These are the most accurate and reliable water tests for lead.
Tap Score Essential City Water Test
Tap Score Essential Well Water Test
Tap Score Specialized Lead & Copper Water Test
Hey, lead hater! Welcome to our best lead water test kits guide.
If you’re concerned about lead in your water, and you want to accurately test for this contaminant, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve trialed and compared dozens of lead water test kits on our lead-laced water source in the US.
Lead is an incredibly dangerous contaminant, and we strongly recommend purchasing a comprehensive kit to test for this metal, rather than impulsively buying a cheap test kit that won’t accurately measure your water’s lead levels.
We’ve shared the best water test kits for lead in this guide. #1 is best for municipal water, while #2 is our top pick for well water, and #3 is the best test kit for lead specifically.
Table of Contents
- 🥇 Best Water Lead Test Kit
- 📊 Comparison Chart of at Home Lead Water Test Kits
- ⭐ Reviews – Lead Water Quality Test Kit 2023
- 🧾 Lead Water Testing Kits Buyer’s Guide
- 🙋♀️ Who This Guide is For
- 🔎 How to Detect Lead in Water
- 📰 Best Ways to Test Water for Lead
- 🆚 DIY Kits or Lab Testing: What do We Recommend?
- 📝 Things to Consider Before you Buy a Lead Test Kit
- 🕵️ Our Research
- 📊 How We Chose
- 🧪 How We Tested
- 🧠 Best Lead Water Testing Kits FAQs
🥇 Best Water Lead Test Kit
- Best for Municipal Water: Tap Score Essential City Water Test
- Best for Well Water: Tap Score Essential Well Water Test
- #1 Test for Lead Specifically: Tap Score Specialized Lead and Copper Water Test
- Runner Up Lab Test: National Testing Laboratories Water Test Kit
- Top DIY Test Kit: Safe Home DIY City Water Test Kit
📊 Comparison Chart of at Home Lead Water Test Kits
Tap Score Essential
City Water Test
Tap Score Essential
Well Water Test
Tap Score Specialized
Lead & Copper Water Test
Laboratories Water Test Kit
Safe Home DIY
City Water Test Kit
|Type||Lab Test||Lab Test||Lab Test||Lab Test||At-home Test Strips|
|Test Kit For||City Water||Well Water||City/Well Water||City/Well Water||City Water|
|Turnaround Time||5 business days||5 business days||5 business days||1-3 business days||≥1 minute|
⭐ Reviews – Lead Water Quality Test Kit 2023
Tap Score Essential City Water Test
The Tap Score Essential City Water Test is our top drinking water test kit for lead. This EPA-compliant test is offered by a certified laboratory and provides a comprehensive water quality report via email.
- Tests for 47 analytes – The Tap Score Essential City Water Test has got you covered if you’re looking for a complete city water testing kit. As well as lead, this kit tests for fluoride, chlorine, hardness, iron, and other common public water impurities.
- EPA-compliant – This lead test conforms to various industry methods and standards, including those set by the EPA.
- Includes everything you need to take a sample – This test kit comes with all the materials and equipment needed to take a lead sample, including a container and sample vials, instructions, and a prepaid shipping label.
- Two optional upgrades – If you want to test for even more contaminants in your city water, like volatile organic compounds and disinfection byproducts, you can choose to upgrade to the Advanced City Water Test (testing for 109 analytes) or the Extended City Water Test (testing for 118 analytes).
Best For: Anyone looking for the most comprehensive analysis of lead and other common contaminants in their city water by one of the most trusted certified laboratories.
- We were impressed by the incredibly thorough report we received from Tap Score for this test. Our test results were very detailed, listing the concentrations of lead and other contaminants, highlighting their potential aesthetic issues and health concerns, and comparing them to industry standards.
- We felt that the turnaround time was fair considering the level of detail that went into our test results. We received our results via email five days after sending off our samples (many labs take up to three weeks).
