How to Test for the Presence of Hydrogen Gas


Hydrogen gas is highly flammable, making it dangerous if left undetected. However, hydrogen gas is not only colorless and odorless, but is also neutral, meaning that is has no effect on pH indicator papers such as litmus paper. This means that standard tests will not work for hydrogen. There is, however, a simple test that can be used to detect hydrogen. Although this test can be performed by anyone, professional air-testing companies, and sometimes home inspectors, can also test for hydrogen gas with higher-quality sample collection equipment, which will yield more accurate results.

Things You'll Need

  • Air sampling canister
  • Test tube
  • Test tube rack
  • Wooden splint
  • Match or lighter
  • Make sure to clean the test tube before using it. This will help eliminate any contaminants that are not part of the air you want to test.

  • Take the test tube to the area you wish to sample, and drag it through the air. Put the stopper in the test tube quickly.

  • Exit the tested area and place the test tube in its rack.

  • Unplug the test tube, and quickly light the splint. Grasp it firmly on the non-burning end with tongs.

  • Place the burning end of the splint into the mouth of the test tube. If hydrogen is present, it will ignite, making a "popping" sound.

Tips & Warnings

  • For large areas, use several test tubes and collect several samples in different locations within the area you wish to test.
  • Stand at arm's length away from the test tube when putting the splint into it.
  • Be sure that the test tube rack is on a sturdy, flat surface to minimize the possibility of accidents.


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