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The Best Water Testing Kits: Find Out Exactly What Is in Your Water

It would be great if we could safely drink the tap water in our home but this probably isn’t possible without some water testing kits. It’s even unimaginable to use untested tap water for the plants. So, drinking it for ourselves is certainly out of the question.

A water testing kit can provide numerous benefits. It can detect the water contaminant that might be in your tap water, well water, pool, or any other source. This eliminates the need to pay top dollar for professional consultation.

Plus, these water testing kits will help determine just what contaminants are lurking in your water. No waiting for lab test results; you get to know the problem and start working on it almost immediately.

It’s not hard to use a water testing kit on your own. The instructions are usually clear. That’s why you don’t have to worry about any complications.

Curious about these kits yet?

Let’s discuss them further below.

How Do Water Testing Kits Work and What Do They Test?

If this is the first time you’re hearing about water testing kits, you’d probably have this question in mind, “how do they work?”

Fortunately, modern chemistry now gives you the ability to test any kind of water without having to rely on a laboratory.

As you conduct these tests, the kit will show the chemicals that are present in your water. This even includes the substances that are only present in minuscule concentrations.

Thankfully, these water testing kits don’t cost an arm and leg either. With the right kit on hand, you can quickly check whether your pool water is safe to swim in or if your tap water/well water is suitable for drinking.

The contaminants that these water testing kits can detect include bacteria, iron, pesticides, nitrite, nitrate, chlorine, lead, etc. They also check the pH level, alkalinity, and hardness of the water.

The functionality of these tests depends on what kind you use. Let’s discuss these separately now:

Color disk kits

Color disk water testing kits work when you add a powder and some water to a reusable tube. You can then put the tube in a viewing box, which has a plastic disk with a color gradient.

When you rotate this disk, you can find the part that matches the sample. After that, it’s a matter of seconds to check what concentration of the chemical that particular shade means.

Disk tests are usually a bit complicated, which also makes them more costly than other options. However, they have the advantage of being more accurate.

Test strips

These strips are an affordable option for testing water. They’re single-use strips that can change color when dipped in water. The resulting color indicates what chemicals are present within the liquid.

There should be a color card in the packaging for the test strips as well. Once you’ve waited long enough after dipping the strip in the sample, it should be possible to match the color to the chart.

Hand-held digital instruments

Digital devices might give you the most accurate results of all. However, these are also the most expensive option and require both batteries plus correct calibration.

How to Choose a Water Testing Kit

Though you can install the right shower head to protect your hair and skin from hard water, you’ll need to go a step further when it comes to drinking water that’s free of harmful minerals. That’s when you should choose the water testing kit that fulfills your need.

With the various options out there, it can be challenging to choose a specific water testing kit. The following factors will help you decide:

Know the source of water

The first consideration is the kind of water you want to test. Most water testing kits are formulated and designed for specific water sources.

For instance, a kit for testing well water might be different from one that tests a public water supply.

The kits will test for the common contaminants in that specific source of water. Before you place any orders, make sure your kind of water is mentioned in the description.

Finding out about the testing method

Water testing kits take different time periods to show a result. If you’re not too concerned about time, you may settle for a kit that takes longer but is more accurate.

If you’re in a hurry, though, you should go for the at-home kits.

Know your requirements

If you just want to test for a couple of contaminants instead of every single substance in your water, a less expensive test might do.

A more expensive option will give you a whole list of possible contaminants. So, you can reassess what you need.

The Best Water Testing Kits Today

We now come to the best water testing kits one can find on the market today.

One of these could be your path towards safe drinking water no matter where you are:

HoneForest

This HoneForest model is a great all-rounder water tester. It can test the quality of your water along with assessing the aquaculture, water purification applications, water treatment, etc.

The model here is quite easy to operate and reliable as well. That’s why you might want to make it part of your household arsenal.

You also get a 3-year warranty, automatic locking, and a backlit function. The model will turn itself off after two minutes if not in use, thus, saving your battery.

We especially like the carrying case with this option. It offers some protection and also has a belt clip for convenient carrying.

WaterSafe

The WaterSafe water testing kit is also a leading choice when it comes to ensuring safe H20. It’s a DIY model that can help to identify the common contaminant in your tap water.

Some possible substances you can find here include lead, chlorine, pesticides, copper, etc. You can also determine the pH level of your water and its hardness level.

