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The Ultimate Guide to Milligram Scales – Why they’re important and how to use them


By David Blackbourn

in this article
  • Introduction
  • Why Are They Important?
  • Correct Usage
  • Considerations When Buying Milligram Scales
  • AWS GEMINI-20 Portable Precision Digital Milligram Scale
  • Standout Features of the AWS GEMINI-20 Portable Precision Digital Milligram Scale
  • Accuracy Of the AWS GEMINI-20 Portable Precision Digital Milligram Scale
  • AWS Gemini-20 Milligram Scales - Specifications
  • Conclusion

By David Blackbourn

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Chemical Collective or any associated parties.


Milligram scales – something every avid researcher knows they should use, but many neglect to do so. In this article, we’ll outline the importance of using scales during your experiments, we’ll give some tips on how to best use them and we’ll give our recommendation for the best milligram scales on the market.

Why Are They Important?

This may be obvious to some of you, but milligram scales are essential to use when conducting scientific research because with some substances, only a few milligrams in difference can create significantly different results.  Even if you’re confident in your ability to guess the weight of different substances, we feel it simply isn’t worth the risk of accidentally using too much (or too little) in your experiment.

Using milligram scales allows you to truly optimise your experiments as you learn over time exactly what weights are ideal for each individual substance. If you want to get really nerdy about it (and we recommend that you do), you can keep a logbook of all your experiments, making note of the weights used and the resulting findings. This way, you can really fine tune each experiment as each individual researcher is different.

Correct Usage

AWS GEMINI-20 Portable Precision Digital Milligram Scale correct usage

So, how do you use a milligram scale correctly? It is relatively simple, but there are a few important steps to follow to ensure accurate measurements.

  1. Make sure the scale is placed on a level surface and is turned on. If the scale has adjustable feet, use them to level the scale as much as possible. Also make sure the surface is firm and stable and that there isn’t significant air movement (such as a fan) in the room.
  2. Place the substance to be measured in the centre of the scale’s platform. Some scales have a “tare” button, which can be used to subtract the weight of a container or other object from the total weight of the substance being measured. This can be useful if you are measuring a substance that is in a container.
  3. Wait for the display to stabilize. This may take a few seconds, especially if the substance being measured is very small. Once the display has stabilized, read the weight on the display and record it.
  4. Use the correct units. Make sure to consult the label or instructions for the substance to determine the appropriate unit of measurement. This can be easy to miss as the unit indicator is usually incredibly small on the screen.

Considerations When Buying Milligram Scales

Price vs Quality

The cost of milligram scales available on the market ranges wildly from €10-15 at the very low end (thank you China), to several thousands of euros (and more) at the high end and anywhere in between.

For simplicity, we’ll split this range into three categories: low range, mid range and high range, though obviously there will be some overlap between the three.

Low-end €0-50

These are your most basic, least accurate and most unreliable scales. While I personally don’t recommend scales at this range due to their lower durability and reliability, they can still be useful for some researchers. If you’re on a tight budget and you only need to be accurate to within +/- 10mg, then these types of scales can be useful. If you need to be more precise than this, then we recommend spending slightly more.

A set in this range (although these aren’t strictly “milligram” scales as they only weigh to 0.01g/10mg) that I’d recommend are On Balance’s Tuff Weigh (we don’t sell these ourselves, so here’s a link to Bol – it isn’t a referral link). These little bricks are surprisingly durable and do the job if you’re weighing in the 100mg-200g range (if you need to weight smaller amounts, we recommend a higher range set of scales).

Mid-range €50-1000

This may seem like a very broad price range, but when it comes to milligram scales, there really isn’t a huge difference in quality and accuracy until you spend (at least) over €1000 on real, lab-grade equipment. The difference between a €50 set of scales and a €500 set really isn’t going to be that great. For this reason, we recommend that you choosee scales in the €50-100 price range. They really are going to be the best value for money when it comes to quality, reliability and accuracy.

In this range, I highly recommend the AWS Gemini-20 scales. You’ve likely seen scales that look virtually identical to these all over Amazon. That’s because these scales set the standard for low cost and high precision milligram scales and since then, many cheap knock-off versions have made their way onto the market.

These scales had previously been almost impossible to buy in Europe without importing them from the United States, which obviously came with long shipping times and import fees. We have bought several sets ourselves just like this. It was for this reason that we decided to take matters into our own hands and start supplying them ourselves. Now, not only is our supply taken care of, but we can offer them to our customers at a much more affordable price (other sellers in the UK were charging as much as £120 for them!).

One Reddit user did a great community service 10 years ago and made a post in which they tested the accuracy of the Gemini-20.

High-end €1000+

These are scales for the serious scientific researcher who needs to weigh substances accurately to within a microgram. These scales tend to use either electromagnetic force restoration or surface acoustic waves to weigh substances, whereas cheaper scales use strain gauge technology. I’m not going to get into the science behind these scales as frankly I don’t understand it! But just make sure that if you purchase a “high-end” set of scales, they use either electromagnetic force restoration or surface acoustic wave technology, as any expensive strain gauge set isn’t going to be significantly more accurate than the AWS-20.


It’s good practice to make sure your scales are regularly calibrated. We recommend that you do this at least once a month if you don’t use your scales often; or once per week if you use them regularly. It’s also very important that you calibrate them if you move your scales around a lot (such as carrying them around all day in a backpack) or of course if you drop them.

Most scales come with a metal calibration weight of between 10-20g. Just follow the instructions on your weighing scale for how to properly calibrate it!

AWS GEMINI-20 Portable Precision Digital Milligram Scale

DISCLAIMER – While we tried to keep this part of the article useful for everyone, we had to write the next section to improve the SEO for our Gemini-20 scales (all hail our overlord AKA The Google Algorithm), so unless you’re seriously interested in hearing more about them, feel free to skip it!

As I already explained, the AWS GEMINI-20 is in my opinion the best option for a set of portable scales that are reasonably priced. We haven’t been able to find a better set in this price range (they generally cost between €50-100). I’ll elaborate further below why we hold these scales in such high regard:

The Gemini-20s are capable of measuring weights as small as 20 milligrams with an extremely high degree of accuracy, especially for the price. Their compact size makes them easy to use and store, and their sleek, modern design looks great in any setting.AWS GEMINI-20 Portable Precision Digital Milligram Scale

Standout Features of the AWS GEMINI-20 Portable Precision Digital Milligram Scale

The GEMINI-20 has a clear and easy-to-read digital display. The large, backlit display shows the weight of the item being weighed in a variety of units, including milligrams, grams, and ounces. This makes it easy to obtain accurate measurements, regardless of the unit of measurement you prefer to use. The scale also has a tare function, which allows users to subtract the weight of a container from the total weight of the substance being measured.

In addition to its clear display, the GEMINI-20 is also very user-friendly. Its simple controls are easy to understand, even for those who are new to using precision weighing devices. Its durable construction is built to last, with a sturdy platform and a solid base that provide a stable foundation for accurate measurements.

The margin for error of the GEMINI-20 is also extremely impressive, especially taking into account the difference in quality from other scales in its price bracket, or even much more expensive devices.

Accuracy Of the AWS GEMINI-20 Portable Precision Digital Milligram Scale

Results of Error Testing:

20 g: 20.004 g

10 g: 10.000 g

5 g: 5.004 g

2 g: 2.001 g

1 g: 1.001 g

500 mg: .501 g

200 mg: .201 g

100 mg: .101 g

50 mg: .051 g

10 mg: .014 g

1.010 g: 1.011 g

These results were posted on Reddit by u/njschwinn.

The stated accuracy of the GEMINI-20  from AWS themselves, is .005 grams, so these results fall well within these parameters. The very slight margin for error is also quite non-linear, which makes it much simpler to account for when taking your readings.

You may notice that the least accurate range is 0-10mg. For this range, we recommend first resting something on your scales that weighs between 0.5-10g, then (making a note of the current weight) adding whatever substance you are weighing on top of this, without taring the scales. Then of course subtract the original weight of the object from the total weight now showing on your scales.

AWS Gemini-20 Milligram Scales - Specifications

  • 20g x 0.001g x 0.005g (capacity/readability/accuracy).
  • Six different weighing units (g, oz, ozt, dwt, ct, gn/gr).
  • Clear Flip Top Shield (Isolates the weighing object for most accurate results).
  • Large, 1.3″ (diameter), stainless steel, weighing platform.
  • Blue Backlit LCD Display.
  • Tare Feature.
  • Separate On and Off Buttons.
  • Easy 4-Key operation (with detailed user guide).
  • Includes Two (2) 10g Calibration Weights*, 1.3″ Tray, and 4.5″ Tweezers.
  • 10-Year American Weigh Warranty


Overall, the AWS GEMINI-20 Portable Precision Digital Milligram Scale is a reliable and accurate tool that is suitable for a variety of applications. Its compact size, clear display, and user-friendly design make it an excellent choice for anyone who needs a precision weighing device for small objects or substances.

Accurate, reliable weighing scales are an essential part of conducting safe, responsible research. Still, unfortunately, the price can often be preventative, and our research has shown that most scales under 200 Euros are fairly inconsistent.

However, we have managed to source Gemini 20s directly from the manufacturer in the USA, so are able to offer them in Europe far cheaper than any other retailer at this time.

CHECK OUT THE AWS GEMINI-20 Portable Precision Digital Milligram Scale HERE

David Blackbourn | Community Blogger at Chemical Collective

David is one of our community bloggers here at Chemical Collective. If you’re interested in joining our blogging team and getting paid to write about subjects you’re passionate about, please reach out to David via email at blog@chemical-collective.com


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