When you’re feeling a little bit under the weather, the first thing you’d most probably do is to reach for a thermometer. A thermometer is a device we use to measure not only our body temperatures but food temperatures as well. There are various types of thermometers available today. However, the two most popular are mercury and digital thermometers. When it comes to selecting a thermometer, which is best, among the two? Well, it turns out that the type of thermometer you choose significantly impacts your temperature reading as well as your safety, so let’s take a look at the difference between digital thermometer and mercury thermometer to check out a few reasons why.
Uses of Thermometers
A thermometer is a staple device used in most households. Made up of two words thermo (heat) and meter (measuring device), the meaning of the word thermometer is pretty up-front. Thermometers are used to measure temperatures in degrees, using either Celsius or Fahrenheit measurement. Meteorologists use thermometers to find out how hot or cold it is. Doctors, on the other hand, use thermometers to check body temperature — a very high or low body temperature can mean you’re sick.
Digital Thermometer vs. Mercury Thermometer
Mercury thermometers have been available for as long as we can remember; however, recently, the use of digital thermometers has been on the rise. So, how are they different? Digital thermometers have several advantages over traditional mercury thermometers, which we will discuss in the following comparisons.
Digital thermometers are temperature-sensing devices that are portable, have permanent probes, and an easy-to-read digital display. Usually, they are powered by batteries and do not require charging. A numerical reading is given on a digital display, usually to one decimal place, making them more precise compared to other thermometer types.
In a mercury thermometer, a small glass cylinder is filled with mercury, and a standardized temperature scale is marked on the tube. When the temperature changes, the mercury expands and contracts, the temperature can then be read on the scale. Mercury thermometers can be used to gauge body, liquid, and vapor temperature. They are often used in households, laboratory experiments, and industrial applications.
Comparison of the Differences Between Mercury in Glass Thermometer and a Digital Thermometer
- Faster output
There are several differences between a digital and mercury thermometer. In terms of output, digital thermometers provide faster results as compared to mercury thermometers. That’s because you have to wait for the mercury to heat up first and then slowly rise to display the temperature. However, since digital thermometers are designed using advanced technology, it provides instant results on the spot, which means no more waiting necessary. So in case of emergency, having a digital thermometer handy would be more ideal than using the mercury one.
Aside from the fact that digital thermometers provide faster results, they are also slowly replacing traditional mercury thermometers due to various technologies that provide better accuracy. Digital thermometers are a popular choice for numerous professional industries. The screen display enables you to get a precise result, and not just an estimated one, which is the case when using a mercury thermometer.
One reason digital thermometers are becoming more popular over mercury thermometers is that they are safer to use. Mercury thermometers are often made of glass, which is then inserted to gauge temperature. However, glass is very fragile, which means it can easily crack or break. Mercury is a highly toxic chemical that could contaminate the body as well as other surrounding areas, making it unsafe. It is also tough to clean up. Mercury thermometers are now being phased out by several countries across the globe due to the hazard they pose.
On the other hand, digital thermometers use metal components, which are much stronger and contain no harmful chemicals to ensure safety. Some models can be used to measure temperatures above the boiling point of mercury, and far below mercury’s freezing point. So digital thermometers offer a greater range in terms of calculating temperatures.
The ability to promptly and precisely determine a person’s body temperature is an important factor, especially during emergencies. Assessing one’s condition during an illness, an injury, or after exposure to harsh weather can ultimately save a life.
Learning the difference between a digital thermometer and a mercury thermometer can help you assess which is best to carry around. With today’s modern thermometers, gauging a temperature is fairly easy and safe. We no longer have to stick a mercury thermometer under the tongue and wait for five minutes to have a not-so-accurate reading. Digital thermometers are now widely used due to the convenience and safety it offers. Know more about first aid kits.