For many years now, we have all known that tap water has a certain degree of contaminants that gardening experts don’t even recommend for our plants, let alone for ourselves.
That said, a water test kit is the right thing to buy if you want more information on the everyday water you’re using, so let’s learn more about what these babies can do.
Benefits of a Water Test Kit
Sure, the obvious reason for purchasing a water testing kit is to detect various water contaminants but there are actually a lot more hidden perks to making this purchase:
- First of all, you won’t need to have any professional service to determine the water contamination levels because you can do that by yourself with this type of kit. Not only that, but you can also find out the exact contaminants that are in the water. It’s true that lab testing is different compared to home kits but they are still something that can provide you with valuable information.
- You won’t have to wait for lab results to come in anymore. If you decide to turn to experts for testing, you will be required to wait for the lab analysis to return, which can take a while. Plus, in these dire times, you want to avoid any unwanted people crossing your doorstep, and professional water testing sometimes requires an expert coming over to pick up the samples.
- It’s not a complicated process to do by yourself. You simply have to follow the manufacturer’s instructions, which mostly imply collecting water into containers. The steps for using the kit as well as the result interpretations are provided with the purchase of your kit.
- Such a test can also help you determine if you have any filtration devices that are simply not doing their job. Furthermore, this can help you decide if you want to get new systems, like maybe a disinfectant shower hear or a new under-the-sink filtration unit. Whatever the case, a water testing kit will give you the information needed to decide what are the right measures to take to benefit from a cleaner and safer water.
How to Choose a Water Test Kit
Whenever you purchase a product for the first time, it’s natural to have a lot of questions regarding the best set of features that can make or break the deal. When it comes to a water test kit, there are three important factors to keep in mind as a shopper:
- The water source – It’s not uncommon to come across water test kits that are catered to the specific collection source. For instance, some of them are better for pool water, while others are more suitable for tap water. That’s because the water you drink is usually tested for a different variety of contaminants compared to the water you sometimes just swim in. So, it is only natural to buy a water testing kit that addresses the potential list of contaminants found in that water source.
- The testing procedure – There are mainly two types of water test kits that money can buy: the ones that you have to see through yourself from start to finish and the ones that require a sample collection which is then sent to a lab for a more comprehensive set of analysis. Naturally, there are pros and cons to each of the two. People who typically choose a water test kit they can do themselves at home are those that are too eager to wait for the results or simply want to know about the potential presence of some common water contaminants. Lab testing, on the other hand, takes longer, but it often delivers an in-detail report of your current water status.
- The contaminants – Last, but not least, you should know that not every water test kit available on the market can detect the same type of contaminants as all the others. Most of the good kits should be able to test for common contaminants, which include copper, lead, chlorine, and iron. The less expensive kits will usually test for one or two contaminants, which is why most people choose more complex kits so they can get more contaminant-related information.
How to Test Your Water
Hard water is pain to have to deal with. If you want to know how to test water softness, here are a few methods that might help you:
- Your city might provide you with this information without you having to do anything. Your water supplier will be able to give you intel on the source of your water, as well as what it contains, so it’s likely to include the water hardness as well. Alternatively, calling your local water municipality might also provide you with this information.
- A water hardness test kit might also be able to help you. These kits usually cost less than $15 and they come with test strips and a color chart so that you can identify your water hardness. Once you receive your water hardness testing kit, you fill a glass with cold water, place the test strip inside it, and remove it after a few seconds (the instructions delivered with your water hardness testing kit will tell you just how long you have to wait). You will notice that the strip chances color, and then you can compare it with the included color chart.
- If you don’t want to purchase a water hardness testing kit, there is another and less accurate method to test water hardness. Grab a clean and clear empty bottle, fill it about 30 percent with water from the tap, add a few drops of whatever pure liquid soap you might have in your home, close the bottle and shake it. If the water is hard, you will notice the water is cloudy/milky and there aren’t any fluffy bubbles.
Water Hardness Scale
Hard water can be a rather complicated topic because of the technical details that you have to know if you want to understand more about what soft and hard water actually means. For instance, water hardness is measured in gpgs, which is short for “grain per gallon”.
Some water testing methods will give you a number and, based on that number, you can identify the water hardness in your home:
- If the number is between 0 and 3, that means that you don’t need water softening.
- Numbers between 3 and 7 indicate the water is moderately hard and it can leave you with dry skin and spotted dishes.
- Numbers between 7 and 11 show you that your water is mineral-packed, leading to problems such as crusty faucets and pipes.
- When your water is between 11 and 15, that means that it’s very hard.
- Any number above 15 tells you that you’re about to deal with all major problems caused by hard water: very dry skin, iron stain, soap scump, spotty dishes, etc.
A water softener can go a long way in helping you solve this problem. Here are a few water softener facts that might help you:
- A water softener usually regenerates every 5 to 10 days.
- Some water softeners will only regenerate when needed, so a 40-pound bag added every 6 to 8 weeks to your softener should do the trick.
- A highly-efficient water softener shouldn’t cost you more than $4 each year.
Best Water Test Kits
Moving on, let’s examine some of the best-selling and most reliable water test kits on the market and, who knows, your future purchase might be somewhere in this list.
Our first item of the day is a testing kit that requires gathering drinking water samples and sending them out for lab testing. The lab is EPA-certified and cleared to be safe during these dire pandemic times, making sure that all their procedures are in line with CDC standards (a feature that shouldn’t be underestimated given the current worldwide situation).
The kit and the lab results will guarantee the analysis of no less than 200 contaminants, including metals, in-organics, VOCs and semi-VOCs, and even physical properties (such as pH, bicarbonate, or alkalinity). While the kit is pretty expensive compared to what people normally expect to pay for a product like this, it is also one of the most comprehensive and complete options on the market.
