The API Mast Test Kit seems to be the standard product that most people use for testing water parameters. Am I the only person who thinks it's really not that great of a product?
The biggest problem has to do with the inability to accurately match up the colors of the water in the test tube with the color squares on the test card. The color of the water in the test tube is never truly comparable to any of the colors on the test card, because the color of the water is translucent while the colors on the card are solid. Even if you hold the test tube against the white portion of the card, the color quality (or "saturation") is still not comparable.
Let's take pH, for example. The gradations of the solid color squares representing 6.4, 6.6, 6.8, and 7 on the test card are so slight that I find it impossible to match any one of them positively with the color of a translucent water sample. If the card was translucent like the water, or if the water was solid like the card, maybe it would be possible to positively match the shades; but since they are two inherently different kinds of coloration, the match is never exact, and it becomes a guessing game.
My pH might be 6.6 or 6.8 or 7, I honestly can't tell; I can only tell that it's "somewhere in that range."
Nitrates are another problem. In my opinion, the API test kit
really only shows you the extreme ends of the scale. If you're up around 100ppm or higher, you'll know it because the water will be really dark brick red; and if you're down around 5 to 20ppm, you'll know it because the water will be pale orange; but anything in the mid range, say from 25 to 80ppm, is just plain old red. It's a guessing game! And it gets worse. On my card, 10ppm looks darker than 20ppm. And 40ppm and 80ppm are indistinguishable; if anything, 40 is darker than 80! (I would be tempted to think that I got a defective card, except that this is my second kit, and the previous one had the same problems; and both kits were purchased years apart in different stores.)
Can anyone recommend a better water testing product?
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