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The following remarks and instructions assume a properly zeroed and calibrated Halimeter®.

Many Halimeter® users want to know what concentration of volatile sulfur compounds (VSC) constitutes a finding of “bad breath.” If the answer to this question is to have any consistency, it is clear that the method of obtaining the breath sample must not only be consistent, it must employ clinically proven techniques. Remember that the Halimeter’s sensor will faithfully display the VSC concentration presented to it, but cannot compensate for a breath sample that has not been properly incubated, or that may have been diluted inadvertently.

By “incubation,” we mean that the patient’s mouth has to be held closed, with breathing only through the nose, for a particular length of time, before the sample is taken. Ideally, the patient should also refrain from food, smoking, drinking (water is allowed), and oral hygiene for 3-4 hours before the testing.

Experience has shown that a sample incubation time of 3 minutes produces the best results, and beginning in October, 2002, Halimeters have been provided with an automatic countdown timer (counting down and displaying the seconds remaining) to facilitate this process. Users of older models can utilize commercially-available digital countdown timers.

Just before the timer times out, the patient is instructed to take a deep breath through the nose, and, with breath held, then place the straw (already connected to the Halimeter) into the mouth. The straw is placed as far back into the mouth as it can be, without touching any surface, and the lips are gently closed. Take care that the mouth is NOT closed tightly around the straw.  A very small gap is preferred.  The sampling begins.

Peak value should be reached in about 20 seconds, although in certain cases, it may take slightly longer. The newer Halimeters are provided with a 30-second sample timer, which starts, and then shuts off the sample data collection (even though the pump continues to run). The peak reading is automatically held in memory, and is averaged with two successive samples.

Again, experience has shown that taking three samples, recording the peaks, and then calculating the average provides maximum accuracy.

Users of older Halimeters, not equipped with the automation features, can still, of course, apply the same sampling protocol of…

  • 3-4 hour pre-sampling abstinence by patient
  • 3 minute sample incubation
  • Deep breath, held breath, and proper straw insertion, with gently closed lips
  • Record peak sample value
  • Take three samples, calculate average peak


Rest assured that better sampling technique will produce better and more consistent results. For further information, please contact our service department.