Viscosity Using Ostwald Viscometer

Viscosity Using Ostwald Viscometer- Principle, Methodology and Analysis

Viscosity Using Ostwald Viscometer- The determination of dynamic viscosity is essential in many pharmaceutical applications. The Ostwald viscometer is one of the most popular instruments used to measure a liquid’s dynamic viscosity. In this article, we will learn about the working principle of the Ostwald viscometer and how to use it to determine the dynamic viscosity of a liquid.

Viscosity Using Ostwald Viscometer
Viscosity Using Ostwald Viscometer

Table of Contents

What is viscosity?

Viscosity is a measure of a liquid’s resistance to flow. The higher the viscosity, the thicker the liquid and the more resistant it is to flow. Many factors can affect a liquid’s viscosity, including temperature, pressure, and the type of liquid.

Ostwald viscometers are one type of instrument used to measure viscosity. In this type of viscometer, a small amount of liquid is placed in a cup and allowed to flow through a narrow tube. The time it takes for the liquid to flow through the tube is measured, which is used to calculate the viscosity.

Other instruments can also be used to measure viscosity, including rotational viscometers and capillary viscometers. The type of instrument used will depend on the application, and the accuracy required.

Factors affecting liquid viscosity

The viscosity of a liquid is affected by various factors, including temperature, pressure, and the chemical composition of the liquid. For example, changing the temperature of a liquid can alter its viscosity. In general, liquids become more viscous as their temperature decreases. This phenomenon can be explained by the increased molecular interactions at lower temperatures.

Similarly, increasing the pressure on a liquid can also lead to an increase in its viscosity. This is because higher pressures result in higher intermolecular forces, which makes the liquid more difficult to flow. Finally, the chemical composition of a liquid can also affect its viscosity. For example, liquids that contain large molecules tend to be more viscous than those with small molecules. This is because larger molecules have more opportunities for intermolecular interactions, which makes them more resistant to flow.

How to measure liquid viscosity using an Ostwald viscometer

An Ostwald viscometer is a type of viscometer that can be used to measure the viscosity of a liquid. It consists of a glass tube with a small ball at the end, which is suspended from a wire. The ball is allowed to fall through the liquid, and the time it takes for the ball to fall is recorded. This time is then used to calculate the viscosity of the liquid.

Viscosity using an Ostwald viscometer

An Ostwald viscometer, also known as a U-tube viscometer, is a device used to measure the viscosity of a liquid. It operates on the principle of measuring the time it takes for a liquid to flow through a narrow capillary tube under the influence of gravity. Here’s how to use an Ostwald viscometer to measure liquid viscosity:

  1. Clean and dry the viscometer: Ensure the viscometer is clean and dry before starting the experiment. You can clean it with a suitable solvent followed by distilled water, then dry it by pushing air through the capillary using a rubber bulb.
  2. Clamp the viscometer: Secure the Ostwald viscometer in a vertical position using a clamp stand, making sure that the bulb and capillary sections are straight.
  3. Temperature control: For accurate viscosity measurements, maintain a constant temperature throughout the experiment. You can achieve this by immersing the viscometer in a thermostatic water bath or using a temperature-controlled room.
  4. Fill the viscometer: Using a pipette or a rubber bulb, draw the liquid to be tested into the viscometer until it fills the lower bulb and reaches a level slightly above the upper etched mark (mark A) on the capillary tube.
  5. Adjust the liquid level: Allow the liquid to flow through the capillary until its meniscus is slightly below the upper etched mark (mark A). Then, carefully suck the liquid back up until the meniscus is exactly at mark A.
  6. Time the flow: Release the liquid and start a stopwatch as soon as the meniscus passes mark A. Stop the stopwatch when the meniscus reaches the lower etched mark (mark B).
  7. Record the flow time: Record the time it took for the liquid to flow between the two etched marks (t).
  8. Measure the density: Determine the density of the liquid (ρ) and the density of the reference liquid (usually water) using a hydrometer or a pycnometer.
  9. Calculate the kinematic viscosity: The kinematic viscosity (ν) of the liquid can be calculated using the following equation:ν = K × twhere K is the viscometer constant (unique to each viscometer, provided by the manufacturer) and t is the flow time.
  10. Calculate the dynamic viscosity: The dynamic viscosity (η) can be calculated by multiplying the kinematic viscosity by the liquid’s density:η = ν × ρ

Repeat the experiment several times to obtain an average value for more accurate results. Remember to clean and dry the viscometer between tests, especially when testing different liquids.

The advantages and disadvantages of using an Ostwald viscometer

An Ostwald viscometer is a device used to measure the viscosity of a liquid. There are several advantages to using this type of viscometer, including its ability to provide accurate measurements and its ease of use. However, there are also some disadvantages to using an Ostwald viscometer, including the potential for error and the need for calibration.

Advantages of Ostwald viscometer

It is less sensitive to changes in temperature, it is not as affected by changes in density, and it can be used to measure a wider range of viscosities. Ostwald viscometers are also easier to use and maintain than other types of viscometers.

Disadvantages of Ostwald viscometer

The disadvantages of using an Ostwald viscometer include the following:

1. They are not suitable for use with Newtonian fluids.

2. They are not as accurate as some other types of viscometers.

3. They can be difficult to use if the fluid being measured has a high viscosity.

Other ways of measuring liquid viscosity

There are a few different ways to measure the viscosity of a liquid. The most common way is with an Ostwald viscometer, but there are other ways to do it.

One way is to use a falling ball viscometer. This method measures the time it takes for a ball to fall through a column of liquid. The longer it takes, the more viscous the liquid is.

Another way to measure viscosity is with a rotational viscometer. This device measures how much torque is required to rotate a disk in the liquid. The more torque required, the more viscous the liquid is.

Viscosity can also be measured with a capillary viscometer. This method works by measuring how long it takes for a liquid to flow through a small tube. The longer it takes, the more viscous the liquid is.


The Ostwald viscometer is a useful tool for determining the viscosity of a liquid. It is essential to consider the factors that affect viscosity when using this method so that accurate results can be obtained. With proper use, the Ostwald viscometer can provide valuable information about a sample’s viscosity.

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