Tips for Testing Your Water Ionizer

Tips for Testing Your Water Ionizer

Once you receive your water ionizer and get it hooked up, it’s important to test the water to ensure you’re getting the desired pH at each of the preset levels. Every water ionizer comes with a set of pH testing drops and a color chart but there are a few things you should know before you start testing. These “tips for testing” will help you feel confident that you are getting the most accurate readings possible.

For starters, here’s what you’ll need:

Small glass, bowl or coffee mug (must be CLEAR or true white to get accurate readings)

pH reagent drops (these drops come with all water ionizers)

Pure white cloth, towel or sheet of paper (not required but helpful if you have a richly colored kitchen)

First thing you need to know – LESS IS MORE. You only need 1 teaspoon to 1/4 cups of water for testing. The less water you use, the deeper the color you’ll see using the reagent drops which means easier interpretation of the results.

Second thing you need to know – RINSE FIRST. Even if the container you are using to catch water for sampling is fresh and clean from the cabinet, you will need to rinse it before collecting a sample. Whether you wash your dishes by hand or run them through a dishwasher, some soap residue almost always remains. This residue can cause your readings to be inaccurate.

Third thing you need to know – IT MAY NOT MATCH. The colors printed on the color chart provided or on the back of your user manual are stock colors and not necessarily what you’ll see when you start your testing. The are meant as a guide. It’s rare that I see testing colors match those color charts or the pH color reference on the back of user manuals. Those are solid/pure/opaque colors – you’re starting with a clear liquid and adding another semi-clear liquid. This is the reason having a pure white cloth or using a true white bowl or coffee mug is suggested – you’re likely to see the color more clearly against a pure white surface.

Now to answer that question that may have popped into your head – “If the colors are different from what’s on the pH color guide, how do I know what pH level I’m getting at each setting?” That’s what I’m about to answer here – “what to look for.” Once we’ve gone through what to look for with colors I’ll go by the step-by-step process for accurate testing.


Below you will find an image showing a pH meter dipped in different pH samples that also had reagent drops so you can see the color variations possible at different pH levels.
The text below is a guide – actual colors will vary based on your testing drops, saturation of colors in the room and “tinting” of the glass or bowl you’ve used for testing.

1st Alkaline Level or Lowest pH setting: Here you want to see blue. No hints of green or purple, just blue. It can be pale blue or deep blue – this will depend on the pH reagent drops you’re using – but you’re looking for BLUE. No teal, no turquoise – no hints of any other color – just plain blue. Ideally this will be a lighter blue or “sky” blue.

When using an actual pH meter on water that tests blue – with no traces of green or purple – I get readings between 8.0 and 8.5. This is what is recommended for the 1st alkaline (lowest pH level) of an ionizer.

2nd Alkaline level: At this level you want to see a darker blue. Still blue, only a darker shade – think “midnight” blue. If you see a slight hint of purple showing up that’s okay – you just want to primarily see a dark blue.

When using an actual pH meter on water that tests dark blue or dark blue with slight hints of purple – I get readings between 8.5 and 9.0. This is what is commonly recommended as the 2nd setting for water ionizers that have 4 alkaline presets.

3rd Alkaline Level: Here you want to see a good blend of purple and blue. You still want to see strong blue tones but you should definitely notice purple showing up as well. The color here should be a nice blend of blue and purple.

When using an actual pH meter on water that tests dark blue with purple tones or a true blue/purple blend of colors – I get readings of 9.0 to 9.7. This is the highest pH level recommended for drinking on a daily basis.

4th Alkaline Level: If you have a water ionizer that has 4 alkaline levels, and your water ionizer has sufficient mineral content you should see purple when testing at this setting. Depending on the pH drops you are using you could see a deep rich purple or a “pinkish” purple or even fuschia. This is as far as the testing drops will read on the alkaline side.

When using an actual pH meter on water that tests purple, pinkish purple or fuschia I’ve seen readings from 10.0 to 12.0.

1st Acidic Level: Here’s where it gets really tricky – color tests for the 1st acidic level can range from lime green to pea green to a greenish yellow. You just don’t want to see any hints of blue here – you’re looking for yellow-green or green that is working it’s way towards yellow.

When using an actual pH meter on water that tests in this color range I see readings from 6.0 to 5.0. These readings are fine for this setting and indicate that you have water that can be used as “beauty water” and that will provide some relief for common skin conditions or minor skin injuries.

2nd Acidic Level: At this level you want to see pure yellow or yellow with deeper gold or orange tones. The most variation I see with pH reagent drops are in the acidic settings but usually water that tests in this color range gives me a 5.0 to 4.0 reading with a pH meter.

3rd Acidic Level: Here you want to see orange – or orange with some hints of red tones. With most water ionizers and in some source water areas, this is the most acidic water you’ll be able to produce. I see readings of 4.0 to 3.5 on my pH meter when testing water that gives this color range using the pH reagent drops.

4th Acidic Level (and 3rd acidic level on some of the more powerful water ionizers): If you’ve got source water with the correct balance of minerals and a water ionizer with enough power you should see colors ranging from dark orange to red to brownish red. Just like purple is as good as it gets on the alkaline side when using the reagent drops, these colors are as good as it gets with the drops on the acidic side.

