In this article, we take an in depth look at pH meters and accessories, answering the most common questions surrounding this subject.

If you work within a food processing or preparation environment, you will likely have a lot of experience with pH testing. After all, the pH of a product or ingredient can have a huge impact on its quality. For example, if the pH of yoghurt sits outside the suggested range, the result will be a tart flavour and discolouration.

Consistency can also be impacted by pH. If it differs from batch to batch, the flavour and texture of products such as wine will be totally unreliable. This is likely to result in the dissatisfaction of your customers and the destruction of your brand’s reputation.

Perhaps most important of all, pH has a direct link to the safety of your product. In some instances, sites will aim for a low pH level in the interest of preventing the growth of deadly bacteria. If this reading is inaccurate or overlooked, there is every chance that this bacteria could result in serious illness or fatality for the consumers of your product.  

With this in mind, we have put together an article that explores everything you need to know about pH meters and the relevant accessories. There are interesting takeaways in each section, but you can also click the links below if you would prefer to skip to the subject most relevant to your site:   

What is a pH meter and how does it work?

What is the right pH meter for my application?

What accessories accompany a pH meter?

How do I take care of my pH meters?

How do I calibrate my pH meters?

What is a pH meter and how does it work?

Put simply, a pH meter can be used to determine the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. PH is measured on a scale of 0-14. If a reading sits between 0-6, the substance is more acidic. If a reading sits between 8 to 14, the substance is more alkaline. And, if a reading sits at 7, the substance is neutral.

When it comes to the production of food and beverages, pH meters play an essential role in quality control – helping operatives to find out if a product has the optimum pH level and is consistent with other batches.

Whether you are new to this process or would like a quick refresher, here are four important points that you should keep in mind when discussing pH:

  1. The letters ‘pH’ stand for the ‘potential of Hydrogen’ or the ‘power of Hydrogen’. This is because pH indicates the activity of the hydrogen ion in a substance.
  2. The concentration of the hydrogen ion and pH measurements are inversely proportional. This means that the more hydrogen ions there are, the lower the pH value. Equally, the fewer hydrogen ions there are, the higher the pH value.
  3. The activity of the hydrogen ion is greater in an acidic solution than it is in an alkaline solution. Consequently, it has a lower pH value.
  4. Temperature can significantly impact the pH of a solution, so you should always measure your ingredient or product at the temperature it is going to be used at. You could also use a pH meter that offers automatic temperature compensation.

What is the right pH meter for my application?

If you are going to enhance your production process, secure accurate results, improve your product, and make life easier for your operatives, it is essential that you select the right pH meters for your site.

When making this decision, you should ask yourself the following questions:

Do I need a handheld pH meter or a benchtop pH meter?

If your operatives are measuring pH on the go, you will need to equip them with handheld pH meters. Built to withstand the demands of factory life, these devices tend to be shock and scratch resistant, non-slip, waterproof, and dustproof. Handheld meters are also likely to be super-speedy and easy-to-use. This is all true of our Handheld pH/Temperature Meter Kit.

Bench meters are a great pick for routine testing that requires unparalleled levels of accuracy. Suited to heavy duty and regular use, these models tend to feature a USB interface and often have the ability to log an increased number of readings. For example, our pH/Temperature Logging Bench Meter can log up to 4,000 readings.

How much am I willing to spend on my pH meters?

Typically, the more complex a piece of equipment, the higher the cost. Take the PC700 Bench Meter. This multi-parameter unit measures pH, ORP, conductivity (PC700 only) and temperature. An all-rounder in quality control, it combines the functions of multiple devices into one unified system.

When compared to the portable Pen Type pH meter, the cost is significantly higher. However, if it suits the specific requirements of your site, the larger investment could save you money in the long run. Equally, if lightweight and speedy devices are needed at your factory, investing in a higher number of low-cost devices could be the way to go.

What applications are my pH meters intended for?

If your pH meter is intended for multiple applications, the best device for your site will have a Universal Connector that allows for a choice of electrode. As mentioned previously, these electrodes cover a wide range of substances including, but not limited to:

  • Jams & Preserves
  • High Fat Foods e.g. sauces, dressing, mayonnaise, and dairy products
  • Semi-solid samples
  • High protein samples
  • Soft meats and cheese
  • Semi-frozen meat and fish

Does my pH meter need to have any special features?

From an IP67 Waterproof rating and a backlit graphic display to a Temperature Compensation Sensor and a built-in memory, another way for you to assess the pH meters available is to take a look at their special features.

Consider the specific needs of your site and speak to your operatives about any problems they are facing. Say your team is struggling with calibration, the one touch auto calibration of the Pen Type pH meter could be the answer. Or, perhaps your current devices have an issue with clogging, the pH Pocket Tester Plus features a chemical resistant Kynar porous junction that will resolve this problem.

What accessories accompany a pH meter?

