Over the years we have received this question countless times, so today we will give it the attention it has earned. The latest inquiry we received came from ‘WaterTech12’ who asked, “Do water test strips and water test reagents with short shelf life work as well as water test strips and water test reagents with full shelf life?”

COMPLETE Water Quality Test Kit
COMPLETE Water Quality
Test Kit – 13 Parameters

COMPLETE Kit w/ Lead and Pesticide Tests
COMPLETE Water Test Kit
w/ Lead & Pesticide Tests

WaterSafe Well Water Test Kit
WaterSafe Well Water Test Kit

Defining ‘short shelf life’ properly

Before we answer that question, we’d like to explain how the concept water test strip and water test reagent shelf life works. Quite simply, and in a perfect world, it means that after a certain amount of time has passed, the manufacturer of the test strips or test reagents will not guarantee their products will perform perfectly. It does not, however, mean that their products will stop working altogether at a given time (shelf life date) or that their performance has degraded from normal in any way… in a perfect world.

Why did you say, ‘in a perfect world’ twice just now?

After products leave the factory a manufacturer has absolutely NO IDEA what kind of storage conditions their products experience before they finally wind up in the hands of end users (i.e. homeowners, pool owners, water technicians, laboratory staff, healthcare professionals, etc.)… so in a perfect world none of the following situations, or countless others, would have taken place between the time a bottle of test strips or test reagent left the factory and went into use:

  • Excessive Heat — Test strips and test reagents both contain specific mixtures of chemicals… and according to basic laws of Chemistry, the addition of thermal energy (heat) causes most chemical reactions – like chemical degradation – to occur a faster rate. Therefore any test reagents or test strips exposed to prolonged or excessive heating may or may not work as their manufacturers intended.
  • Humidity — Although test strip and test reagent manufacturers do a very good job of sealing their products to keep moisture from getting at the chemicals in their products, even the best retail packaging may succumb to the wiles of an excessively humid environment. Prolonged exposure to high humidity for water testing products will most certainly degrade their performance.
  • Chemical Neighbors — Over time, chemicals stored in close proximity to one another may affect the way one another will behave (aka: work, function, etc.) in the future. As an example, if you store test kit reagents or test strips near a bucket of chlorine or other strong oxidizing compound, well, consider the shelf life and performance of those products compromised.

Sounds rather ominous, right? Almost sounds like you take your life into your hands, potentially, each time you buy water test strips or water test reagents…

OK, well how does Water Testing Blog safeguard its products?

Very good and fair question!

We pride ourselves on carrying water test strips and water test kits manufactured under the SenSafe, WaterSafe, WaterWorks, Pool Check, and Arsenic Quick brand names — all of which get manufactured here in the United States… and since the bulk of our customers reside in the United States, we do an excellent job of minimizing travel time of products from factory to our door and then from our door to your door.

DPD-4 ReagentStrips for Total Oxidizer Testing
DPD-4 ReagentStrips / Total Oxidizer Testing

pH & Total Alkalinity Test Strips
pH & Total Alkalinity Test Strips

Companies that import their test products from overseas cannot say the same. Do you know how much time the average test kit, test strip or test reagent can spend waiting for transit across the ocean, traveling by cargo ship across the ocean, sitting in Customs on US shores, traveling by truck to a distribution point, waiting to get purchased by a dealer, waiting to get purchased by an end user, and then finally waiting to get put to use testing water samples?

Sounds like too much mathematics in our opinion!

We actually acquire most of the water testing products we carry (listed in a paragraph above) from a manufacturing facility located in South Carolina… the same state that we call home. Therefore no shipments from that facility will spend more than a day or two in transit getting to our facility where we carefully store all our products in climate controlled conditions.

Oh, and one more thing: We have many years of experience working with various testing products, equipment, services, etc. so we fully understand and recognize the value of providing our customers with the best quality water test kits, water test strips, and water testing reagents possible.

     *** Getting Off Soapbox Now ***

Simple answer to the question we discussed at the beginning of the article? If properly stored and cared for, a water quality test strip or test reagent should function properly and as well on the first day after its manufacture as it does on the last date indicated by its shelf life.