A titer is a way of expressing concentration. Titer testing employs serial dilution to obtain approximate quantitative information from an analytical procedure that inherently only evaluates as positive or negative. The titer corresponds to the highest dilution factor that still yields a positive reading. For example, positive readings in the first 8 serial twofold dilutions translate into a titer of 1:256 (i.e., 2−8). Titers are sometimes expressed by the denominator only, for example 1:256 is written 256.
The term has also two other, conflicting meanings. In titration, the titer is the ratio of actual to nominal concentration of a titrant, e.g. a titer of 0.5 would require 1/0.5 = 2 times more titrant than nominal. This is to compensate for possible degradation of the titrant solution. Second, in textile engineering, titer is a synonym for linear density.
A specific example is a viral titer, which is the lowest concentration of virus that still infects cells. To determine the titer, several dilutions are prepared, such as 10−1, 10−2, 10−3, ... 10−8.
The titer of a fat is the temperature, in degrees Celsius, at which it solidifies. The higher the titer, the harder the fat. This titer is used in determining whether an animal fat is considered tallow (titer higher than 40 °C) or a grease (titer below 40 °C).
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