Methods of Water Testing
Ensure that your water is safe to drink and acceptable for other household uses
By Josienita Borlongan
Testing water to ensure that it is safe for human consumption is important for your health and well-being. It gives you the peace of mind that you are drinking and cooking with water that is free of contaminants, such as harmful chemicals and bacteria. Finding if there are issues with your drinking water may help you detect whether it is local to your water system or the city's main water supply. Early detection can help in resolving the problem before it becomes widespread.
Testing water using test strips is an economical and quick way to test water without the need for chemical solutions and powders. Gather a sample of water, dip the test strips and compare the results to the chart provided by the manufacturer. There are two types of test strips -- single and multi-factor. Use single-factor test strips to test only one factor at a time, for example, alkalinity, chlorine total, hardness (low range), pH (wide range) and peroxide. On the other hand, using multi-factor test strips can test more than one factor at a time, for example, iron tested with copper, or iron with pH and hardness, as well as other combinations. Water test strips are portable, inexpensive, and fast; however, they are the least accurate of the standard testing systems.
Compared to test strips, color comparators make use of chemical solutions, tablets or powders that act as reagents. Use the supplied tube from the manufacturer, place the water sample on one side and add the wide-range indicator solution. Cover the tube and invert it several times. Insert the tube in the comparator tube, hold it up against natural light and compare the results with the color chart. Record the value. Color comparators can check pH value, nitrate, dissolved oxygen and other factors. They are more expensive than test strips, but the reagents used are cheaper in comparison to photometer reagents. Once you own have a comparator kit, reagent refill purchases are pretty cheap for basic tests, but more expensive for detecting advanced elements such as lead, copper, and iron. Color comparators are more accurate than test strips, but less accurate than photometers.
Photometers provide more accurate and objective results compared to test strips and color comparators. A photometer is an electronic method of water testing and is, therefore, more expensive. Add reagents similar to the ones used by color comparators. Use a photometer for faster, safer, easier and more precise water testing. Photometers can test pH, nitrite, chlorine, bromine, calcium hardness and other factors. Many companies offer a service where you can send in a sample of your water and have it professionally analyzed by a spectrophotometer, a photometer that can measure intensity as a function of the color of light.
About the Author
Josie Borlongan is a regular contributor to DexKnows.
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