A few pieces of equipment are imperative to have in your microbiology, synthetic biology, or other laboratory. Having the right pH meter in your laboratory, or using the correct one in fieldwork, is essential to perform numerous types of applications, from testing soil to water quality. Regarding pH meters vs pH test strips, strips are still utilized in teaching environments, study, and layman’s use, but are not as widely used in the field. The pH meter
offers a much more accurate reading and, thus, has become the industry standard. However, not all pH meters are the same, and you need to find the right fit for your lab.Read on to learn how to choose the right pH meter for your laboratory, what different types of pH meters exist, and why calibration is important.
What Do pH Meters for Your Laboratory Do?
Like pH test strips, any pH meter will measure the pH (alkalinity or acidity) of a substance, typically a solution. A pH level ranges from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. The closer to 0 Solutions with a pH less than 7 are acidic, while a pH of more than 7 is alkaline (basic).
Why is pH important? pH controls biological processes, microbial activity, the behavior of chemicals, and more. A balanced pH is healthy, and monitoring and controlling the pH in solutions, such as the food and beverages we consume, is vitally important. Therefore, having an accurate pH meter in the laboratory becomes imperative.
What Are the Different Types of pH Meters in Your Laboratory?
There are several different types of pH meters in the laboratory to choose from at a basic level:
The handheld and pen types are wireless pH meters, which means they’re a better fit for fieldwork. Imagine the difficulty of carrying a larger benchtop meter with you to test soil in the field. If you will be primarily testing pH on the go, then a handheld is the better pH meter for your laboratory. However, many fields need both laboratory and field testing, so opt for a benchtop pH meter in the laboratory as well.
The most important part of a pH meter is the electrode, which is separate from the unit in a handheld meter. A pen meter, which is small and often used for soil and spa applications, has an electrode as part of the pen. A benefit of handheld pH meters in your laboratory is that you can switch out the electrode for different applications. For example, stainless-steel electrodes are optimal when measuring solids, such as food.
When shopping for a pH meter, determine how much portability and accuracy are to you. Benchtop pH meters are the most accurate; however, they can’t be easily used in the field, so laboratories often opt for both. A pen has less accuracy than a benchtop or handheld, however, it is still more accurate than test strips.
After considering the electrode, accuracy, and portability, calibrating a pH meter and its calibration features are also significantly important when choosing a pH meter for your laboratory.
Why Is the Calibration of a pH Meter So Important?
If you test pH regularly, you should calibrate your meter before each use. Meters should be calibrated regularly at the base level. The pH meter calibration ensures that your readings are accurate. A better meter will have a 2-point calibration system. If you test a wide range of pH, you can consider a 3- to 5-point system, but for most applications, a 2-point system is perfect.
Trying to determine what type of pH meter for your laboratory you should invest in? Contact us and we’ll be in touch with suggestions on what would work best in your lab.