You can expect to get the results back in a maximum of 10 business days. Sending the samples to the lab is also free of any additional charge. The kit even included a DIY water bacteria test for E. coli.
- 200 contaminant testing.
- Includes DIY E. coli test kit.
- Free lab shipping costs.
- EPA-certified lab.
- Free kit if test results are not on time.
- Takes a long time
If you’re looking for a more basic kit that can test the water for four common contaminants, this might be the right product for you. This is the type of kit that you see yourself from start to finish, with a promise of results being ready for interpretation in 15 minutes or less. The kit includes a lead test, and two tests for iron, copper, and mercury.
Along with the actual materials needed for the test, you will also receive a set of clear instructions that will show you how to take the samples and how to interpret the test results, so you’ll know what you’re up against. This water metal test will show you exactly which of the aforementioned metals are present in your home’s water supply.
- Easy to use.
- Results in 15 minutes.
- Highly-sensitive tests.
- Free user guide.
- A limited number of contaminant detection.
Up next, we have another testing kit that’s suitable for drinking water, giving you more information on the contaminants that are potentially found in yours. The kit contains a bacteria test, alongside two nitrate and nitrite tests, two manganese tests, two hydrogen sulfide tests, and 2 three-way tests for pH, total hardness, and alkalinity.
Every kit is calibrated to meet EPA standards and will make sure that you are given all the instructions needed to interpret the results and understand more about the water your family is drinking. The free user guide is pretty easy to follow, with color-coded information to compare your samples with.
- 8 contaminant tests.
- Free user guide.
- Results are easy to interpret.
- Good price.
- Water measuring tool not included.
Yet another drinking water test kit comes your way because it’s always better to have a wider pool of products to choose from rather than having a single brand monopolize the market. Don’t you just love the buyer’s freedom of choice? But enough daydreaming, and let’s get down to serious business and see what the Watersafe water test kit can do.
It is a DIY test kit that will help you identify some of the most common contaminants found in tap water, including copper, nitrate, nitrite, chlorine, lead, pesticides, and other information, like pH and hardiness. The kit comes with test strips for all the aforementioned contaminants, but also items like test vials and a detailed guide on how to use the strips and interpret the results.
- Good price.
- Multiple contaminant detection.
- Can measure pH level.
- Easy instructions.
- Complaints about ease of use.
As we move on through our list of best water test kits, we present Tap Score: a kit that uses EPA lab testing methods to analyze the potential presence of more than 100 chemicals that could be contaminating the water in your house. Unlike most of the other kits in our list, this product requires gathering water samples and sending them to a specialized lab for testing and results interpretation.
The comprehensive report that is returned to you contains in-depth information that is bountiful in terms of water knowledge, so you’ll know exactly where you stand. You will also receive water treatment advice that promises to be unbiased (which means the company isn’t working with other brands and won’t attempt to shove specific products down your throat).
The set of tests performed includes metals and minerals testing (zinc, aluminum, sodium, etc.), pathogens (like coliform), VOCs, and also provides general information about your water, like total hardness, alkalinity, and much more.
- Sterilized water sampling vials.
- More than 100 tests.
- E-mailed report in 10 days.
- Water cleaning advice.
- Free return shipping.
- Not great for extremely hard water
What may appear to be a fun chemistry kit for children is actually a water testing kit for your own adult DIY project: determining what contaminants are in your swimming pool water. The kit allows you to test pool water for chlorine, pH, bromine, total alkalinity, and acid demand.
You have color scales so that you may compare the test results and see what you’re up against. You are also given specific instructions on how to use the kit, which is very simple I might add. When you want to perform multiple tests, make sure that you carefully rinse the test vials to avoid any residue that might affect the next batch of results.
- Very easy to use.
- Storage case included.
- 5 testing options.
- Low price.
- Complaints about color readability/identification.
If you want to check the hardness levels of your water, then this is the test to buy. It doesn’t measure other contaminants and that’s something also reflected in the price, being the least expensive water test kit we’ve shown you today. What this product does is deliver 150 test strips (which allow you to test hardness 150 times) so that you can always know what you’re dealing with.
The test results are extremely fast and the strip container has six different color codes that will allow quick comparisons. Performing the actual test is as easy as dipping the test strip in water. You also get a free ebook and app with your purchase, both of them providing more insight on what each test result means for you and your family.
- Very easy to use.
- Up to 150 tests.
- Easy to interpret.
- Free app.
- Free ebook.
- Very basic water-related information.
We’re ending our list of best water test kits with a product from SJ Wave. This kit is designed to test 16 different parameters that will give you an overview of the water you’re currently drinking, busting or confirming your suspicions of contaminated tap water. The kit comes with 100 test strips, a testing tube and a dropper, a color-coded instruction manual, a testing record chart with WHO-provided information, and a comprehensive drinking water ebook.
The test is designed to measure pH levels, total alkalinity, but also to detect the presence of chlorine, nitrate, nitrite, lead, copper, iron, and others. The procedure is very simple, with instruction on how to use the strips and interpret the results. The 100 strips are divided into batches of 10 strips sealed in a bag to ensure longer shelf life.
- 16 parameters testing.
- 100 strips.
- Strips sealed in batches of 10.
- Easy to use.
- Color-coded instructions.
- Free ebook.
- Complaints about inaccuracy.
According to the EPA, you should test your water at least once per year (although other experts suggest doing it about once every trimester), which makes a water testing kit an excellent idea. Whether you opt for a DIY kit or a complete lab analysis, it’s important for you to know the type of water that your body comes in contact with, whether it’s for drinking or showering.
More often than not, tap water has been the renegade of hydration for families all across the globe. Do you know what’s inside your tap water?