9 Best Water Test Kits — Reviews and Buying Guide

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Last updatedLast updated: August 04, 2021
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Water is all around us, but how safe is it, really? If you’ve ever wondered just what is in your water, whether it’s what you drink or what you swim in, investing in the best water test kit can give you much needed peace of mind. There are plenty of water test kits that work for just about any types of water, including well water and aquarium water. In just a few simple steps you can test to see what your water levels are.

After considering over 30 different options, we’ve found nine water test kits that really stand out. Among them is our Editor’s Choice, the Health Metric Home Drinking Water Test Kit. It is an easy to use kit that tests for copper, lead, and even various strands of bacteria. In just 30 minutes you can have results to show how safe your water is.

All of the products we found have reviews that explain their features, pros, and cons. In addition, we have put together a buying guide. It further describes all the features that can be found in water tests kits so that you can quickly become an expert. If you’re still not sure of something, just check out our frequently asked questions section. All together, we want you to have confidence in the water test kit you need and ultimately, your water.

Top 9 Water Test Kits Review 2021

  • Type: DIY
  • What it tests: lead, copper, bacteria, nitrate, nitrite, chlorine, alkalinity, pH, hardness
  • Test time: 30-45 min. all in all

For a comprehensive, reliable water test kit, the Health Metric Home Drinking Water Test Kit really fits the bill. It is able to test for anything you might be worried about in your water. This includes lead, copper, and iron.

What’s more, is that you can compare the results you get from the kit with EPA-guidelines so you know exactly how safe your water is.

While some test kits are made overseas, the Health Metric Home Drinking Water Test Kit is manufactured in the USA. Having such a product made here, where you know it has undergone strenuous testing, means investing in a product that will definitely work.

You can use the Health Metric Home Drinking Water Test Kit with just about any bodies of water. Tap water, well water, pools, and aquariums can all benefit from this test kit.

While this is a low-cost product, it is pretty much a one-use kit. It does come with two strips for some tests, such as chlorine and pH, there is only one strip for lead, copper, and bacteria. It would be nice if there were at least two strips for every test so that you could perform two comprehensive tests with one package.

Still, this water test kit has excellent reviews from previous customers. The results are accurate, the test strips are easy to use, and the whole package offers really good value for money. Even if you have to order multiple of these test kits over time, it is sill a good bargain.

What makes it special?

  • Made in the USA
  • Great customer feedback
  • Results are accurate

What cons did we find?

  • Only contains one test strip for lead, copper, and bacteria
  • Type: lab
  • What it tests: 200 contaminants
  • Test time: 7-10 business days

The problem with water test kits is that you can never be quite sure how accurate they are. They might seem like they’re measuring different levels in your water, but how confident are you that they pain the full picture?

The Safe Home ULTIMATE Drinking Water Test Kit is our Premium Choice for a reason. With this kit you know that the results are accurate. What’s more is that the kit tests for an impressive 200 different contaminants, all in one test.

The Safe Home ULTIMATE Drinking Water Test Kit is recognized by a lot of institutions for being the best. It has earned the Good Housekeeping Institute’s Seal of Approval. It also was recognized as a top new product at the National Hardware Show. With over four million kits having been sold and amazing customer reviews, this is the water test kit that is as close to perfection as it gets.

The Safe Home ULTIMATE Drinking Water Test Kit is a lab kit. All you need to do is fill the containers with your drinking water. Then, ship the containers to the laboratory facility. In just a few days you will receive your lab report by email.

The test is a one-time use kit. It is quite expensive, so is best for your annual water test. If you just need to test pool water or aquarium water, this is definitely not for you.

What do we love it for?

  • Tests for 200 contaminants
  • Lab report is detailed and comprehensive
  • Very easy to use

What were we disappointed with?