- Having an option to test for additional contaminants alongside lead is incredibly convenient. We found it insightful to learn about our water’s chlorine, hardness, and heavy metals levels alongside its lead content.
- This test is fairly priced at $140, but for some people, the cost is too high.
- If you need instant results, you won’t get them with this test. Expect to wait up to five days for your email report.
Read the Full Review: Tap Score by SimpleLab (Full Review for 2023)
Tap Score Essential Well Water Test
The best lead water quality test for well water is another Tap Score test: the Tap Score Essential Well Water Test. This professional, comprehensive test detects 52 contaminants and water parameters, including lead.
- Detects 52 contaminants and parameters – All the most common well contaminants are tested by the Tap Score Essential Well Water Test, including lead, hydrogen sulfide, heavy metals, and coliform bacteria.
- Industry compliant – This Tap Score lead test conforms to Environmental Protection Agency standards and other industry regulations.
- Comes with test strips for hydrogen sulfide – Included with this kit are free DIY strips for detecting hydrogen sulfide, a common well water contaminant. No need to consider separate DIY kits for this impurity.
- Two upgrade options – If you want to test for volatile organic compounds, radon, and other industrial pollutants alongside lead, you have the option to upgrade to the Tap Score Advanced Well Water Test (which tests 112 analytes) or the Extended Well Water Test (which tests 182 analytes).
Best For: Anyone with a private well who wants to test for lead particles and other common well water contaminants with a single comprehensive test.
- Like the Tap Score City Test, we found this well water test easy to use. All you need to do is take a tap water sample using the equipment provided.
- We found the detailed report incredibly helpful. Not only does it tell you whether testing detected lead and other contaminants; it also discusses the potential health effects of contaminants in your water and offers unbiased treatment recommendations.
- The five-day turnaround time is much faster than the TAT of other popular laboratory tests.
- As with all Tap Score tests, you’ll need to wait a few days to receive your results.
- Some people won’t be able to afford over $150 for a single test.
Tap Score Specialized Lead and Copper Water Test
If you just want to test your water for lead and you’re looking for the most affordable laboratory testing option, the Tap Score Specialized Lead and Copper Water Test is your answer. This test costs just $45 and delivers 100% accurate results.
- Tests solely for lead and copper – This test kit only detects copper and lead, which makes it more affordable than complete water testing kits.
- EPA-compliant testing for lead – This Tap Score lead test is compliant with the EPA’s testing method 200.8 to reliably test for lead in tap water.
- 5-day TAT – Within 5 days of sending off the samples to the laboratory, Tap Score will send you an email report listing your water’s lead and copper levels.
Best For: Anyone who isn’t bothered about testing for anything aside from lead and copper, or anyone who already knows what else is in their water. If lead is your primary concern, this Tap Score test is a good money-saving option.
- We found it easy to collect water samples for the Tap Score Specialized Lead Water Test following the instructions, and the package is quick to mail with the pre-paid postage stamp.
- You can save money with this test as it’s one of the most affordable laboratory tests for lead available.
- We appreciated the convenience of this drinking water test kit. It’s more affordable and only focuses on two contaminants, so it’s ideal if you just want to test for lead contamination.
- The Tap Score Specialized Lead and Copper Water Test is solely designed to test for lead and copper, so you won’t learn about your water’s overall contamination.
- Although you spend less on this test than a complete Tap Score test, the value for money is worse because it only tests for one contaminant.
National Testing Laboratories Water Test Kit
Our second choice for a laboratory water test for lead is National Testing Laboratories Water Test Kit. Produced by ETR Laboratories, a reputable laboratory, this water testing kit detects 53 contaminants and water parameters in well and city water.
- Trusted laboratory – ETR Laboratories was established nearly 30 years ago, and is a trusted name in the water testing industry.
- Detects more than 50 contaminants – This water test kit doesn’t only test for lead – it also tests for heavy metals, bacteria, tannins, nitrate and nitrite, hardness, TDS, chromium, and more.
