Potential Toxins in Tap Water & How To Remove Them

a glass of water

February 6, 2016 | Posted in Tap Water | By

The recent news coverage of the water pollution crisis in Flint, Michigan has put unsafe drinking water in the national spotlight. We all take for granted that water will come out of our taps when we turn the knobs, and that the water coming out will be safe to drink. But an incident like this can call this into question—how safe is the tap water you drink from everyday?

There are, of course, laws put into place such as the Safe Drinking Water Act ensure that our drinking water is held to pretty high standards, with water treatment plants removing a vast majority of toxins from our tap water. But some potentially harmful chemicals remain unregulated or can spike periodically, causing possible health concerns. Read on to learn about a few chemicals that can be present in your drinking water and what you can do to protect yourself from them.

Trihalomethanes

As we’ve talked about previously in this blog, the most common process water treatment plants use to disinfect untreated water is the addition of chlorine. While this can be extremely effective, recent discoveries have revealed some unintended side-effects of this process: As chlorine interacts with sewage, dead animals, livestock manure, and other organic rot, it produces chemicals in a family called Trihalomethanes, which have been shown to be possible carcinogens.

While four members of this Trihalomethane family are regulated—including chloroform—are regulated by the EPA, Many others remain unregulated. This means they don’t check to make sure water coming out of treatment plants has these chemicals or not. But the real troubling part is how research has linked these chemicals to bladder cancer, rectal cancer, and birth defects.

Haloacetic Acids

Trihalomethanes aren’t the only unwanted chemical created during the water treatment disinfection process. Some studies estimate that there are as many as 600 new chemicals created when chlorine reacts with untreated water, but of particular interest are haloacetic acids. While the EPA regulates this family of chemicals, the rules let trace amounts of them slip by. And those trace amounts may be enough to cause damage in our bodies.

In addition to being possible carcinogens, haloacetic acids pose an even greater risk to pregnant women, as exposure to these chemicals during pregnancy can result in low birth weight and other defects.

Chloramines

The dangers of chlorine disinfection by-products haven’t gone unnoticed, though. A recent alternative to using chlorine has been to replace it with chloramines, which combine the chlorine with ammonia. This move made sense—chloramines were observed to be more stable and produce up to 47% fewer trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids. Unfortunately, they may also make things worse.

Unlike chlorine, which produces toxic chemical by-products in water, chloramines themselves are toxic to kidney dialysis patients and produce their own dangerous by-products called iodoacids. Some researchers consider these to be even more toxic than any chemicals produced by chlorination.

What Can You Do?

If potentially dangerous chemicals can actually make it through the water tretment process and into your tap, is there anything you can do to protect yourself from them? Luckily, sink-mounted and cartridge-based carbon filters can be very effective in removing these chemicals. Always make sure you research a product fully before buying it, though, as not all of them filter out these particular chemicals. Always remember to replace your filter immediately when the manufacturer indicates it should be replaced. You’re not just dealing with flavor—you’re dealing with your health!

At Clearwater, we offer a few different solutions that can help you with this important issue inn addition to our salt-free water conditioning systems. Call us to discuss some of these options regarding which products will work to protect you from potential dangers in your tap water.

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Water Softeners vs. Salt-Free Water Conditioners

water flowing from a sink tap

January 4, 2016 | Posted in Hard Water, Water Conditioner, Water Softener | By

To soften or to condition? Is there even a difference? When you apply conditioner to hair, it certainly comes out softer, but does the same thing apply to water?

At Clearwater, the technology we offer as a solution for hard water is salt-free water conditioners. But we don’t want you to get this confused with water softeners, which use an entirely different process to produce different results. This article hopes to clear up some confusion and explain the difference between these two types of hard water treatment so that you can make an informed decision as to which product is best for you.

Misconception

First, let’s get a few misconceptions out of the way. If you’ve been on the market for water treatment options, then you’ve most likely come across the term “salt-free water softener” at least once. This term can be pretty misleading, as most salt-free water treatment appliances are technically not actual water softeners, but simply conditioners.

While both water softeners and salt-free conditioners can reduce the apparent hardness of water, soft water must have less than 1 grain of hardness per gallon (GPG) in order to actually be considered “soft”. Water softeners produce this result, but salt-free conditioners don’t. Thus, a true “salt-free water softener” doesn’t actually exist. Don’t be mislead by these claims!

What Water Softeners Do

If “soft” water must have less than 1 GPG, then a true water softener must actually remove the minerals such as calcium and magnesium that make water “hard”. This can be achieved through ion exchange with salt, reverse osmosis, deionization, or distillation. All of these processes result in water that’s been stripped of any suspended mineral that might cause apparent hardness.

