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A balance is a device used to measure masses. Balances are essential equipment for the amateur chemist, and they can either be bought or made. Several different types of balances exist, which vary in accuracy and ease of use.
Mechanical balances are simple to build and can be quite accurate.
A beam balance is a mechanical balance that measures masses by comparing them to known masses. Large versions of these balances are used to measure a person's mass in the doctor's office. However, they are also available on small scales for lab use. These can be very accurate, but a little difficult to use.
Electronic balances are quite common. Some balances used for other applications may be repurposed.
An analytical balance is an extremely accurate balance that can measure masses down to a tenth of a milligram. Due to their sensitivity, many accurate models have enclosures that prevent variations in air currents from affecting the reading.
Strain gauges work by varying the electrical resistance of the gauge with a compressing force, provided by the mass in question.