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What Is a Digital Kitchen Scale?

Measuring cups can be an additional tool when when using a kitchen scale.
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  • Written By: Cassie L. Damewood
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 08 October 2014
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A digital kitchen scale measures the weight of food items and ingredients. It can be used to ensure the precise measurement of elements in a recipe or to weigh food in the interest of portion control. It may also be utilized to weigh letters and packages to calculate postage requirements.

There are advantages of a digital kitchen scale over the other two types of scales. A balance scale is the type of scale used in most hospitals and physician offices to weigh people. It uses a metal mass on a beam that is slid horizontally until balance is achieved and the weight of the object or substance is revealed. While fairly accurate at weighing heavy objects, its accuracy is compromised by lighter objects that must be measured in ounces or grams.

The other type of scale commonly found in kitchens is a mechanical or spring scale. This style normally has a flat piece of metal on a platform base. The spring inside the base calculates the weight of whatever is placed on the flat shelf. Much like the balance scale, this type does not accurately calculate the weight of small objects or quantities of food.

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Since a digital kitchen scale functions using an electrical cell that is hypersensitive to the slightest resistance it encounters, its accuracy is superior to its two competitors. The component, called a strain gauge, is installed during the manufacturing process. It acts like a mini-computer and provides an LED readout of the object’s weight.

Besides its supreme accuracy and LED display, a digital kitchen scale has other appealing and unique features. Most models offer readouts in both avoirdupois (U.S.) and metric units that can be switched back and forth with the touch of a finger. This is handy since recipes often differ in how the amounts and weights of ingredients are presented.

Another handy feature is called a tare. This allows the cook to accurately deduct the weight of the container placed on the scale and to accurately calculate the addition of different ingredients. For instance, after the measuring cup is placed on the scale, the tare button is pushed and the scale goes back to zero. After the first ingredient is added to the cup in the correct amount, the button is pressed again and the next item is accurately weighed, starting with zero on the scale.

Another feature generally favored by consumers is the lack of seams on the digital kitchen scale. Its base and flat platform normally have no nooks or crannies to catch food particles or spills, allowing for easy cleaning. Many models have an automatic shut-off feature that avoids wasting battery power. While this feature is favored by most consumers, some brands with this feature turn off too quickly which necessitates constant resetting.

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