I went and left my nubmers at home and remember the nitRATES being either 10 or 20 ppm. Some of the colors on my card are so darn close I can't really tell. I atleast know it indicated there was more than 5ppm of nitRATES. I don't remember any more and don't want to guess and post the wrong numbers.
So I was thinking it would probably be best not to use the charcoal unless I have to and just use a sponge type material in the filter housing in its place.
Yes, I read the directions everytime I use the kit just to make sure I am doing the right thing. I also use a kitchen timer so that I know that I am shaking for the correct time. One thing though, my instructions tell me to shake the #2 bottle for only 30 seconds. My kit is good until 10/2017 so my kit is relatively new from the company. I will double check the number tonight after work