  • Quite expensive

ATI ICP-OES Complete Saltwater Water Test KitBest Aquarium Lab Water Test Kit

  • Type: lab
  • What it tests: chloride, sodium, sulphur, magnesium, calcium, potassium, bromine, strontium, boron, aluminium, antimony, arsenic, barium, beryllium, bismuth, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, copper, iron, iodine, lead, lithium, manganese, mercury, molybdenum, nickel, phosphorus, selenium, silicon, silver, thallium, tin, titanium, vanadium and zinc
  • Test time: about 14 days

There are two main types of water test kits. Those you can do at home, and those you need to send into a lab. While it may be cheaper to perform a test at home, you won’t get the accuracy of a lab test.

If you’re particularly worried about the quality of your aquarium’s water and want to find out just what is in it, a lab test, like the Hach Total Hardness Test Kit, is the way to go.

This high-performance water test kit is easy and accurate. Simply fill the vials with the water you want to test. Then, ship it with the prepaid label to the laboratory. The results are then provided in about two weeks. This is a bit longer than some other lab kits, but the accuracy is well worth the wait.

Within this lab test kit, it will test for common elements such as chloride, calcium, and Sulphur. Other elements it will test for include arsenic, lead, and iron. Furthermore, unlike other more basic lab test kits, this one will test for salinity and KH. The comprehensive results allow you to see the whole picture of your water.

This test is perfect for saltwater aquariums. So often we just don’t know what is hiding in our water and your fish deserve all the answers. You might have to spend a bit extra with this test, but the peace of mind it can bring for both you and your fish is well worth it.

What are our favorite features?

  • Tests for a very large range of elements
  • Easy to use
  • Includes pre-paid shipping label

What could be better?

  • Takes at least 2 weeks to get results

TETRA EasyStrips Ammonia Aquarium Test StripsBest Aquarium Water Test Kit

  • Type: DIY
  • What it tests: ammonia
  • Test time: 10 sec.

When you think about water test kits you might immediately think about your own drinking water. And while that is important, what about your amphibian friends who live in water? Aquariums are awesome to have in the home. They provide ambiance and a creative hobby. But what happens if the water just isn’t right?

Because your aquarium is a small container of water, the chemical levels can quickly alter in it. Even larger aquariums can have their water change overnight. If there is too much ammonia in the water, this can create a hazardous environment for your fish. Too much ammonia means not enough oxygen in the water and the result is fish floating belly-up.

The solution, however, is extremely easy. Simply test your aquarium’s water with TETRA EasyStrips Ammonia Aquarium Test Strips.

Just dip one strip into your aquarium. Remove and wait ten seconds. Your test strip will change color, and you can use it to learn how much ammonia is in the water.

What’s really great about the TETRA EasyStrips Ammonia Aquarium Test Strips is that you can use them for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums.

Furthermore, you can actually upload your results into the TETRA MY Aquarium app. You can track your water’s history and have access to aquarium tips.

Overall, this is a solid product. A liquid kit may be more accurate, but the test strips are inexpensive and can be used as often as you deem necessary.

What are our favorite features?

  • Very affordable
  • Offers very quick results
  • Extremely easy to use

What could be better?

  • Liquid kit type is more accurate
  • Type: DIY
  • What it tests: lead, pesticide, bacteria, nitrate, nitrite, hardness, iron, pH, chlorine, and copper + TDS meter
  • Test time: about 10 min. each

The one-off cost of a water test kit might not seem too expensive but if you plan on testing your water over and over again, the price can quickly add up. For those looking for a solid product that doesn’t break the bank, try the Culligan Essential Water Lab Test Kit.

Within this water lab test kit, you will receive the necessary resources to test for bacteria, nitrates, pesticides, lead, iron, pH levels, and many more.

The kit is made so that you can test everything you want to learn about right at home. This DIY kit means not having to spend days or even weeks waiting for your results from a lab.

The fact that the Culligan Essential Water Lab Test Kit tests for pesticides is a really nice touch. Pesticides can too easily seep into ground water or even get blown into pool water. Furthermore, just because you don’t use pesticides in your garden, doesn’t mean your neighbors don’t. In fact, the point of a water test kit is to find out everything you didn’t know that is in your water.

The Culligan Essential Water Lab Test Kit is really easy to use. The instructions are simple and well layer-out so you can get to testing your water at home with no issues.

