As some of us start gearing up for the coming swimming pool season here in the United States — while others shovel 3 feet of freshly fallen snow — we find ourselves receiving more and more inquiries for pool test kit recommendations each week. Today’s question came via email from ‘Mya’ who asked a very good question regarding testing copper levels in swimming pool water.
At the suggestion of friends we changed our chlorine pool late last year to a ionizer pool that uses minerals to keep the water clear. I saw a copper test kit on the [ censored ] web site and got scared by the big warning that it contained hazardous chemicals. We are supposed to test the copper levels and don’t want to bring dangerous chemicals (we have small children) into our home. Do you know a better option?
Thank you for this question, Mya, and yes, we do know of an alternative to (what we refer to as) traditional wet chemistry test kits for copper that use potentially hazardous test reagents. We suggest you take a look at the Pool Check Copper 3-Way Test Strip which not only tests for dissolved copper, but also tests for pH and alkalinity at the same time.
How does the Copper 3-Way compare to the wet kit?
For starters, it requires no MSDS (which means no potentially harmful chemicals).
It also tests for, as we previously stated, pH and alkalinity — two very critical pool water parameters you will want to keep an eye on if using a mineralizer/ionizer on your pool. If the levels of either get too far out of line you may begin to see staining (caused by precipitating minerals) appearing your pool!
Another benefit deals with the fact that the Copper 3-Way detects as little as 0.2ppm dissolved copper while the wet chemistry test kit bottoms out at 0.5ppm.
And as for cost — a major concern for most people these days — the Copper 3-Way product has a fairly low cost of around $12 whereas the wet chemistry test kit mentioned by Mya had a cost of around $37.
Regardless of which water testing option you choose, it matters most that you have decided to actively test the quality of your pool water… and obviously everyone already KNOWS that we feel regular testing of water in our lives will help keep people safe from unexpected (and unwanted!) illness caused by bacteria, parasites, and other water contaminants.
Testing for copper in source (i.e well, tap or surface) water?
Copper occurs naturally in the environment and dissolves (to some extent… slowly) into water when the two come in contact with one another. Therefore one could easily expect to find traces of dissolved copper (Cu+1 & Cu+2) in ground water, well water, and even city water (older water infrastructures still may contain copper piping).
If you wonder whether or not you can use the Pool Check Copper 3-Way to test for copper in water sources such as well water or tap water, technically you can, but we suspect that the manufacturer factored in warmer water when calibrating the color change reaction on the test pads with that corresponding color chart.
Do not fret, though, because SenSafe manufactures a product called John’s Copper for testing colder water samples like well water, surface water and tap water.