What We Like
Easy to use
At-home bacteria kit included
Very detailed results
What We Don't Like
A little pricey
Shipping cost of sending water samples not included
The Essential Indicators Water Test is a convenient way to perform a thorough and professional study of your drinking water. Each kit comes with a mail-in portion that allows you to send your water out to Drinking Water Specialists’ labs, in addition to an at-home test for bacteria.
To determine whether this informational water test does what it promises, we sent it home with one of our testers who had some concerns about the quality of the drinking water in her home. Read on to see what she thought of this kit and whether the process was straightforward and comprehensive enough to warrant the investment.
Setup: Quick and straightforward
There are two parts to this water test: a portion you mail to Drinking Water Specialists’ labs (that tests for more than 170 contaminants) and an at-home portion that tests for bacteria. Our reviewer felt that the process was efficient and easy. “The instructions clearly laid out all the steps you had to take,” she said. “It probably took me less than 20 minutes.”
She went on to explain all that’s required: “First, you put some water in a smaller vial with a tablet that’s supposed to tell you if your water has bacteria in it—if the vial changes color overnight, then your water does contain bacteria. You also fill three other vials with water and ship it back to the company.”
Performance: Very comprehensive
There are a variety of reasons you might want to test your water. However, it’s important to note that the Essential Indicators Water Test is an informational test and not a compliance test. Compliance testing is much more expensive and requires that the lab is certified in your specific state. Unless you need to meet agency requirements or need the results for a court of law, you can opt for informational testing. However, Drinking Water Specialists’ Essential Indicators Water Test actually uses the same EPA testing methods and equipment as compliance testing, so the accuracy is the same—the cost is simply lower.
Our reviewer wanted to test her water because an old oil tank from her apartment building had leaked and there was currently a cleanup process going on: “Crews have been working on the soil and groundwater for months and they were pumping in all sorts of unknown substances to dissolve the oil,” she said. “I didn't think it would affect my drinking water, but I also wanted to see for myself.”
Once you send your samples in, Drinking Water Specialists says you should receive an email from the lab with your results within six to 10 business days. Our tester said she got her email about a week and a half after she mailed off her water, which she thought was a pretty quick turnaround time, especially considering the in-depth results.
The company provides a safe level for all the compounds, so you can know right away if there are any issues.
What do these results entail, exactly? The company tests for more than 170 contaminants, including volatile organic compounds, essential elements, heavy metals, and inorganic chemicals. Plus, the self-test checks for eight pathogenic bacteria, including E. coli and total coliform. “Our test came out pretty clean,” noted our reviewer. “The highest numbers I got were for calcium, sodium, and magnesium.” The results were easy to understand, too: “The company provides a safe level for all the compounds, so you can know right away if there are any issues,” our tester explained.
If you’re concerned about the quality of your drinking water, take a look at these top-rated home water filters.
Price: Reasonable for the results
When it comes to water testing kits, the price is usually determined by the thoroughness of the test and whether it’s done at home or in a lab. At approximately $130, the Essential Indicators Water Test is on the lower end of the price spectrum for kits that deliver lab results. At-home kits that only test for a few substances, on the other hand, tend to be cheaper.
While our tester felt like the overall value of this test was great, she was disappointed by having to pay the shipping cost of mailing the water back, which she said cost her about $5. “I didn't realize that you have to pay for shipping to send the water back,” she said. “The company provides you with a return label, but it's just a sticker. You actually have to go to the post office to pay for shipping.”
Competition: You’ll get the most for your money with the Essential Indicators Water Test
If you’re looking for something easy, quick, and inexpensive, you’ll most likely want to choose an at-home test kit. Take a look at the PurTest Home Water Analysis Kit, and you’ll see that for just $25—a fraction of the price of the Essential Indicators Water Test—you can check for 11 different drinking water contaminants. Plus, you get the results right away and don’t have to pay shipping fees. However, this test, like many others in this category, only provide results within a range and not specific values for each of the substances for which it tests. It also only checks for a handful of harmful substances.
I liked how easy it was to use and how detailed the results were.
In terms of test kits that involve labs, Safe Home’s Ultimate Drinking Water Test Kit provides a good comparison. At $350—more than double the price of the Essential Indicators Water Test— Safe Home’s version checks for 200 contaminants. While the results might be slightly more extensive, the turnaround time and reporting appear to be similar to the Essential Indicators Water Test, so the price tag seems steep. For a comprehensive analysis at a value-driven price, the Essential Indicators Water Test hits the sweet spot among its competitors.
Check out more of the best water testing kits on the market.
An in-depth look at your water quality.
If you have any questions about the health of your drinking water, the Essential Indicators Water Test can provide you an extensive look at the level of contaminants it contains. Our tester found the kit to be easy to use, and while it’s much more expensive than basic at-home test kits, it’s also much cheaper than other models that conduct similar lab tests.
- Product Name Water Test
- Product Brand Essential Indicators
- Price $129
- Weight 7 oz.
- Product Dimensions 6 x 4 x 4 in.