The Best Home Water Test Kit and What You Should Know

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If you are worried about the quality of your water, the best way to ease your fears is to carry out a water test.  A water test kit will help you identify any contaminants that may be in your water and reveal whether you need a water filter, water softener, or a shower filter for your home.

Clean and safe water is essential for every home. Certain volatile organic compounds that may find their way into your water can cause serious health problems when consumed.

Read on to discover the best water test kits available on the market. We review these kits to help you maintain a healthy and happy home.

Photo by Hans Reniers on Unsplash

Why You Need a Water Test Kit

If you pay a water bill (or your landlord does) then you know that you use a public water supply. In the US, and even other countries, municipal water suppliers are required to meet very strict EPA limits for hundreds of contaminants.

While public water supply guarantees the best water quality from their source, once the water leaves the source, you can never be guaranteed that the water will retain its quality.

Water quality can be affected by contaminants from pipe materials, sealants, or solders in the water supply system. Leaky, corroded, or cracked pipes can also allow such contaminants to have their way through water as it comes to your house.

If you use well water, it is also important to note that the quality of well water can be affected by factors such as underlying ground conditions, shifting groundwater, heavy rains, drought, and earthquakes (even minor ones). It is advisable to test your water frequently, at least annually.

Water containing contaminants such as lead, pesticides, industrial chemicals and others will not only cause dire health consequences but can also damage your home appliances if not detected and eliminated early.

Whether you are using the water for drinking, bathing, or doing laundry or dishes, it is important to know what is in it. Although water may look and taste clean, you never really know if it can be trusted. To clear any doubt, it is important to get a home water test kit.

Related: Washing your clothes without adding more plastic containers to the environment.

9 Best Home Water Test Kits

Zerowasteman researched high and mighty and found these 9 best home water test kits. These test kits are available at online retailers like Amazon and at local home improvement stores.

We created this list based on test kit features, specifications, and actual reviews from buyers.

Best for Drinking Water

1. Health Metric Drinking Water Test Kit

Health Metric Drinking water test kit is ideal for tap and well water. It is easy to use, and you get your results in just a few minutes.

The box contains 1 x Lead Test, 1 x Copper Test, 1 x Bacteria Test, 2 x Nitrate Test, 2 x Nitrite Test, 2 x Chlorine Test, 2 x Alkalinity Test, 2 x pH Test, 2 x Hardness Test and a user guide.

You are guaranteed reliable results as every kit is made in the USA and calibrated to recommended EPA levels.

To perform the test, read the instructions provided, collect tap or well water samples, dip the strips in the water and wait for a few minutes. When the strips change color, compare them with the color-coded card to check levels of the potential contaminants.

Health Metric

Image: Health Metric

Key Features: Comes with 9 powerful tests

Approved Use: Drinking water

Tests For: Lead, Coliform bacteria, copper, nitrite and nitrate tests, total chlorine tests and 3-way tests (PH, alkalinity and hardness)

Time for Results: 10 minutes

Available at: Amazon

Pro’s

easy to use

Quick- results are out in less than ten minutes

Comes with an instruction and user guide to help you interpret the results

Con’s

Colors can be challenging to read sometimes (though you can always contact their customer service for help)

Only one test strip was provided.

2. Safe Home Ultimate Water Quality test Kit

If you are more confident having your water tested in an actual lab, then the Safe Home Ultimate Quality water test kit is for you. This is the best mail-in test kit we could find.  It was ranked “best overall water test kit” by Good Housekeeping Institute, New York Times, The Spruce, Water-Check, House and Beyond, Tree-Hugger & More.

This test kit tests for over 200 parameters in a single test. The kit is suitable for city water, well water and tap water.

Testing is done at EPA-certified laboratories and provides well-detailed results (not the typical dipstick with a yes/no answer). They also offer a database of possible solutions should your water be found containing contaminants.

Your water is tested in 3 simple steps;

  • Collect water samples in the tubes provided in the kit.
  • Send your samples to the lab (Don’t worry about the lab and shipping fees; they are covered in the purchase).
  • Wait for 7-10 business days for your well-detailed results

The testing kit also comes with a Safe Home DIY bacteria (total coliform and E.coli) in water test. You can conduct this test at your own convenience.

