Calibrating Test Kits - for non-Chemists - The Planted Tank Forum
Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
post #1 of 66 (permalink) Old 03-04-2009, 09:25 PM Thread Starter
Planted Tank Guru
 
Hoppy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Sacramento, CA
Posts: 19,952
Calibrating Test Kits - for non-Chemists

I received a request to write something like this, so: (I hope someone will check this for accuracy.)

Calibrating Test Kits

Calibrating a test kit means using that kit to measure some water samples with known concentrations of the substance being tested for, and using those test results to verify that the test kit is accurate, or to train yourself to recognize the colors that correspond to the concentrations you want to test for. Hobby test kits are not laboratory quality tests. That means we donít need extreme accuracy in the standard test solutions we use for calibration. If we have a good quality gram scale, with +/-.01 gram accuracy, and good laboratory glass graduated cylinders to measure water volume, there are other articles that tell how to make very accurate standard solutions. The methods described here are for use with ordinary kitchen measuring equipment, measuring spoons and cups. And, the Fertilator calculator on APC was used to easily calculate how to mix these.

Nitrate Test Kits

First, buy a gallon of distilled water from your local grocery store. Use that to make the test standard solutions.

1. Add 1/4 teaspoon - a level measure, not a heaping measure - of KNO3 to 4 cups of distilled water (one quart). This gives you 4 cups of 800 ppm nitrate water.
2. Mix 1/4 cup of that 800 ppm water with 1 3/4 cups of distilled water. This gives you 2 cups of 100 ppm nitrate standard water.
3. Mix one cup of that 100 ppm water with one cup of distilled water. This gives you 2 cups of 50 ppm nitrate standard water.
4. Mix one cup of that 50 ppm water with one cup of distilled water. This gives you 2 cups of 25 ppm nitrate standard water.
5. Mix 1/2 cup of that 25 ppm water with 3/4 cup of distilled water. This gives you 1 1/4 cups of 10 ppm nitrate standard water.
6. Mix 1/4 cup of 25 ppm water with 1 cup of distilled water. This gives you 1 1/4 cups of 5 ppm nitrate standard water.
7. Use your test kit to measure the nitrate concentration in each of the 5,10,25, and 50 ppm nitrate standards. If you wish, add the 100 ppm standard to that set.
8. Compare the colors of those to the color card for your kit, and either verify the accuracy of the kit, or use those colors to train yourself to recognize the colors.

Your nitrate test kit is now calibrated. You can store the standard solutions in tightly sealed bottles for an indefinite period of time for future calibrations. Ideally, you calibrate the kit each time you use it.

Phosphate Test Kits

First, buy a gallon of distilled water from your local grocery store. Use that to make the test standard solutions.

1. Add 1/4 teaspoon - a level measure, not a heaping measure - of KH2PO4 to 4 cups of distilled water (one quart). This gives you 4 cups of 1000 ppm phosphate water.
2. Mix 1/4 cup of that 1000 ppm water with 2 1/4 cups of distilled water. This gives you 2 1/2 cups of 100 ppm phosphate standard water.
3. Mix one cup of that 100 ppm water with one cup of distilled water. This gives you 2 cups of 50 ppm phosphate standard water.
4. Mix one cup of that 50 ppm water with one cup of distilled water. This gives you 2 cups of 25 ppm phosphate standard water.
5. Mix 1/2 cup of that 25 ppm water with 3/4 cup of distilled water. This gives you 1 1/4 cups of 10 ppm phosphate standard water.
6. Mix 1/4 cup of 25 ppm water with 1 cup of distilled water. This gives you 1 1/4 cups of 5 ppm phosphate standard water.
7. Mix 1/4 cup of 5 ppm water with 1 cup of distilled water. This gives you 1 1/4 cups of 1 ppm phosphate standard water.
8. Use your test kit to measure the phosphate concentration in each of the 1,5,10, and 25 ppm phosphate standards. If you wish, add the 50 ppm standard to that set.
9. Compare the colors of those to the color card for your kit, and either verify the accuracy of the kit, or use those colors to train yourself to recognize the colors.

