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I'm planning to make an homemade liqueur, like Limoncello, but with oranges. To begin, I've added orange zests to 500 grams of 96% alcohol. Now, I'm puzzled about the sugar syrup.

In the beginning I thought that 500 grams of alcohol + 500 grams of water + 500 grams of sugar = 1.5 liter of liqueur at 33% of alcohol. After some research I learned it's not that simple. I should consider density, convert mass to volume, and probably something else.

So here I am, looking for a tool/spreadsheet/formula to do this math. Something as simple as: given the amount (in grams) of alcohol, sugar and water, you will obtain a solution of a certain amount in liter with a certain percentage of alcohol.

Any help would be appreciated, I'm a total newbie.

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Let's see if we can reverse engineer this :)

The density of 95% ABV spirit is ~ 0.8

Therefore: 500g/0.8 => ~625ml of 95% spirit.

500g water is 500ml. but your 500g of sugar as it disolves will affect the volumes. In future I would make your sugar syrup, and then measure it in your 250ml cup, and measure out your spirit also in said cup. Will make the calculations much easier and remove the guess work.

Having said that ... 500g sugar in 500ml water is 50/50 w/w solution and is a 50 brix solution. Using a Brix lookup table we can see that the density of this solution is 1.22854.

Therefore your 1kg of sugar solution 50/50 w/w has a volume of 1/1.22854 => 814ml.

If we take the 95% abv volume as roughly what it would be for 96% and take the 814ml. Then we have:

0.96*625 => 600 ml of total alcohol.

625+814 => 1439 ml total volume

that gives us 600/1439 * 100 => 41.69% ABV.

Or at least something close to that. Hope that helps.

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  • 1
    This is exactly what I was looking for, thank you very much! – Andrea Apr 1 at 8:32
  • Probably not incredibly significant here, but the resulting volume is not the sum of the separate volumes, mathscinotes.com/2016/07/… – Jack yesterday
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Most alcohol is labeled with ABV (Alcohol by Volume). Therefore, if you have 1L of 96% alcohol mixed with 1L of water, you will have 2L of 48% ABV. Looking at density is something we do when fermenting to determine how much sugar has been converted to alcohol, but here you are just diluting and adding sugar; so you will not need to worry about densities of liquids.

Summary: Use volume to calculate your ABV

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  • The problem is: I haven't used 500 ml of alcohol, I've used 500 g of alcohol. I guess it's not the same, right? Also, I'm not going to use 500 ml of water + 500 ml of sugar: I'm going to use use 500 g of water (which is the same of 500 ml) + 500 g of sugar (again, I guess it's not the same of 500 ml). – Andrea Mar 30 at 9:33
  • Why can't you just put the 500g of alcohol in a measuring cup? When dealing with liquids with concentration based on volume, why did you go with weight rather than volume? – Czernina Mar 31 at 15:20
  • I don't have a measuring cup so big, max I have is 250 ml. I thought there was an easy way to convert, that's all. – Andrea Mar 31 at 15:55
  • Most commercial distilling regulation/recommendations that I've seen encourage using weight rather than volume since it is temperature independent. You would calculate the weight of the desired volume at whatever the standard reference temperature (generally 20C) is and then use that, or convert your target ABV to ABW and calculate your dilution based on that. – Jack yesterday

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