Additionally, each purchase comes with bonus benefits including water treatment options, promo codes and an E-learning center.  You also get to make a difference in people’s lives as Safe Home donates a portion of its revenue to clean water initiatives around the world.

Safe Home Ultimate Water Quality Test Kit

Image: Safe Home

Key Features: Best Mail-in test kit

Approved Use: Drinking water

Tests For: Tests for 200 common contaminants (7 In-Organics, 12 Physical Properties, 31 Metals, 20 Semi-Volatile Organic Compounds, 130 Volatile Organic Compounds)

Time for Results: In 7-10 business days

Available at: Amazon, Safe Home

Pro’s

Guarantees accurate results as testing is done at EPA certified labs

Over 200 contaminants tested

Results are well detailed and provide a wealth of information on their website to interpret the results.

Con’s

A bit pricey

No instant results (though the company will keep you updated on the progress)

3. Varify 17 in 1 Premium Drinking Water Test Kit

This 17-in-1 test kit is here to give value for your money. It comes with 100 test strips (that’s 100 tests) meaning you can test your tap, well, or city water as regularly as you want.

It tests for up to 17 parameters making it highly competitive compared to other test kits. It also tests for fluoride levels, which is not common in other test kits.

You can easily perform each test by following the instructions provided and you will have your results in a couple of minutes. The package has a user guide that provides extra information and FAQs.

You are guaranteed accurate results, as these test strips go through multiple quality assurance tests and are created in accordance with the EPA testing standards.

The company has partnered with Water for Good, a non-profit charity organization, and donates 5% of its revenue to tackle water poverty in the Central African Republic.

Varify 17 in 1 Premium Test Kit

Key Features: Comes with 100 premium test strips and 2 complete bacteria tests

Approved Use: Drinking water

Tests For: 17 tests: Lead, Bacteria (E. Coli / Water Contamination), Mercury, Fluoride, Iron, Copper, Sulfate, Zinc, Hydrogen Sulfide, Total chlorine, Nitrite, Nitrate, pH, Total Alkalinity, Hardness, Sodium Chloride, and Manganese!

Time for Results: In 10 minutes, bacteria tests is ready in 48 hours.

Available at: Amazon, Varify

Pro’s

Allows you to test your water regularly- 100 test strips

Accurate and easy-to-interpret results

Affordable

Con’s

Claims of false results from the bacteria tests

Bacteria tests take 48hours

4. Water Safe Drinking Water Test Kit

With the rising cases of lead contamination in city water treatment centers, you may be wondering whether your water is safe for drinking. Frequently checking for lead contamination in your water is a must.

WaterSafe Drinking Water test kit is perfect for lead tests. But it doesn’t stop at the lead, it also tests for other parameters including bacteria, pesticides, nitrate, nitrite, pH, hardness, chlorine, and more!

Results are accurate as they come from EPA-certified labs. The company guarantees you two things; satisfaction or money back.

Water Safe Drinking Water Test Kit

Key Features: Contains a lead test, pesticide test, bacteria test, nitrate + nitrite test, chlorine + ph + total hardness test

Approved Use: Drinking water

Tests For: Lead, bacteria, nitrate, nitrite, pH, hardness, and chlorine

Time for Results: 10 minutes

Available at: Water Safe

Pro’s

Detects even the minuscule levels of lead

Easy to use with clear instructions and accurate results

Con’s

Claims of faulty test strips.

Best for Homes

5. Simplelab Tap Score Advanced City Water test kit

If you are looking for the best water testing kit for your home, this advanced city water test kit is a perfect option.

Using EPA-approved lab testing methods, this mail-in test kit will screen your home water for over 100 contaminants. You can expect unbiased and professional analysis of your water.

They provide accurate and detailed yet easy-to-understand test results, and bonus water treatment advice tailored for your water’s unique chemistry from a team of experts.

Simple lab Tap Score

Key Features: Mail-in testing kit

Approved Use: Home use – drinking, laundry, bathing, and more

Tests For: Over 100 contaminants (Lead, Arsenic, hydrogen sulfide, Heavy Metals, Volatile organic compounds, Nitrates, Chlorine(s), THMs, E.coli bacteria, and more)

Time for Results: in 5 business days

Available at: Tap Score

Pro’s

Tests over 100 contaminants

Provides detailed and advanced analysis of results plus treatment recommendations

Con’s

Quite expensive

Best for Well water

6. Health Metric Well Water Test Kit

Unlike municipal water, water from private wells is not regulated by EPA hence bacteria and other contaminants can easily find their way into your water source. It is therefore very important to perform regular tests on well water. Health metric recommends seasonal (or sometimes more) testing to ensure the safety of your water.

