How to Test Water Quality

How to Test Water Quality

12th Mar 2018

Water is essential for the preservation of all life. Humans, animals, plants, and other living species would cease to exist without potable water. As a result, maintaining and monitoring the quality of earth’s water sources is paramount.

A water quality test is critical for understanding the chemical, physical, biological, and radiological characteristics of any given source of water. This water quality data needs to be assessed against compliance standards relating to the health of ecosystems, the potability of water, the safety of industrial and domestic water usage, and much more. If the water fails to meet compliance standards, the results can be costly and even dangerous.

Water quality tests are important for ensuring the safety of drinking water in homes, schools, and businesses around the world, but they are also a critical tool in major industries such as agriculture, oil and gas, aquaculture, environmental, mineral, manufacturing, plumbing, and more.

Today, we will explain how to test water quality in a variety of industries so that you can quickly identify any issues, and implement a treatment plan to mitigate the effects and restore the quality of your water source.

Reasons to Test Water Quality

Water quality tests are not always done for the same reasons. Ultimately, water testing is conducted to ensure a given source meets compliance standards. However, standards are different for every industry. For example, homeowners will not be testing for the same criteria that oil and gas companies test for. As a result, there are many ways to test water quality.

Homeowners Test Water Quality from Taps & Wells

In general, homeowners are interested in testing the quality of their water for health and safety purposes. Laboratory tests conducted to determine the potability of a given water source will specifically be designed to reveal bacteria, nitrates, and other contaminants that could pose a threat to the health and well-being of human beings.   

Additionally, some homeowners may have their water professionally tested due to plumbing problems and the water’s color and odor. Determining what causes each of these issues requires a unique water quality test for the presence of characteristics like pH, hardness, chlorine, alkalinity, iron, sulfides, manganese, and other water constituents.

Environmental Laboratories

A lot of water quality testing is done by laboratories working for clients who want to meet government, regulatory, and industry standards. These environmental laboratories test water quality for a wide variety of reasons and often possess the analytical capabilities to conduct trace and ultra-trace analyses for petrochemicals, metals, hydrocarbons, and many other materials.

Oil & Gas

Water content testing for the oil and gas industry is extremely important for meeting compliance standards and optimizing the production process of crude oil, refined petroleum, biofuels, lubricants, fuels, and other products.

Understanding the water content in hydrocarbons can help oil and gas companies to mitigate infrastructure damage and safety concerns caused by corrosion. It also allows businesses to precisely control water moisture and content throughout each stage of production, storage, and transportation.

For petroleum and biofuel products, laboratories and field inspectors are typically testing for water content by distillation, vapor content, sediments, and unwanted water contents.


Laboratories use water quality tests tailored to a particular agricultural application. Promoting crop and livestock sustainability requires water possessing and lacking specific constituents. For irrigation suitability, a water quality test will gather information on pH, calcium, nitrate-N, nitrite-N, magnesium, potassium, chloride, sulfate, electric conductivity, and much more.

To maximize livestock productivity and health, the interaction between the quality of both feed and water is important. A specialized water quality test will determine whether livestock are receiving proper nutrients and minerals from water using parameters such as alkalinity, fluoride, total coliforms, fecal coliforms, cyanobacteria toxins, and other contents.

These industry examples reveal a few different ways to test water quality. Each industry requires testing for particular water contents based on their unique needs and regulatory standards.    

Water Quality Test Kits & Equipment

Laboratories, water treatment dealers, and inspectors need specialized water quality test equipment to determine whether a given water source complies with industry and federal standards.

Certified Material Testing has a wide variety of professional water quality testing kits and equipment. Whatever your industry and needs, we have the lab testing equipment to get the job done.

When it comes to conducting water quality tests within the lab and out in the field, Certified MTP has three primary brands of water quality test products and equipment that vary in technology, price, and testing capabilities: OHAUS, Sper Scientific, and AMS. Let’s take a quick look at each brand.

OHAUS Start Pen Meters, Bench Meters, & Water Quality Test Equipment

Whatever you want to test and measure, OHAUS has the equipment that you need. OHAUS provide labs and field testers with both professional and affordable options for conducting a water quality test. For example, their Starter Pen Meters are an economical option for accurately measuring conductivity, salinity, and TDS. They are easily portable, extremely durable, and completely waterproof. Each pen meter is designed to measure specific water constituents. Additionally, we offer OHAUS Starter Pen Meters that test for dissolved oxygen and pH.

On the more advanced end of the spectrum, we provide OHAUS Bench Meters and other portable meters that can test for pH, ORP, conductivity, TDS, salinity, resistivity, and temperature measurements in one device.

Sper Scientific Water Quality Test Kits, Pen Meters, & Lab Equipment

If you’re looking to measure conductivity, TDS, salinity, dissolved oxygen, pH, water levels, and more, Sper Scientific has all the products and lab equipment you need to get the job done. For over 35 years, Sper Scientific has manufactured environmental measurement instruments to help numerous industries maintain regulatory compliance and a safer work environment. They provide both affordable and high-end equipment to test water quality in a wide variety of circumstances and industries.

If your laboratory or industry is especially interested in measuring turbidity and chlorine, we sell a variety of Sper Scientific products that will help you conduct these particular water quality tests.

AMS Water Interface & Level Meters

When it comes to measuring hydrocarbons and groundwater levels, AMS has some of the best interface and level meters on the market. Certified Material Testing Products sells AMS interface and water level meters with varying probe sizes and tape lengths.

With AMS Interface Meters, you can measure floating and sinking hydrocarbons. This testing equipment is particularly helpful when measuring oil and water levels in monitoring wells and detecting tank leakage. It is easy to transport, and its rugged construction makes it resistant to bumps and scratches.

AMS Water Level Meters deliver highly accurate measurements of groundwater levels in either English or metric unit increments. Water level meters are used by individuals, businesses, laboratories, non-profits, governments, and universities throughout the world for environmental monitoring purposes.

Check out our full selection of water quality products and equipment.  

For more information about water quality testing, contact Certified MTP or call us at 800-940-1928.