Public Lab Research note

How to Use a Hanby Kit to Test for Soil Petroleum Hydrocarbons

by DanielleS | March 11, 2019 01:46 11 Mar 01:46 | #18507 | #18507

At the Texas Barnraising this year, we gathered around soil contamination and testing options. In one of the sessions, we had folks from Hanby Environmental demonstrate how to use their "Hanby Field Test for Petroleum Hydrocarbons." They had donated one each of their soil and water testing kits to Public Lab for use by community testing efforts.

The Hanby Field Test Kit comes in a carrying case with glassware, an electronic balance, reagents for 15 tests, video and written instructions, and all other components necessary for the 15 analyses. Test results are calibrated using visual comparison with precisely standardized photographs of standard samples. More info at:

What type of chemicals does this test kit detect?
Petroleum hydrocarbons. This includes fuels, i.e., gasoline, diesel, kerosene, jet fuel, as well as PAH's, lubricating oils, solvents, PCBs, pesticides, crude oils and most other petroleum products.****

What is the precision and accuracy of these kits?
The detection level for the soil kit ranges from l PPM to 1000 PPM. The water kit ranges from 0.0l PPM to 100. PPM. These kits produce results that are EPA-approved.

How long does it take to analyze a sample?
Soil Samples take four minutes and water samples take six minutes.

How to use the Hanby Field Kit to Test for Petroleum Hydrocarbons

Thanks for the notes: Leslie Birch

You can also watch this instructional video of the founder of Hanby providing demos for how to use the kits:

  • Take your soil sample.
  • Choose to test low range, high range or both. This is based on whether you expect high or low levels of petroleum contaminants.

  • Put empty beaker on scale and 0 it.

  • When testing use safety *3Gs* : wear goggles and gloves and consider gravity (keeping samples low away from nose/mouth)

  • Put 5g of soil into beaker using spoon.

  • Add solvent into beaker and stir with handle of spoon.

  • Pour contents into test tube up to the fill line on the tube

  • Sediment will stay in bottom of beaker--that is ok

  • Add white catalyst powder (aluminum chloride) into test tube

  • Shake for a few minutes on/off

  • Use a phone to take a pic of sample in test tube against a white piece of paper using monotone setting (our eyes can't be trusted for color)

  • Compare your prepared sample with Hanby's color swatch book to narrow down which contaminant might be present

  • Use Hanby's mobile app to take a photo and crop--the app will look at its library of known contaminants. Here is a video walk through of how the Hanby Mobile App works:

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