Water Test Kits – Choosing The One That’s Right For You


  1. Potable Water Test Kits: Designed to test a water supply that is intended to be used for drinking, cooking or bathing. This is commonly referred to as “Drinking Water”, which comes primarily from two sources:
    • City Water Supply: A water supply that is chemically/physically treated by a water utility. This type of water supply is also known as City Water or Tap Water.
    • Well Water Supply: A water supply that comes from a well that has been drilled down into an aquifer (an underground river). These water supplies are not treated by a utility, although sometimes they may be treated by the owner of the well.
    • Other Water Supplies: There are other water supplies that are used for potable water applications by people on this planet, known as “Surface Waters”. These water supplies may be from rivers, streams, ponds, lakes, springs or even rain fall caught in containers called cisterns.
  1. Non-Potable Water Test Kits: Designed to test a water supply that is not intended to be used for drinking, cooking or bathing.


  1. Do-It-Yourself Testing: In-Home kits that allow the end-user to conduct all testing in the comfort of their own home or during travels abroad etc.
    • Strengths:
      • Fast results
      • Low Cost
      • Easily Accessible
      • Portable: Can travel with you
    • Weaknesses:
      • Test results are approximate. Most DIY testing mechanisms are not capable of providing exact concentrations of a respective parameter being tested. Therefore, testing with DIY mechanisms is often referred to as “screening”, rather than testing
      • All DIY testing mechanisms struggle with background interferences.
      • Example: If the DIY testing mechanism is designed to test for Lead in a water supply, high concentrations of other metals in the same water supply can create bias (high or low) for the Lead being tested. This can also render the test, inconclusive (no clear results).
      • Most DIY testing mechanisms are also susceptible to difficult storage environments. They do not do well when exposed to high humidity and extremely high or extremely low temperatures, especially for extended periods of time.
  1. Laboratory Testing: In-Lab kits that allow the end-user to collect water samples and submit them to a laboratory, for testing
    • Strengths:
      • All materials for sample collection and shipping are normally provided by the manufacturer.
      • Include detailed lab report with exact concentrations (usually to three decimal places) for each parameter tested.
      • Certified labs have Quality Controls that neutralize background interferences.
      • Certified labs have experienced scientists and state-of-the-art lab equipment to issue the best test results possible. When you want to know exactly what’s in your water supply, this is the best form of testing
    • Weaknesses:
      • Free return shipping of your water sample to the laboratory is sometimes included. However, in some cases the end-user is responsible for this expense.
      • In most cases, test results take 3 – 10 days to be sent, after your water sample is received by the laboratory.
      • Testing at a certified laboratory can be expensive.
      • Not as convenient as DIY test kits. You can take these kits with you, but you must be prepared to ship your water samples back to the laboratory from your respective location. For information on water test kits click here.
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