Measuring pH: Strips or meters?

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Measuring pH: Strips or meters?

Postby Single Malt Yinzer » Sun Sep 10, 2017 2:40 pm

My last batch of pH strips were a bust as they seemed highly inaccurate. It seems meters are pricey if they are accurate. I really would love a cheapish meter (less than $50) that works well.

So what ya got? What ya recommend?
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Re: Measuring pH: Strips or meters?

Postby kiwi Bruce » Sun Sep 10, 2017 4:07 pm

The Homebrew stores sell a test kit for testing the acidity in wine. They are OK for accuracy , easy to use...defiantly better that pH papers and not to pricey...you should be able to find one for under ten bucks.
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Re: Measuring pH: Strips or meters?

Postby Shine0n » Sun Sep 10, 2017 11:54 pm

My meter is a cheapo but seems to be ok as when I used it on my dunder pit after the addition of lime it said 5.5 and the next day the pellicle returned on the pit.

I've only used it 3 times and was on the dunder pits as I've not had time to make a wash lately. but all 3 times was the same result.

I got it off amazon

I used the strips before on mashes and got close enough to know if it was low, did not work on rum ferments though.
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Re: Measuring pH: Strips or meters?

Postby Yummyrum » Mon Sep 11, 2017 2:04 am

Strips are cheap and accurate enough for clear washes . Universal indicator solution is also a good choice here.
But for Rum washes I would recommend a meter as the dark brown colour of Rum washes makes it difficult for strips or indicator that rely on colour .

If you use a meter , you must wash it immediately after testing and preferably store it in the 4M Potassium chloride solution to maintain its longevity .Never use distilled water to wash and store .
However expect all meters to only last a few years and become slower to respond with age .

Meters are cheap enough these days that even after a few years you will get your money back .

But , whether you use strips or meters , don't get so bogged down by pH readings that it sends you into a spin .
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Re: Measuring pH: Strips or meters?

Postby Single Malt Yinzer » Mon Sep 11, 2017 4:30 am

Thanks everyone. I'm looking at the two meters here:

$16 basic version, no thrills:
https://www.amazon.com/Jellas-Household ... B00YBUH4RC

$46 Upgraded with temp, includes pH solutions for calibration:
https://www.amazon.com/Apera-Instrument ... B01ENFOHN8


YummyRum - This looks like what you were speaking about. Do you need to dry or clean the electrodes before use or can you use it right away?
https://www.amazon.com/Milwaukee-Instru ... B002P35Y6U
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Re: Measuring pH: Strips or meters?

Postby OtisT » Mon Sep 11, 2017 6:01 am

I have not had luck getting consistent reading with two different meters. Seems to never settle on a PH level, and is not consistent. I gave up on the meters and went back to strips. They are cheep enough I can use a few to double check things.

All that said, there are folks smarter than me who seem to get the meters to work and like them, so who knows.
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Re: Measuring pH: Strips or meters?

Postby Shine0n » Mon Sep 11, 2017 7:36 am

I only use strips on clear washes and it's good enough for that, if in doubt use a buffer to insure that drop is minimal at best and go even further, get some picking lime to raise just in case.
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Re: Measuring pH: Strips or meters?

Postby bluefish_dist » Mon Sep 11, 2017 11:43 am

Meter and get with temperature compensation. Makes life much easier. If you can't afford one, stay with strips instead of wasting money on one without it.
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Re: Measuring pH: Strips or meters?

Postby Yummyrum » Tue Sep 12, 2017 3:29 am

Single Malt Yinzer wrote:P
YummyRum - This looks like what you were speaking about. Do you need to dry or clean the electrodes before use or can you use it right away?
https://www.amazon.com/Milwaukee-Instru ... B002P35Y6U

Not exactly sure what that is but I'd be pretty sure its the stuff . 4M KCl ( Potassium Chloride solution of 4 molarity ) is the common stuff and there is not much variation between probes .

