosity and the Minerals from Mars

The recent landing of the Curiosity probe on the surface of Mars has sparked a new wave of excitement in the space science community. The six-wheeled rover will explore the surface of the Red Planet, send back images and collect rock samples. Researchers expect Curiosity to compile data on, among other things, the potential for moisture on the Martian surface. If the craft can determine that the now-barren surface once contained water, the discovery could answer several questions, while raising others.

How Curiosity Works
The latest Martian probe has several distinct features, such as cameras, sensors and tools for curiosity-rovercollecting mineral samples. One of the cameras, known as the ChemCam, can analyze vapor emanations from several yards away to determine if the offshoots contain any water vapor. If the readings are positive for water vapor, Curiosity will roll to the site and collect samples. Another tool on the probe can … Read the rest

Sticky Situations: Moisture Analyzers Test Adhesive Quality

As the summer winds down, back-to-school season starts for millions of families around the country. Parents will purchase school glue, glue sticks, and adhesive tape for school projects, as well as duct tape and strong adhesive for projects around the house. These adhesive products undergo very strict quality control processes before they are shipped to the retail market. A key component of that quality control process is the testing of moisture content in the adhesive polymers.

How Adhesives Work
glueAdhesives work by forming strong bonds between the two objects or surfaces to which they cling. The adhesive forces bring the two items together and hold them in place. Strong adhesives can also withstand pulling, twisting or shearing on the surfaces while maintaining the bond. In years past, natural substances such as tree sap or beeswax were used as adhesives. Today, chemists have developed several synthetic formulas for adhesives of varying … Read the rest

Measuring Moisture Content in Charcoal Briquettes

Use a moisture analyzer for charcoal quality control

Use a moisture analyzer for charcoal quality control

As summer weather moves northward outdoor eating aficionados fire up their charcoal grills on a regular basis to prepare outdoor repasts ranging from simple hot dogs to gourmet eating experience extravaganzas.  Little thought is given to the history of their fuel or the importance of proper moisture content in charcoal briquettes.

While charcoal was used as far back as 6,000 years as the preferred fuel for smelting copper its transition to a recreational fuel from an industrial fuel dates from about 1920 when Henry Ford invented the charcoal briquette to recycle wood from his automobile factories.  As noted in Volume 4 of How Products are Made “his sideline business also encouraged recreational use of cars for picnic outings. Barbecue grills and Ford Charcoal were sold at the company’s automobile dealerships, some of which devoted half of their space to the cooking supplies … Read the rest

Moisture Analyzer with Graphic Drying Curve Stores 100 Programs

Research and quality control labs repeatedly checking moisture content on a variety of products will find the Kern MLS 50-3C moisture analyzer a great time saver. It stores in memory up to 100 drying programs.  Once programmed into the analyzer they can be quickly retrieved by opening the memory list and scrolling to the desired measurement.  Following is a representative display for an entered drying program for flour with the * indicating an explanation below.

(Program number) Product Flour
Drying Profile Standard*
Drying Temperature 120⁰C
Switch-off (or) shut-down criteria Automatic 3*
Result Selectable: % moisture (weight loss from starting weight), % dry weight, residual weight in grams
Select print interval (for results at these intervals) 30 seconds

 

Baking flour moisture content can be checked with a moisture analyzer.  (1 credit)

Baking flour moisture content can be checked with a moisture analyzer.

Moisture Analyzer Drying Profiles

  • Standard drying is the most frequently used.  It quickly raises the sample to the set temperature and
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How to Determine Moisture Content in Black Pepper

Grind black peppercorns before conducting a moisture analysis Denver Spice

Grind black peppercorns before conducting a moisture analysis
(Denver Spice photo)

Black pepper (Piper nigrum) has been considered as being the king among the spices* and is the world’s most traded spice.  Together with salt it is found on just about every table in the land.  The quality of black pepper depends a great deal on how it is dried, and according to studies solar tunnel dryers vs. open air drying results in a product with improved color, appearance, aroma and pungency.  During the drying process the moisture content of black pepper decreases from approximately 77% depending on where it is grown to approximately 11%.  The American Spice Trade Association says that the U.S. guideline for black pepper moisture content is 12% maximum.  Because pepper, like most spices, is hygroscopic and absorbs moisture from surrounding air care must be taken to package it carefully after drying.

Check Pepper Moisture Content Read the rest

A Moisture Analyzer for Shampoo Quality Control

A Kern MLB Moisture Analyzer

A Kern MLB Moisture Analyzer

Most everyone has their favorite shampoo and probably pays little attention to what’s inside the tube or bottle – only that it does a good job cleaning hair.  Chances are the thickness of the shampoo is important as well – cheaper brands that are thin and watery usually don’t pass muster.  Yet water, specifically deionized water – comprises about 70 to 80% of the shampoo formulation with the actual target specified by the manufacturer.  Keeping formulations on target is eased with a moisture analyzer for shampoo quality control.

While formulations vary, the approximately 25% non-water contents of shampoo include detergents and surfactants, foam boosters, thickeners and conditioners.  Preservatives and modifiers, fragrances and dyes are typically added to the batch then mixed.  After the mixing period samples are sent to the quality control lab.  Among other tests QC personnel can use a moisture analyzer to determine … Read the rest

Avoid Moisture Content Determination Errors

Black peppercorns should be crushed or ground before determining moisture content.

Black peppercorns should be crushed or ground before determining moisture content.

In a related post we discuss how weighing errors can be avoided by properly setting up and operating a moisture analyzer.  Here we’ll summarize how errors in moisture content results can be avoided when testing samples using thermogravimetric analysis.  This is the process used by Kern and other halogen moisture analyzers that calculate moisture content by loss of weight on drying (LOD).

For the vast majority of cases procedures for setting up moisture analysis measurements have been developed by industry associations and government agencies.  These focus on sample size, drying temperature, drying profile, drying time, and target moisture content.  R&D labs may use a moisture balance to establish ideal moisture content for new products and provide analysis procedures to be used by QC personnel in companies manufacturing the products.

Sample Characteristics Govern Moisture Content Determination

Sample preparation is perhaps … Read the rest