Determining Ash and Moisture Content in Food and Drink using the Series 340 PrepASH®

Moisture and ash content are more important in the food industry than you may think. They can alter various key features of foodstuffs including nutritional value, shelf-life, appearance, texture, and taste. As a result, these characteristics affect several aspects of your food quality. Not only does it impact the enjoyment of your meal, but also the safety, freshness, and nutrition of the food.

The ideal solution for your moisture and ash analysis needs is the Techcomp Lab Products by Precisa series 340 prepASH® thermogravimetric analyzer (TGA), which automatically measures moisture, ash, and loss on ignition at a reduced workload and cost.

Key points:

  • Moisture and ash content play a vital role in various aspects of the food industry, and affect quality, taste and nutrition.
  • To adhere to food standards, the moisture and ash content has to be analyzed to ensure it is within the limits set out by the relevant industry.
  • Moisture and ash content are analyzed through heating the sample at a specific temperature. For moisture this is normally between 100oC and 200oC, and ash content is normally determined at temperatures >600o
  • Having a reliable method you can utilize to measure the moisture and ash content is vital to ensure the highest quality food products, which is why Precisa developed the series 340 prepASH thermogravimetric analyzer (TGA)
  • The prepASH offers the flexibility to analyze your food samples, at any time, with the entire process being fully automated, resulting in the continual generation of viable and repeatable data.

Precisa's prepASH can be used for ash determination of ash content in food samples. What is Ash and Moisture Content in food?

Ash content refers to the minerals and inorganic substances left after heating to extremely high temperatures to remove moisture, volatiles, and all organic materials. Following this, the leftover product is known as ash (otherwise known as inorganic materials). These inorganic materials include the salts of:

  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Sodium
  • Potassium
  • Manganese
  • Zinc
  • Iron

Ash determination of food can indicate how much processing it has undergone. Ash content analysis can be performed using Precisa's Ash Determination equipment

Moisture content refers to the total amount of volatiles such as water, alcohol, and flavors which are present; in terms of food samples, moisture content refers to any volatiles within the food product.

Moisture and ash are crucial analytical values in food samples and provide information on important attributes of food products including:

  • Nutritional value
  • Shelf-life
  • Appearance
  • Texture
  • Taste

Why Measure Ash and Moisture Content in Food?

Measuring the ash content in food is important for a few reasons. Ash content can affect different characteristics of food including physiochemical and nutritional properties.

Ash Determination of food samples is part of the proximate analysis necessary for nutritional evaluation. This ensures the safety of foods, making sure there are no toxic minerals present. The ash content in food can also impact the taste, texture and stability of foods so it is vital to know the mineral content for quality control purposes.

Understanding the moisture content of food is necessary for quality and taste, and is also an essential parameter of analysis, as moisture content in certain food products is tightly regulated. In the EU, there are marketing standards for food products to ensure consistency with the product. For poultry products, this standard affects the chilling method used during processing, for example, air chilling methods only allow for a moisture content of 2%. This is regulated to prevent manufacturers from using water to increase the products weight and ensures that consumers do not receive products with excessive moisture content.

How Does Moisture and Ash Content Provide Information on Food Quality?

Moisture and ash content provide vital information about food quality, with ash content indicating how processed the food is.

Ash content provides vital information towards the nutritional value of food and can be used as an indicator on how processed different food items are. More processed foods tend to have a higher ash content when compared to natural foods, which contain a lower ash content. For example, pure oil and fats can have an ash content as low as 0%, whereas processed dried meats can contain up to 12% ash content.  Processed foods are gaining popularity due to their affordability and scalability. However, they are recognised for their adverse health outcomes: they are high in salt, saturated fats, fatty acids, and sugar. Excess of these ingredients has been shown to increase the risk of developing certain health issues, which include obesity, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases. On the other hand, processed foods can also be beneficial. They reduce the risk of foodborne pathogens that cause health issues. Overall, it is vital to understand how much ash content is present in your food to understand these nutritional factors.

How Do You Determine Moisture and Ash Content in Food?

Moisture content: determined through heating the sample at a specific temperature until it reaches a constant weight (the weight loss is the moisture content).

Ash content: determined through heading the sample at a very high temperature (typically >600oC) to remove all organic material.

Series 340 prepASH® : the optimal solution for moisture and ash content analysis

The Techcomp Lab Products by Precisa Series 340 prepASH Thermogravimetric Analyzer (TGA)  is the optimal solution for moisture and ash content analysis for food samples and offers the flexibility for sample analysis at any time, with the process being fully automated. Combining furnace, high precision balance, and automation, to create the optimal solution for moisture and ash analysis, and results in the continual generation of viable and repeatable data.

The benefits of the Series 340 prepASH® TGA for thermogravimetric ash analysis of food
The benefits of the Series 340 prepASH® TGA for thermogravimetric analysis

Maximize productivity through increased sample throughput whilst simultaneously reducing costs is just the beginning regarding the benefits of the prepASH. You can determine multiple constituent analysis from one sample in one run – this means the process is simplified to generate data on various factors which includes:

  • Moisture
  • Volatile matter
  • Ash content
  • Sulfated ash content
  • Loss on ignition (LOI)


If you’d like to hear more about how the prepASH could be beneficial to your lab, contact us today and we will be happy to discuss your requirements further.

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