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  • Writer's picturePool Protection Technologies

Pool Test Strips vs Liquid Drop Tests: Which to Choose?

Maintaining proper water chemistry is essential for the health and enjoyment of any residential pool. Chemical testing is a fundamental aspect of pool maintenance, ensuring that the water remains safe, balanced, and inviting. Two popular methods of chemical testing for residential pools are strip testing and drop testing. In this article, we will explore the differences between these two methods and discuss their pros and cons.

Strip Chemical Testing

Strip chemical testing involves the use of plastic strips embedded with chemical reagents. These strips are dipped into a water sample taken from the pool, and the reagents on the strip react with the water, resulting in a color change. Strip chemical testing is a convenient method for quick water analysis, but it may lack the precision required for more intricate water chemistry adjustments. Additionally, the simplicity of strip testing makes it suitable for regular monitoring, while more complex issues may require the accuracy of drop testing. The strip is then compared to a color chart to determine the concentration of various chemicals in the water.

Pros of Strip Chemical Testing

  1. Ease of use: Strip testing is relatively straightforward and requires minimal training or expertise. Anyone can perform a strip test with ease, making it an accessible option for pool owners.

  2. Quick results: Strip tests provide instant results. Within seconds, you can obtain a snapshot of the water's chemical balance, enabling prompt adjustments if necessary.

  3. Cost-effective: Strip tests are generally more affordable compared to drop tests, making them an economical choice for regular testing.

Cons of Strip Chemical Testing

  1. Limited accuracy: The color interpretation on strip tests can be subjective and prone to errors. The color shades can be difficult to distinguish, leading to inaccurate readings and potentially incorrect chemical adjustments.

  2. Limited range: Strip tests often have a narrower range of detectable chemical levels compared to drop tests. This limitation may result in less precise monitoring of water parameters.

Drop Chemical Testing

Drop chemical testing involves using a sample of pool water and adding chemical reagents drop by drop. Each reagent is specifically designed to test a particular parameter, such as pH, chlorine, alkalinity, or calcium hardness. This comprehensive analysis provides a more detailed picture of the pool's water quality, allowing for targeted adjustments to ensure optimal conditions for swimmers. The number of drops required to produce a color change is counted, and the concentration is then calculated based on the reagent's instructions, enabling precise measurement and fine-tuning of chemical levels to maintain a healthy and balanced pool environment.

Pros of Drop Chemical Testing

  1. Accuracy: Drop tests are generally more accurate than strip tests. The precise measurement of chemical levels allows for better monitoring and adjustment of water chemistry.

  2. Comprehensive testing: Drop tests cover a broader range of chemical parameters, including pH, alkalinity, chlorine, and calcium hardness. This comprehensive analysis provides a more detailed picture of the pool's water quality.

  3. Reagent customization: Drop tests allow for customization by offering a variety of reagents. This enables pool owners to select the specific tests they need based on their pool's requirements.

Cons of Drop Chemical Testing

  1. Learning curve: Drop testing requires a certain level of expertise and practice to perform accurately. Beginners may need some time to familiarize themselves with the process and ensure precise measurements.

  2. Time-consuming: Drop tests can be more time-consuming compared to strip tests. Each test requires careful observation and the addition of multiple reagents, which can prolong the testing process by a few extra minutes.


When it comes to keeping your residential pool in tip-top shape, both strip chemical testing and drop chemical testing have their own unique perks and drawbacks. Strip testing is all about convenience and affordability, providing quick and easy results that are perfect for your routine testing needs. Just keep in mind that strip testing might not offer the same level of precision when it comes to detecting certain chemicals.

On the other hand, drop testing is like having your own personal pool scientist. It offers higher accuracy and a comprehensive analysis of your water quality, giving you a detailed understanding of what's happening in your pool. You can even customize the reagents to suit your specific pool requirements. Just be prepared to invest a bit more time and expertise into the process.

Once you have your test results, whether you used strips or went the drop testing route, it's time to get your pool water chemistry balanced to perfection. If you're not sure about which chemicals to add or how much to add, we've got a fantastic solution for you: a Custom Chemical Cheat Sheet tailored specifically for your pool. This cheat sheet will be your trusty companion, guiding you on the precise amounts of chemicals needed to get your pool chemistry back on track.

At the end of the day, the choice between strip and drop chemical testing methods for your residential pool boils down to your personal preferences, level of expertise, and specific needs. Whatever method you choose, remember that regular and accurate chemical testing is absolutely essential for maintaining a pristine, well-balanced, and enjoyable swimming environment.

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