This well water test kit from Health metric is made specifically for you. It provides tests for 8 different well water parameters.

The test kit is made and calibrated to official EPA standards, thus providing you with accurate and reliable results.

It contains simple step-by-step instructions on how to test your water and get results.

Health Metric

Key Features: Contains 8 test parameters

Approved Use: well-drinking water

Tests For: Bacteria, Nitrates and Nitrites, pH, Manganese, Hydrogen sulfide, Total alkalinity, and total hardness

Time for Results: in 10 minutes

Available at: Amazon, Health Metric

Pro’s

Affordable

Easy to use with clear instructions and accurate results

Quick results

Con’s

Interpreting the color codes can be a little confusing

Best for Water Hardness

7. JNW Direct Water hardness test kit

Hard water contains high mineral content attributed to the environment that the water passes through. Besides scale build-up on plumbing, hard water causes skin and hair to dry out and also makes fabrics rough and stiff.

It is therefore important to determine the hardness or softness of your water. We recommend this water hardness test kit.

You may be wondering whether your home has hard water or if your water softener is working. This test kit will do just that will help determine if you have hard water. It will help you assess whether your water softener has been set up properly, and keep tabs on your water conditioning and reverse osmosis systems.

The kit comes with 150 test strips, that are easy to use.

When doing the test, please note that the test reagent changes in color only when it detects water hardness. If the test strip doesn’t change its color or is close to zero, then it means your water is soft.

JNW Direct

Key Features: Comes with 150 test strips

Approved Use: home faucets and taps, water softeners, hot water heater, dishwasher and more

Tests For: water hardness

Time for Results: In 5 minutes

Available at: Amazon

Pro’s

Comes with 150 test strips

Easy to use with clear instructions and accurate results

Quick results

Affordable

Con’s

They do not tell what range your water is in

Best for Pools

8. Pool master 22260 5-way swimming pool and spa water test kit

Ready to take charge of your pool’s water chemistry? This 5-way pool water test kit will come in handy.

This test kit comes with 5 testing options for a healthy and balanced pool. It includes an easy-to-read indicator panel and round clear-view block making testing your water’s chemistry a breeze. For accurate water testing results, the readout scales are made from UV-protected color chips integrated within the test block.

It also comes with a step-by-step instruction guide, a reference guide and some bonus tips.

Pool Master 22260- 5way

Key Features: Comes with drop reagents, color charts, and vials in a case

Approved Use: pools and spa water

Tests For: Chlorine, Bromine, pH, Acid Demand, and Total Alkalinity

Time for Results: 5- 10 minutes

Available at: Amazon

Pro’s

Uses drop reagents as opposed to paper strips

Has 5 testing options

Affordable

Con’s

Can be difficult to determine chlorine results

Best for Salt water pools

9. Aqua Check Salt Water Test Strip

If your pool contains saltwater, this test strip is what you need. It tests for sodium chloride in your pool, to ensure that your pool has safe and accurate salinity levels.

The strips measure levels from 400-7000ppm

Aquacheck recommends you test your pool water at least twice per week for safe and balanced water.

The package also comes with a free mobile app, Aquacheck Connect, to help you track and monitor your pool’s chemistry.

Aqua Check Salt Water test strip

Key Features: Comes with 10 test strips

Approved Use: salt generator systems

Tests For: Salt (as sodium chloride)

Time for Results: In 5 minutes

Available at: Amazon

Pro’s

Get your salt results in minutes

Comes in a pack of 10 test strips

Con’s

Only tests for sodium chloride

Does not work when submerged in too much water. (Instructions included though, don’t dip more than 1”)

How to Choose the Best Water Test Kit

When choosing a water test kit for your home, there are a few considerations that you need to keep in mind to get the desired results.

These factors include the type of kits, the contaminants they test for, as well as water source for your water.

Type of kit

Generally, there are 4 main types of water testing kits:

1. Lab sample test kits

Lab sample test kits provide the most accurate results but are quite expensive compared to DIY test kits.