Always a good idea to give them a rinse with fresh water between use . By fresh I mean tap water is usually good enough . Especially if you have been measuring really high or low pH stuff . Most tap water is reasonably nuetral especially if it comes from a municiple supply .
Most pH meters need calibrating every 10-20 odd measures . You need to get some pH buffer solution to calibrate . Some metes nust have a single point calibration at pH 7 . Some have a two point calibration at say 4 and 10 while others have three point at 4 , 7 and 10 . .... we really don't need to be that anal :ebiggrin:
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Re: Measuring pH: Strips or meters?

Postby texasspur21 » Sat Nov 11, 2017 10:39 pm

I think strips work better. The tempurature affects the results and temps are always changing. Plus, if you can get somewhere near 5.2, you’re good, doesn’t need to be perfect.
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Re: Measuring pH: Strips or meters?

Postby Reverend Newer » Sat Nov 18, 2017 7:55 pm

Beware that pH strips do age and oxidize over time once the foil pack is opened, skewing their measuring ability. Keep pH strips away from heat, light and humidity. One thing that helps with strips is to only wet the tip and let the moisture draw up into the strip, rather than dunking half the strip which causes more bleeding of colors.

The pH testing drops work a bit better for me than trying to read the bleeding colors of the test strips. The pH testing solution must also be kept away from heat and light or it will degrade and give false readings. Just add 3 drops or so to a little test tube of wash, shake, then compare it to the color chart.

A digital pH meter is most accurate in my opinion but they need to be maintained by keeping the electrode in storage solution and calibrated occasionally depending on amount of use. BlueLab pH meters are pricey but they automatically adjust for temperature and will last a few years if properly maintained.

Never store your pH meter in reverse osmosis or distilled water as doing so will remove ions from the probe rendering it useless.
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Re: Measuring pH: Strips or meters?

Postby UrToopid » Sat Nov 18, 2017 9:58 pm

Single Malt Yinzer wrote:My last batch of pH strips were a bust as they seemed highly inaccurate. It seems meters are pricey if they are accurate. I really would love a cheapish meter (less than $50) that works well.

So what ya got? What ya recommend?


You get what you pay for when it comes to information gathering (data).
This cannot be more true than in the case of a measurement. I am an Instrumentation and Electrical (I&E) tech. I calibrate instruments including pH meters for the petrochemical industry daily. A decent pH meter is worth its weight in gold and way more accurate than strips or test kits. You don’t need anything with an accuracy greater than 1%. (You pay a lot more for higher accuracy. It’s like buying a Lamborghini to run at the local dirt track)This means that it will read within one decimal point (tenths)when calibrated using a 4.01 and 7.01 buffer. Most brewer supply stores sell these, and the one-shot buffer packets really cheap. A decent meter will run you between $60-$100. Less than that and you are shooting dice. I went through some headaches using the $20 meters they sell at our local brew shop. After the second cheap meter crapped out within weeks of buying it, I decided to go a little higher. I settled on a $70 probe made by Hanna Instruments with an integral digital display and have had it for over two years now. The trick with any bulb type pH probe is to store it in a slightly acidic buffer (I mix the 4.01 with the 7.01) apx. 6.0-6.5. This keeps proteins from building up on the glass bulb. It is necessary to use new buffer solutions EVERY time you re-calibrate. If you have a larger supply, that is fine, pour out just what you need for each buffer and toss it when you are done. It is also VERY important to not dip your probe directly from one buffer to the next. A few drops of the 7.01 buffer in your probe tip can quickly contaminate your 4.01 and vise versa. It is strongly recommended to rinse the probe in DI water and shake off (don’t wipe the probe)between bufffers.. this will insure accurate and trustworthy readings.
Happy measurements!



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Re: Measuring pH: Strips or meters?

Postby masonsjax » Sun Nov 19, 2017 6:47 pm

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/forum/inde ... er.446437/

Pay attention to anything that users ajdelange or mabrungard have to say, they are very knowledgeable professionals.

Kai Troester's site also has some buying info:
http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?ti ... ying_Guide
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Re: Measuring pH: Strips or meters?

Postby Single Malt Yinzer » Wed Dec 06, 2017 6:59 pm

Thanks guys this is the type of info I needed. I'll be getting decent meter for myself for Xmas.
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