Unboxing the Cherioll Water Tester

Water analysis, treatment, and mineral recipes for optimum taste and equipment health.
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#1: Post by jwCrema »

I've been reading Jim's Insanely Long Water FAQ with the goal of making great water for my lever machines with a fellow Olympia lever friend. I never liked using litmus papers. I found this water tester on Amazon and decided this would be the most fun I could possibly have with $26.99? They claim the accuracy of the testers is +/- 2%.

After using the tester, I ordered additional Plump Tiger calibration solutions which are identical to what was supplied. My guess is a) they are probably made in China and b) something may have been lost in the translation? Is a Plump Tiger a good thing or not? Would tigers feel slurred?

We used glasses straight out of the cupboard with a quick rinse of distilled water - undoubtedly there is some level of contamination influencing measurements. Both testers were rinsed in distilled water before each test. At the conclusion of all tests, we retested both devices in the calibration buffer solution. We did not observe reading drifting.

Calibrating the TDS meter consisted of a reading of distilled water. It measured 1 ppm consistently.
Calibrating the pH meter with Plump Tiger packets:
buffer pH 4.01 = pH meter read 3.99
buffer pH 6.86 = pH meter read 6.67
buffer pH 9.18 = pH meter read 9.14

An impressive start in our book.

Here are the tests we did:

Observations and Conclusions:
We were surprised that we were getting readings of this quality for $26.99. We have access to a chemistry lab and do some further testing on Plump Tiger with high end equipment to validate its accuracy. We're not going to do enough observations to make a determination based on quantitative methods. This is all about validating we are in the ballpark without pesky litmus test paper.

I suspected enlightenment would come from this endeavor. It arrived in something painfully obvious. Start with a known starting place, which Dr Pavlis plainly documented. We feel these tests confirm why Mt Shasta is recommended water.

Adding 100 mg/L of KHCO3 to Crystal Geyser Mt Shasta was misguided; for now, we're going to use CG without KHCO3 until the Plump Tiger packets arrive. We think 20 mg/L will be sufficient to bring TDS to La Marzocco's suggested range.

My home is serviced by a different municipal water source than my friend's home. My tap water is City #2, but is after conditioning with a water softener. My water supply has virtually no chlorine added. I rechecked my pH with some test results using S-2.20 measurement, and the pH tester is right in the ballpark. His water supply is from mountain water runoff and has significantly higher chlorine, (it reeks); what nice soft water they have. We're both sticking with Mt Shasta.
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#2: Post by homeburrero »

A conductivity 'TDS meter' measures conductivity, and it then applies a multiplier to convert that to a TDS ppm estimate. Look at your numbers and note that your TDS value is consistenly your EC value times 0.5. That's a common calibration factor for TDS meters that are calibrated to be about right for NaCl (table salt). Some people call them salinity meters for that reason. Most of the inexpensive pen type 'TDS meters' are calibrated to this simple linear 0.5 factor.

Now look at the specs for your Crystal Geyser Mt Shasta water. In this case the TDS data in your table is from the spec, which is giving you the actual TDS - - the sum mass of all the ions in the water. And that particular water's mix of ions happen to have much lower conductivity than the same mass of NaCl would have. So even though your meter is doing a reasonable job here of measuring conductivity, since it's using a factor of 0.5, it's way off for the TDS of the CG water. That's part of the nature of using conductivity to guesstimate TDS. These inexpensive meters will most often underestimate the actual TDS of a natural water, but not always. Depends on the water.

A couple entries in your table look odd:
On the distilled water if you actually measured 45 µS/cm, it should have indicated 22 or 23 ppm. 1 ppm on this meter should correspond to around 2 µS/cm.
And the distilled + KHCO3 is not what I'd expect. This water if made properly would have an actual TDS of 100 ppm, and should have a conductivity of around 120 µS/cm at 25 ℃, which at a calibration factor of 0.5 would be expected to read about 60 ppm.
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jwCrema (original poster)
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#3: Post by jwCrema (original poster) »

Thank you for the comments. I've got a different cheap test kit coming that will measure Fe, Cl, Iron and other elements that Jim's ILWF and La Marzocco call out. The goal of all of this is to determine if digital test equipment at a cheap price exists for home use? In my other life, one of our guys sends water samples to a lab to do EPA/standard testing and they're over $250 a try.

As it is, it's odd that pH measurements are so close in some ways, but not in others. The distilled water + KHCO3 also seems quite odd to me too.
This particular tester can be had for $7 sans TDS meter. I'm going to do some additional testing when the Plump Tiger kits arrive to validate the pH numbers further. I'm willing to call success on +/- .2 pH