Learning How to Use pH test strips properly is important in order to get the most accurate results for what you are testing. Proper use of your pH test strips includes knowing what pH strips are and what they are used for. It also includes making sure your testing method is correct, reading the ph color chart accurately, and knowing how to interpret your results.
What are pH Test Strips and What are They Used For
pH strips consist of a plastic strip with a pad (or multiple pads) at the end of the strip. The pad(s) contains reagents that change color in the presence of various liquids in order to give a pH value. pH strips are a very simple way of measuring the pH of a liquid(the concentration of hydrogen ions in a solution). It’s a way to tell how acidic or basic a liquid is.
pH strips can also be useful in determining your body pH by measuring the acidity or alkalinity of your urine or saliva. People on alkaline diets use pH test strips for tracking the pH balance of their body. Many everyday uses for these strips include testing the pH of aquariums, pools, drinking water, liquids, and soap, among other things. Clinics and hospital labs use them to test the pH of urine. Sometimes schools even use them for science projects.
Correct Testing Method
Any pH test strips you purchase should come with a set of instructions on how to use them. However, the test method is very similar regardless of the brand. Generally speaking, the testing method will involve collecting a sample in a clean cup and then immersing the ph strip pad( or pads) in the sample cup for a couple of seconds.
After that, shake off the excess liquid, and lay the pH strip on a horizontal surface. Next, wait the allotted number of seconds for the reaction to complete before comparing your color pad to the color chart provided. Any bottle of pH strips you purchase should always include a color chart.
For pH strips that test for urine, you can also urinate directly onto the strip (instead of using a cup) and then follow the rest of the steps above.
Reading the pH Color Chart
Not all pH strips are created equal. You can find many different varieties of the same test. Some pH strips have 1 pad, some have 2 pads, others may have as many as 4 pads. Regardless of the number of pads you have, the process is the same.
After waiting for the allotted number of seconds, you compare the colors on your pads to the pH color chart provided. If your pH strip has 2 or 4 pads, please note that the multiple pads on the strip are read as ONE result. The multiple pads represent ONE color combination and ONE result. The pH results are listed above each color combination on the pH charts. You will then compare that color combination on your pads to the color combination on the chart provided that matches most closely.
Here are examples of pH color charts for a one pad pH strip, two pad pH strip, and a four pad pH strip.
1 Pad pH Color Chart
2 Pad pH Color Chart
4 Pad pH Color Chart
Correctly reading your results when you have multiple pads on your pH strip can sometimes get a little confusing. Not to worry! We will show you exactly how to read ph test strips! In a bit, we will share some simple “How-To” videos that will walk you through how to easily read your ph results step–by- step.
Interpreting Your Results: What do pH Strips Tell You?
Once you have compared your pH strip to the color chart provided, you should have a result. Now its time to interpret your pH test Strips Meaning. What do your results actually mean? Basically, the result on your pH strip is going to tell you if the solution you are testing is acidic, neutral, or basic (alkaline).
For most pH strips, if you get a result in the 0 to 6.5 range (usually reds, yellows, and orange colors), it means you have an acidic result. If you get a pH value of 7.0, this means your result is neutral. If you get a pH value of above 7, you have a basic(or alkaline ) result. The alkaline results usually show on the chart as greens or blues in color.
As promised, here are a couple of “How To” videos that will show you step by step how to use pH strips. These strips may vary a little from brand to brand. But the basic steps to test and read results are generally the same. In these two example videos, we are using two different types of pH Strips: Med Lab Diagnostics pH strips 4.5 to 9.0 for Urine and Saliva (these have 2 pads) and Med Lab Diagnostics Universal pH Strips 0 to 14 for liquids (these have 4 pads).
pH Test Strips 4.5 to 9.0 for Urine and Saliva
Universal pH Test Strips 0 to 14 for Liquids
Many Different Uses of pH Strips
It’s worth mentioning that pH strips have many different uses and may come in many different varieties. One type of pH strip may be better suited than another depending on what your needs are.
For example, there are pH strips that test only urine and saliva. Others test a wide variety of different types of liquids. There are ph strips for specific uses, such as vaginal ph test strips, oral ph test strips, or water ph test strips, etc.
Another consideration are the differences in pH ranges. Some of these strips will have a narrow pH range(only test ph’s of 4.5 to 9). Others may have a wider pH range (test pH’s of 0 to 14). The ph strips with narrower ranges can usually get you more specific results.
Storing pH Strips
Another important aspect of how to use pH test strips is knowing how to properly store them. The strips are good for up to 2 years in the sealed bottle. Once the seal is broken, the reagents on the pad are exposed to air and do start to deteriorate.
It’s important to recap the bottle tightly after you take out a strip. Keep the bottle stored in a cool, dry place. As long as you follow these simple storage tips, pH strips can last for many months. They are very stable at room temperature.
Choosing the Right pH Test
Choosing the right kind of ph test strip for you depends on what substance you want to test. As mentioned above, there are many different kinds. You should also consider which pH range you are looking for(narrow or wide). The last factor to consider is whether you want strips or a roll of pH litmus paper. The pH paper in rolls are generally cheaper in price. However, the colors tend to bleed over more and the quality is not as good.
Where to Buy pH Test Strips and How Much Do pH Strips Cost
pH test strips can be found in many of your local pharmacies and drug stores. You can also readily find them online at major retailers such as Amazon or Walmart. pH strips cost around $7 to $11 on average.
The price depends on the brand and the amount of strips in the package. If you are looking for some quality pH Test Strips that can give you accurate results, we recommend our Med Lab Diagnostics pH Test strips 4.5 to 9.0 for urine and saliva or our universal ph test strips 0 to 14 for liquids. All of our strips come with detailed instructions and useful how-to videos on our website.
pH Test Strips are an easy, inexpensive way of testing the pH of various liquids. They are extremely versatile and have many uses. If you are curious about the pH of a liquid or maybe your own body ph, grab a bottle!
Elena Daisley is a licensed Clinical Laboratory Scientist (MT, ASCP certified) with over 10 years of experience in the medical field. She holds bachelor’s degrees in both Biology and Laboratory Science from the University of Central Florida. Elena enjoys helping others on their journey to healthier living.