- Great for well water – This test is best suited to people who want to test for lead and other contaminants in well water. However, you could still use it for your city water if you’re not bothered about testing for chlorine.
Best For: Anyone looking for a reliable, great-value lead test that delivers a physical copy of results, rather than email results.
- We were pleased with just how many contaminants this water testing kit can detect. Alongside lead, the test also detects tens of heavy metals, water parameters like pH and hardness, and more.
- This kit delivers slightly faster results than the Tap Score kit. You’ll receive your results in 1-3 days of the sample arriving at the laboratory. We received our results within three days.
- The manufacturer’s instructions are easy to follow, and it took us less than a minute to take the necessary water samples.
- This drinking water test kit doesn’t come with a free shipping label – you’ll need to pay for overnight postage yourself.
- The cost of this testing kit is fairly high at $130, and may be out of some people’s budgets, regardless of value for money.
Safe Home DIY City Water Test Kit
The accuracy of DIY water testing kits for lead is hit-and-miss. The Safe Home DIY City Water Test Kit is the most accurate and reliable DIY lead test kit we tried.
- Tests for 13 water parameters – If you want a broader overview of your water quality, you’ll be pleased to know that the Safe Home DIY City Water Test Kit doesn’t just test for lead – it also tests for chlorine, hardness, copper, pH, calcium, iron, alkalinity, and nitrate.
- Provides instant results – You don’t need to wait days, hours, or even minutes for the results from this water quality test kit – simply dip the test strip in your water sample and compare it to the color chart. You’ll get your results in seconds.
- Includes 181 tests – One test pack contains 181 tests, so you can test your water a few times over if you want to check that the results are accurate, or take different samples from around your home.
Best For: Anyone who wants to get a quick reading of their water’s lead levels before potentially spending more money on a comprehensive laboratory test if needed.
- Of all the DIY lead water testing kits we tried, the Safe Home DIY City Water Test Kit produced the most consistently accurate results across multiple tests.
- The instructions on the package are easy to follow, and the test takes minutes to conduct. You simply dip one of the included test strips in a water sample and compare the color of the strip to the color chart. There are plenty of test strips, so you can repeat this as many times as needed.
- This water test kit costs less than $30, so it’s the most affordable option on this list. It’s a good starting point if you have no reason to believe your water contains lead, but you just want to check anyway.
- The Safe Home test is still nowhere near as comprehensive or accurate as send-away test kits. We’d recommend following this test with a laboratory test if lead is detected.
- This test can only detect lead – it won’t tell you how much lead your water contains.
🧾 Lead Water Testing Kits Buyer’s Guide
Welcome to our best water lead test kit buyer’s guide. Here, we’ll be sharing everything you need to know to buy the most suitable water quality test kit for your lead detection needs.
🙋♀️ Who This Guide is For
This guide is for:
- Anyone who wants to choose between multiple different options to test for lead in city or well water, including DIY test kits and private laboratory tests.
- People who are open to spending at least $20-$30 on a test, preferably more than $100. Some of the tests in this guide cost around $130 and these are the most capable and reliable, so it’s helpful to have a flexible budget.
- Anyone who’s keen to make a smart investment in a reliable lead test that’s worth the money. We’ve only reviewed lead test kits from popular, reputable manufacturers with a long history of customer satisfaction.
🔎 How to Detect Lead in Water
Before we share the best ways to test for lead in tap water, let’s look at a few possible lead detection methods.
First off, you should know that lead is tasteless, colorless, and odorless, so you won’t be able to tell from drinking your water whether or not it contains lead. Instead, you’ll have to check your pipes, as leaching from pipes is the most common cause of lead contamination.
Method 1: Find Out When your Home was Built
The age of your home affects the likelihood of lead water pipes in the building.
Homes built before the 1970s are much more likely to contain lead pipes because the SDWA was only amended to prohibit the use of lead in pipes in 1986.
