Water Testing: pH

pH is a measure of how acidic or alkaline water is on a scale of 0 to 14. Water, with the chemical formula of H20, contains hydrogen (H+) and hydroxide (OH-) ions. pH is a measure of the concentration of hydrogen ions.

  • Neutral (distilled water) is pH 7. It contains equal numbers of H+ and OH- ions.
  • Acidic water has a pH between 0 and 7. It contains more H+ ions than OH- ions.
  • Alkaline water has a pH between 7 and 14. It contains less H+ ions than OH- ions.

The pH of fresh water is between 6.5 to 8.2. Industrial run-off and sewage affects pH. pH at the extremes of the range indicates damage to sensitive species of plants and invertebrates.

Make pH measurements in the field because the pH of a sample changes quickly due to biological and chemical activity in the sample container.

Readings range between excellent 6.0 - 7.0 to poor < 5.0 - > 9.0.

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