Never just count on your municipality or local town water treatment reports or process. As we outlined, they are merely a starting point.
We must be realistic and practical when it comes to what we put into our bodies and water is a large factor in our overall state of health.
To clean the water as much as humanly possible, you cant count on your government and public sources – most are good at removing specific disinfect, but not very good and sometimes inefficient at removing other important contaminated water.
It is also important to mention that one of the oldest but most common ways of treating drinking water is through chlorinating the water supply.
While this process kills some of the microorganisms, a side effect is it also changes the taste of the water. But that’s not all; more recent studies have shown that chlorine can sometimes interact with some organic substances in the water to form dangerous carcinogenic compounds.
By taking the extra step of cleaning and purifying the water yourself is absolutely essential to keep harmful bacteria and other microorganisms from you and your families’ drinking water.
When it comes to polluted or unsafe water, one of the worst parasites you can get is Cryptosporidium. If this parasite enters your drinking water and will access your body. It will convert to severe diarrhea, dehydration, and weight loss. Infected people can develop symptoms of the disease for up to six weeks.
Last but not least, your water source may also be contaminated by pesticides, chemicals, and heavy metals. Pesticides used before the 40s and 50s usually contain heavy metals, which have a long lifeline in the water which means that they can still exist in the soil around the water pipe, allowing them to leak into the water.
Lead was also used for pipes, so old pipes or plumbing welds used to connect them may still contain it.
So what else can we do to clean our water and help you and your family stay safe and healthy from contaminants that end up bypassing the main systems?
The good news is there are several high-quality home-based or DIY systems that modern technology and testing have advanced for us to use. We will cover the top in this article so you can not only be educated in each but also make a smart purchasing decision.
This is preferably the best option because it relies on more scientific methods with clear results.
There are many test kits on the market, and you can find some of them at a local retailer or online. These test kits contain test strips that will change their color according to the polluted content of the water. You should only purchase test kits containing separate chlorine bars, hardness, bacteria, pesticides, nitrites, heavy metals (or lead), as well as pH.
Avoid using test kits that only determines the pH level of the water.
What you need to look for is the number of concentrated contaminants in your water. The contaminants to test for are chlorine, hardness, bacteria, viruses, pesticides, nitrates/nitrites, heavy metals and there will be others as well that will come up during the testing.
Once you are familiar with the instructions, continue to test the water. Place each test strip in water and immerse it for an appropriate time by following the instructions. Remove the strip from the water and shake any excess drip.
Once you have determined the water quality, you will be in a much better position to make a buying decision.
b. Use Your Sense Of Smell –
This methide is not the most accurate because ff the water source is exposed to air, the smell can dissipate. Regardless, what you need to know is if the water smells like bleach. This can help determine if bacteria have grown somewhere in your water system closest to your water fountain.
If your water smells like rotten eggs, it means that pollution could have occurred somewhere in the municipal pipeline. You will need to fill a glass of water and put it in another room to make sure that the smell does not come from the drain.
C. Do A Taste Test –
Also, not the most accurate test, but you can see if the water has a metallic taste. If so, it can mean excessive mineral content or a low pH. If the water has a strong taste of bleach, it means treatment with hydrochloric acid. The salty taste may indicate the presence of sulfate or chloride ions. These compounds may indicate industrial drainage or irrigation issues.
D. Visually Inspect It –
Again, I want to stress that you can have contaminated water that looks visually clean. That said, look for any floating particles that are red, brown or orange – these particles can be caused by rusty pipes or material.
Also, look for cloudiness – generally cloudy or tanned particles indicate high levels of hardness. Hardness is usually caused by an excess of magnesium carbonate or calcium carbonate in the water. Let the water run for a few minutes then fill a glass of water. If the water is brown or dark, or if it fades, this is a sign of contamination.
This contamination can be caused by rusty pipes, upstream pollution or something else. If you can see any of the pipes and there is a large amount of mineral accumulation or corrosion, it can get into your water source.
E. Get A Water Quality Report Or Hire A Professional –
Lastly, there is another way to check the quality of the water. You can contact your local municipality and ask them to provide you with a copy of your water quality report. However, the one flaw we found with this and why we do not recommend this method as a sole option is because it does not take into account the passage of water through the same exact pipes in your home. This option is good to know what the water quality may be before it gets to your home or even the exact neighborhood, etc.
You can also get a professional water engineer to check the water quality, however, this option can be costly and not popular unless there is some kind of environmental or professional requirement in your area based on typical warnings or advice from local municipalities.
Read our post on the 7 different types and best do-it-yourself home water test kits here.
How Do You Filter And Purify Water?
There are several types of water treatment systems used to improve our water- the following are the 5 most used methods of water purification:
- Boiling the water
- Use a water Filter
- Chemical treatment (Iodine solution & Chlorine) tablets or crystals
- UV light water treatment system
- Water distillation
1- Boiling –
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Boiling is among the oldest and most convenient way to cleanse and purify water. It is also very reliable and the most economical. Boiling kills bacteria, parasites and many other harmful things in the water.
The EPA says that in order to kill harmful contaminants, it is important that you bring the water to a boil and keep boiling for a minimum of one minute to actually purify it. Longer boiling times are better.
