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The poise is often used with the metric prefix centi- because the viscosity of water at 20C is almost exactly 1 centipoise. A centipoise is one one-hundredth of a poise, and one millipascal-second (mPa·s) in SI units. (1 cP = 10−2 P = 10−3 Pa·s = 1 mPa·s)
Centipoise is properly abbreviated cP, but the alternative abbreviations cps, cp, and cPs are also commonly seen.
Use in laboratory
A viscometer can be used to measure viscosity and might read in centipoise.
When determining centipoise, all other fluids are calibrated to the viscosity of distilled water at STP. (in some practices, one can use the following approximation: water at approximately 70 °F (21 °C) is about one centipoise).
Thicker liquids, like honey, have higher viscosities. For example, while ethylene glycol has a viscosity of just 24 centipoise at 23 C, honey has a viscosity of 2 000 centipoise and molasses has a viscosity of 5 000 centipoise. Lard has a viscosity of 100 000 centipoise.
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