how to detect oil in a water sample #137221 - Ask Extension


how to detect oil in a water sample #137221

Asked June 27, 2013, 1:11 PM EDT

A sixth grade science teacher asked a colleague (who then asked me) if there is a simple test that middle school students can carry out to determine if a water sample is contaminated with oil. Any ideas?

Montgomery County Maryland

Expert Response

You might want to ask your public health department. I asked an engineer/pilot, and he suggested the same visual test used by pilots of small airplanes. You can see an example of this at Of course, not all oil products settle out this nicely. You might have a need for a more refined measurement. Again, check with your health department. It can get complicated (
Robert Schmidt Replied June 28, 2013, 9:19 PM EDT

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