Balances other than the type described herein may be used if these afford equivalent or better accuracy. This includes micro-, semimicro-, or electronic single-pan balances (see Weights and Balances 41
). Some balances offer digital or direct-reading features. All balances should be calibrated and tested frequently using appropriate test weights, both singly and in combination.
Maximum weight, including the weight of tares, to be placed on one pan. The N.B.S. Handbook 44, 4th ed., states: In the absence of information to the contrary, the nominal capacity of a Class A balance shall be assumed to be 15.5 g (½ apothecaries' ounce). Most of the commercially available Class A balances have a capacity of 120 g and bear a statement to that effect.
Weighbeam or Beam
A graduated bar equipped with a movable poise or rider. Metric graduations are in 0.01-g increments up to a maximum of 1.0 g.
An auxiliary ungraduated weighbeam bar with a movable poise. It can be used to correct for variations in weighing glasses or papers.
A combination of elements, one or both of which will oscillate with respect to the other, to indicate the equilibrium state of the balance during weighing.
The point on the index plate at which the indicator or pointer stops when the oscillations of the balance cease; or the index plate position of the indicator or pointer calculated from recorded consecutive oscillations in both directions past the zero of the index plate scale. If the balance has a two-pointer indicating mechanism, the position or the oscillations of only one of the pointers need be recorded or used to determine the rest point.
Sensitivity Requirements (SR)
The maximum change in load that will cause a specified change, one subdivision on the index plate, in the position of rest of the indicating element or elements of the balance.
Class A Prescription Balance
A balance that meets the tests for this type of balance has a sensitivity requirement of 6 mg or less with no load and with a load of 10 g on each pan. The Class A
balance should be used for all the weighing operations required in prescription compounding.
In order to avoid errors of 5% or more that might be due to the limit of sensitivity of the Class A prescription balance, do not weigh less than 120 mg of any material. If a smaller weight of dry material is required, mix a larger known weight of the ingredient with a known weight of dry diluent, and weigh an aliquot portion of the mixture for use.
Testing the Prescription Balance
A Class A
prescription balance meets the following four basic tests. Use a set of test weights, and keep the rider on the weighbeam at zero unless directed to change its position.
1. Sensitivity RequirementLevel the balance, determine the rest point, and place a 6-mg weight on one of the empty pans. Repeat the operation with a 10-g weight in the center of each pan. The rest point is shifted not less than one division on the index plate each time the 6-mg weight is added.
2. Arm Ratio TestThis test is designed to check the equality of length of both arms of the balance. Determine the rest point of the balance with no weight on the pans. Place in the center of each pan a 30-g test weight, and determine the rest point. If the second rest point is not the same as the first, place a 20-mg weight on the lighter side; the rest point should move back to the original place on the index plate scale or farther.
3. Shift TestsThese tests are designed to check the arm and lever components of the balance.
A. Determine the rest point of the indicator without any weights on the pans.
B. Place one of the 10-g weights in the center of the left pan, and place the other 10-g weight successively toward the right, left, front, and back of the right pan, noting the rest point in each case. If in any case the rest point differs from the rest point determined in Step A, add a 10-mg weight to the lighter side; this should cause the rest point to shift back to the rest point determined in Step A or farther.
C. Place a 10-g weight in the center of the right pan, and place a 10-g weight successively toward the right, left, front, and back of the left pan, noting the rest point in each case. If in any case the rest point is different from that obtained with no weights on the pans, this difference should be overcome by addition of the 10-mg weight to the lighter side.
D. Make a series of observations in which both weights are simultaneously shifted to off-center positions on their pans: both toward the outside, both toward the inside, one toward the outside and the other toward the inside, both toward the back, and so on until all combinations have been checked. If in any case the rest point differs from that obtained with no weights on the pan, the addition of the 10-mg weight to the lighter side should overcome this difference.
A balance that does not meet the requirements of these tests must be adjusted.
4. Rider and Graduated Beam TestsDetermine the rest point for the balance with no weight on the pans. Place on the left pan the 500-mg test weight, move the rider to the 500-mg point on the beam, and determine the rest point. If it is different from the zero rest point, add a 6-mg weight to the lighter side. This addition should bring the rest point back to its original position or farther. Repeat this test, using the 1-g test weight and moving the rider to the 1-g division on the beam. If the rest point is different, it should be brought back at least to the zero rest point position by the addition of 6 mg to the lighter pan. If the balance does not meet this test, the weighbeam graduations or the rider must be corrected.
Metric or apothecaries' weights
for use with a prescription balance should be kept in a special rigid and compartmentalized box and handled with plastic or plastic-tipped forceps to prevent scratching or soiling. For prescription use, analytical weights (Class P or better) are recommended. However, Class Q weights have tolerances well within the limits of accuracy of the prescription balance, and they retain their accuracy for a long time with proper care. Coin-type (or disk-shaped) weights should not be used.
consisting of two 20-g or two 30-g, two 10-g, one 1-g, one 500-mg, one 20-mg, one 10-mg, and one 6-mg (or suitable combination totaling 6 mg) weights, adjusted to N.B.S. tolerances for analytical weights (Class P or better) should be used for testing the prescription balances. These weights should be kept in a tightly closed box and should be handled only with plastic or plastic-tipped forceps. The set of test weights should be used only for testing the balance or constantly used weights. If properly cared for, the set lasts indefinitely.