When you buy products from some sites that we link to, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn More.

How To Test Pool Water & The Best Test Kits

Maintaining the pH balance of your poor is critical to prevent algae growth and keep the water safe for swimming.

The factors you need to monitor include pH, alkalinity, bromine and calcium hardness, as well as chlorine level.

In this guide you will learn how to test pool water with various testing methods and how to choose the best pool water test kit for you and your pool.

How To Test Pool Water

Test Strips

You can use pool water testing strips for a quick range reading on your pool water.

Drip Test Kits

Other options include a drip kit, in which several testing mediums can show you specific levels of free chlorine, pH and alkalinity.

This testing process takes a bit longer, but if your pool is badly out of balance or if chlorine sensitivity is a concern and you want to see how low you can go, a drip kit will give you more specific readings of each factor.

If the color gauges on these tests are hard to ready, consider a more specific gauge to get a reading on the amount of chemicals you need to add to your pool.

Electronic Pool Water Testers

Electronic reading devices, such as the Bluewave 6-in-1, allow you to add a small container of water to the reading device, close the container and get a digital readout of the levels of chemicals in your pool water.

No matter what testing kit you purchase, you’ll need to test consistently. For example, you’ll want to check it at the same time each day in relation to sunset.

Also, depending on the size of your pool, you’ll want to run the pump before adding chemicals, and for at least an hour afterward.

Find The Best Option For Your Needs

For those with salt water pools, a standard chlorine and pH testing kit will not give you all the data you need.

The best pool test kit is the one that keeps your swimming water within safe range for eyes, skin, hair and bathing suit fabric.

If chlorine sensitivity is a challenge, a saltwater pool might be a better investment.

Aim for Consistency


For most efficient use of your balancing chemicals, it’s important to add chemicals at night. The ultraviolet rays in sunlight will impact your chlorine levels heavily and require you to add more chlorine during the day than you would overnight.

Pool strips can be hard to read in direct sunlight, and not everyone can judge the variations in color intensity. The AquaChek TruTest Digital Test Strip Tester tries to help remedy that.

When learning how to read pool test strips and get an accurate measure of the condition of your pool, try to find a consistent time of day in relation to sunset.

If you’re going to add chemical at night, you’ll get more efficient use out of these additions without direct sunlight on the water.


Run the filter for at least an hour before you test. If possible, make sure the pool has been used (and thus well churned) before testing the water. This is a great time to use a Robotic Pool Cleaner to clean the sides and bottom of your pool.

The best way to test pool water is at the same time every day in relation to the sun, before you add your chemicals and once the water has been filtered.

Alkalinity Vs. pH:

The alkalinity of your pool makes it easier to control the pH level. If your total alkalinity is low, you may experience hard-to-control fluctuations in the pH of the water.

If total alkalinity is high, pH will be more stable but harder to adjust.

If you’re struggling with how to test water pH and getting inconsistent results, it could be that your alkalinity is low and needs to be elevated.

Reviews Of The Best Pool Test Kits

Poolmaster Smart Test 4-Way Test Strips

Poolmaster 22211 Smart 4-Way Swimming Pool and Spa Water Chemistry Test Strips, 1 Pack, White and yellow

Check Price & Availability

Tests four factors in pool and spa water:

  • Free Chlorine, or unoxidized chlorine still present in the water, such as after shocking the pool.
  • Bromine, used often in spas because it’s more stable in warm water.
  • Alkalinity, which buffers pH and reduces rapid changes in this critical measure.
  • The pH or acidity of the water.

The Poolmaster 2211 strips are quite easy to read and offer a detailed scale on the back of the packaging to confirm your pool or spa water is within the ideal range for use.

Taylor Technologies INC k-2006 Test Kit


Check Price & Availability

This testing kit checks:

  • Total and combined chlorine, to determine how much free chlorine remains in the water after treatment.
  • The pH for acidity
  • Alkalinity, to buffer and preserve pH levels.
  • Calcium hardness, to reduce scale on pumps and pool walls.
  • Cyanuric acid. This product is a chlorine stabilizer and has its own safety range, so testing it when you test your chlorine levels is a great idea.

The Taylor K-2006 testing kit is a bit more detailed than testing strips and may well be slower.

However, once you learn how to use the kit efficiently and put it to use the recommended 3 to 4 times per week, you can not only test your pool water for safe chlorine levels.

The calcium test can help you protect your pump, filters and pool walls from damaging calcium build-up.

Bluewave 6-in-1 Electronic Pool and Spa Water Tester

6-in-1 Electronic Pool and Spa Water Tester

Check Price & Availability

This device may be an ideal choice for anyone who struggles to read the colors on test strips and drip kits.

Simply add your water sample, close the water cup holder and press the button. You’ll have your test results in seconds.

This unit will also save your last reading until you take your next test.

If you’ve been struggling to balance pH levels or dealing with low alkalinity, the large LED readouts can make it easy to track any changes you need to make in your standard chemical treatment.

Final Thoughts

 The pH in your pool is not unlike a relationship; once things get badly out of balance, it’s hard to get it back and may require a shock or two!

Rather than having to add extreme levels of chlorine at once, keep your pool balanced with quality testing gear.

Leave a Comment