Table of Contents
Drinking Water Types:
Millions of people choose not to drink water from the faucet because of its taste, appearance or quality.
Water plays a huge role in our everyday lives. We bathe, brush our teeth, wash our clothes with it, and much, much more. Farming, ranching, food processing and a multitude of manufacturing processes use a great quantities of water, as well.
Did you know. . . between 55 and 65 % of your body is made up of water? If we removed all of the water from a 175-pound man, he would weigh only 70 pounds! The younger you are the more water your body contains. The body’s inability to re-hydrate itself is a major contributor to the aging process.
- Regulates body temperature
- Serves as a solvent for minerals, vitamins, amino acids, glucose and other small molecules; aiding their assimilation into the body
- Carries oxygen to all parts of the body
- Lubricates the areas around our joints (especially important for athletes, people with arthritis and those with chronic challenges; such as back pain
- Is necessary for chemical reactions in the body
- Acts as a shock absorber inside the eyes and spinal cord
- Removes the waste products of our metabolic processes
Did you know. . . most headaches can be cured by drinking 2 – 4 cups of water as soon as headache symptoms are felt? Most headaches can be avoided simply by keeping our body hydrated.
Since water is such an important part of our lives, more and more people are becoming increasingly concerned. They want the best possible quality of water for drinking, food preparation and for bathing.
What is the quality of your water?
A number of challenges can affect the quality of the water we drink. Contaminated – unsafe water can appear to be clear and clean. Just because water looks good, doesn’t mean it is.
The only way to know what is in your water is to have it tested. *If you suspect your water is unsafe; prior to drinking or using it for bathing you should have it tested by a certified laboratory such as Anatek Labs in Moscow, Idaho. Water treatment professionals can perform on-site tests for; hardness, iron (rust), pH, total dissolved solids, nitrates, chlorine and temperature.
Note: Normally, there is no charge or obligation to have a water treatment consultant or water treatment specialist visit your home and test your water. *The offer this free service in the hope you will become their customer. If a city, a water utility or other regulated system supplies your water they can provide you with the results from government mandated tests for a variety of contaminants. Keep in mind; testing is not required for all contaminants that might be in your water.
While bad odors, unusual colors or metallic tastes usually indicate a drinking water contaminant; some contaminants are not so easily detected. Lead is tasteless, odorless, and colorless and can find its way into your water via soldered pipe connections. Lead-based solder was used in homes and other structures built as recently as the late 1980s. How old is your home or office? What type of plumbing pipes?
Even though cities generally use chlorine to disinfect water to prevent illness and disease, chlorinating is not a “foolproof” method. Unexpected outbreaks of microorganisms can still occur. And although it has been treated, city water may pick up contaminants as it travels through miles of distribution lines before it reaches your home.
What might you find in your drinking water?
The more common drinking water quality complaints are easily identifiable because they leave water aesthetically unappealing. These complaints include:
- Chlorine Taste/Odor – is caused by the chlorine used to disinfect water supplies.
- Musty, Earthy, and Fishy Tastes/Odors – is caused by algae, molds and/or bacteria that live in water. These can multiply within a home’s plumbing system.
- Cloudiness/Turbidity/Color – result from suspended particles and sediment; organic matter, tannins, and metals; such as iron.
- “Rotten Egg” Odor – comes from hydrogen sulfide gas or possibly, from a deteriorating anode rod in your water heater.
Other water quality challenges
Other water quality challenges may not so be easily identified and require laboratory analysis include:
- Chlorine By-Products – created when chlorine reacts with other substances in water.
- Toxic Metals – metals such as arsenic, mercury and lead.
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) – including commercial chemicals and pesticides.
- Pharmaceuticals – over-the-counter medicines, cosmetics and other personal care products, as well as antibiotics and growth hormones used with livestock
- Microorganisms – include cysts, bacteria and viruses.
Note: The above mentioned contaminants are not necessarily in your water. The only way to be certain is to have your water tested.
Options for Improving Your Water
The good news is that there are a number of options available for improving your drinking water.
Carbon Filters: Activated carbon filters can reduce chlorine, VOCs, tastes, odors, and may reduce; lead, some chemicals, some pesticides, some pharmaceuticals. Carbon filters are available in a wide variety of sizes and styles, from mini-filters that can be attached to the end of a faucet to in-line systems connected to a home’s plumbing. Filter cartridges must be changed regularly to ensure optimum contaminant reduction. Note: Faucet mounted mini-filters may be less than effective. Carbon filtration may be one area where price may well indicate quality and level of protection.
Distillation Systems: Distillation systems boil water to reduce contaminants, condenses the steam that results and finally collects the resulting water in a storage tank or pot. Since certain substances (including many contaminants but not all) don’t vaporize, they don’t rise with the steam and are left behind in the boiling chamber. Note: While most distillers do NOT remove volatile organics and some common chemicals; adding a carbon filter can provide a more effective system. *Some common chemicals may be carried to the air in your home by the steam. Distillers use a great deal of energy, radiate a great deal of heat and must be cleaned regularly.
Note: When water is “soft” or “softened” prior to distillation the need to clean the distiller is greatly reduced.
Important: Distilled water most often has a low pH value (acid). My doctor does not recommend drinking low pH (acid) water. Because most disease processes cannot live in an alkaline body environment; she recommends drinking water with a slightly alkaline pH, eating lots of fruits and vegetables, as well. *One exception: she recommends drinking distilled water (or better yet, reverse osmosis water) to people who are kidney “stone” formers.
Reverse Osmosis (RO) Water Treatment Systems: RO systems are recommended by the US Department of Health & Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as one of the most effective ways of protecting residential drinking water. The best systems utilize a combination of carbon filtration and a semi-permeable (reverse osmosis) membrane to reduce contaminants. Water is first filtered and then forced against a dense membrane. A portion of the water passes through, while contaminants are left behind to be carried away by the effluent. Reverse Osmosis membranes are very similar to those used in kidney dialysis. Think “fresh squeezed” when you think of reverse osmosis water.
Reverse osmosis effectively removes dissolved salts (naturally occurring, as well as, from water softeners), suspended solids, dissolved chemicals and a wide variety of other contaminants that cannot be seen by the naked eye. When choosing an RO system, look for a unit with a high recovery rate (recovery rate = amount of water produced divided by amount of water used). Generally, a rate of 25% is considered efficient. RO sediment and carbon filters should be changed, generally, every six (6) months and the membrane every 2 – 5 years; depending on RO product design, the contaminants in your water and the amount of water used.
Ultraviolet Systems (UV): UV systems destroy microorganism’s ability to reproduce by exposing them to intense ultraviolet light… as a result, they die out. Since UV Systems “disinfect” water, rather than remove contaminants, they should be installed in conjunction with other filters; a sediment pre-filter and a carbon post filter are common. UV bulbs must be changed regularly (generally once each year, depending on conditions) for the system to function properly.
Helpful Links and References on Drinking Water: