Customer Review

169 of 173 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent for use in cooking, quite affordable, November 5, 2007
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I bought this to use at my stove when cooking. It takes a little getting used to, since surface temperatures are significantly different from interior temperatures. Like, when cooking caramel, the surface temperature seems usually to be about 10F cooler than the interior (measured with a normal digital thermometer), whereas things in the oven, the surface will obviously be much hotter than the interior (so much hotter that this is really only useful on the stovetop.)

Once you learn to compensate for stovetop use, though, this thing is incredibly handy. Checking frying oil to make sure it's at 375F for best deep-frying results, checking on confections to stop them at the right temperature, making sure custards in a double-boiler aren't approaching a boil, I use this thing all the time. It sits on the shelf immediately above and to the left of my stove so it's within easy reach when my intuition isn't enough or I'm trying to do many things at once.

This was the least expensive one I could find on Amazon, too, with a decent FOV. For cooking, this one's 1:12 view cone is great -- means when you point and shoot from a foot away, it's sampling a 1" circle. Some of the other inexpensive ones have cheaper optics and some are as bad as 1:1, which means to sample a 1" circle you'd have to hold it an inch away from the surface -- completely unfeasible when cooking something like caramel, if you value your skin.
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Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 19, 2009 1:14:48 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 19, 2009 1:50:41 AM PDT
M Cox says:
The description above clearly says 1:2 spot ratio, not 1:12. Where did you get the 1:12 number? For the same price, you can get the KINTREX IRT0421 Non-Contact Infrared Thermometer with Laser Targeting here on Amazon with a clearly stated 1:12 specification and better temperature range. It appears to be a better all around value compared to this unit. I am going to order the Kintrex and then leave my impression in this comment when I have time to test it.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 3, 2009 1:34:18 PM PDT
J. Sayer says:
It is 1:12, you can check the manufacturer's website at http://www.mastercool.com/pages/infrared_thermometers.html.

Posted on Dec 21, 2009 6:51:21 PM PST
ceramicbrad says:
So many have commented on this unit but what about the WARRANTY ?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 8, 2010 2:51:30 PM PST
salsaman says:
Interesting question, not listed here or anywhere, and I can't find the manual online at Mastercool's site or elsewhere.

FWIW I have used an MT4 nearly daily for 2-3 years and it works like a champ in spite of a being dropped a number of times onto wood, tile, and linoleum floors-- definitely built to last.

Posted on Dec 6, 2010 11:33:26 AM PST
I don't understand: If you have to "compensate" for inaccuracies in the temperature reading--because it only reads the surface temperature--then, what is the real value of this thermometer? How could you give it a five star rating if you still need to use a good ole stick thermometer to double-check?

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 6, 2010 11:41:29 AM PST
Brian Sharp says:
I didn't mean you actually have to use a stick thermometer every time, just that you have to use this thing enough to get an intuition for what the internal temperature is if it says the surface temperature is X.

I gave it five stars because it does exactly what it says it does, very well, is well priced for its category, and I find it extremely useful.

I mean, it's like line chefs that can gauge how cooked a steak is from the way the meat feels. Yeah, you have to cook a few of them and use a thermometer first to understand the correlation, but once you get the hang of it, it's great.

Cooking caramel and confection with a thermometer dunked in there, usually clipped with some cheapo metal clip to the edge of the pan, making it hard to stir the liquid through where it is, potentially causing crystallization, constantly tilting and threatening to fall in? That's a pain. With this thing you just point and shoot. Yes, takes some getting used to, but not because it's doing anything wrong, just because it's giving a different - but related - measurement.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 6, 2010 2:24:38 PM PST
OK, so I hear what you are saying, and I understand totally about gauging how cooked a steak is by touching it. But, regarding candy-making, I am inexperienced, and I attribute all my "failures" to me not being precise with my temperatures. And, yes, I agree with you about the stick thermometer being an inconvenience--and unsafe--when attached to the inside of the pan. But if you have a "feeling" about when a solution has reached a soft-ball stage (for instance) then you can stick in an instant read thermometer and get a quick and accurate reading. Right? On the other hand, with this infrared thermometer, your surface temp will vary from the internal temp because of so, so many variables: Room temperature, room humidity, density of what is being tested, etc. Right? In my 100-year-old-farm-kitchen--this time of year--it can get pretty cold, and in the summer it can get pretty hot. So, I can't count on the interior temp being a set amount of degrees hotter than the surface.

I'm not looking for an argument here. This thermometer works for you in your situation. But I'm trying to learn. I'd like to buy one of these digital, infrared, laser thermometers because they look easier, cleaner and safer than stick thermometers--but only if they can give me a MORE accurate reading. I've read about some that show a temperature reading of a median, a low and a high. Having read that--and not understanding--I wonder if those thermometers (ok, they're more expensive) do the "guesswork" for you. But I can't get enough info from the product descriptions to make an educated interpretation.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 6, 2010 2:58:40 PM PST
Brian Sharp says:
Oh, no arguments at all - I wrote this review years ago and have since given the pyrometer to my dad, who uses it more than I did (I don't really make candy any more, trying to cut back on sugar intake and all that!) I'm happy to just discuss it.

When I used this pyrometer for candy-making, what I found was that if I stirred the solution - or just swished around in the pan like you want to do once you're worried about crystallization - I'd get a consistent temperature reading on the surface that told me what I needed to know. But yeah, it may vary a bit.

The thing is, thermometers all have their quirks. Harold McGee has some videos up here for his latest book, Keys to Cooking or something like that, where he talks about instant-read digital thermometers, and how most aren't at all "instant", and in fact you want to find the one that has the thinnest metal probe possible so the metal heats as fast as it can - and doesn't cool the surrounding material.

I have the Taylor digital stick thermometer they sell here on Amazon, it's yellow and waterproof and like fifteen bucks, and the probe is actually pretty thick. And it's true that for taking readings on candy syrups it takes several seconds to stabilize, maybe as many as 10-15 seconds if the thermometer is cool. And in that time it's cooling the surrounding syrup, unless you're constantly moving it, and if the syrup isn't deep enough you don't know if the probe is taking the most accurate sampling. And the candy can cook a degree or two while you're taking the reading. It's a risky business!

And then there are the normal thermometers - mercury or whatever the red stuff they use in them these days. The problem there is calibration, they're usually off a bit. You can fudge it by taking a reading off boiling water and seeing how far it is from 212F, but maybe it's not a constant offset, so you can take other samples at different temperatures and compare it to readings from a digital thermometer, but at some point it's not worth all the complication.

I don't know about the ones you're talking about that show a temperature range, but if they don't use a physical probe I don't know how they can give you an interior temperature. I'd guess it's still a surface reading.

I never tried using one of those roast probe thermometers. Those might be a good option, just leave the probe in, though the probe size is often pretty large and the part of the probe taking the reading isn't necessarily obvious so that might pose its own challenges.

I guess my point is, there's no perfect solution before you have the intuition. For me, when I was making candy regularly, it was just a question of which solutions helped me build the intuition. I think a combination is best. I used the best "instant"-read digital thermometer I had, plus this pyrometer, plus I kept a few plates in the freezer and a few glasses of cold water around so I could quickly chill a little syrup and see how it did.

For me, the truly instantaneous nature of this pyrometer was a huge asset. Yeah, it gave you a surface reading and you had to figure out how to compensate, but you're compensating with any thermometer - calibration, latency, etc.

Good luck! Making candy is really fun and rewarding - I always loved it because I'm an engineer and confection is one of the most rigorous and precise kinds of cooking, but still with ample room for artistry.

Posted on Feb 11, 2012 8:29:24 AM PST
This is the same review for all te ir thermometers I have looked at on Amazon. The product isn't named so the review works equally well (or poorly) with all the brands.

Posted on Mar 30, 2013 9:43:36 AM PDT
Dan Scheitel says:
Using it when cooking a stirred custard?
Custards only get barely cooked to 185F which is when the eggs fully coagulate. Custards should be cooked to 180, the point where it coats the back of a spoon--known as 'nappe'.

When heating just about any liquid on the stove you will notice that it will begin to just start steaming around the edges when it reaches about 160, that should be your guide that your custard is almost done.
Lose the thermometer. You don't need it.
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