This kit works with test strips. Therefore, it’s one of the more affordable options out there.

You’ll also get test vials and detailed instruction on using the strips plus interpreting the results. However, such a choice might not be too easy to use in the beginning.

Health Metric

If you have well water to test, it’s worth checking out this Health Metric option before consuming a single drop. Private wells aren’t under EPA regulation, so you’re on your own when it comes to proper testing.

Fortunately, tests like these will help you identify any harmful bacteria and other substances in such water sources.

This water testing kit will ensure that your well water is good enough to drink. It will give you information about nitrates, nitrites, hydrogen, manganese, and several other potential contaminants in the water.

What’s even better is that the kit is simple to use, with straightforward instructions and lab-grade results.

Hach 2745250

The Hach 2745250 is one of the less expensive products on this list. But that doesn’t mean it compromises on quality. You can easily detect the water hardness level with this kit without the need to break the bank.

If you do find that a certain kind of water is very hard, that means it has a high level of magnesium and calcium ions.

You can then take steps to get rid of these issues and make the water fit for drinking as soon as possible.

This kit also provides test strips that change color according to the water hardness. By consulting the color chart in the package, you can easily figure out your next move to get clean, safe water.

Safe Home

The Safe Home water testing kit has topped many lists that talk about such items. It requires a bit of effort on your part: gathering water samples and sending them to a lab for testing.

The law in question here is certified by the EPA. So, you’re in good hands.

With the lab results from this kit, you can get to know and analyze around 200 contaminants. This option might be a bit more expensive than the others we’ve discussed so far. But it does seem to deliver.

You get the results within 10 business days while the sample sending is free of charge. Don’t worry about the tests not arriving soon; if the time slot passes, you get another test completely free!

SJ Wave

The SJ Wave water testing kit is meant to test no less than 16 parameters. This will give you a thorough analysis of the water, either confirming or dispelling your contamination concerns.

In the package, you get a hundred test strips along with a dropper and a testing tube. There’s also an instruction booklet that’s color-coded for easy perusal.

Other great additions include an eBook about safe drinking water and a testing record chart with information from the WHO.

Overall, we’re impressed with the wide coverage of this test. It measures pH levels, chlorine levels, and the presence of lead along with copper, nitrate, lead, nitrate, and several other substances.

The procedure for using the kit is simple enough but the manuals will make it a breeze even for novices.

PurTest

The PurTest water analysis kit is an EPA-based option that gives comprehensive results. That way, you can quickly test the drinking water you have at home without much hassle.

It’s essential to drink safe and clean water at all times, and this is one of the tests that can help you out.

There’s also a free handbook included with the testing kit here. This will give you pointers in basic water knowledge, which might be useful in the long run.

The test itself is lab-certified and its results are no less accurate than the ones from a laboratory. You can get to know about 11 of the most common contaminants and rule them out before taking a sip.

Test Assured

The Test Assured kit is formulated especially for ensuring that your drinking water is safe. Overall, the testing procedure might take 10 minutes.

In the end, it will inform you about the presence (or lack) of pesticides, lead, harmful bacteria, iron, and copper in your water.

This kit has 10 tests in one package. After running this, you may hope to be free of the common and most harmful contaminants that can get into your water.

It’s also reassuring to know that the kit was made in the United States. This gives us some guarantee of high quality and accurate results.

What’s even more fortunate is that you don’t have to mail in any samples but can get the result almost immediately.

You can use this kit with tap water, municipal water, groundwater, spring water, residential drinking water, and even well water.

Ideal House

The Ideal House water tester kit is great for testing the water in pipes, aquariums, pools, and so on. It’s a convenient testing kit that can detect hardness and pH levels as well as the presence of several common contaminants.

All in all, this impressive water testing kit has whopping 16 functions in one go. You can get results in as little as 60 seconds and can then take the steps as needed.

You also get a warranty for 180 days here. That should be enough to assure yourself of the item. Using the stripes might be a bit difficult at first but practice makes perfect.

JNW

The JNW water testing kit will help to determine whether you’re surviving on hard or soft water. Once you’re able to assess this correctly, you can see whether your water softener is functioning properly.

This test also gives you the signal to recheck large appliances like hot water heaters, dishwashers, etc. Reading the results could be a challenge for some. But the company is more than happy to help out.

When you know that the water hardness is something to worry about, you’d be more likely to take the required precautions. This could potentially increase the lifespan of your expensive appliances and prevent a major loss in the future.

So, Which One Is the Best?

While all the water testing kits above seem to be quite comprehensive, we’d choose the Safe Home option at the end of the day.

While this testing procedure might take a longer time than other options, it does provide the most accurate results. Since we’re looking for safety above all, this will probably be our highest recommendation.

So, which of the above water testing kits fits your requirements? We’d love to know your opinion.

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The 8 Best Water Softener Shower Heads for Your Home

Why would you even consider a water softener shower head? Are you going through bottles upon bottles of conditioner just to keep your hair feeling soft?

Does your skin feel tight and itchy the moment you step out of the bath?

Do you notice an unpleasant odor coming from your shower head every morning?

All of these signs point to potentially harsh chemicals and minerals in your home’s water. While the compounds commonly found in tap water are generally harmless — if you’re at all concerned, please get your water professionally tested ASAP — they don’t always play nice with our hair and skin.

Fortunately, installing one of the best water softener shower heads on the market can help.

What You Need to Know About Water Softener Shower Heads

The home improvement sphere is full of tools and gadgets promising to upgrade your day-to-day life. So when it comes to water-softening shower heads, are they really worth your time and money?

Before you can make that decision, it’s important you fully understand what a water softener is and how a shower head filter can (or cannot) replicate one.

What is a water softener, and how does it work?

There are many different water filtration systems on the market, with water softeners being just one sub-type.

True water softeners work by exchanging harsh mineral ions for sodium (salt) ions. Calcium and magnesium are the minerals most frequently targeted by this method.

Other filtration systems use physical filters (like activated carbon ) to remove unwanted particles and chemicals in your tap water. These systems mimic the benefits of water softening without facilitating the actual process.

But this all begs the question:

Do water softener shower heads actually soften water?

Right now, we don’t know of any shower heads that qualify as true water softeners.

Why?

Because the water softening process takes a long time (much longer than it takes for water to pass through your shower head). Instead, the best water softener shower heads work hard to duplicate the benefits of soft water without the bulk or expense that comes with a full-size system.

Since each filtration medium targets specific contaminants, it’s never a bad idea to test your home’s water before choosing a shower head. The best water softener shower head for your home won’t always be the best option for someone else.

Can a shower head filtration system benefit the hair and skin?

Yes! Actually, healthier hair and skin is one of the most talked-about reasons for installing a water softener or filtration system in the home.

When we shower, our goal is to step out of the bathroom feeling 100-percent clean. But bathing in hard or unfiltered water can lead to a buildup of harsh minerals — no matter how hard you scrub.

Mineral buildup along the hair follicle can make post-shower styling more difficult and even cause your dye job to fade faster. Hard water can also interfere with the skin’s natural oil production, leading to dryness, enlarged pores, redness, and other unwanted side effects.

While the best way to combat hard water is with a whole-home water softener, investing in a physical filtration system for your shower can also make a huge difference.

8 Best Water Softener Shower Heads

There’s no shortage of shower head filters available on the market, with some offering better results than others. But for our review, we focused on the best filtration systems that provide results similar to soft water.

To select the best products, we compared customer reviews, product specifications, filter media, and third-party certifications. The following reviews are in no particular order.

Paragon Integrated Shower Filter WMF1

Rating: 5.0 out of 5.0 stars

The Paragon Integrated Shower Filter WMF1 offers a simple, low-profile way to improve your shower’s water quality. The shower head features five spray settings and an attractive chrome finish. Once installed, no one will even know it doubles as a filter.

The filter cartridge itself uses KDF (Kinetic Degradation Fluxion) and proprietary media to target harsh and unpleasant chemicals in your water. Each cartridge will filter approximately 10,000 gallons.

This shower head filter is NSF-certified for chlorine reduction, removing up to 99-percent of chlorine. It also claims to reduce water-borne chemicals like hydrogen sulfide, radon, and calcium.

Pros

  • Filters 99-percent of chlorine
  • May improve hair and skin health
  • Removes calcium found in hard water
  • No tools required for installation

Cons

  • Requires frequent filter changes with regular use
  • Limited shower head features

Culligan WSH-C125 Filtered Shower Head

Rating: 4.8 out of 5.0 stars

The Culligan WSH-C125 Filtered Shower Head is another option for softer water without the bulk of a large filtration unit. It features five adjustable spray settings and installs easily without any special tools.

Like the Paragon shower head, this one houses a small filtration cartridge inside the nozzle itself. Each cartridge filters up to 10,000 gallons (approximately six months of regular use).

The replaceable Culligan cartridge uses KDF media to remove chlorine, sulfur, and scale. It also includes a patented layer that specifically filters bacteria from your water and prevents bacterial growth inside the shower head.

Pros

  • Filters out 99-percent of chlorine
  • May reduce hard minerals like calcium and magnesium
  • Simple installation process
  • Covered by limited five-year warranty

Cons

  • Requires filter changes at least every six months
  • Massage spray setting is too powerful for some

Culligan ISH-100 Inline Shower Filter

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.0 stars

The Culligan ISH-100 Inline Shower Filter delivers filtered water to your shower with a slightly different shape than the other water softener heads we’ve looked at so far. While the shower head design is still compact, it’s not quite as streamlined as the Culligan WSH-C125.

This shower head only comes with one baseline setting. However, it does provide a slightly higher water output than the Culligan WSH-C125 (2.0 versus 1.8 gallons per minute).

In terms of filtration, the Culligan ISH-100 Inline Shower Filter works just like the Culligan WSH-C125. Both use the same Culligan WHR-140 filter, just housed in a different style of shower head.

This shower head effectively filters out 99-percent of chlorine, along with removing sulfur odors and other harsh chemicals. It also contains Culligan’s patented antibacterial layer to remove and prevent water-borne bacteria.

Pros

  • Removes 99-percent of harsh chlorine
  • Eliminates and prevents bacterial growth
  • May filter out chemicals that damage hair and skin

Cons

  • Filter must be changed at least every six months
  • Non-adjustable spray head
  • Not as attractive as other Culligan shower head filters
  • Some users report leaking around the filter compartment

Aquasana AQ-4100 Premium Shower Filter

Rating: 4.6 out of 5.0 stars

At first glance, the Aquasana AQ-4100 Premium Shower Filter is one of the bulkiest options out there. But that bulk hides a powerful filtration cartridge that promises to deliver.

The NSF-certified Aquasana filter uses coconut shell carbon and KDF media to remove up to 90-percent of chlorine and other harsh chemicals. It also claims to balance your water’s pH level.

Because this shower head attachment uses an upflow design, you don’t need to worry about weakened water pressure after installation. The extra-large filter compartment also maximizes the amount of contact between your shower’s water and the filter materials.

Pros

  • Multiple shower head options
  • One-year manufacturer warranty
  • Claims to improve the efficacy of hair and skin products

Cons

  • Filters must be changed twice per year
  • May not filter as much chlorine as competitors
  • Bulky filter housing
  • Some users say the filter is hard to change

AquaHomeGroup Handheld Shower Head with Filter

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.0 stars

If you prefer a handheld wand to a regular shower head, the AquaHomeGroup Handheld Shower Head with Filter is another great option. This stylish filter includes a sleek chrome finish and easily doubles as a wall-mounted shower head when needed.

While this water softener shower head only has one setting, its default spray and water pressure are well-liked by users. Many compare it to a smaller version of a luxury rain shower.

The standout feature of the shower head filter is its use of 15 filtration layers. Some of these layers use trusted media like activated carbon and KDF. Others claim to infuse beneficial vitamins and minerals (like vitamins C and E) into the water rather than remove harmful ones.

Pros

  • Filters out chlorine and fluoride
  • Doubles as a wall-mounted and handheld shower
  • Claims to add beneficial vitamins and minerals to water

Cons

  • Each filter lasts only six months
  • Layered filtration may affect water pressure
  • No adjustable spray settings
  • Chrome finish is prone to flaking off

WaterChef SF-7C Premium Shower Filtration System

Rating: 4.4 out of 5.0 stars

The WaterChef SF-7C Premium Shower Filtration System is yet another option that doubles as both a wall-mounted and a handheld shower head. With its flexible 60-inch hose and five spray settings, this filter is great option for homes with pets or small children.

The shower head itself features rubber nozzles to prevent clogs and make routine cleaning a bit easier. Similarly, the hose leading from the filter to the shower head is lined with silicone to prevent harmful buildup and odors.

While this filter uses catalytic carbon to specifically target chlorine, it may also remove other harsh chemicals. Each cartridge features ThermalGuard technology, which helps ensure effective filtration even at high temperatures.