Your phosphate test kit is now calibrated. You can store the standard solutions in tightly sealed bottles for an indefinite period of time for future calibrations. Ideally, you calibrate the kit each time you use it.

Other Test Kits

To follow, maybe

Hoppy

Last edited by Hoppy; 03-05-2009 at 02:45 AM. Reason: Correct errors
Hoppy is online now  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 66 (permalink) Old 03-04-2009, 11:17 PM
Planted Tank Enthusiast
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Washington
Posts: 777
IMO this needs to be a sticky. I would check but I am procrastinating doing homework.

[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
plakat is offline  
post #3 of 66 (permalink) Old 03-04-2009, 11:47 PM
Algae Grower
 
Dave k's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: NYS
Posts: 113
[quote=plakat;800312]IMO this needs to be a sticky.


I second the motion
Dave k is offline  
post #4 of 66 (permalink) Old 03-05-2009, 12:18 AM
Wannabe Guru
 
ColeMan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Tulsa, OK
Posts: 1,739
Sticky, sticky, sticky - 5 stars from me! Excellent work, Hoppy. Now that you've made this so simple, I'm going to have to find something else to do with my digital scale!
ColeMan is offline  
post #5 of 66 (permalink) Old 03-05-2009, 12:30 AM
Planted Tank Guru
 
plantbrain's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: The swamp
Posts: 13,599
It's sort of EI for test kit calibration.


Regards,
Tom Barr

Regards,
Tom Barr
plantbrain is offline  
post #6 of 66 (permalink) Old 03-05-2009, 12:32 AM Thread Starter
Planted Tank Guru
 
Hoppy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Sacramento, CA
Posts: 19,952
Quote:
Originally Posted by plantbrain View Post
It's sort of EI for test kit calibration.


Regards,
Tom Barr
I was planning to call it the Julia Child calibration plan.

Hoppy
Hoppy is online now  
post #7 of 66 (permalink) Old 03-05-2009, 12:43 AM
Planted Tank Enthusiast
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Cape Coral FL
Posts: 904
Send a message via MSN to jjp2
Nice work. Check the phosphate, it says to add KNO3 not kh2po4 or other compound
jjp2 is offline  
post #8 of 66 (permalink) Old 03-05-2009, 02:16 AM
Algae Grower
 
clmntch's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Lorton, Virginia
Posts: 45
Thanks

Thanks Hoppy...
clmntch is offline  
post #9 of 66 (permalink) Old 03-05-2009, 02:43 AM Thread Starter
Planted Tank Guru
 
Hoppy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Sacramento, CA
Posts: 19,952
Quote:
Originally Posted by jjp2 View Post
Nice work. Check the phosphate, it says to add KNO3 not kh2po4 or other compound
Thank you! I corrected it.

Hoppy
Hoppy is online now  
post #10 of 66 (permalink) Old 03-05-2009, 02:43 AM
Planted Tank Guru
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Northern California
Posts: 9,417
Quote:
Originally Posted by manofmanyfish View Post
Humm...1/2 cup plus 3/4 cup = one cup.....that's like creating matter from nothing....that's cool. I smell a Nobel Prize...
You mean making matter disappear?

1/2 + 3/4 = 1 1/4
epicfish is offline  
post #11 of 66 (permalink) Old 03-05-2009, 02:46 AM Thread Starter
Planted Tank Guru
 
Hoppy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Sacramento, CA
Posts: 19,952
Quote:
Originally Posted by manofmanyfish View Post
Humm...1/2 cup plus 3/4 cup = one cup.....that's like creating matter from nothing....that's cool. I smell a Nobel Prize...
I ran this through Einstein's Relativity equations, and you are right. So I corrected it.