Using an actual pH meter on water that tests in this color range I’ve seen readings of 3.0 to 2.0 pH.

**IF you have a water ionizer that only has 3 alkaline settings, I recommend “blue” for the first setting, purplish blue for the 2nd setting and purple at the 3rd setting.**
**IF you have a water ionizer with only 2 acidic settings I like to see greenish yellow at the first setting and anywhere from yellow to red at the 2nd setting – acidic water is the most challenging to produce. If you are unable to get the acidic pH reading you’re looking for, adding citric acid powder or crystals will drop the pH down to a more acidic level.**

Now that you’ve got your testing supplies together and you know what to look for, let’s get started.

I recommend leaving your water ionizer running throughout the testing process. It takes a water ionizer a few seconds to power up to each level and some water ionizers want to run a cleaning cycle before each use, every time you turn it on. By leaving your water ionizer running you’re ready to test the next level as soon as you finished reading the results from the level you just tested.

Before you start testing water from your ionizer it’s a good idea to test your source pH water. Be sure to rinse the glass or bowl you’re using before collecting a sample for testing.

Collect a small amount of water from your tap and put in two to 5 reagent drops. Anything in the blue range means your source water is on the alkaline side – and it may be necessary to make adjustments to get the stronger acid levels. Green with hints of yellow and you’re starting out slightly acidic – which isn’t an issue in most cases. A nice pure green indicates a neutral pH.

Now let’s see what you’re water ionizer can do -

  • Start at the lowest alkaline setting. Once you turn the ionizer on and it starts producing water, rinse the container you’re using for testing – you want to rinse with the water that is coming out of the unit at the level you are testing.
  • Once you’ve collected your first sample DO NOT TURN THE UNIT OFF. Instead, select the next level for testing – the unit will be powering up to that level while you are testing the first level.
  • Add 2 to 5 drops to your sample and check the color. If necessary, add another drop or two or three. Some reagent drops are stronger than others and require a few extra drops for testing.
  • Once you’ve tested the first level, rinse the container with the water coming out of the unit at the next level you’re testing.
  • Collect your next sample
  • Select the next level for testing on the unit so that it can be “powering up” while you’re reading your result.
  • Add drops to the sample you’ve just collected
  • Repeat until all levels have been tested – rinsing the testing dish between each test using the water that at the next level you are testing, then – after collecting your next sample for testing, adjust the unit to level you will be testing next and let it run there while you are checking the results on the previous level.

As you are testing each level, make notes of the levels that you think need to be adjusted up or down to make the water more or less alkaline at that level. Once you’ve tested all levels and determine IF you need to make adjustments and if so which settings need to be adjusted you can go in and tweak the settings or flow rate.

Adjusting the Settings

Adjusting the pH levels can be done either through changing the flow rate or by changing the power settings of the unit at each of the presets – like tuning presets on your car radio. Not all water ionizers offer the “power settings adjustment” option. If you’re water ionizer DOES offer this ability, consult your manual for instructions. Not all water ionizers will have instructions for this type of setting adjustment. Water Ionizer Authority customers can call and we’ll talk you through adjusting your unit to get settings a close to “perfect” as possible based on your source water.

If you’re water ionizer does NOT offer the power adjustment option you can control the pH within each preset by adjusting the flow rate – the speed at which water flows through the unit. To get stronger readings at any setting you’ll slow the water flow down by either using the knob on your faucet OR the water control knob or valve on the unit itself. Some water ionizers have a flow control knob on the front or side of the unit that allows you to speed up or slow down the flow rate which can make the water you are producing stronger or milder at the selected preset.

The samples shown below were created using different pH testing drops. Most companies get their pH reagent drops from different sources and the resulting colors can vary – as you see here.

Acid levels will test from greenish-yellow to red. Alkaline levels will test from blue/blue-ish purple to purple.

Don’t want to fool around with pH testing drops?

The meter I used is the one that is most commonly purchased by consumers. It’s a combo pH/ORP meter and sometimes you can find it for as little as $75. *IF* you decide to purchase a pH meter please keep these things in mind:

  • Don’t just buy a meter. You need to also purchase storage solution and buffering solutions at 4.0, 7.0 and 10.0 levels. Buffering solutions are sold either in bottles or one-time use “sachets.” If you decide to get the sachets I recommend purchasing 2 or 3 at each level. pH calibration can be tricky and if you don’t get it right the first time it’s good to have a back-up buffering solution to try again.
  • Don’t just place an order over the internet. CALL the company and ask if there are any additional maintenance items that are recommended with the meter you have selected. Ask who to contact if you need help using or calibrating the meter and if you’re purchasing a meter WITH the buffering & storage solutions it can’t hurt to see if they’ll cut you a deal on purchasing the “package.”
  • If you purchase a combo pH/ORP meter, don’t count on that ORP meter to work right out of the box. I’ve got thousands of dollars invested in these meters and I can tell you that it is a rare thing when one of them actually gives accurate readings without conditioning and cleaning. At the very least you need to purchase a jewelers cloth to polish the probe – it will help. But I don’t rely on ORP readings from combo meters any more than I rely on Santa Claus to leave a pony in my backyard. At one point I believed in both.