Find out when your home was built, and this should give you an indication as to whether your pipes might contain lead.
Method 2: Check your Home’s Pipes and Plumbing System
When you know what you’re looking for, you’ll be able to tell a lead pipe apart from a copper pipe.
Look at the water supply pipes underneath your kitchen sink. If they’re soft and dull gray in color, and they make a dull thud when you tap them with a metal object, they’re likely made from lead.
For further proof, scrape the pipes with the edge of a coin. Pipes containing lead will show shiny silver strips in the area that you’ve scraped.
It’s important to note that even if you don’t find evidence of lead in your home’s pipes, it could still be in the water supply lines leading to your home.
When the no-lead law was established, the law didn’t order water suppliers to swap out all their existing lead pipes for copper pipes. So, you might be getting your water from a lead supply line even if your home’s pipes are lead-free.
📰 Best Ways to Test Water for Lead
There are two common methods of testing for lead in tap water: using a DIY test kit and using a laboratory test.
DIY Test Kit
A DIY test kit is an affordable testing option that allows you to test your water within a matter of minutes. You can buy DIY testing kits for lead from online marketplaces and hardware stores for less than $30.
DIY testing kits come with everything you need to test your water, including a color chart, test strips, and an instructions guide.
To use this type of test kit, simply fill a glass of water and submerge a test strip in the water for several seconds. When the test strip changes color, compare this color to the color chart to determine how much lead your water contains.
Pros and Cons of DIY Testing Kits
- Provide instant results
- Easy to use
- Low-cost option
- Not as accurate as lab testing
- Don’t have a long shelf life
Lab testing is the most accurate means of measuring lead in tap water. A certified laboratory may provide several testing options for lead, such as dedicated lead tests and test packages that include lead.
Testing your water with a private laboratory takes the responsibility away from you. Once you’ve sent the sample to the laboratory, it’ll be professionally tested and the results will be returned to you within a few days to a few weeks. The best laboratories deliver results within one week.
Pros and Cons of Lab Testing
- The most reliable means of water testing
- Accurate, detailed reports
- Hassle-free and hands-off testing option
- Costs a lot of money
- Results aren’t returned immediately
🆚 DIY Kits or Lab Testing: What do We Recommend?
We strongly recommend using a certified lab testing kit for lead, rather than using a DIY kit.
DIY kits aren’t 100% accurate. Once you’ve tested a sample of water, you’ll need to quickly compare the test strip to the color chart to get an estimate of how much lead it contains. This can make testing quite rushed, affecting its accuracy. Not only that, but storing the test kit incorrectly before use can cause the results to become damaged and potentially deliver false results.
Lab testing might be more expensive than DIY kits, but when you’re testing for such a dangerous contaminant, you need a reliable test that will give you an in-depth analysis of what your water contains. Lab testing procedures are much more extensive than at-home kit tests can provide.
If you have any reason to believe that your water may contain lead, it’s worth using a send-away kit to lab-test your tap water for peace of mind. If you don’t think your water contains lead, but you want to check anyway, use a DIY kit to begin with. If lead is detected, follow up with lab testing.
📝 Things to Consider Before you Buy a Lead Test Kit
Before you buy a lead water test kit, consider the following things:
Your Water Quality
If you’re planning to buy a lead test kit, you probably don’t know much about your water quality right now. Perhaps you only want to test for lead – but it’s worth noting that the best-value tests are often those that test for multiple contaminants.
Consider the other common drinking water contaminants that are concerning to you, like volatile organic compounds, microorganisms, chlorine, fluoride, and other heavy metals. When shopping for test kits, look for ones that can detect these contaminants alongside lead. You might not find a test that can detect everything, so prioritize those that bother you the most.
If you don’t know exactly what your water might contain, we’ve listed the most common contaminants in this guide.
Your Water Source
Where you get your water from will give you an idea of what it contains, so it’s helpful when choosing a test.
