Are Digital Kitchen Scales Accurate?

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Most people who love cooking have a kitchen scale at home. Accuracy in your scale is essential so that your dishes come out perfect. However, you might be wondering how accurate your digital kitchen scale actually is.

Digital kitchen scales are not always accurate. If you don’t have the scale manual anymore, you can still estimate the accuracy, which is usually about half the size of the smallest unit it records. So, if your scale shows grams, the results should be within ½ gram (.0005 kg).

More expensive scales are more accurate, and your current scale can lose accuracy over time. I’ve used and tried many scales over the years, so I gathered everything you need to know here.

Is My Kitchen Scale Accurate?

The most reliable kitchen scales are consistent. 

You should be able to lift the food off, place it back on the scale, and get the same weight on the display. It’s also easier to interpret the measurements if the scale gives you decimals and not fractions.

Kitchen scales need to be accurate since they are weighing small materials. The difference between 0.05 g (.00005 kg) and 0.09 g (.00009 kg) is pretty significant, as that’s almost twice the amount of ingredients.

Having an accurate scale is also vital for counting calories, weight loss, and proportioning your food correctly. There are many different weighing methods you can use to test your kitchen scale at home.

The Taring Test

The easiest way to check the scale’s accuracy would be to do a taring check. This method will show you if your scale is starting its measurements at zero. 

Start by turning the digital scale on. You should see a zero on the display, but if you don’t, the scale isn’t starting accurately. Push the “tare” button to return the scale to zero. 

The tare function takes the current weight and uses it as the new base for zero.

Next, place a small object on the scale and record the resulting weight. Press “tare” again, so the machine returns to zero. Finally, remove the object from the scale. The resulting weight should be the same as the previously recorded weight, with a negative sign in front of it. If not, your plate is not measuring correctly.

The Nickel Test

You can use the nickel test if you have some pocket change laying around. 

According to the United States Mint, a new nickel should weigh precisely 5 g (0.005 kg). That makes a nickel the best everyday object to weigh on a kitchen scale that measures in grams.

Turn your scale on and wait for it to show a zero. Then, place one nickel on its surface- it should be very close to 5 g (0.005 kg). Add another nickel and note the weight. You can keep adding nickels to see if it goes up by 5 g (0.005 kg) each time.

If your scale isn’t going up consistently, then the plate is inaccurate. Keep in mind that most scales are still great to use in the kitchen if they are off slightly. You may want to replace one that is highly inaccurate, however.

The Penny Test

You can use the above method on a scale that measures a tenth of a gram. You will want to use pennies instead, which weigh 2.5 g or 0.0025 kg. They are very light, which is helpful in testing scales that are supposed to be more accurate.

What Makes a Kitchen Scale Good?

Three main aspects make your scale reliable, which include accuracy, consistency, and resolution. These three features work together to create the best possible scale. Let’s take a closer look at these aspects.

Accuracy

Accuracy is critical if you plan to purchase a new kitchen scale because you want it to be as accurate as possible. While it’s alright for the measurements to be slightly off, you don’t want anything too drastic.

Consistency

Your scale should be consistent and should give you the same reading on the same object each time. You can test the consistency by weighing an item repeatedly. If you get many different weights, the scale doesn’t have a good consistency, which interferes with your cooking.

Resolution

The resolution refers to how close the scale can get to an item’s actual weight. For example, if you weigh something that you know is 15 grams (.015 kg), the scale may read one gram above or below the object’s actual weight. That would mean the scale has a resolution of one gram.

Why You Need a Kitchen Scale

Everyone can benefit from having a scale in the kitchen. You can use them to prepare healthy food portions, measure out small amounts of baking ingredients, and more.

A scale is more precise than using a measuring cup or spoon, and you won’t have to wash those extra utensils. It’s also much healthier to prepare meals with a scale. 

While you can estimate how much beef is in one serving, it’s easier and more accurate to use a scale. Often, we tend to overestimate how much food makes up a single portion size.

If your kitchen scale is off, it could throw your entire cooking process out of balance. You will want to replace your old model with a new one when nothing seems to help. 

Kitchen scales simply wear out over time, like most other appliances and tools.

Portioning Food

Many people use their kitchen scale to help with portioning food. 

If you count calories or macronutrients, it can be beneficial to have an accurate kitchen scale around. To start, measure all of your ingredients on the scale, which should give you the numbers needed to record all of your nutrition information and calories.

This YouTube video explains how to use your scale to measure your calories in great detail:

Overall, using a kitchen scale is very helpful in preparing various meals. Anyone can benefit from having one in their kitchen, no matter what types of food you plan on making. Many people use their kitchen scales every day.

Why Your Kitchen Scale Isn’t Accurate

Digital scales tend to lose their high accuracy levels over time. The more you use it, the more likely the calibration is to deteriorate. The electronic components in the scale can also wear out as the machine gets older.

If your scale is dirty, that could also be impacting its accuracy. 

The scale might be attempting to read the dust layer on top of it, leading to inaccurate measurements. Or, the internal parts of the scale can rust, especially if you live in a humid place.

Scales naturally become inaccurate as they age, so you will want to replace it with a newer model when recalibrating the scale doesn’t seem to do the trick like it used to.

If you are looking for a cost-efficient and reliable scale, I would recommend the Greater Goods Digital Food Kitchen Scale from Amazon.com. It’s compact, light, and accurate, it measures in grams and is very simple to use. Plus, this product comes in a variety of colors to match your kitchen space.

How To Calibrate Your Scale

You’ll want to calibrate your scale when you believe the measurements are off. 

With most scales, you can remove the batteries to recalibrate. Then, place your scale on a hard surface and set an empty bowl on it. Remove the bowl and install the batteries- the scale should read zero when you turn it back on.

You don’t need to calibrate too often- you should do it only when your scale is off somehow. Some scales will display an error message when they need to be adjusted.

If the scale shows an error message repeatedly, the inside mechanics might’ve worn out. You will want to try calibrating it before you replace the kitchen scale. 

Sometimes, all it needs is recalibration to be up and running again. 

It’s Alright if It’s Consistent

However, you may not need to replace an inaccurate scale if it’s still consistent. 

When making a recipe, the ratio of ingredients will still be correct. If one ingredient is measured incorrectly, but the scale is constant in this mistake, the scale will mismeasure all ingredients. 

You should receive a very slightly smaller or larger portion for your final result, depending on how the scale was reading. This slight difference should not be very noticeable to you or anyone enjoying your meals.

Final Thoughts

Most kitchen scales are accurate within one gram (0.001 kg), which means that you could weigh something that you know is 10 g (0.01 kg), and the scale displays 11 g (0.011 kg). This would be considered an accurate scale. 

You only need to upgrade your kitchen scale if the measurements aren’t consistent, which could easily throw off your recipes.

I’ve been using digital cooking scales for many years. I genuinely think that every home chef could benefit from having one in their kitchen. They make it so simple to prepare your favorite meals!