What Water Conditioners Do

Salt-free conditioners, on the other hand, developed as an alternative to water softeners that use salt. Rather than removing the hard minerals, these appliances instead strip the minerals of their ability to form scale. The effects are very similar, but the water retains its minerals and no salt is involved in the process.

Benefits of Each

While both technologies achieve similar results, they each have their own benefits. Traditional softeners are most effective at improving soap lather laundry color quality, removing dishwasher spots, and making water feel slick in the shower. Salt-free conditioners, on the other hand, are more efficient, lower maintenance, and produce no waste by-products like softeners do. They can both be equally as efficient in eliminating scaling due to hard water.

Which one is right for you? As a consumer, it’s up to you to determine which technology better fits your needs. We’ve given you the facts; the choice is yours. If you live in the San Marcos area and salt-free water conditioners are best for you, give us a call and we can help you find the right hard water solution.

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Iron Befouling in Wells: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Well and Hand Pump

December 8, 2015 | Posted in Wells | By

If you’re a proud owner of your own water well, then you certainly want to make sure your water stays at optimum drinking quality, free of all contaminants. At the same time, you probably understand how complicated it can be to maintain this water, as most guides recommend calling in professionals to solve most well water problems that arise.

One of the most common of these problems is known as iron befouling, a condition also frequently called “iron bacteria”. Characterized by discoloration and foul odor, iron befouling is a widespread problem that can leave any well owner frustrated. This article will help you identify symptoms of this condition, understand its causes, and begin to fix the problem.

Symptoms

If you notice a slight sulfurous odor in your water or red coloration once in a while, iron befouling may be what you’re dealing with. While most of these unpleasant symptoms aren’t necessarily harmful, iron contamination can cause corrosion of steel and iron pipes, which can lead to more serious issues.

It should be noted that not all symptoms of iron befouling are problematic. In many cases, the buildup can serve as a preliminary filtration in wells. But if the negative symptoms become too much to deal with, then you should definitely look into treatment.

Causes

Before you start, though, it’s helpful to know what causes this problem. Like all types of befouling, the iron variety is caused by a biofilm, which is a layer of dead and living bacteria and the byproducts of their metabolism. Different strains of bacteria produce different minerals and metals, causing different kinds of befouling.

In the case of iron, bacteria can produce this metal at a much faster rate than it would build up through mineral encrustation. Colonies can build up very quickly and result in some very unpleasant water down the road.

Treatment

Like all biofilms, the ones that cause iron befoulment can actually degrade certain types of filters such as resin beds, carbon filters, and reverse osmosis membranes. And while some types of filters such as aeration-type or backwashable filters can screen out biofiolms effectively, they can be difficult to maintain.

A simpler and equally effective solution we offer here at Clearwater is the Iron Shield with Toxin Guard. Rather than screening them off, this device oxidizes the iron contaminants and isolates them, where they’re able to be easily flushed away. In this way, the iron contamination is actually removed from your well rather than just kept out with a screen.

Whatever solution you end up going with, we at Clearwater would be happy to help you keep your well water clean in addition to all of your other water needs, from water softeners to salt-free water conditioners.

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Reverse Osmosis Filters

November 5, 2015 | Posted in Reverse Osmosis | By

At Clear Water of San Marcos we don’t just serve homes when installing water filtration systems, we also service commercial facilities. We understand that keeping clean water in your business is a top priority for both employee and patron health. We have several options when it comes to commercial water filtration systems, but today we will be discussing the benefits of a reverse osmosis water filter.

A reverse osmosis filtration system is great for producing clean drinking water. Reverse osmosis may seem complicated but it is actually a fairly simple process and understanding how it works should eliminate the mystery and confusion many feel toward reverse osmosis systems.

Reverse osmosis is a process in which dissolved inorganic solids are removed from a solution, such as water. This process occurs when water pressure pushes the tap water through a semi permeable membrane. The thin membrane allows only water to pass through and leaves behind any impurities or contaminates. The chart below is borrowed from ESP Water Products and very easily demonstrates this process.

The reverse osmosis water filtration systems have many benefits. They improve taste, odor and appearance or water as well as removing all pollutants. It consumes no extra energy because it relies on natural forces and the normal use of water pressure and flow. It does not collect pollutants but instead flushes them out of the system and down the drain, making it extremely easy to keep clean. It is also fairly easy to create, giving it a low production cost, in turn making it more affordable for anyone to purchase.

The reverse osmosis membrane will remove any and all particles which are larger than .001 microns. This includes the majority of sulfate, mercury, phosphate, lead, arsenic, fluoride, barium, chloride and many others. While it does filter out some non-harmful particles such as calcium, iron and zinc, the benefit of the removal of dangerous substances far outweighs the loss of these which can still be gained from proper diet.

There are a few basic components of al reverse osmosis systems.

