Although many people are trying not to consume too much sodium, it can often be difficult to gauge just how much salt (aka sodium chloride) is in that restaurant entree or pre-packaged meal that you’re eating. There’s now a portable gadget that will tell you, though – it’s Thanko’s Handy Salt Meter.

Powered by four 1.5-volt LR44 batteries, the device has a copper sensor at one end that the user lowers into a hot, liquid item (such as soup, sauce or noodle broth) while depressing the power button. Almost instantly, an LED display will light up along the side, indicating the percentage of salt content within the food. Concentrations running from 0.3 to 2.0 percent can be displayed – any higher than 2 percent, and you presumably shouldn’t be eating it.

In order for the readout to really mean anything, however, the user will also have to know the weight of the food itself. As an example (as provided by Thanko), a 1 percent reading on a 100-gram bowl of broth means that if you eat the whole serving, you’ll ingest one gram of salt.

That food-weighing and math-doing might be more work than some dieters would wish to do. Additionally, the meter can’t be used on solid or cold foods – its operational range is 60 to 80ºC (140 to 176ºF). It is relatively inexpensive, though, at US$19.80 a unit. It can be purchased at Thanko’s online shop, via the link below.

Source: Thanko via C/NET