7 pH Meter Uses In Laboratories

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A pH meter is an essential tool in laboratory settings to measure the pH of solutions in pharmaceutical, chemical, and biotechnology industries. A laboratory pH meter has a high measurement range, providing the user with a more accurate and precise reading. A pH meter is also used to monitor the growth of pathogenic microorganisms that may spoil food or beverages, or negatively impact the taste and quality of the product. 

Acids exist everywhere, but in laboratories, knowing how acidic or alkaline a solution is, can make or break the equipment, and determine how well they work. An Old School pH Test Kit is not accurate enough in laboratory settings, therefore a pH meter with a Lab Grade pH probe must be used. 

A pH meter is an essential tool for accurately measuring the pH of various liquids, including water. A pH value is detected by the pH meter from the strength of the hydrogen ions present in the given solution. A pH value can be anything from 0-14. A solution that has a pH value below 7.0 is acidic and a pH greater than 7.0 is alkaline, or basic. 

How Does A pH Meter Work?

The pH meter shows the concentration of hydrogen ions, however, it is impossible to directly count them. So, a pH meter works by measuring the electrical potential (voltage) produced by the solution being tested, using the potential difference to determine the pH.

An acidic solution has more positively charged hydrogen ions than an alkaline solution, therefore, the solution has a greater electrical potential to produce an electrical current.

The Different Parts Of A pH Meter

A pH meter consists of three main components:

  • Probe: The pH probe consists of a glass electrode, reference electrode, and temperature probe
  • Glass Electrode
  • Reference Electrode

For an in-depth explanation of the different components of a pH probe, read our article here

Why Are pH Meters Important In Laboratories?

A pH meter is useful to measure water quality in a wide range of applications, including laboratories. 

In laboratory settings, some form of watery solution is used, therefore you need to determine the acidity or alkalinity quickly, which is why a pH meter is used over an old-school pH indicator kit. Also, pH indicator kits are not highly accurate, and the pH result is dependent on how well the reader can identify the color of the solution with the color chart. Because of this, a pH meter is a highly useful tool in all laboratories.

7 Common Uses Of A pH Meter In A Laboratory

When people imagine a laboratory, they often think about people in white lab coats, goggles, gloves, and dangerous chemicals. While this is not completely untrue, laboratory settings are used for a much wider range of uses than handling corrosive solutions. 

A laboratory is a room for scientific experiments, research, teaching, or the manufacturing of chemicals and drugs. This can be anything from testing international food standards to creating a new vaccine, yet, laboratories have one thing in common, and that is working in a controlled environment. 

pH tells us a lot about the chemical conditions within a solution, as pH can control nutrient availability, biological functions, the behavior of chemicals within the solution, and microbial activity. 

So, what uses do pH sensors have inside a lab?

#1: They are used to measure the pH of biological fluids. This includes measuring the pH of urine, blood, saliva, and feces. 

Measuring the pH of urine can indicate whether a patient has a medical condition such as various types of kidney stones because some are more likely to develop in alkaline urine and others are more likely to form in acidic urine. By measuring the pH of urine, the formation of kidney stones could be prevented. 

The pH of human blood should be between 7.35 to 7.45 – a highly accurate pH meter is required to detect small changes. A blood pH test determines how much oxygen and carbon dioxide are in a patient’s blood, and it is a common part of a blood gas test or arterial blood gas test.

Laboratories can also measure the pH of saliva to indicate acidemia (abnormal acidity in the blood).

Fecal pH tests are used to diagnose medical conditions. For example, if a patient has an acidic stool, it can indicate a digestive issue such as lactose intolerance or an E.coli infection.

#2: Measuring biological conditions in drinking water

Drinking water samples are sometimes sent to laboratories to determine the pH. Drinking water should have a pH range between 6.5 and 8.5. When drinking water is acidic, it can degrade water pipes and expose people and animals to toxic metals like copper and lead, which leach into the water.

#3: In chemistry, labs to measure soil pH

Soil samples can be sent off to labs for very accurate pH values. Measuring the pH of the soil is important, as the level of acidity in the soil affects a plant’s ability to absorb nutrients. In large crop industries, it is essential to frequently measure soil pH.

Sending soil samples to the lab for testing also helps to determine what plants can be grown in certain areas. 

#4: Pharmaceutical manufacturing

Measuring pH is critical for preparing medications as the pH of a solution impacts molecule solubility, the stability of the medication, the activity of the molecules, and the biological tolerability of the medicine.

By measuring the pH of drugs, drug stability can be improved using buffering agents between a pH of 5.0 and 6.0. 

#5: Biotechnology

Laboratories that work in biotechnology departments require pH meters, as cells must maintain a constant pH, so enzyme reactions can take place. Also, chemical and enzymatic reactions are usually dependent on a specific pH value or range.

#6: To determine the pH value of food and beverage products to maintain a high level of health and safety and product quality. 

As acidity is often used to preserve foods, a pH meter is used to confirm that the correct acidity level has been reached in the product, which in turn will prevent the growth of foodborne pathogens.

In beverage industries, particularly wine production and fresh fruit juice production, a pH meter is used to ensure the beverage meets international standards and maintains adequate taste and quality.

#7: In microbiology laboratories

A pH meter is used to prepare chemical reagents and ensure proper microbial growth has occurred. 

Monitoring pH with a pH meter is also important because large changes in pH can change the ionization of amino acid groups and it can disrupt the hydrogen bonding process, which causes the denaturation of molecules. 

Interestingly, according to clinical research published in 2020, pH may be used to diagnose and assess skin structure and wound healing in humans. A pH meter would therefore be used to control the pH values during the process. 

Laboratory pH Probes

The Atlas Scientific Lab Grade pH probe offers the highest accuracy. With its internal double junction, the lab-grade pH probe lets you read the pH of protein-rich solutions without damaging the probe. The green EXR glass tip allows for easy pH sensing, and our advanced sensing glass allows even faster reactions and more accurate readings in low ionic solutions. 

The pH probe’s body is constructed from extruded epoxy, which gives the probe incredible resistance to strong acids and bases – perfect for a wide range of laboratory uses. For example, the lab-grade pH probe can read the pH value of fuming nitric acid without any issues. 

Our lab-based pH probe can also be used in the following applications:

  • Standard lab use
  • Field use
  • Soil
  • High pH solutions (up to a pH of 14)
  • Samples containing heavy metals
  • Hydroponics/aquaponics
  • Beer, wine, alcohol, and food production

Summary 

A pH meter uses a pH probe to measure the hydrogen-ion activity of a solution, expressed as pH. The pH value of a solution is related to the hydrogen ion ratio inside the pH probe and the solution being tested. 

A pH meter is an essential tool in laboratory settings to measure the pH of drugs in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.

If you have any questions regarding pH or are unsure which pH probe will best suit your needs, please do not hesitate to contact the world-class team at Atlas Scientific. 

pH Probes & Sensors

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