Rapid water testing with test strips.

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A number of key parameters can be measured in water using test strips. Test strips are a cost effective, convenient and easy to use alternative to chemical test kits and instrument tests. The only limitation is that test strips are usually not quite as accurate as other tests - but they are still good for screening purposes. Most require only a single step but some eg arsenic require use of reagents. Test strips with reagents are designed for ease of use and can be used in the field.

Here are a few factors for drinking water, aquariums and water quality monitoring that can be measured using test strips.

pH. pH is one of the most important factors to measure in water. Many important processes in water change the pH, for example decomposition. Also the pH of water can determine other aspects like metal solubility and disinfection efficiency. The pH-Fix strips at pH 4.5 to 10 can test the usual range for pH in water. See them at pH test strips.

Alkalinity. In natural water with pH under around 10.2, most alkalinity can be called carbonate alkalinity and this is sometimes expressed as carbonate hardness. Macherey Nagel make carbonate alkalinity test strips. See them at Macherey Nagel carbonate alkalinity test strips.

Please note: To measure total alkalinity it is better to use a test kit such as the Hanna Instruments HI3811 alkalinity kit. This measures total alkalinity (down to pH 4.5 using methyl orange indicator) and alkalinity down to pH 8.3 using phenolphthalein indicator). See details at HI3811 alkalinity test kit.

Ammonia. These test strips measure total ammonia and ammonium. Ammonia comes mostly from decomposing organic matter. Decomposition uses up oxygen. If there is enough oxygen the ammonia is usually removed. But if there is too much organic matter then ammonia levels can build up. Ammonia levels are therefore a good indicator of water quality and are important particularly for drinking water quality and aquariums. See them at Hach Aquachek ammonia test strips.

Arsenic. Many water supplies that come from underground sources contain arsenic. See them at Macherey Nagel Quantofix arsenic test strips. Check lead time when ordering.

Free and total chlorine. When chlorine is used to disinfect water the goal is to leave a minimum level of around 0.5 mg/l free chlorine. If the water contains any ammonia, which is sometimes the case in rural supplies, some of the chlorine will react with the ammonia. Although the resulting chloramines have a reduced disinfecting effect they are more stable. Chloramines are sometimes preferred in larger water distribution systems. The difference between total chlorine and free chlorine is the chloramines. See them at Hach Aquachek free and total chlorine test strips.

Copper. Copper levels are often monitored in home water to detect corrosion in a plumbing system. See them at Lamotte InstaTest copper test strips.

Hardness. Hardness in water is mostly a measure of the amount of calcium and magnesium ions present. The amount of calcium and magnesium in water impacts industrial applications, drinking water quality and irrigation water quality. For Hach hardness test strips see Hach Aquachek total hardness test strips. For Macherey Nagel Aquadur test strips see Macherey Nagel Aquadur test strips. Low level hardness for critical applications such as dialysis can be measured using low range test strips. Macherey Nagel Aquadur sensitive test strips measure hardness up to around 20 ppm. see Macherey Nagel Aquadur sensitive test strips.

Total dissolved iron. Because iron levels affect water quality for drinking, irrigation and beverage production measuring the iron content is important so the most appropriate method of treatment can be used. See them at Hach Aquachek total dissolved iron test strips.

Nitrate / nitrite. Applications are aquaria and water quality monitoring. Usually elevated levels of nitrate indicate some contamination of water supplies. Levels should not exceed 3 mg/l nitrite for drinking. Nitrite is the more serious problem in drinking water. Generally if water is well oxygenated nitrite will not build up. High nitrite is therefore often a symptom of anaerobic conditions. See them at Hach Aquachek nitrate / nitrite test strips.

Phosphate. Phosphate level can often indicate that there is some contamination of the water. It is one of the main factors that can lead to excessive algal growth. Lamotee Company pool and spa test strips test the range 0 - 2.5 ppm with a step size (resolution) that makes them suitable for environmental testing. See them at Lamotte phosphate test strips.

Multiparameter test strips.

Macherey Nagel Multistick test strips for aquariums test for total hardness, carbonate hardness and pH. See them at Macherey Nagel Multistick test strips for aquariums.

The Hach Aquachek 5 in 1 test strips will test for alkalinity and 4 other factors free and total chlorine, total hardness and pH. See them at Hach Aquachek test strips. Note: check lead time when ordering these strips.

Where to now? Read The two most important factors in water quality.

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