- At its most basic, technicians use their eyes to judge the results of the colorimetric tests. Technicians may have limited eyesight and inconsistent lighting that skew the observations. Colorimeters, in contrast, photoelectrically measure the amount of colored light that a colored sample absorbs in comparison to a colorless sample, thus measuring data more objectively.
- To get accurate results, technicians collect samples as often as possible. Scientists collect samples large enough to perform the necessary tests. When collecting samples, scientists consider what factors might affect the results of the tests so they can more-accurately interpret the reading. The locations of the samples can influence the results.
- A colored sample usually only absorbs one color from white light, which has many different colors. The white light that passes through the colored sample has a slight difference, compared with the colorless sample. However, the changes are very small, often undetectable. Therefore, technicians will send one of four colored light beams through one of four optical filters. The measured difference before and after is the result of the colorimetric test.
- The colorimeter sometimes interfaces with software installed on a computer. Other times, the colorimeter uses a microprocessor that controls results that appear on a display. With the computer option, scientists have the option to export data from the colorimeter to other software programs.
- Colorimeters can help technicians measure the quantities of chlorine, proteins, reducing sugars, ethanol and vitamin C. Scientists also detect many enzymes, including lactase, pepsin, urease, dopa oxidase, amylase and invertase. After detecting the color in the substance, technicians can make small adjustments to the colors or perform quality control. Some colorimeters are designed to detect specific chemicals. These devices allow users to detect substances, such as phosphorus, without a complicated chemical test kit.