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When using a pH meter it is incredibly important to maintain the device's electrode via the use of buffer solutions. Not doing so will lead to the efficiency of the electrode deteriorating at a much quicker rate, leading to it having to be replaced more often.
It is also common practice to perform pH meter calibration before each testing procedure - this enables the user to check that the electrode is functioning correctly and that the result gained during the real testing procedure will be accurate. Not doing so can be a significant danger, as an incorrect reading taken using an uncalibrated could leave the target substance with high acid/alkali levels that shouldn't be present.
Sample pH solutions are used commonly during these calibration procedures to check that the tester is working correctly. Before this is done the probe of the pH meter should be thoroughly rinsed using special rinse solution, and then it should be immersed into the sample solution, stirring gently to create a homogenous sample. The reading should then be accurate to the solution used and if so, the meter is calibrated correctly.
Sample pH solutions are often referred to as buffer solution, and they are designed to resist sudden changes in pH, making them perfect for calibration purposes. The buffer solution can different in pH, so choosing the right one for your testing needs is important. There are also buffer solutions created for specific pH types, such as chlorine.
It is also good practice to rinse electrodes before testing actual solutions as well - not doing so could lead to contamination and inaccurate readings being taken.