Soft water test

How to Test pH Levels in Water

Elsie Goycoolea
By Elsie Goycoolea. Updated: January 20, 2017
How to Test pH Levels in Water

You may have noticed how in some places tap water tastes sour or bitter and perhaps how you may need more soap to clean your clothes in some countries. An easy pH level test can be employed to test if water is soft or hard. It is important to know the pH level of your drinking water as it isn’t optimal for water to have a lower pH level of 6 or a higher pH level than 8.5.

In this OneHowTo article we explain how to test pH levels in water.

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  1. The pH scale
  2. Soft and hard water
  3. The pH test

The pH scale

The pH testing system is a numeric scale used to test the concentration of hydrogen ions in a solution. Anything that gives a reading below 7 will be acidic and anything that gives a reading above 7 will be alkaline. It is said that a neutral pH level of water must have an equal concentration of hydrogen and hydroxide ions.

Soft and hard water

If a substance is acidic it means that there are more hydrogen ions present. Some acidic substances include lemons, vinegar and cleaning products. If water is too acidic you may notice a sour taste in your mouth after drinking, indicating that there is a high level of metal ions including iron, manganese and copper present in your water.

High acidic water may expose the body to high levels of toxic metals. It can also damage metal pipping; as well as, accelerate corrosion on sinks and taps. Soft water tends to be acidic.

If a substance is alkaline it indicates there are more hydroxide ions present. Some alkaline examples include baking soda and toothpaste. If water is too alkaline it is referred to as hard water and it will likely taste bitter. It may also favor scale to deposit on sinks and laundry baskets.

How to Test pH Levels in Water - Soft and hard water

The pH test

To test the pH level of water you can perform a very simple test. The easiest method is using litmus paper. You may purchase litmus paper strips at any convenience store.

These strips come tainted in red and blue color. The red strip will turn blue in alkaline solutions and the blue strip will turn red in acidic solutions.

Alternatively, you can use neutral strips that will turn different shades. These may provide more accurate results as they are issued with a colour palette covering many different shades. Once you have these strips you can proceed with the test.

  • Take a clean glass and fill it with water. The glass must be deep enough to cover the strip.
  • Then place your strips in the glass. If you used red and blue strips, then you may notice a change in color depending on whether your water is acidic or alkaline. If you used neutral strips perhaps your strips turned light pink or light blue. Take your reference color key palette and place the strips next to each shade.

Depending on the results of the test you may want to neutralize the pH level of your water by employing methods to correct your pH reading. Remember, that the optimum pH level of water should be between 6 and 8.5.


How to Test pH Levels in Water - The pH test

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How to Test pH Levels in Water