Why test your water
Water looks clear, no matter what tiny particles are lurking in it. It is incredibly hard to tell what is in your water just by looking at it. While most compounds found in water are harmless in small amounts, in larger amounts they can cause quite the problem. And remember, you aren’t just drinking one glass of water. You will consume liters of water every day at home from the same water source.
Minerals such as lead and copper can stay in your body, and over time the buildup of these seemingly tiny particles can actually cause real health issues. The biggest problem with drinking water systems is that they rely on older infrastructure. Water pipes can be up to 50 years older or more in some towns. Those pipes can start to erode overtime, silently releasing chemicals into your water.
If you have well water then you especially need to be vigilant about your water supply. Well water is exposed to more natural elements, and the quality of it can change rather rapidly.
Finally, water is more than just for drinking. If you have a swimming pool, your water needs to be tested almost daily. Pool water relies on a fine balance of chemicals to keep it safe and clean. Properly test those chemicals to ensure swimming is a pleasurable activity. And for those animal lovers, if you own an aquarium, a water test kit is essential. Fish need a delicate balance to thrive, and you don’t want your fish to go belly up because you forgot to test their water.
Features to consider when choosing a water test kit
Within the category of water test kits there are a lot to choose from. With the many different types available, it can quickly become overwhelming trying to find one that works for your needs. To this end, understanding the features of a water test kit can help you better compare different products. These following features are what you should know to help you decide on the best water test kit.
If it’s a DIY kit or a lab kit
DIY stands for Do It Yourself. DIY kits can be performed at home. They can range in complexity. Some, like the TETRA EasyStrips Ammonia Aquarium Test Strips and the AquaChek Pool Water Test Strips are just strips. You dip them in the water you want to test, usually a pool or aquarium, and the test strip will show a couple of different chemical levels.
More advanced DIY kits will have test strips and maybe even extra chemicals to add to the water to test for more contaminants. Usually, the price of a DIY kit is reflected in what it tests for and how many tests are included in a package.
In contrast to DIY kits are lab kits. In this case, you simply fill up a container or two. Then, send the bottles into the lab where they will perform a detailed analysis. Thanks to technology, you get your results back quite quickly via email or a website.
Lab kits are more expensive than DIY kits but they are more reliable. If you don’t have the money for a lab kit, be sure to find a DIY kit that has a proven track record. Kits that are made in the USA are usually a bit more consistent. Reviews from previous customers are also essential as it paints a broader picture of the results in multiple situations.
What exactly it tests
While you’ll be testing your water overall, each test kit will actually test different things. This is especially true depending on what type of water you are testing.
For instance, well water should be tested not only for bacteria but also if it is hard water. Something like the Hach Total Hardness Test Kit tests specifically for hard water caused by a buildup of minerals in well water. On the other hand, the WaterSafe Well Water Test Kit tests for multiple elements including chlorine, lead, and even bacteria.
Similarly, you can purchase specific test kits for aquariums or broad-range tests. The TETRA EasyStrips Ammonia Aquarium Test Strips just test for ammonia in your aquarium. If you want a more comprehensive aquarium test kit, the ATI ICP-OES Complete Saltwater Water Test Kit is better suited to your needs, although it is made specifically for saltwater tanks, not freshwater ones.
Finally, if you are testing your pool you can either use strips or a kit. The AquaChek Pool Water Test Strips test for seven contaminants including chlorine, bromine, and pH levels. In contrast, the LaMotte ColorQ Pro 7 Digital Pool Water Test Kit is a full-service kit that uses more sophisticated measures to test your pool water.
Really, whatever your water needs are, there is a test kit for you. If everything is starting to feel too overwhelming again, start with what body of water you need to be tested. Pool water, drinking water, and aquarium water are the basic categories. Then, within them decide if you want a comprehensive kit or just an easy to use, everyday test. Once you start narrowing down your options it will become much easier to find the right product.
How much time it requires
This feature of water test kits makes it really hard to compare products and it really comes down to the type of water test kit.
Strips, either for your pool water or aquarium water, take mere seconds to work. The TETRA EasyStrips Ammonia Aquarium Test Strips are the fastest working products on our list as they only take seconds for results to show up.
If you are using a more in-depth DIY kit, such as the Culligan Essential Water Lab Test Kit, you can expect results after about ten minutes.
Finally, there are lab test kits. These require you to take samples of your water and ship them to a lab for the water to be professionally tested. While the time it takes to get a sample is just seconds long, getting your results back can take quite a while. The Safe Home ULTIMATE Drinking Water Test Kit has the shortest time at 7 to 10 days. Meanwhile, the ATI ICP-OES Complete Saltwater Water Test Kit can take 14 days. The one good thing about lab tests is that thanks to technology, it takes far less time to get results than it used to. Instead of waiting for your water results to be mailed back to you, you can see your results online. This is either through an email or via a website.
In addition to the standard features most water test kits have are more lucrative features.
For instance, when you purchase the TETRA EasyStrips Ammonia Aquarium Test Strips you can also download the TETRA MY app. You can track your water sample results and join a large aquarium-enthusiasts community. Not only will you be able to better monitor your aquarium’s water but you’ll also have access to helpful tips and tons of expert knowledge.
Water test kits are only good if they are accurate. One way to be certain of this is if the test kit is made in the USA. If it is, then you can count on it meeting strict guidelines. The Health Metric Home Drinking Water Test Kit is one kit that is made in the USA. While other kits might be just as good, knowing where it’s manufactured can give you some much needed peace of mind.
When in doubt, you can always look to brand name recognition as a bonus feature. While there are plenty of new or lesser known products that are amazing, a solid brand name means it’s been around for a while and has the infrastructure in place, including good customer service, for a positive experience. On our list of best water test kits, you can find brand names such as Culligan and TETRA. These are two companies you can definitely trust and if you’re not sure where to start on your product search, they are a good place to start.
Finally, certifications are another way of knowing you can trust a product. The Safe Home ULTIMATE Drinking Water Test Kit has been bestowed with Good Housekeeping’s Seal of Approval. It had to go rigorous testing for this so you know you can trust this product.