This water softener shower head comes in three finishes to best match your existing bathroom fixtures. Compatible filters last an average of six months and are easy to replace.

Pros

  • Long, flexible hose for easy handheld use
  • ThermalGuard filter works at any temperature
  • Available in three attractive finishes

Cons

  • Too bulky for some showers
  • Requires frequent filter changes
  • May impact water pressure
  • Handheld unit is too heavy for some

SparkPod Filtered Shower Head

Rating: 4.7 out of 5.0 stars

The SparkPod Filtered Shower Head boasts an impressive 12-layer filtration cartridge. As we’ve already seen, more isn’t always better in the world of water filtration. But this shower head is still one of the top models currently on the market.

This shower head filter features three spray settings. The shower head itself is equipped with specialized nano nozzles that help maintain high water pressure at all times. Switching between settings is also made simple with the easy-to-access lever.

The filter cartridge includes activated carbon and KDF as two of its layers, both of which target chlorine, fluoride, and other harsh chemicals. Among its other ten stages, you’ll find ceramic balls, vitamin C, and magnets — though some of these materials aren’t proven to make a difference in overall water quality, they also won’t do any harm.

Pros

  • Easy to switch between spray settings
  • Nano nozzles help deliver higher water pressure
  • Uses filtration media that targets chlorine

Cons

  • Filter cartridges only last three to four months
  • 12-stage filtration may impact water pressure
  • Some filtration stages may not be effective
  • Users report little improvement in filtered water

The Reign Shower Head

Rating: 4.3 out of 5

Compared to many of the other filters we’ve reviewed, The Reign Shower Head is extremely sleek and modern-looking. Made entirely of metal (not painted plastic), this filtration system looks just like a normal shower head until you take it apart.

While this head only comes with one default setting, it delivers a rainwater-inspired shower that many users enjoy. The laser-cut micro nozzles help ensure the best water pressure possible.

The filtration cartridge claims to remove 80- to 90-percent of the chlorine in your water along with dissolved solids. Although each filter should last up to eight months, some users reported only getting two or three months out of one.

Pros

  • Sleek, luxury rainwater-style shower head
  • Easy to install in almost any shower
  • Filters up to 90-percent of chlorine

Cons

  • Filter cartridge lifespan varies greatly
  • Removes less chlorine than competitors
  • Micro nozzles may clog easily
  • Filter housing is prone to leaking

Is a Water Softener Shower Head the Right Choice for You?

As we know, shower head filters aren’t truly capable of transforming hard water into soft water. But many homeowners (and renters) still stand behind the benefits of such fixtures.

So should you invest in a shower filtration system of your own? Do you need to install a water softener to see real results? Or are you better off just leaving well enough alone?

Shower head filters vs. whole-house water softeners

Whole-home water softeners are expensive and require regular maintenance. For many homeowners, the investment is entirely worth it. For others, the slight benefit of having soft water falls short of the sheer cost of such a system.

Another key point to consider is whether or not a water softener will “fix” your home’s water. While these systems work great against hard minerals like calcium and magnesium, they won’t do anything to remove chemicals like chlorine.

On the other hand, shower head filters excel at removing harsh chemicals like chlorine and fluoride.

Although these chemicals are technically harmless in small amounts, some people find that their home’s unfiltered water dries out their hair and skin. By removing chlorine and other common chemicals, shower head filters can mimic the effects of a water softener without the expense of one.

Are there any drawbacks to using a water softener shower head?

Depending on the filter you use, some shower heads can negatively impact your water pressure. If this is a concern for you, stick to filtration systems that only use one or two different media to get the job done.

Fortunately, the issues most often associated with whole-house water softening systems don’t apply to shower head filters. And if you want to enjoy the benefits of cleaner hair and softer skin, there’s no need to worry about it affecting the water throughout the rest of your home.

Transform Your Shower Experience in an Instant

Oftentimes homeowners will jump straight to blaming hard water for their problems, but whole-home water softeners only target very specific minerals. In many cases, though, you can get similar results with a water softener shower head.

Whether you go for the Paragon Integrated Shower Filter WMF1, the Aquasana AQ-4100 Premium Shower Filter, or one of the other great filtration systems we’ve mentioned, you can start enjoying better water with your next shower.

Of course, water softener shower heads are just the beginning. For more information on the best whole-home water softener systems, be sure to read our review. Or to learn more about the water softening process as a whole, check out our blog post on how water softeners work.