2- Water Filter-
Why do we need a water filter And What Are The Benefits of Using Them?
Filters work by physically straining out floaties, bacteria and some parasites from water. The one drawback is its limitation when it comes to eliminating any viruses plus they can be somewhat bulky. The upside nowadays is that they are fairly quick to use and provide water that you can drink immediately.
Many people already use filters for their families, but are you sure you’re using the right ones? Read our complete shopping guide to learn about the different technologies used to filter water and how to choose the best water filter for your home.
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The 4 Most Commonly Used High-Quality Types of Filters
There are essentially 4 types commonly used. Each filter works differently, so the actual filter mechanisms within each unit are also composed of different materials to fight the contaminants.
Activated Carbon Filter —
These work by adsorption and use carbon-based activated particles to block contaminants. Since coal (used in this type of filter) is not a very dense substance, there are actually ridges filled with porous structures that attract and capture chemicals through adsorption. This adsorption is the process by which gases and liquids get trapped by other liquids or solids.
This is a process in which gases and liquids are attracted to other liquids or solids. As the water passes through the carbon portion, the most common impurities will be drawn to the surface of the carbon sponge, filling its surface deep ridges.
- This type is ideal for removing most contaminants, but one of its drawbacks is that it does not block the scale.
Coal also does not attract other contaminants, so nitrates, fluoride, sodium, and microorganisms will continue to flow into the water.
Another drawback is that the ridge on the coal will be clogged, so the filter will not be able to catch more contaminants.
Ever since we were kids, we’ve been taught that boiling water makes it cleaner. Distillation is a more advanced way of boiling water.
This process works through boiling water and capturing the resulting steam. The released steam condenses it into a separate container. When the steam cools down, it condenses again to the water which is collected in the container.
Unfortunately, water boils at a temperature lower than the most common contaminants can be eradicated and will ultimately still exist or live – so the condensate vapor will also carry them in the second container still leaving you with contaminants.
Ion Exchange —
Ion Exchange is when hard water passes through the ion beads, these ions are attracted by the components of magnesium and calcium into the water, thus releasing sodium in return.
Magnesium and calcium are the main components, so without them, the water will be softer and taste better. The only thing is that the sodium released will be present in the water and will taste salty. Some may not like the salty taste, while others cannot drink it because they may be on a strict sodium diet.
Reverse Osmosis Filter—
Most Reverse Osmosis systems have 3 pre-membrane sections, semi-permeable, and post-membrane. Some of them will also have additional filters, depending on the model.
Each of the water filters works in specific ways. Below is a list of how this popular filtering system works.
The Reverse Osmosis filtration system uses at least 5 filters, and sometimes even more:
- The first filter blocks rust, dust, debris and other contaminants that can damage the Reverse Osmosis membrane.
- The second filter is usually a carbon filter that blocks harmful chemicals such as chlorine, fluoride and other chemicals.
- The third filter is also a carbon filter, but its density is higher, so it captures smaller particles, ensuring that water reaches the membrane with little contamination.
- The fourth filter is the reverse membrane, which blocks contaminants according to their size, molecular weight, and ion charge. 95 -99% of contaminants in the water will be blocked.
- The fifth filter ensures the removal of bacteria, viruses, remaining chlorine, and any bad taste or smell. Some models will also have a UV light and a special filter, which will increase the pH of the water.
As you can see, when it comes to water filters, there are several options.
Iodine tablets work. You typically need to use 1 or 2 tablets for every quart of water.
Iodine also has great decontaminating properties: Iodine can be used in emergency situations to also dress minor injuries besides purifying your water. Iodine is available in tablet and tincture type.
The drawback of utilizing iodine is that you need to wait for at least 30 minutes before it does its job. But the worst part is the taste.
Iodine treated water has a very nasty aftertaste. It is also recommended that pregnant women and people who are averse to shellfish should also avoid Iodine.
An alternative to iodine (if you’ve got constraints to it) is the use of chlorine tablets instead. They actually work almost the same way as iodine tablets. You usually need just one or two tablets to clean the water.
The drawbacks – as with iodine, it also required 30 minutes before it does the job. The one advantage over iodine is that chlorine tablets have a longer shelf life. There is also a bad aftertaste and smell with chlorine tablets, but at least here you can get rid of some of the smell by waiting several minutes with no cover or lid on the treated water so that the actual chlorine can start to evaporate.
4- UV light Water Treatment-
UV Water Purification systems use special lamps that emit UV light of a particular wavelength that has the ability, based on their length, to disrupt the DNA of micro-organisms. These UV light waves are also referred to as the Germicidal Spectrum or Frequency.UV systems expose water to the light from a special lamp.
How does a UV light kill bacteria in the water?
The bacteria is eliminated via the light using a specific wavelength, capable of killing most common bacteria. The quantity of organisms killed has a direct bearing on the intensity of the UV light, the length of time the light is used on the water and the total number of suspended solid particles within the water itself.
Is UV treated water safe to drink?
While UV purified water is not harmful to us, it does have some limitations. The UV purification is very effective in killing microbes if you use a powerful high-quality UV light and when used