Hands on Review: Sensafe eXact Smart Brew iDip Water Test Kit

Contents of the Sensafe iDip Smart Brew Water Test Kit

This review is by Homebrew Finds Contributor Brad Probert.  Brad is an engineer, expert homebrewer and experienced reviewer.  Grab a link to Brad’s website at the end of this review.

Sensafe Smart Brew iDip Water Test Kit

One of the first all-grain brewing books I bought when I moved from extract to all-grain left an impression on me of the importance of your brewing water when doing all-grain mashes. To make it easy to hit my target profile I bought distilled water from the store and then added the appropriate brewing salts to it. That worked well for several years until I got tired of buying and hauling water around and decided to use city water run through some carbon filters.

My filtered water on its own tasted good, but the beer made from it had lost its pizzazz. I knew that to gain it back I needed to figure out my base water and then add the appropriate minerals to hit the target water profile like I used to target when working from distilled water. Knowing my target profile was useless to me if I didn’t know what I was starting from.

App screenshot showing test results – this is one screen of results, scrolling down shows more information

Sensafe makes water test kits targeted to the beer brewer. There is a Smart Brew Starter Kit that contains their iDip digital tester, and test strips for different measurable aspects of your water important to brewing. Once you install the free App on your Android or Apple device, you’ll see you only have access to pH, Chlorine, and Total Alkalinity. To actually use all of the 6 different test strips provided in the kit, you need to pay an additional $18.99 through the App to unlock the full set of beer-centric tests.

Through use of the 6 different test strips (25 strips of each type), and some calculations performed in the App, you are able to get the following readings on your water from the Starter Kit: Total Alkalinity, Calcium, Chloride, Total Hardness, pH, Sulfate, Magnesium, Residual Alkalinity, and Sodium. The Advanced Kit measures the same things, but instead of measuring pH by dissolving a test strip in the iDip reader, it comes with a separate pH/temperature meter.

The heart of this system is the eXact iDip photometer. It is a small hand-held, waterproof (IP67) tester. It has a small sample container that you fill with your test water, then stir around the test strip for whichever test you are running. A push of the button on the iDip gives you a countdown to ensure you mix the test strip in the water for a long enough time, and then it uses a 525 nm light source and a photometer to measure the amount of light that can transmit through. The results are then displayed on the meter’s digital screen as well as transmitting via Bluetooth to your paired smart device running the App.

Ready for testing


Get the Gear: Sensafe iDip Smart Brew Water Test Kit – via Amazon


Hands on Trial

I wanted to get an analysis of my city water after passing through my 3-filter system. The App installed on my Android phone easily, and pairing from within the App on my phone and the meter was easy/flawless. The instructions were simple and easy to follow. I filled up the test chamber with water, selected the test on the App on my phone I wanted to run. I pushed a button to take a baseline reading of the water without any of the test strip dissolved in it. Once that was done, I pushed a button to run the test and it gave a 20 second timer to countdown as it asked me to take the corresponding test sample strip and stir it around in the chamber with your water. Once the time counts down, you set the strip aside and in a couple of seconds it tells you the water result.

I had to go through some of the tests a couple times. After getting a few of the test results, I clicked on an info link in the App, which caused it to crash and lose my results. Since some of the data is calculated based on the results of some of the specific tests, without a full complement of tests, I couldn’t get a full water report. The App has a lot of features built into it, definitely with the professional in mind. You can set up profiles of customers, with different test locations within each customer site (like if you wanted data recorded before and after your in-house filter). You can also capture photographs with your phone and attach them to test results. There’s even an option to email the water report.

Other than the couple of App crashes I had, the process was incredibly easy, and the communication between the App on my Android phone and the iDip meter worked quite well. I just learned to stay focused while in the midst of a series of tests and not push any distracting buttons on my phone’s screen. The simplicity of stirring the strip in the sample chamber filled with water made the process go surprisingly fast.

Test strips

One thing to keep an eye on as you take strips out of the containers, is off-sized strips. They provided this caution in the directions, telling you to throw out any strips that were extra skinny or extra wide. Luckily I read that part, because I did come across 1 or 2 test strips that were notably extra narrow. Presumably this would give you too little of the test chemical to react with your water and then affect the ability of the light to transmit through, giving you bad readings for that mineral.

Conclusions

Overall, the iDip system is powerful, fast, and easy to use. It makes testing your water for standard brewing water minerals uncomplicated and straightforward. The App has a lot of unique features that I didn’t really explore, because the base functionality was all I needed. The versatility of the sensor can be expanded by purchasing other strips and test modes from the App if there are other aspects of your water you want to test beyond its beer brewing potential. The system is designed to be customized to whatever level of water nerd you’re looking to be. And if you’re going to be targeting water profiles for your beer, you definitely need to know what you’re starting with.

Get the Gear

Sensafe iDip Smart Brew Water Test Kit – via Amazon

Related:

More Photos

A look at the iDip Carrying CaseA look a the iDip’s water sample wellScreenshot showing sample of premium test options

Special Thanks to SenSafe for providing the equipment used for evaluation in this review.

By Brad Probert.  Check out Brad’s website – beersnobby.com

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