Of course, a DIY kit does have its limitations. If you like the look of this kit but want more, you can always try the Comprehensive Kit from Culligan. It has everything the Essential kit has plus the ability to send your tests to a lab.

Why did it make our list?

  • Easy to follow instructions
  • Affordable price
  • Option to upgrade to send in for lab testing

What is not ideal about it?

  • Only has enough strips for one use

AquaChek Pool Water Test StripsBest Pool Test Strips

  • Type: DIY
  • What it tests: free chlorine, total chlorine, bromine, total hardness, total alkalinity, pH and cyanuric acid
  • Test time: 15 sec.

Those that have a pool learn a few things quickly. One, you’ll soon meet all your neighbors. And two, nobody likes a dirty pool. To help you quickly check your pool water, use a product like AquaChek Pool Water Test Strips.

In just 15 seconds, you can know all the vital levels of your pool water. Simply take a test strip, dip it right into your water, and almost instantaneously you’ll know what your water levels are at. The test kit includes an easy to read color chart that you can match up to know what the levels are at.

The AquaChek Pool Water Test Strips test for chlorine, alkalinity, pH, and more. Included in your package are 100 test strips. This gives really good value for money. While you will still need a supplementary, more comprehensive water test kit, these strips are perfect for testing your water on a quick, daily basis.

The only real issue with the AquaChek Pool Water Test Strips is that the colors can be a bit hard to discern. It’s best to follow the instructions absolutely to get the best results. While this is a simple test, spend a bit of extra time when you first start using them to really nail the whole process. That way there will be no issues later on.

Also, make sure not to use expired test strips. The chemicals used on the strips to cause reactions can dissolve over time, leading to not as accurate readings.

Why are we impressed?

  • Great value for money
  • Responds very quickly
  • Provides seven essential tests with each strip

What negatives must you be aware of?

  • Be sure to follow instructions perfectly
RELATED: 5 Most Reliable Pool Test Kits — Be Aware of What You’re Swimming In

Hach Total Hardness Test KitBest Water Hardness Test Kit

  • Type: DIY
  • What it tests: total hardness
  • Test time: not specified

Just what is hard water, and why is it so bad for you? Hard water means it has a high concentration of minerals. It is usually found in well water because it has to pass through substances such as clay and limestone, where elements can slowly leach into the water. Hard water usually has magnesium, calcium, and sulfates.

Generally, hard water is fairly safe. However, too many of these elements can add to concern over time. On a practical level, hard water can deposit these minerals into your pipes as it passes through them. Over time those minerals can accumulate, leading to clogged pipes and even residue in your shower or bathtub.

If you rely on well water, you should test your water annually to see just what is going on. A test like the Hach Total Hardness Test Kit can tell you exactly what is in your water. Then, you can decide if you need to add water softeners to combat the adverse effects hard water has.

Instead of using strips that aren’t as reliable, the Hach Total Hardness Test Kit uses a more advanced system that is easy and offers reliable results.

Previous customers all recommend this water test kit. The only downside is that it really only tests for water hardness levels. If you want a more comprehensive test, you’ll have to look elsewhere or eventually purchase a separate test kit.

What are its best features?

  • Reliable test results
  • Very easy to use
  • High customer satisfaction

What could be improved?

  • Not a multifunctional test

LaMotte ColorQ Pro 7 Digital Pool Water Test KitBest Pool Water Test Kit

  • Type: DIY; digital
  • What it tests: free chlorine, total chlorine, bromine, total hardness, alkalinity, pH, calcium hardness, and cyanuric acid
  • Test time: instant results

Having a pool in your backyard means endless hours of fun. It also means a lot of work behind the scenes to ensure safety and comfort. Pool water is quite finicky. You need to be mindful of both external environmental factors as well as internal ones from the people in the pool.

Frequent testing of your pool is a necessity. While it might seem like a bit of a headache at first, with the proper kit it soon becomes routine and quite easy.

To get started, use the LaMotte ColorQ Pro 7 Digital Pool Water Test Kit. This comprehensive testing kit will test for chlorine, alkalinity, and pH levels. There are tests that should be performed daily, and tests that should be performed less frequently.

