Even if you're not into alcohol, there is a chance you've heard of the term "alcohol proof." Although rarely used, this phrase has a very interesting history behind it.
So, what does alcohol proof mean? This is a numeric, percentage-based value that shows how much ethanol there is within an alcoholic beverage. The phrase has a long history coming all the way from 16th century England.
Initially, alcohol proof was a value that equated to 1.821 times alcohol by volume or ABV. Nowadays, with the change of standards, the UK has turned from alcohol proof measuring to ABV. One of the rare countries that still use alcohol proof instead of ABV is the US, where the alcohol proof percentage is twice higher than ABV.
Regardless of the measures, it is always important to buy alcohol from reputable providers such as the Simple Solvents store. That way, you can always learn more about the product specifics, such as their alcohol proof percentage.
Why do we use alcohol proof?
As you well know, all alcoholic beverages have labels that show the amount of alcohol inside of the bottle. Beers are usually within the 3 to 13% range, where the majority of them are around 4 to 7 percent. Wines are more within the 8 to 20 percent range, while spirits can vary significantly in terms of their alcohol content. All these measures are calculated with the modern ABV system.
But, back in the day, alcohol proof was much more common. Basically, the higher this percentage, the stronger the drink. Both alcohol proof and ABV are used to protect the consumers. Knowing the strength of the drink is very important prior to consumption. Furthermore, it can be crucial if you're trying to disinfect a wound, as you need strong spirits for something like that.
As mentioned, the difference between ABV and alcohol proof is 1 to 2. In other words, if ABV beer is categorized as 5 percent, it will be 10 percent according to the alcohol proof scale.
How was alcohol proof measurement invented?
Like many other things, this measurement was created out of sheer necessity. Back in 16th century England, there were different taxes depending on the amount of alcohol within a beverage.
The British government has created a unique test that would help with taxation. In order to figure out which alcohol should be taxed at which rate, they would perform a "gunpowder test."
During it, they would put a pellet of gunpowder in a specific alcoholic beverage. Then, they would try to ignite this pellet. If it burned, then the product was strong enough to be taxed at a higher rate. In other words, it managed to pass the test, thus qualifying it as a "proof" substance.
How is alcohol calculated in different countries?
Countries generally have different systems for measuring alcohol percentage within drinks. Here are some of the most common systems:
Other terms that you might encounter
Over time, alcohol measurement systems developed in numerous ways. Here are some other terms that you might encounter, whether they’re archaic or not:
Regardless of the measurement that is used, it is always important to buy alcohol products from reputable stores. Nowadays, you can find all sorts of alcohol products that have various uses aside from being consumable.
Anyway, when referring to drinkable alcohol, ABV is the most common measurement unit in the world. While alcohol proof is still being used in the States, you can rarely hear this term outside of the country.