Updated on 19 October, 2021
A common question about Chlorine Test Strips is whether they are as effective as drinking pure water. And if so, why would anyone pay for a test strip when they could just buy pure water from the store? The answer lies in understanding how Chlorine works and whether or not it is a good thing. Most of the chlorine that is in our water comes from chemical companies. However, there is a very tiny amount of Chlorine that is safe and we need to find out how much of it is present.
When I started testing water for my client's home health department, the health department sent me two different strips. One was for drinking and the other for testing the shower head. We all know that showering with Chlorine can cause immediate problems, including dry, brittle hair and skin and even cancer. So this was my test strips.
The results were similar. Both tests showed low levels of Chlorine in both faucets. However, the drinking test showed a significant increase in both the total chlorine and the pH. This was very alarming to me. I immediately reported this information to the client and she was extremely happy that she found out about the high free chlorine levels in her tap.
The health department sent me two additional Chlorine Test Strips to continue to monitor the situation. The third strip measured at almost four times higher than the first strip. So clearly, there was something wrong. Well, it turns out that there was definitely something wrong. Chlorine is a very strong oxidant and it quickly reacts with organic compounds such as vitamins to form HCL, which is linked to a number of health problems.
Chlorine Test Strips don't list the percentage of Chlorine in the tap water so you have to do it yourself. However, you should know that the recommended range for Chlorine in the average home is 0.4 mg/L, which is the same as the legal maximums set by the Environmental Protection Agency. The law requires that there be no more than 0.3mg/L in your drinking water, so if there are any measurements on the Chlorine Test Strips at all they are not an indication of safe water. If you are concerned about the total alkalinity, you can always call your local water authority and ask them for their recommendations on average alkalinity levels in your area.
I purchased a variety of Chlorine Test Strips including a multi-purpose vial, which is used to test for total alkalinity, color charts, THMs, VOCs, chlorine level, pH, etc. They came with a colored glass vial and a small plastic bag to put the vial in. I followed the instructions carefully to ensure that I attached the appropriate plastic bag and then let the vial soak overnight.
I then tested the morning samples for the following morning's values. The entire vial was white and the inside was clear of dust. The instructions said to read off only the color charts and nothing else, and I thought that sounded pretty smart. So, I quickly dumped out the paper strip that indicated the pH, total alkalinity and total color. There were three values that showed the amount of chlorine in the water; therefore, I decided to use those.
You might be surprised to learn that my multi-purpose vials and color charts were not among the products that sold at the store. I checked online and found that they were sold in an online health and fitness supply store. I was able to find replacement chloramine test strips and replacement dyes that were easy to read.