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A camper's guide to test water quality

A camping trip is the best way to get away from stressful city life and to remain peaceful with nature. A source for drinking safe water while camping is thus essential. All the advantages of being out with nature might be negated if one acquires some water-borne disease. Therefore, water testing is an essential part of a camping adventure.

Touch and smell

The best initial water test on a camping trip can be one’s own senses. The first attempt should be to get water from a flowing river or stream. If this is not possible, then the water in a pond can be tested by taking a water sample. Smelling and touching the water can give a person an idea of the quality of the water.

Alkalinity and acidity

A soapy or oily feeling when the water is rubbed between fingers means a high water pH level. On the other hand, if the water is sticky when it is touched, it may mean a low pH level. PH levels check the alkalinity of the water. Besides this, there may be numerous contaminants in the form of nitrates, lead, bacteria, water hardness and pesticides. This can be only tested with water equipment.

Scale of zero to fourteen

A pH of seven indicates pure water. The pH levels are ranged between a scale of zero to fourteen. Zero pH means high acidity and anything higher than seven indicates alkalinity. A camping chemical test for water includes adding a reagent to a sample of water. The colour of the water will change and this can be matched with a colour card to determine levels of alkalinity.

TDS meters and test strips

Two reliable names for water testing equipment are Hanna and LaMotte. With this equipment, one can do a check for nitrates. Fertilisers, car exhausts, animal waste and manure can be the sources for nitrate in water. High levels of nitrate are dangerous for humans. Common portable instruments for campers include TDS meters. TDS meters test the total dissolved solids in a sample of water. A lab test is naturally impossible on a camping trip. A test strip is a good option. The colour of the test strip pad will change after it is dipped in water and matching the colour with the colour code card will reveal the contents of the water. Modern test strips are very versatile. A chlorine test can also be done with test strips. Camping requires equipment for drinking help. One of the best hand-held meters for checking water pollutants is made by HM Digital. The best equipment testing for water is now available in compact digital pocket analysers. A safe camping trip can be organised by filtering, boiling the water and adding iodine tablets.

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