Detects the amount of salt contained in liquid foods

Three-level LED indicator

Circuit diagram:

Salt Taster


R1________________470R   1/4W Resistor
R2,R5______________10K   1/4W Resistors
R3,R6_____________220K   1/4W Resistors
R4__________________5K   1/2W Trimmer Cermet
R7________________680R   1/4W Resistor
R8__________________2K2  1/4W Resistor
R9,R10,R11,R12,R13__1K   1/4W Resistors

C1________________100µF   25V Electrolytic Capacitor

D1,D2,D3______3 or 5mm. Red LEDs
D4____________3 or 5mm. Green LED
D5____________3 or 5mm. Yellow LED

IC1_______________LM324 Low Power Quad Op-amp

P1_________________SPST Pushbutton

Probes_________________ (See Text)

B1___________________9V PP3 Battery

Clip for PP3 Battery

Device purpose:

This circuit was designed to detect the approximate percentage of salt contained in a liquid. After careful setting it can be useful to persons needing a quick, rough indication of the salt content in liquid foods for diet purposes etc.

Circuit operation:

IC1A op-amp is wired as a DC differential amplifier and its output voltage increases as the DC resistance measured across the probes decreases. In fact, fresh water has a relatively high DC resistance value that will decrease proportionally as an increasing amount of salt is added.
IC1B, IC1C and IC1D are wired as comparators and drive D5, D4 and D3 in turn, as the voltage at their inverting inputs increases. Therefore, no LED will be on when the salt content of the liquid under test is very low, yellow LED D5 will illuminate when the salt content is low, green LED D4 will illuminate if the salt content is normal and red LED D3 will illuminate if the salt content is high.
D1 and D2 are always on, as their purpose is to provide two reference voltages, thus improving circuit precision. At D2 anode a stable 3.2V supply feeds the non-inverting inputs of the comparators by means of the reference resistor chain R8, R9 and R10. The 1.6V reference voltage available at D1 anode feeds the probes and the set-up trimmer R4.
One of these two red LEDs may be used as a pilot light to show when the device is on.


It was found by experiment that a good and cheap probe can be made using a 6.3mm. mono jack plug. The two plug leads are connected to the circuit input by means of a two-wire cable (a piece of screened cable works fine).
The metal body of the jack is formed by two parts of different length, separated by a black plastic ring. You should try to cover the longest part with insulating tape in order to obtain an exposed metal surface of the same length of the tip part, i.e. about 8 to 10mm. starting from the black plastic ring.
In the prototype, three tablespoons of liquid were poured into a cylindrical plastic cap of 55mm. height and 27mm. diameter, then the metal part of the jack probe was immersed in the liquid.