Regular pool water testing is helpful in inhibiting the growth of microorganisms such as bacteria and algae. It ensures that your pool pH scale is balanced and within the optimum range or pH neutral level to keep your swimming pool water comfortable, usable, safe, and clean.

A good pool owner uses a pool test kit to monitor the pool water quality. That is the usual way. However, there may be instances when a pool test kit is out of reach. You can’t leave your pool water untested. So, how to test pool water without a kit?

Four Steps to Test Pool Water Without a Kit

As a chemistry teacher, I also teach my students how to test water without a kit. These hands-on lessons on bases and acids in the chemistry lab are fun experiments that most students remember for a lifetime.

The method below works for any swimming pool water.

1. Materials Needed

Firstly, you will need to get the material to make your own pool water testing kit. Most pH testing strips are equipped with indicators that can detect an anomaly in your pool water. So the first step is to gather what you need to make testing strips to test your pool water.

You need the below-listed items to test your pool water without a kit:

  • Distilled water
  • Red cabbage
  • Pot or kettle (any metal receptacle will do)
  • Clear glass cup or bowl
  • Wooden ladle or spoon
  • Kitchen knife
  • Strainer

2. DIY Red Cabbage Juice Indicator

Secondly, you will need to prepare the juice indicator.

making red cabbage juice indicator

Step 1: Start preparing the test strip by chopping the red cabbage into tiny pieces or strips.

Step 2: Transfer the chopped red cabbage from the chopping board to a clear glass bowl when you’re done chopping. Set it aside.

Step 3: Pour distilled water (about 2 cups) into a kettle or pot and boil it on your gas stove. When the water boils, transfer it to the bowl containing the cabbage till it soaks the cabbage.

Step 4: Use a wooden ladle or spoon to stir the solution occasionally and then leave it for roughly 30 minutes.

Step 5: Use your strainer to filter the solution from the cabbage slices. The DIY liquid test kit will be reddish-purple. Now you have a fast and easy solution.

3. DIY Test Strips

You can’t do pool water testing without a kit without test strips. The process starts when you prepare your red cabbage solution to test pool water. For the test strips, you’ll need to add filter paper.

So, after making your red cabbage indicator:

Filter papers vary, and you can opt for anyone to make test strips to test pool water. The most common filter papers are acid-free art paper and coffee filters.

Start by inserting the coffee filter into the glass bowl containing the red cabbage solution. Leave the coffee filter for a while until it soaks a sufficient quantity of the solution and is extremely wet.

Then, take the coffee filter from the glass bowl and let it dry.

Once the coffee filter dries completely, use scissors to cut the filter paper into tiny strips. These will be your test strips for testing pool water.

4. Test the Pool Water

Finally, take a small sample of the pool’s water with a clear plastic bottle or any other clear container. Next, take your red cabbage juice indicator and add a few drops of the solution into your pool water. When you do this, you’ll notice a change in the color of your pool’s water sample.

According to water’s chemistry, if the color changes to pink or red, this indicates the water’s acidity. On the flip side, if the color changes to greenish-blue or yellowish-green, it indicates a high basic or alkaline level. There is also a third outcome; no change in color, which means the pool pH level is neutral.

Using a color chart can make things easier. After conducting the test, compare the water’s color to the color chart. This will help you easily know the pH levels.

The Science Behind the DIY Pool Testing Kits

Water testing kits usually include indicators to detect pH levels in your water. This indicator works through a chemical reaction that triggers colors to change when it initiates contact with a base or acid.

For red cabbage, this chemical is anthocyanin, a water-soluble pigment flavin. It’s the catalyst that triggers color changes when it mixes with a base or acid. It makes the detection of pH levels possible without a kit.

Aside from parameters such as pH levels, this homemade pH meter can detect chlorine levels and other vital parameters in water.

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