The pH of water indicates whether it is acid, basic or neutral -- an important measurement whether you're talking about the health or a creek or the condition of your swimming pool. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, pH is a measure of the relative amount of free hydrogen and hydroxyl ions in the water. The pH scale ranges from 0 (acidic) to 14 (basic), with 7 considered neutral. If you have a swimming pool or aquarium, it's essential to know the pH of the water so you can create optimum conditions.
Things You'll Need
- pH test strips (home testing)
- pH meter with electrode (commercial testing)
- Clean sampling container
Clean your sampling container with deionized water and a phosphate-free, residue-free cleaner. You most likely will get a false reading if the container has residue from a cleanser or rinsing agent that isn't phosphate-free.
Collect a sample of the water. If you're getting a sample from a faucet at home, let the water flow for a few seconds before filling the container. This gets rid of any impurities that may have accumulated if the tap hasn't been turned on for a while; the impurities can change the pH of the water. If sampling from a pond or well, take the sample from area that does not look stagnant.
Let the sample sit in an area with normal room temperature, and allow the water to come to that temperature. You will get a false reading if the water is too hot or cold. Skip this step if you are using a pH meter with a temperature compensation feature.
Dip a pH test strip into the water sample and wait for a few seconds, or as directed on the test-strip container. Remove the strip and compare its color to the pH chart on the package. If you're using a pH meter, place the electrode into the sample and view the digital readout of the pH value.
Tips & Warnings
- You can purchase pH test strips at a swimming pool supply shop; don't use litmus paper -- the results are not as defined.
- Most laboratory supply companies offer pH meters with electrodes. Although they are a little costly, they offer much more precise measurement of pH.
- Some pH strip containers may have a temperature compensation chart attached.
- Photo Credit Goodshoot RF/Goodshoot/Getty Images
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