Hoppy
Hoppy is online now  
post #12 of 66 (permalink) Old 03-05-2009, 05:15 AM Thread Starter
Planted Tank Guru
 
Hoppy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Sacramento, CA
Posts: 19,952
Yesterday I made some 4 dKH water, using 14 dKH water made from an ampule of lab standard water. When I used my KH test kit to measure the KH of that water, it said 3 dKH. So, that raised a lot of doubts in my mind about the KH test kits. Calibrating that kit is a much harder job. But, it finally occurred to me that I should be able to take advantage of a property of sodium bicarbonate to do that. The property is the solubility of NaHCO3 in water, which varies with temperature. I converted the graph of that solubility to read in solubility of carbonate instead of sodium bicarbonate, getting this graph:


The technique will be to start with distilled water, add a lot of baking soda to that, let it sit quietly on the kitchen counter (where else?) for an hour or so, with only very gentle stirring, to saturate the water with baking soda. It won't matter that my baking soda will contain some water in the crystal structure, since that water just joins the distilled water. Then I use a syringe to get a sample of that water, 1 ml, as closely as I can get, and quickly add it to enough distilled water to end up with 20 dKH water, by calculation. Then dilute that to get my standard solutions. Will this work? I know the saturated solution will be losing CO2 to the atmosphere, but if I do this rapidly I should still have saturated solution being added to the distilled water. Am I missing something?

If this will work, it is another way to make 4 dKH drop checker water.

Hoppy
Hoppy is online now  
post #13 of 66 (permalink) Old 03-05-2009, 01:00 PM
Planted Tank Guru
 
tazcrash69's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Hawthorne, NJ
Posts: 3,207
Quote:
Originally Posted by plakat View Post
IMO this needs to be a sticky. I would check but I am procrastinating doing homework.
I agree, great write up Hoppy. Thanks

Stickified.

Walter
Visit my 125 profile and gallery or my 5 gallon low-tech. Proud member of:


--May the floor under your tank always be dry, and your glass clear!!!
tazcrash69 is offline  
post #14 of 66 (permalink) Old 03-06-2009, 12:51 AM Thread Starter
Planted Tank Guru
 
Hoppy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Sacramento, CA
Posts: 19,952
Calibrating KH test kit

KH Test Kit
This method, compliments of Cardinal's Keeper (http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/di...-solution.html)
(Note: You will need a whole gallon of distilled water to do this.)
1. Start with 6 cups of distilled water in a clean measuring container
2. Add 1/8 teaspoon Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda, freshly opened) to the 6 cups of water and mix
3. Pour out 3 cups of this mix and discard
4. Add back 3 cups of distilled water and mix
5. Pour out 3 cups of this mix and discard
6. Add back 3 cups of distilled water and mix
7. Pour out 1 cup of this mix and discard
8. Add back 1 cup of distilled water and mix
7. Water comes out to a 4 dKH solution
8. To make a 2 dKH solution, mix one cup of the 4 dKH solution with one cup of distilled water.
9. To make a 1 dKH solution, mix one cup of the 2 dKH solution with one cup of distilled water.

Hoppy

Last edited by Hoppy; 06-02-2012 at 06:22 AM. Reason: A new method for making a standard KH solution
Hoppy is online now  
post #15 of 66 (permalink) Old 03-06-2009, 03:59 AM
Algae Farmer
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Medford, MA
Posts: 683
Thanks Hoppy,
I appreciate the work you put into this. I don't have an accurate scale to use other described methods, so this is making my day
It actually is similar to what I do to add a known amount of Calcium and Magnesium to my water. Eventually I may have done the math myself some day, but now I'll just use your method
Regloh is offline  
Reply

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now



In order to be able to post messages on the The Planted Tank Forum forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.

Password:


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:
OR

Log-in









Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.



Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page
Display Modes
Linear Mode Linear Mode



Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

 
For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome