Copper in Water

Test Kit


The amount of copper in a water sample will be found by using the TesTab® color comparison method.


  • Concentration of copper
  • Parts per million
  • Water testing


Copper is a reddish colored metal that is found in air, water, soil and rocks. It may be present in water from sewage or industrial waste and from copper plumbing and fixtures. Copper is sometimes added to reservoirs and ponds to control the amount of aquatic vegetation. Even though copper is essential in small amounts to the human body, excessive amounts can result in nausea, stomach cramps and even liver damage. If concentrations of copper are above 1 part per million, drinking water may taste bitter. In general, the amount of copper found in drinking water is below 0.03 parts per million, but it may reach up to 0.6 parts per million in certain places.


Copper HR TesTabs®, 15
Copper color comparison chart
Water sample tube

Safety Precautions

Copper HR TesTabs® contain chemicals that may irritate skin or be harmful if swallowed. The TesTab reagents used in this kit were designed with safety in mind. The single-use, foil-packaged TesTabs are easy to dispense. Store TesTabs in a cool, dry place and only open when ready to use the tablet. A single tablet, either alone or reacted with a sample, is a very low safety hazard; however, TesTabs should not be ingested. Wear chemical splash goggles and chemical-resistant gloves. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before leaving the laboratory. Please review current Safety Data Sheets for additional safety, handling and disposal information.


Please consult your current Flinn Scientific Catalog/Reference Manual for general guidelines and specific procedures, and review all federal, state and local regulations that may apply, before proceeding. In the field, reacted samples may be poured into a container for later treatment. Reacted samples may be flushed down the drain with plenty of water according to Flinn Suggested Disposal Method #26b.


  1. Fill the water sample tube to the 10-mL line with the water sample.
  2. Add one Copper HR TesTab to the tube.
  3. Cap the tube and mix until the tablet has dissolved.
  4. Compare the color of the sample to the copper color comparison chart.
  5. Dispose of the reacted sample according to the instructor and rinse the water sample tube twice with the water sample for the next test.

Teacher Tips

  • Enough materials are provided for 15 tests.
  • It’s a good idea to collect several water samples from each site that is tested. It is also wise to test the samples within one hour of collection if possible.
  • Copper Testabs contain zincon. Zincon chelates with copper to produce a blue color. When copper is not present in solution no color is present.
  • The range of the Copper HR TesTab is between 0 to 4 ppm.

Correlation to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Science & Engineering Practices

Planning and carrying out investigations
Analyzing and interpreting data

Disciplinary Core Ideas

MS-ESS3.C: Human Impacts on Earth Systems
HS-ESS3.C: Human Impacts on Earth Systems

Crosscutting Concepts

Stability and change

Performance Expectations

MS-PS1-2: Analyze and interpret data on the properties of substances before and after the substances interact to determine if a chemical reaction has occurred.
HS-PS1-2: Construct and revise an explanation for the outcome of a simple chemical reaction based on the outermost electron states of atoms, trends in the periodic table, and knowledge of the patterns of chemical properties.
HS-PS1-6: Refine the design of a chemical system by specifying a change in conditions that would produce increased amounts of products at equilibrium.

Next Generation Science Standards and NGSS are registered trademarks of Achieve. Neither Achieve nor the lead states and partners that developed the Next Generation Science Standards were involved in the production of this product, and do not endorse it.