How to Calibrate a Digital Scale

Hunker may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.

Whether you need to weigh out food portions, weigh a package for the correct postage or simply weigh yourself, there's one common task you'll need to fulfill: calibrating the scale. While the term "calibration" might sound technical, it's hardly an unnecessary step—or difficult, for that matter.

How to Calibrate a Digital Scale
Image Credit: maksime/iStock/GettyImages

What is Calibration?

Balances and scales become less reliable over time due to wear and tear of the machinery. Small scales, especially, are susceptible to this due to their sensitive build. But what all this means is that without proper calibration, you may be playing a guessing game rather than receiving an accurate reading. And, when it comes to tasks like baking pastries or performing a scientific experiment, total accuracy is vital.

When Should You Calibrate Your Scale?

How often you should calibrate your scale depends on how you use it. If it's stationary in a quiet setting and on a flat surface, you may need to calibrate it just once or twice a year. If you happen to move your scale around a lot, then you might consider calibrating it quarterly or even once a month. It all depends on how much wear and tear your scale experiences.

Although many digital scales are touted for their ease of use and dependability, not all scales will automatically calibrate on their own. Some scales may come with instructions on how to calibrate, but if you've lost your owner's manual or if your scale doesn't come with that built-in capability, you can easily calibrate a digital scale with some coins.

How to Calibrate a Digital Scale With Coins

Determine the scale's maximum weight capacity. This can be found on the owner's manual, listed directly on the scale's tag or on the manufacturer's website.

Gather substitute weights. In this case, we'll use quarters. A new, shiny quarter weighs 5.67 grams. Use a new coin, as used coins might differ in weight due to wear and tear.

Set the scale on a flat, level surface and turn it on. Wait a few moments for the scale to stabilize its readings.

Locate the calibration switch (some scales require a sequence of numbers on the control panel) and activate the calibration mode.

Place the quarter on the center of the scale and check the reading. If the scale doesn't read 5.67 grams, adjust the calibration up or down. Enter the difference between the actual weight of the quarter and the reading that shows up on the scale.

Divide the maximum weight capacity by 5.67 grams. The resulting number is the approximate number of quarters to place on the scale.

Set this new amount of quarters on the scale. If it doesn't accurately read the weight of the coins, adjust the calibration up or down. Enter the difference between the actual weight of the quarters and the reading that shows up on the scale.


Emily Vasquez

Emily Vasquez

Emily Vasquez is a Tampa-based freelance writer and creative copywriter. She has written for publications such as Martha Stewart Living, and has worked with brands like Ashley Furniture HomeStore and Chewy. A graduate of University of South Florida with a B.A. in Professional Writing and Rhetoric, she loves writing about all things home, travel, food and lifestyle.