The LaMotte ColorQ Pro 7 Digital Pool Water Test Kit uses modern technology and includes a photometer. This quickly provides you with test results in a digital manner. You also receive a carrying case to keep all your chemicals and testers together in one safe, convenient area.

While the initial use of this test kit is quite simple, understanding the results is a bit complicated. The digital reading is fast but merely gives you numbers. You then have to know what those numbers mean and what to do with your results. This testing kit is not perhaps best for pool beginners. Rather, those that have a lot of experience with testing pool water might find more benefit from it.

What are our favorite features?

  • Includes carrying case to keep everything together
  • Tests for everything you need to know in a pool
  • Digital readout is fast and accurate

What could be better?

  • Can be had to understand results
RELATED: 5 Most Reliable Pool Test Kits — Be Aware of What You’re Swimming In

WaterSafe Well Water Test KitBest Well Water Test Kit

  • Type: DIY
  • What it tests: bacteria, pesticides, nitrates, lead, iron, nitrites, hardness, pH, chlorine, copper
  • Test time: about 10 min. each

If you rely on well water, you know how important it is to regularly check your water. While city water is regularly checked in the system, it’s up to homeowners to check their own well water.

The WaterSafe Well Water Test Kit is a fast, reliable test that will give you great peace of mind with your drinking water. In just ten minutes, you can get the results you want. This lab kit tests for bacteria, pesticides, lead, chlorine, and more. Basically, everything you might worry about is tested for.

One great feature of the WaterSafe Well Water Test Kit is that it is very easy to use. In fact, the manufacturer boasts that even little kids can perform this test. But don’t worry as you can still expect reliable test results. While the instructions are clear, the products themselves can be a bit frustrating. It might seem minor, but the vials you fill have clear lines on the sides to indicate where to fill. However, once you start putting water in, those lines quickly become invisible.
Furthermore, while the results are pretty accurate, the test strips often change colors not quite on the scale. It can take a bit of interpretation to figure out just what each color means. Hopefully with enough feedback this complaint is in the process of being remedied.

This WaterSafe Well Water Test Kit comes with just one test in the package. However, if you want more of a bargain, you can find packages of up to four tests.

Why is it special?

  • Can purchase packages of 1, 2, 3, or 4 tests
  • Very fast results
  • Reliable and accurate

What are the flaws?

  • Color results might be a bit off

Things to Consider

You want to know that the water you are using is as clean as possible. Investing in a water test kit is a great idea, but you want to make sure you have found the one best suited to your needs. Whether it’s the best drinking water test kit or the best aquarium test kit, there are certain factors that every kit has in common. This buying guide will help you navigate your way through the often complex list of water kit products. Hopefully with a bit of information, you’ll know exactly what you need.

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

9 Best Water Test Kits — Reviews and Buying Guide
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

9 Best Water Test Kits — Reviews and Buying Guide

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.

Extra Features

9 Best Water Test Kits — Reviews and Buying Guide

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.


DIY tests are much cheaper than professional tests, but they are actually quite accurate. If you’re not sure, it’s best to perform multiple tests, or read reviews to find the most accurate DIY water test kit.

You should test your drinking water at least once a year. If you have a well, you might want to test more often, especially after a heavy storm as this could affect the amount of particulates found in the water.

Bacteria can take some time to develop to it can take up to 48 hours to accurately test for bacteria. While this seems like a long time, a bit of patience can prevent a lot of sicknesses.

Our Verdict

Never take your water for granted again. Whether it’s your drinking water, your aquarium water, or your pool water, there is a water test kit that will give you the answers you need.

Our Editor’s Choice for best water quality test kit is the Health Metric Home Drinking Water Test Kit. This DIY kit is easy to use, accurate, and tests for everything you need to know about your home’s water.

If you want an upgrade, try the Safe Home ULTIMATE Drinking Water Test Kit. It’s more expensive, but provides an even more accurate and in-depth analysis. Finally, if you have a saltwater aquarium be sure to take care of your fish with the ATI ICP-OES Complete Saltwater Water Test Kit. No matter what water you’re worried about, we hope you can find the best water test kit so you can have one less worry in life.

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