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Home Breath Test Kit: What It Is, How To Use, and Using a Personal Breathalyser as an Alternative

21 December, 2023

A BACtrack breathalyser, mouthpieces. a bag, and a phone showing results

A home breath test kit is a tool for measuring the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) levels of an individual. It is usually comprised of a balloon and a tube. To use this, the person must blow into the balloon continuously until it is filled. Then, the user simply needs to wait for the bands to change colour. Another tool people use to measure BAC levels through breath samples is a breathalyser, which uses sensors to measure BAC.

Breath testing is an easy and convenient way of testing BAC levels. This is because the procedure is non-invasive, and results appear within minutes. Moreover, people may use these portable tests in various locations. This helps many people monitor and limit their consumption of alcoholic beverages. This article will present what a breath test kit is, how to use it, and how to use personal breathalysers as an alternative.

What is a Home Breath Test Kit

A home breath test kit is also known as a balloon breath test. This is a personal tool for measuring the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) levels in breath samples. Typically, the test kit includes a balloon and a testing tube. This tube contains bands of dichromate in the silica gel. These change colour depending on the quantity of ethanol vapour in the breath samples.

These kits are single-use. This means individuals may need multiple kits if they wish to test more than once. Moreover, their results may vary compared to the results from police breathalysers. Thus, the individual must take care to ensure they follow the testing procedure to produce the best results.

In addition, several individual factors may affect the result of the test kit. The foremost factors are the amount and type of liquor consumed. Consuming large quantities of alcoholic beverages with high alcohol concentrations will lead to higher BAC. Moreover, age, gender, body type, food intake, and health condition also affect alcohol metabolism.

Advantages of Using a Kit

There are many advantages to using a breath test kit. Here are some of them:

  • Non-invasive: the breath test sample collection procedure does not involve invasive procedures. This removes the risk of infection and other complications.
  • Low-cost: this makes alcohol testing at home affordable compared to lab testing. It also removes the hassle of going to a testing facility.
  • Lightweight and portable: people may use them as they please to measure their blood alcohol content levels at any time.
  • Quick results: usually provides real-time results within two minutes. This enables people to monitor and limit their liquor intake.

A man pouring beer from a bottle into a glass

How to Use a Home Breath Test Kit

A home breath test kit is a manual test. To conduct this test, the person must blow into the balloon until it is completely filled. Then, the balloon will release the air in a glass tube. The bands in the tube will then change according to the BAC levels of the individual. It is advised to wait at least 15 minutes after drinking before doing the test.

Moreover, the user must read the instructions on the test kit label to ensure a proper sample collection. In turn, this will allow the test to provide more accurate results. It is also ideal to be aware of some conditions that may affect the result of the kit. For example, the temperature of the breath may affect the reading.

Furthermore, some kits also react to compounds similar to ethanol. This increases the risk of false positives. Some products that may affect the results are mouthwash and breath sprays. These can cause a high BAC result, even when the person has not consumed alcohol.

Understanding the Results of the Test

It is crucial to understand the results of a home breath testing kit. If there is no change in the colour of the bands, it means there is no alcohol detected. Meanwhile, one green band indicates a blood alcohol level of 0.05% or lower.

If the test produces two green bands, it means the blood alcohol level is between 0.05% and 0.10%. Lastly, three green bands signify the blood alcohol level is around 0.10% and 0.15%. The legal limit for driving in Australia is 0.05%. Moreover, exceeding this level results in impaired judgment and lowered alertness.

A woman using a breathalyser outside

Using a Personal Breathalyser as an Alternative to a Home Breath Test Kit

Nowadays, many use personal breathalysers instead of a home breath test kit. This is because they are convenient and portable devices. Using a portable breathalyser provides reliable breath alcohol data for many individuals. Typically, personal breathalysers use two kinds of sensors: semiconductor and fuel cell sensors. These create chemical reactions when they come in contact with alcohol in the breath test sample.

A breath test using a semiconductor sensor uses a tin oxide compound to measure the amounts of alcohol in the breath. This produces a small electrical current after coming in contact with ethanol. Meanwhile, an advanced fuel cell sensor uses platinum electrodes, which only react to ethanol. This is helpful for people with diabetes or on a low-calorie diet. In addition, fuel cell breathalysers are less likely to produce false-positive readings.

Using portable breathalysers provides an accurate measurement of the BAC. It is a convenient tool for monitoring alcohol consumption while outside. It is reusable and allows hourly monitoring. Moreover, it provides an objective assessment of sobriety. This can help people make informed decisions about whether they should drive and if they are within the legal drink-drive limit.

Operation Guidelines for a Breathalyser

Operating a breath-testing device is easy. However, it is recommended to wait around 15 to 20 minutes after eating, drinking, or smoking. This is to give the body time to process the liquor. In addition, it minimises mouth alcohol from interfering with the results. Moreover, using a clean mouthpiece is ideal.

To start, the user may press the power button to activate the alcohol sensors. Then, they may take a deep breath and exhale continuously into the mouthpiece. They must continue until the machine signals for them to stop. Afterwards, the device will display the BAC reading within a few seconds.

Conclusion

A home breath test kit is a convenient tool for measuring BAC levels. It is a manual test that uses a balloon and a tube. To use one, the user must fill the balloon with their breath sample and wait for the tube to show the results. No colour change means that no alcohol is detected. Meanwhile, the number of green bands increases together with the indicated BAC. An alternative to this is a personal breathalyser.

Breathalysers also use breath samples to measure BAC levels. However, they have either semiconductor or fuel cell sensors to do this. Some are even equipped with police-grade sensors for more accurate measurements. By using these breath test methods, individuals may monitor their liquor intake. This is helpful for those who may want to drive after a night out. It enables them to objectively assess their sobriety and ensure they do not drive while intoxicated and cause accidents.

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