Once you have decided on the right pH meters for your factory, it’s important that you explore the accompanying materials. Otherwise, you are going to struggle when it comes to the storage, maintenance, and calibration of your equipment. Equipping your team with the relevant resources will help to develop a culture of care – protecting your pH meters, speeding up production, and saving your site money. Below are four important additions for you to consider:

pH Electrodes

Depending on the pH meter you select, you could use different electrodes for different applications. Here are just three key examples from the wider range. A Knife Electrode has a strong, stainless steel blade to pierce through semi-frozen meat and fish. A High Fat Food Electrode has a flat surface with a porous Teflon junction to prevent fouling. Suited to liquid and semi solid liquids up to 80°C, there is also a Jams and Preserves Electrode.

pH Buffer Solution

You will need at least two Buffer Solutions to calibrate your pH meter. You will need a neutral solution with a pH of 7. You will also need a solution with a pH that sits as close as possible to the pH of the product you test most at your site. You could also enhance your testing with the introduction of a solution with a pH at the upper limits of your testing range. Here at Klipspringer, we supply these solutions with a pH of 1.68, 2, 4, 7, and 10. We also have dosing bottles for easy use and increased efficiency.

pH Electrode Cleaning Solution

You can extend the life of your pH electrodes by using a suitable cleaning solution.

This solution will remove any contaminants from the glass membrane of your electrode. This ensures faster and more accurate readings. A pH Electrode Cleaning Solution will also come in handy when you are calibrating your pH meter, as you will need to use it before and after the calibration process. Failing to do so could compromise your results and make it impossible for you to ascertain if your equipment is working correctly.

pH Electrode Refill Solution

If the reference (electrolyte) levels within your electrode drop, this could impact the performance of your pH meter.

However, if your pH electrode features a replaceable liquid junction, you will be able to top up these levels with an Electrode Refill Solution. This will ensure your electrodes are always working at their best performance levels. Here at Klipspringer, we stock a KCI (Potassium Chloride) refill solution for this purpose.

pH Electrode Storage Solution

With most electrodes spending more time in storage than in use, they need to be properly cared for during this part of the process.

Use an Electrode Storage Solution to keep the glass bulb and the junction of your pH electrodes moist. This will help you to secure faster response times and more accurate results. It should also minimise clogging and extend the lifespan of your equipment. These efforts will impress discerning customers and auditors. They will also speed up production times and help you to raise standards at every level.

How do I take care of my pH meter?

The best way to extend the lifespan of your equipment is to take excellent care of it. It’s essential that you:

  • Train your operatives to use it correctly
  • Ensure it is stored safely
  • Carry out regular checks to determine its accuracy

When it comes to the care of your pH meter, you should remember the following seven tips:

Cleaning

1. Leave your electrode in a Cleaning Solution for up to 30 minutes before transferring it to a Storage Solution. This cleaning procedure is especially important for electrodes that have been used with high-protein products such as mayonnaise. This is because high-protein substances can build up and block the electrode junction over time.

2. If the electrode requires additional cleaning to remove the external sample material, use a soft tissue soaked in a mild detergent or methyl alcohol. Do not wipe the glass; use a dabbing technique instead.

Storage

3. It’s important that pH electrodes are wet when they are in storage. ​

4. If you are storing an electrode for a short or medium length of time, you will need to soak it in an Electrode Storage Solution. If you are storing an electrode for a long length of time, fill a soaking boot with Electrode Storage Solution, pull it over the end of the electrode, and seal it with parafilm.

Maintenance

5.  Electrodes should never be stored in deionised water, samples, solvents, hydrofluoric acid, or pH buffer solutions containing mercury-based preservatives.​​

6. Regularly inspect your electrode’s sensitive glass membrane for cracks or chips. Just make sure that you never touch the electrode glass bulb with your fingers. You will also need to keep it away from other oily or abrasive objects.​​

7. Reference cells should be kept topped up with Electrode Refill Solution, and connectors must be kept clean and dry.

How do I calibrate my pH meter?

To extend the lifespan of your equipment and improve the accuracy of your results, you should regularly calibrate your pH meters. As mentioned above, you can do this with the help of two or more Buffer Solutions that are applicable to your testing range.​​ The video below provides a step-by-step guide:

Alternatively, if you would prefer to work through written instructions and would like to learn more about the validation of your essential equipment, simply click the button below:


We hope that you have come away from this article with an in depth understand of pH meters and accessories. Hopefully, you can now make a decision about the best model for your site and will be able to establish a clear plan for using, maintaining, and calibrating your equipment. However, if there are any areas where you would like further guidance, the Klipspringer team would be happy to help you with your enquiries. Simply contact our team on 01473 461800 or sales@klipspringer.com. Alternatively, you can fill out the form below.  

If you would like further guidance relating to pH meters, the Klipspringer team would be happy to help. Share your details below to arrange a free consultation.