Membership questions? Log in issues? Email info@brewersassociation.org

Author Topic: Test Strips for Water: Worthwhile?  (Read 460 times)

Offline Clint Yeastwood

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 116
Test Strips for Water: Worthwhile?
« on: November 14, 2023, 11:03:37 am »
My Ward Labs water test came back okay except for iron. I have Brewtan B on the way.

I also got some test strips from Amazon. I figured my water's iron levels might fluctuate because my well coughs up rust every time the electricity goes off and back on. I believe it comes from the well's steel casing. It goes away when I run the water.

I tested my water today with a strip, after letting it run a while, and no color shows up on the iron patch. Zero. I also got a lower pH (~6.0 compared to Ward Labs 7.7) than before. The total alkalinity is about what Ward Labs said. The other stuff the strip lists isn't all that important to brewing, and not much of anything shows up.

So are these strips any good? Does anyone else here use them?

If I can trust the iron result, then I don't need to fool with bottled water or filters. I can just run the water until I get a low iron reading.
Go ahead. Make my IPA.

Eccentricity is its own reward.

Offline BrewBama

  • Official Poobah of No Life. (I Got Ban Hammered by Drew)
  • *********
  • Posts: 6121
Re: Test Strips for Water: Worthwhile?
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2023, 11:16:58 am »
I don’t work in a lab, but I believe labs use test strips for quick ballpark readings when close enough is good enough. More stringent tests can be run when closer tolerance is required.

In your case, as long as you’re not detecting off flavors, I’d say close enough is good enough.

There a few lab scientists on here. Hopefully they’ll see this and give you their opinion.

Offline Clint Yeastwood

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 116
Re: Test Strips for Water: Worthwhile?
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2023, 11:36:33 am »
I checked, and the bottle doesn't mention China. That was a concern.
Go ahead. Make my IPA.

Eccentricity is its own reward.

Online denny

  • Administrator
  • Retired with too much time on my hands
  • *****
  • Posts: 27222
  • Noti OR [1991.4, 287.6deg] AR
    • Dennybrew
Re: Test Strips for Water: Worthwhile?
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2023, 12:22:43 pm »
The best strips are the plastic ColorpHast ones, and the best that can be said about them is that they're less worthless than others. My experience using strips is that you'll get incorrect info and be mislead.  Trust Ward, not the strips. Get a meter.  Or better yet, use Bru'nwater and you won't need to measure pH.
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

www.dennybrew.com

The best, sharpest, funniest, weirdest and most knowledgable minds in home brewing contribute on the AHA forum. - Alewyfe

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts." - Bertrand Russell

Offline Clint Yeastwood

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 116
Re: Test Strips for Water: Worthwhile?
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2023, 12:50:19 pm »
My problem with Ward is that I can't have them test the water over and over, but the power goes off here several times a year. This is why I was hoping for a test I could do here repeatedly.
Go ahead. Make my IPA.

Eccentricity is its own reward.

Online denny

  • Administrator
  • Retired with too much time on my hands
  • *****
  • Posts: 27222
  • Noti OR [1991.4, 287.6deg] AR
    • Dennybrew
Re: Test Strips for Water: Worthwhile?
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2023, 01:58:58 pm »
My problem with Ward is that I can't have them test the water over and over, but the power goes off here several times a year. This is why I was hoping for a test I could do here repeatedly.

Look into LaMotte water testing kits.  https://lamotte.com/ My power goes out frequently also, so I installed a backup generator.

Also, I can put you in touch with the main Brewtan B guy at Ajinomoto if you'd like to ask him if it might help with you iron issue. He just happens to be a multi award winning homebrewer, too.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2023, 03:33:46 pm by denny »
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

www.dennybrew.com

The best, sharpest, funniest, weirdest and most knowledgable minds in home brewing contribute on the AHA forum. - Alewyfe

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts." - Bertrand Russell

Offline MDL

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 170
Re: Test Strips for Water: Worthwhile?
« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2023, 02:37:17 pm »
If the water looks rusty it is oxidized iron/ferric) and that can easily be removed by filtration. Ferrous, or clear water iron/dissolved iron is what you will be testing for. This test kit from HACH is accurate and easy to use:

https://www.hach.com/p-iron-ferrous-color-disc-test-kit-model-ir-18c-0-2-7-mg-l/2667200?_bt=271169028218&_bk=&_bm=&_bn=g&utm_id=go_cmp-1411501168_adg-55143240163_ad-271169028218_pla-299745958998_dev-m_ext-_prd-2667200_mca-7075980_sig-EAIaIQobChMIlPqyxLjEggMVGSatBh2-3QBQEAQYAiABEgLX6PD_BwE&utm_source=google

Offline Clint Yeastwood

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 116
Re: Test Strips for Water: Worthwhile?
« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2023, 02:56:41 pm »
I get it, but where there is rust, I would think there might be dissolved iron, too. I don't know all the stuff that goes on in a rusty pipe containing whatever organisms and dissolved gases are found in my yard, but I would be afraid to assume all the iron ends up in rust.

Rust isn't completely insoluble. For all I know, some of it turns into iron ions that float around waiting to ruin my beer.
Go ahead. Make my IPA.

Eccentricity is its own reward.

Offline chinaski

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 583
Re: Test Strips for Water: Worthwhile?
« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2023, 03:33:09 pm »
I would trust your taste buds first and ask yourself if you are creating a problem that really doesn't matter.  Remember that labs (and maybe sometimes test strips or test kits) can detect stuff at a level that your taste buds cannot.  It's what we biologists mean when a scientific paper reports a statistically-significant difference between things but we ask is it "biologically significant?"  When it comes to beer, especially home made beer, it's a good question to ask yourself.  I do it a lot and I often find that I don't need to worry about stuff that doesn't matter to me.

p.s. just because test strips (or any other product) says "made in China" doesn't mean it doesn't work; the country manufactures a lot of good stuff that we use all the time

Offline Clint Yeastwood

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 116
Re: Test Strips for Water: Worthwhile?
« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2023, 04:22:15 pm »
Everyone has all sorts of Chinese stuff that works, but like 500 comprehensive water tests for $13, and it comes from Amazon, which ought to be called "Yangtze"...the possible China connection had to be considered.

Bottle only mentions Texas, however. Of course, knowing Chinese entrepreneurs, they may have changed a Chinese town's name to Texas.
Go ahead. Make my IPA.

Eccentricity is its own reward.