With these test kits, you collect your sample in a vail and mail it to the lab for testing. Depending on your budget, you can opt for a complete water analysis or a test for only a few contaminants.

If you choose mail-in test kit, ensure the labs are EPA certified, so that you are guaranteed of accurate results.

One major downside of lab testing kits is that you cannot get your results immediately. You may have to wait even for two weeks, which would not be ideal in case of an emergency or when you suspect your water is highly contaminated.

Test strips

Test strips are the most economical and user-friendly type of testing kits. Test strips allow you to test your water at home, making them significantly cheaper than mail-in.

To use a test strip, you just need to dip the strip in a sample of water and notice the color change. the test kit comes with a color chart that you can compare with the results from your test trip.

Test strips are easy to use, affordable, and a lot faster than lab sample test kits. However, they only indicate a rough estimate on contamination levels of your water without detailed information. They are also not suitable if you are testing for something specific e.g radium.

Discs

Though not very common, color discs are also a good option for testing kits.

They are made of a reagent-filled compartment where your drop your sample and spin the disc until the color changes to one that most closely matches the color of your sample.

Digital readers

Digital water testing instruments are a perfect option especially because they are reusable and non-disposable. There are two types of digital readers, digital pH readers, and TDS (total dissolved solids) meters.

Digital readers utilize an LCD screen to display results.

PH readers indicate the level of alkalinity or acidity in your water. Alkaline water contains high mineral content while acidic water means contains more pollutants and is more corrosive.

TDS meters test for overall water quality.

Some digital instruments also measure the water’s electrical conductivity(EC) which shows the number of dissolved materials that conduct electrical current. 

2. Testing procedure

Each water quality test kit has a different testing procedure. There are the lab and at-home test kits.

Test strips, color discs and digital readers can all be carried out at home. At-home test kits are a perfect option if you are only looking for peace of mind.

Mail-in test kits, provide more detailed and comprehensive results compared to DIY test kits, but are more expensive and take more time to get the results.

3. Water source

Most water tests are specifically formulated for different water sources. To get the most accurate results, you will need to determine the source of water you want to test.

Does the water come from the municipal or from a well? Get a test that is best suited for your water source

4. Contaminants

Most water test kits provide tests for the most basic water contaminants, but some are more specific than others.

Common water contaminants include lead, chlorine, iron, bacteria and many more. When looking for a water test kit, ensure you get one that tests the contaminants that are highly specific in your water.

If you are not sure of what could be in your water, go for a multipurpose or broader kit that can test several parameters, some of which you may not even know.

A Lab sample test kit is best if you want to learn everything in your water, and test for even the smallest traces of contaminants.

Are Water Testing Kits Accurate?

Yes, both mail-in and at-home water test kits do work. They provide accurate and detailed information that you can rely on. If you are looking for comprehensive results, it is best to opt for a mail-in test kit.

How Often Should You Test Your Water?

For well water, EPA recommends at least once a year even if you have a water treatment system.

Also, test your water when any of the following instances occur;

  • There is a change in taste, appearance, or odor in your water
  • You notice stains on clothes or household items
  • Recent change of environment in your area, e.g. nearby land development, floods, or chemical spillage.

What To Do With the Test Results

If you find that test results indicate the presence of certain contaminants, you will need to take a few actions to improve your water quality.

Here is what you can do;

  • Install a water filter or change your filters
  • Fill your water filter from the cold-water tap,  hot water tends to dissolve contaminants.
  • Flush your water line- routinely run cold water taps for about two minutes especially when no water has been used for several hours or days.
  • Install a water softener if you have hard water
  • Replace old household plumbing with lead-free pipes and fixtures.

Conclusion

Whether you’re concerned about what’s coming out of your tap or you want to check the efficiency of your current filtering system, we really think test kits are a good investment.

We found that most test kits were easy to use, comprehensive, and reasonably priced.

We hope this list helps you find a water test kit that suits your needs. Let us know your experience with any of these or other test kits that you have used.

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Hendrik Kaiser

I've studied biology and lived for 3 years on an off-grid permaculture farm. I love kitesurfing and keeping my body healthy and fit. Hence, I care so much about keeping our environment clean and being as zero waste as possible. Being a zerowasteman is a superpower everyone has inside of themselves, and I want to teach you how you can unleash it.

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