Testing Water for Possible Hydrogen (pH)

All plants need at least some water to grow, from cactus to hydrilla, plants vary in their need for water (H2O) depending on genus. Every plant is different in their need for the amount of water their roots require, which also determines the root’s uptake abilities for nutrients. These required nutrients for growing are not found in tap water. In fact tap water has a multitude of chemicals in it used to treat the water for “health and safety standards.”

City of Chicago Water Treatment
City of Chicago Water Treatment

“In nature, water is not always clean enough for people to drink. When the microscope was invented in the 1850s, germs could be seen in water for the first time. In 1902, Belgium was the first country to use chlorine to clean or treat water in a public water supply. Today, almost every city in the world treats their drinking water. Treatment includes disinfection with chlorine or other chemicals to kill any germs in the water.” – Water Treatment City of Chicago

“Clean” drinking water from the tap includes various trace elements of chemicals, some more than others. It is a good idea to let any tap water sit for 12 or more hours, to let any chlorine used, to be allowed to evaporate. Many botanists will advise that chlorine levels can effect the roots of most plants if exposed to high enough chemical levels, and should be removed from water as much as possible. This is an interesting video from Canada about how chlorine might effect the micro-organisms in soils.

Once the chlorine has evaporated from the water selected to test for possible Hydrogen there are several ways to test for the pH of the water. Here are the most popular with gardeners.

  1. pH paper test strips
  2. Digital pH test meter *requires proper calibration often
  3. Chemical reaction tests using baking soda and vinegar *video is of a soil sample

Using water safe for plants is very similar to using water safe for fish in aquariums. There are different types of plants that use different parts of the water’s particulate matter and can effect the health of an aquarium. Keeping this in mind will help understand how water pH can change throughout the course of the day, and after adding different nutrients, and or additives to the H2O.