To make things simple for you, many manufacturers offer test kits that are dedicated to certain testing purposes. For instance, there are dedicated city water tests, well water tests, aquarium tests, pool water tests, and so on.
Choose the right test for your water source to get the most out of your purchase. If you have well water, opt for a well water test kit – it’ll test for contaminants like iron, bacteria, and hardness as well as lead. If you have city water, choose a city water test kit that detects impurities like chlorine, other heavy metals, and pesticides.
Laboratory Vs DIY Testing
There are two types of water testing kits for lead: DIY kits and laboratory test kits.
DIY testing is cheaper and provides instant results, but it isn’t as thorough, detailed, or accurate as laboratory testing. Lab testing can typically detect a bigger range of contaminants, but it’s more expensive than DIY testing.
When choosing how you’ll test for lead in drinking water, you’ll need to decide between lab testing and DIY testing. There are pros and cons to both of these types of testing.
Laboratory testing is the best option, but if your budget is small or you’re not bothered about obtaining highly accurate results, DIY test strips should suit you fine.
Type of Results
The type of results you’ll receive depends on the type of test you conduct.
Using DIY test strips generates basic results. You’ll compare your test strip to a color chart, with different colors indicating the presence of different contaminants. These results are easy to understand, but they can be quite limited.
Lab testing provides much more detailed reporting of your water’s lead contamination. You’ll receive a complete analysis of your water quality, with additional information, such as how your contaminant quantities compare to EPA limits or guidelines.
Finally, the type of test you choose will determine the turnaround time for your results.
If you need to get results on your lead content ASAP, consider DIY lead test kits. These kits provide you with a reading within minutes – but they’re not super accurate.
Our advice is to arrange to get your water tested by a laboratory if lead is detected in a DIY test. Considering that lead poses a high risk to human health, it’s worth waiting a few more days to get an exact reading of this metal in your water. Lab testing typically delivers results within three weeks, but the best send-away kits provide results in five days or less.
🕵️ Our Research
In this section of the guide, you’ll learn how we chose, compared, and reviewed the lead water testing kits on this list.
📊 How We Chose
We considered three key factors when choosing the lead test kits in this guide: their testing accuracy, customer feedback, and overall value for money.
There’s no point in using a lead water test kit if the results aren’t accurate – so accuracy was one of the most important factors we considered when comparing test kits. We used the same water sample for all our lead testing, so we could easily tell if a certain test was inaccurate.
We know that some people want to know exactly how much lead their water contains, while other people just want a rough estimate. For that reason, we’ve included a home testing option on this list alongside the most reliable, accurate laboratory tests. However, the majority of our suggestions are laboratory tests because we believe that lead is too dangerous to roughly estimate its quantity in water.
You can learn a lot about a water test kit from customer feedback; not only about testing accuracy, but also about the manufacturer’s customer service and the overall user experience.
When selecting the test for this guide, we read tens of reviews, which helped us to weed out the tests that consistently delivered a poor customer experience. We’ve only featured the water lead test kits that are consistently praised and recommended by customers.
Value for Money
A lead water test’s value for money takes everything into account – including its turnaround time, accuracy, quality, and the manufacturer’s customer service – and answers the question: “Is this worth the money based on what it offers?”
We prioritized value for money, not affordability, in this review. That means that some of the test kits on this list are expensive – but you’re guaranteed to receive accurate, reliable results, so the value for money is there.
🧪 How We Tested
We know that the only way to get a proper understanding of how a product performs in real life is to test it yourself – so that’s exactly what we did with dozens of lead water testing kits in the making of this guide.
By testing the kits in this list, we could easily determine a test’s ease of use, its standout features, and the accuracy of its results.
We combined our notes from testing with customer feedback and other important information (such as whether a test offered industry-compliant testing) to determine the overall capabilities of the test kits we used.
🧠 Best Lead Water Testing Kits FAQs
How does lead get into drinking water?
