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Water Testing Kits: Are they Great or Not?

Water Testing Kit

Water testing kits are relatively inexpensive and accessible ways of testing water in a variety of situations. As we saw in our recent articles we showed how water test kit strips looked like on regular UK tap water sample and, after that additionally in another article, a separate quick experiment on drinking water test results vs both filter water, rain water and ground water.

Although that was informative, we wondered if water testing kits would show potential contaminants in water samples for some of the other elements on the water testing kit strips, so in this article we will look at that. We tested metallic elements (using coins), lemon juice and liquid fertiliser.

Water Testing Kit Metal
Water Testing Kit – Metal Coins

The results of these water testing kit strip experiments are fascinating, for the random things we selected, with some clear results as you will see (especially for one of the specific tests!).

As a provider of water leak detection services), we were interested in doing these simple experiments too to see what the results showed.

Water Testing Kit Experiment
Water Testing Kit – Experiment

Water Testing Kit – Experiments

As a quick reminder, the water testing kit strips we purchased test for – Total Alkalinity, pH (potential of Hydrogen), Hardness, Cyanuric Acid, Total Chlorine, Free Chlorine, Free Bromine, Nitrate, Nitrite, Iron, Chromium, Lead, Copper, Mercury, Fluoride and finally, Carbonate Root.

Clearly, some of the things we test in this investigation are not using the water testing kits for their original intended purpose (drinking water) but it’s useful to see nonetheless.

The steps we took in this experiment looking to see if they picked up metals:

  • We took two small shot glasses
  • Ran ‘normal’ tap water in them
  • Put silver coins in one of them (50p, 20p, 10p and 5p)
  • Put ‘copper’ coins in the second (2 x 2p and 2x 1p coins)
  • Left them to soak for around a week
  • Tested the water after that period

Remember, although these are fairly simple tests, we did take precautions and so should you. This first test in on relatively inert materials but the others are somewhat riskier (albeit not dangerous). To find out about this, see our guide explaining the 5 steps of a risk assessment.

Here is a close-up of the coins we used in the water testing kit experiment:

Coins Metal Water Test
Coins (Copper and Silver) and Metal Water Test

As you cans see, the different coins have different dates, which is important (more on that later!) so here is the year of each coin being minted:

  • 50 pence coin is from 2019
  • 20 pence coin is from 2012
  • 10 pence coin is from 2013
  • 5 pence coin is from 2012
  • 2 pence coins from 1975 and 1995
  • 1 pence coins from 2003 and 2005

Why are the dates important? Well thanks to some useful information on different years of coins have different metals, which will potentially show in the water testing kits experiment. In particular, coins can include Copper, Zinc, Nickel, Tin and Mild Steel (containing Iron).

So, in particular, we’d hope to see Copper and Iron as they are in the water testing strips!

Water Testing Kit Results
Water Testing Kit – Results (Metals)

Water Testing Kit – Results (Metals)

As you cans see from the image above, there are clear and noticable differences between the original (unused) strip on the very left, the tap water test (second left) and the ‘silver’ and ‘copper’ coins we say that because, as you will see they are not 100% those materials. In fact there is no silver at all, it is just a colloquial phrase in the UK when referring to these coins.

However, the variances in the results were not necessarily where you might initially think, however it is likely explainable! The key differences are on the alkalinity, pH and water hardness tests (noticeably so) but why are the metals not showing?

It seems likely that the metals are not dissolving their particles enough into the water, which makes sense given that the metals are likely chosen to be hardwearing and last a long time. So, somewhat inconclusive, but interesting nonetheless as there are some key differences.

Next we looked at some liquid fertiliser using our water testing strips.

Water Testing Kit Fertiliser
Water Testing Kit – Liquid Fertiliser (Plant Food)

Water Testing Kit – Results (Liquid Fertiliser)

Next we took a well known liquid plant food / fertiliser and tested it, we hoped, given what we have said previously that it might show nitrates, especially as it is shown as one of the main nutrients listed on the label, as can be seen above on the right.

This did prove to be the case, but somewhat based on the pink colour on the 8th from the top section of the water testing kit strip. It was also more alkaline, based on quick visual comparison.

As we’ve said previously, some of these colour variances are fairly subtle. However, on our next test, the results are more striking and in the area we’d hope and expect to see. Let’s look at lemon juice next with great, clear results! logo logo

If you are interested in other articles and tests we have run, you might enjoy our pages on the topic explaining what a dew point chart is, and similarly our Mr Muscle Drain Gel test recently.

Water Testing Kit Acidity
Water Testing Kit – Acidity Lemon

Water Testing Kit – Results (Lemon Juice)

We’d expect that if we asked you what the test on lemon juice might show, it would be acidity (from Citric acid) and that indeed does show on the test with the top result being very yellow. However, it is another area in the water testing kit strip that shows up very differently, and that is the test included for water hardness.

As you can see, the 3rd down colour is purple, which indicates hard water. So why is that? Well as you can see on this BBC Bitesize Article on Hard Water, it explains that hard water contains dissolved magnesium and calcium ions. And, when you look at the Wikipedia Page on Lemons, it shows that they contain both of these chemicals. It’s not unreasonable to assume that’s likely the reason.

Water Testing Kit Strips – Conclusion

As we have said in our other articles about water testing strips, they are no substitute for a more scientific and detailed test such as salts analysis tests. However, they can be handy to give quick indicative results if you accept their limitations.

We set out in this article to basically show that you get different results (in the areas you might expect) on the water testing kit strips and these quick and simple tests helped to demonstrate that as you have seen. The results are not always the same, showing that they appear to work at picking up variances and we are happy to see that comparison.

Water Leak Detection Service
Water Leak Detection Service

We hope you found our additional article on water testing kit strips useful, here are some other similar related articles you may also find beneficial:

Water Testing Kit Strips in the UK (FAQs)

How do I test the water quality in my home UK?

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If you have concerns about the water quality in your home or business, it is worth contacting your local water company, especially if you spot an unusual colour, smell or taste in the water. However, if you are just curious and are looking at some simple test, accepting the limitations, things such as water testing kits are available online fairly cheaply.

Are the results of home water testing kits reliable?

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Home water testing kits should not be seen as a replacement for professional, comprehensive water quality testing services using more professional methods. However, as a quick, cheap and simple test, water testing kits can be handy for different purposes. Kits are available for drinking water, pond water and swimming pool water tests as a guide.

If you need help finding a water leak at your home get in touch with our team today. We offer these services to both domestic and commercial customers with commercial leak detection.

As experts in damp and moisture surveys, including central heating leaks, we can help. logo logo