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Total Fat Analysis in Milk using the Gerber Method

The Gerber Method is a primary and historic chemical test to determine the fat content of milk and other substances. The Gerber Method is the primary testing method in Europe and much of the world. The fairly similar Babcock test is used primarily in the United States, although the Gerber Method also enjoys significant use in the U.S. as well.

Basic Methodolgy

Relevant Information:

Fat is the most important constituent of milk as it is used as a basis for fixing the purchase and sale price of milk. It helps to detect adulteration like watering and skimming of milk. Gerber’s method commonly used in Europe and in India.

Dr. N Gerber of Zurich Switzerland invented this method in the year 1892-1895. In this test H2SO4 is used to increase specific gravity of milk serum which makes greater difference between milk serum and fat globules. It also destroys stickiness of milk by dissolving all the SNF. The free fat globules rise to the surface by subsequent application of centrifugal force to this mixture and heat produced due to mixing of acid and milk, causing melting of fat. It facilitates the fat particles to come to the surface freely.

The specific gravity of fat is 0.9 and that of acid milk mixtures is 1.43. This situation promotes complete separation of fat when proper centrifugal force is applied.

Due to application of centrifugal force lighter substances (Butter fat) are thrown towards centre and rest of serum portion that is heavier is thrown towards the pheriphen.

Addition of amyl alcohol helps for separation of fat from the milk acid mixture and also prevents the charging of fat and sugar by the H2SO4.


1. Carryout through mixing of milk before testing.
2. Amyl alcohol must be pure.
3. Sulphuric acid is to be added gently by the sides of the butyrometer without wetting the neck of the butyrometer. Avoid direct pouring of milk on acid.
4. The three fluids viz. Sulphuric acid, milk and amyl alcohol should be added gently, so that they form three distinct layers.
5. Rubber stopper should be dry, clean and without crack.
6. Before centrifuging the butyrometer, see that there is no curdy white material left undissolved.
7. The centrifuge must be properly balanced.
8. Always carry out the test in duplicate.
9. Butyrometer should be free from Na2Co3 (soda ash) if cleaned by Na2Co3 otherwise it lowers the specific gravity and strength of Sulphuric acid.
10. Use butyrometer stand for shaking of butyrometer contents to dissolve the SNF content of milk.

Material Required:

a) Milk
b) Sulphuric acid (sp.gr..1.82)
c) Amyl alcohol (sp.gr.0.82-0.83)


1.    Milk sample bottle.
2.    10 ml automatic tilt measure for H2SO4.
3.    1 ml automatic tilt measure for amyl alcohol.
4.    10.75 ml capacity milk pipette.
5.    Dairy floating thermometer.
6.    Thermostatic water bath.
7.    Gerber’s centrifuge machine (1100 rpm).
8.    Gerber’s butyrometer plain neck with graduations
9.    Butyrometer stand.
10. Rubber stopper.

1. Put the clean and dry butyrometer in a butyrometer stand (Camlab part no. 1162195) with open mouth upwards.
2. Run 10 ml of sulphuric acid with the tilt measure in the butyrometer.
3. Pipette out 10.75 ml of milk sample gently by the side of butyrometer, whose temperature is  about 15-21 degrees C.
4. Pour 1 ml. of amyl alcohol with tilt measure.
5. Stopper the butyrometer with the help of lock stopper using regulating pin/guiding pin.
6. The tube is well (mixed) shaken till mahogany red colour is obtained. Keep the butyrometer in hot water bath till it attains 15-21 degrees C and the butyrometer are placed in the centrifuge at 1100 rpm for 4 minutes.
7. Take out the butyrometer in an upright position with the stopper end down wards.
8. Keep the butyrometer in hot water bath at (65 degrees C) for some time.
9. Note the reading. Reading should be taken from bottom of the fat column to lower border of meniscus on the scale.

Camlab can supply the Gerber Fat Determination equipment you require. Please complete the form below for further advise and guidance on the best equipment for your application.

4 thoughts on “Total Fat Analysis in Milk using the Gerber Method

    1. Dear Keshmeem,

      Thank you for your enquiry, you can see all the equipment required linked on the blog. Please email us: export@Camlab.co.uk with the equipment required and your company details and we can create a quotation for you.

      Kind regards,

      Camlab Tech Support

  1. There is little problem to understand the results of fat, for example, if I get fat 13% (0-50% butyrometer) in 2.5 gram full cream milk powder sample what will be the calculation.
    Do we calculate directly or need multiply any factor?
    Or if you have no problem please let me know the sample quantity and calculation.I have Need for Full Cream Milk Powder(fat max 30%), Skim Milk Powder(fat max 2%) and Coconut milk powder (fat max 45-55%)
    Example: Now I am doing like this.
    Full Cream Milk Powder (2.5gm Sample) Fat % = butyrometer reading × 2
    =13× 2
    =26% (BR=13 and Factor=2)
    Thank you in advanced.

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