It’s very rare for lead to occur naturally in water. The most common way that lead gets into drinking water is through water supply pipes or lead service lines. The use of lead in pipes was banned in 1986, but pre-existing lead pipes were allowed to remain. So, even if your Consumer Confidence Report says that there’s no lead in your water, lead could be entering your home’s water supply downstream of the water treatment facility.
Why is lead dangerous?
Lead is dangerous because it accumulates in the body over time, resulting in serious health effects. Lead can cause problems with your heart, kidneys, and reproductive organs, and affects the growth and development of children. The most dangerous thing about lead is that it’s undetectable in water – you can’t see it, smell it, or taste it.
Are there safe levels of lead in drinking water?
No, there are no safe levels of lead in drinking water. Even consuming low levels of lead is dangerous because the toxic metal accumulates in your body over time. For this reason, lead is one of the most concerning contaminants.
What are the symptoms of drinking lead in water?
You might not have any immediate symptoms of drinking lead in water. Unless you drink very high levels of lead, you won’t get sick like you would from drinking bacteria. Some of the long-term symptoms of lead consumption are seizures, cardiovascular effects, reproductive problems, decreased kidney function, premature birth in pregnant women, slowed growth in children, and hearing problems. You may not associate these symptoms with drinking lead in your water at first.
Are home lead water tests accurate?
Yes, home lead water tests are accurate – to some degree. These tests can only give a rough estimate of your water’s lead levels. We don’t recommend DIY tests for lead because they’re not accurate enough for such a dangerous contaminant. If you suspect your water contains lead, you need to know for sure whether or not it does – and how much it contains.
How do you test for lead in water yourself?
The best way to test for lead in water yourself is with a laboratory test. You just need to take a sample of water and send the sample off to a laboratory. You’ll receive the results via email or post within three weeks.
Can you test for lead with vinegar?
Yes, some lead water testing kits are designed to be dipped in vinegar. However, these kits are used to detect lead paint on surfaces in your home. You can’t use vinegar to detect this metal in your drinking water.
How do you know if it’s lead in your water?
In most cases, you won’t know that your drinking water contains lead. Unlike other heavy metals, lead is undetectable by sight, smell, or taste, so the only way to detect it is to test it. However, you may be able to work out whether you have lead pipes – and therefore a high risk of lead in your water. If your home was built before 1970 and your pipes are soft, dark gray, and easily marked, they’re probably made from lead.
What can you do if you find lead in your water supply?
If you find lead in your water supply, you’ll need to take immediate action. Remember, no level of lead is safe, so the sooner you stop drinking this harmful metal, the better.
Switch to bottled water while you work on:
- Replacing the lead source
- Installing a water filter to treat the lead in your water
What’s the best water filter for lead?
There are several water filters that can remove at least 90% of lead: reverse osmosis systems, KDF filters, cation exchange resin, and some catalytic or activated carbon filters. For reassurance that a water filter can effectively remove lead, look for an NSF 53 certification for lead removal. We’ve shared some of the current leaders in lead water filtration in this guide.
How can you reduce your lead exposure?
Aside from filtering lead out of your water supply, you can reduce your exposure to lead by doing the following:
- Use bottled water. If you’ve discovered lead in your water pipes, temporarily drinking bottled water should protect you from further lead exposure while you get your pipes changed.
- Don’t use hot water for drinking or cooking. This isn’t recommended anyway, due to the risk of bacteria in hot water. Hot water also contains more lead, on average, than cold water.
- Flush your faucets first. Don’t drink your water straight away after switching on your faucet. Let the water flush for several seconds to get rid of the water that has been sitting in the pipes and supply lines, especially first thing in the morning.
What is the acceptable level of lead in drinking water?
There is no acceptable level of lead in drinking water. The Environmental Protection Agency has set a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of 0 PPM for lead. That means that anything above 0 is considered dangerous to human health. If you don’t know how much lead your water contains, test it to find out.