What’s in My Water? Why Your Water Quality Matters and How to Fix It

Ever wonder about the quality of your H2O?

How do we know our water quality  and if we’re settling for what we think is fresh filtered water?

Water quality can be thought of as a measure of physical, chemical, and biological characteristics, all on a scale of “DO NOT DRINK THIS” all the way down to water as pure as angel tears. But, somewhere in the middle, the FDA has regulated a “safe zone” for human consumption. So what does that mean?

Drinking from the faucet: bad or good?

The main issue with drinking water straight from the faucet is that you can’t be certain about what is actually dissolved in your water. The typical issues that people talk about with water quality tends to be the “hardness”  – meaning how much magnesium and calcium is dissolved in it. Too much and it can cause staining and calcium build up: causing major plumbing problems.

However, water hardness is the least of your worries.

Depending on where your water is being sourced from and how old your plumbing system is, you could be exposed to some nasty things. Just look at what happened in Flint Michigan back in 2014, officials failed to add corrosion inhibitors to the water which caused rusting pipes to leach substantial amounts of lead into the water supply.

A majority of homes and apartment complexes are over 30 years old and piping could be out dated. Even if your water comes from cleanly unpolluted sources, water has to travel a long way before it reaches your glass, giving it plenty of time to absorb unwanted pollutants.

Tap water is heavily treated with chemicals to kill bacteria and microorganisms. In addition, it can contain a wide range of undesirable contaminants like toxic metal salts, hormones, pesticides and cleaners.

Here are a few chemicals you can find in typical tap water.

Typical Chemicals Used for Water Treatment:

  • Liquified chlorine
  • Flourosilicic acid
  • Aluminum sulphate
  • Calcium hydroxide
  • Sodium silicoflouride

Typical Tap Water Content:

  • Chlorine
  • Fluorine compounds
  • Trihalomethanes (THMs)
  • Salts of:
    • arsenic
    • radium
    • aluminium
    • copper
    • lead
    • mercury
    • cadmium
    • barium
  • Hormones
  • Nitrates
  • Pesticides

The solution? A Reverse Osmosis Triple Filtering System

Here’s how it works.

We bought a water meter to find out more about our local tap and to compare it with our Reverse Osmosis.

So, how do we know if the “safe” water is closer to the undrinkable end of the spectrum? Here’s a chart that explains the spectrum of water quality in the United States:TDS_chart_mbEach city and state will differ with the way their water is filtrated, but our results represent the Los Angeles area. 

As you see above, the left side of the chart mentions Reverse Osmosis: the holy grail of water purity and all that is good in the world. The cup on the right is a level of water quality that’s flirting with the EPA’s maximum allowed contaminant level of total dissolved solids.

You can assess the quality of your water by testing the Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) with a TDS meter, which reads the TDS instantly and gives a read-out in parts per million (PPM). As shown in the illustration, most tap water ranges from 150 to 420 ppm TDS.

(Left- reverse osmosis readings, Right- tap water readings)

Letting the water run for a minute before testing tends to lower the TDS numbers by a few points. Our water from the faucet had a TDS of about 226 PPM while our water from our reverse osmosis system ranged between 6 – 8 PPM of TDS. If you want a clean conscience knowing that you aren’t drinking contaminated water of any kind, we highly recommend installing a reverse osmosis system.

Our Apec 5 stage Reverse Osmosis water system.

They are relatively inexpensive and the filters last for a few years between changes. There are some who dislike reverse osmosis because the system tends to remove every type of contaminant, even salts and minerals that give the water “more taste” but we like the purity of it.

Some also argue that it strips the water of calcium and trace elements that are good for your body, but if you have a well balanced healthy diet you should be able to maintain all necessary trace elements from healthy foods consumed.

Basic Brita Filters debunked.

For the most part, the water filters that you stick in your fridge are mainly tailored to changing the taste of your water more than actually filtering out what really needs to be filtered out. These types of filters usually just have activated carbon and a basic organic particle filter to absorb the chlorine taste associated with municipal water supplies. We saw marginal changes in the TDS readings.

For more information about Reverse Osmosis, check out our friends over at Apec Water.


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