A cold water line valve that fits onto the cold water supply line and has a tube that attaches to the inlet side of the reverse osmosis pre filter which send water to the reverse osmosis system.

The pre-filter mentioned above is the first contact the cold water meets. It is mostly a sediment filter used to remove silt, dirt and other sediment. There can be carbon filters which remove chlorine which can damage the filtering membrane.

The reverse osmosis membrane is the most important component of the filtration system. It is most commonly a wound spiral which can be either a cellulose tri-acetate which is chlorine tolerant, or a thin film membrane composite/material which is not chlorine tolerant.

The post filter is usually a carbon filter that filters the remaining substances before it goes to the reverse osmosis faucet. Any remaining tastes and odors are removed with this filter.

The automatic shut off valve is used to conserve water by stopping and further water from entering the membrane once the storage tank is full. Once water from the storage tank drains, the pressure in the tank drops, opening the shut off valve and allowing water to flow as well as letting the system drain the waste-water.

A check valve is located in the outlet end of the reverse osmosis membrane which prevents backflow from the storage tanks which could potentially rupture the membrane.

The flow restrictor regulates the flow by maintaining pressure on the inlet side of the membrane. Without it, very little drinking water would be produced because all incoming water would take the path of least resistance and flow down the drain line.

The storage tank holds water after it has been filtered and a bladder inside the tank keeps water pressurized when the tank is full.

The unit has its own faucet which is usually installed on the kitchen sink and a drain line runs from the outlet end of the reverse osmosis membrane to dispose of the filtered out impurities.

Now that you know more about the reverse osmosis system, we hope your interest is peaked. We have a state of the art system with optional special features, a one-of-a-kind on the market. If you want more information, call a representative at Clear Water San Marcos and let us know what we can help you with.

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What Exactly is Hard Water?

October 6, 2015 | Posted in Hard Water | By

We’ve talked a lot and you probably have heard a lot about hard water and the benefits of soft water in your home, but what exactly is hard water? You know that hard water refers to the minerals in unfiltered water, but what are those minerals and what exactly do those do?

Water is a great solvent and picks up impurities very easily. Pure water is often called the universal solvent. As water moves through soil and rock, it dissolves small amounts of minerals and holds them in solution. The two most common minerals dissolved in water that are considered to make it “hard” are calcium and magnesium. The degree of hardness becomes greater as the calcium and magnesium content increases.

It is easy to detect hard water because it interferes with almost every cleaning task both household and hygiene related. It affects laundering and dish-washing as well as bathing. It causes stiff clothes, dull hair, and reduced performance in appliances.

If you are on a municipal water system, the water supplier can tell you the hardness level of the water they deliver. If you receive your water from a private supplier, you can have the water tested for hardness. Most water testing laboratories charge for a hardness test. Similarly, most companies that sell water treatment equipment and services will perform water hardness tests for a fee.

Water hardness is measured using a pH scale which measures the hydrogen-ion concentration in the liquid. Water with a low pH is more acidic while water with a higher pH is harder or more alkaline, meaning it is able to neutralize acids.

It is actually thought that hard drinking water may provide some health benefits. Those who do not get enough minerals in their regular diets can receive the extra calcium and magnesium in their tap water. For those who do get the required minerals through their meals, this is not necessary. Other minerals and substances found in hard water can actually be detrimental to health.

The major problem with hard water is its affect in industrial settings. Just like in the home where hard water can build up in tubes, valves, and pipes, in appliances, the minerals can cause costly breakdowns in boilers, cooling towers, and other equipment that handles water.

In the end, for the average person the major ailment of hard water is its effect on household cleaning and chores. Since the calcium and magnesium in hard water build upon each other and deposit themselves in pipes and on the body, it can make appliances and washing less effective. Not only this, but it can cause appliances to break down much more quickly than they should.

So to save money and improve the performance of your household appliances, think about installing a water softening system in your own home. For more questions about what a water softening system can do for you or to get a quote, contact a representative at Clear Water San Marcos today.

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Effects of Hard Water on Household Appliances

September 22, 2015 | Posted in Water Softener | By

Hard-water is harsh on your body both through ingestion and topical use, but it can also be hard on your home. Over time the build-up of minerals on your appliances and pipes can cause problems with every day usage, living, and cleaning tasks.

Calcium and magnesium salts are the major minerals considered to make water “hard.” The abundance of these minerals in our water is a widespread problem as about 85% of the country has hard water. The problem is that these magnesium salts and calcium leave deposits that can clog pipes, mechanical systems, appliances, faucets, and showerheads.

Hard water affects how well appliances function as well as their durability. One of the worst consequences of hard water is that it often decreases the life-span of appliances, causing them to require replacements much sooner than they should.

There are ways to recognize that hard water is a problem in your home.

With shower and faucet heads, the holes can clog with minerals, minimizing the force or pressure of the water spray. It can also cause water to shoo tout in multiple directions rather than straight out. Deposits can also cause hard water stains on the outside of the fixtures where the water lands such as on a shower door or the edges of a sink. Cleaning can help temporarily but after the long term use of hard water, replacement becomes necessary.

Gas and electric tank water heaters build sediment and minerals that can cause a heater to be up to half as efficient as it should be. The build-up of sediment can also begin to push down on tank seams or start corrosion, causing leaks.

Tank-less water heaters can be affected when the pipe the water comes from gets clogged with mineral deposits and the flow of water is obstructed. This is often indicated by decreased water pressure.

Dish and clothes washers won’t clean as well when they are affected by hard-water mineral build-up. Glasses will show spotting or appear dull and clothing can become stiff and fade in color. In these cases, the inlet valve and hoses are clogged. This issue causes these appliances to wear out up to thirty percent faster.

Refrigerators use water to circulate through an ice maker or to deliver water. Often the pipes and tubes transporting the water clog up with minerals and the life span of these functions greatly decreases. Water filters are intended to filter out these minerals from the ice and water themselves and are recommended to be replaced fairly regularly. The replacement of filters, however, will not prevent the tubes from clogging.

With pipes transporting hard-water in the general house plumbing, lime scale build-up can drastically restrict the water flow, causing increased problems with every single appliance. Steel pipes are the most susceptible and though copper and PVC pipes are less affected, they still will develop build-up over a long period of time.

Because of the extremely harsh effects of hard-water on household appliances, water softening systems are highly recommended. These systems will not only improve the performance of your appliances by reducing the impediment of water flow, but also increase the life span of the appliances. These results save you money by reducing the amount of water used in the first place and by reducing the frequency with which appliances will need to be replaced.

These great benefits are easily accessible through the installation of a water softener. Clear Water San Marcos has a couple option when it comes to these systems. You can contact a representative today to see about the potential for a new water softening system and quickly see the benefits of soft-water in your home.

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Soft Water Benefits for Hair, Skin & More

September 7, 2015 | Posted in Water Softener | By

There are many health benefits of soft-water when it is consumed internally, but often overlooked are the benefits it can have on your external body. Your skin and hair are greatly affected by your choice of hard-water versus soft-water. Following is a discussion of some of the benefits your skin and hair receive when you use soft-water for processes like bathing or washing your hands.

Hard water and soap do not mix well because the soap reacts with minerals in hard water creating the filmy residue often felt after the skin has dried. This sticky residue also leaves your pores clogged, inevitably doing damage to your skin. Healthy pores allow the sebaceous oil, produced within glands in the skin, to be expelled and they act as a glue which sticks to dead skin cells to shed them and keep your skin healthy and clear. When pores are clogged, as they are with the build-up of minerals when hard-water is used to bathe, skin is unable to experience this process and becomes prone to dryness and acne. Often we try to combat this sticky, pore-clogging effect by using more soap, but the problem is not the soap, it is the water.

A water softener removes most of the minerals in the water, allowing it to react properly with the soap. When using a water softener, the soap can lather up well and you prevent clogging your skin, leaving with smooth, clear skin. Added benefits of soft water on your skin are that it requires you to use much less soap, saving you money in the long run. Also, when you leave your skin unclogged and clean, it is able to keep more moisture throughout the day and absorb any moisturizers you apply much more easily.

In a similar manner, hard-water negatively affects your hair. When hard water meets your scalp, it causes your hair cuticles, the shell like part of your hair made of several layers of cells, to stand up. The effect most resembles that of scales. When your hair is healthy all the scales lie seamlessly together, like a snake. When your hair is unhealthy, due to hard-water use, it lies more like you would picture the scales of a dragon, staggered and jagged. This causes your hair to feel rough and dry and allows it to break or split much more easily. Essentially, when you wash your hair with hard-water, you are stripping it of the necessary oils used to keep it healthy.

As discussed earlier, water softeners take most of the minerals out of the water, allowing the water to leave the oils your hair needs to remain healthy, strong and shiny. Considerably less shampoo and conditioner is needed when washing your hair with soft-water and avoiding those harsh minerals, because your hair is able to maintain its own oil balance much better on its own. Not only does this save you money on basic hair care products, but also on other products as well. Because your hair is all around healthier when using soft-water, it is less frizzy and has more volume and shine naturally. This cuts out the need for products like detangler, defrizzer, gel, and even hair spray. The reduction and even removal of some or all of these products from your hair care routine saves you not only a lot of money, but a lot of time in your morning routine.

From skin health to hair health, your wallet, your clock and your body can benefit greatly from the removal of harsh minerals in your water. Eliminating the need for extra products and maintaining the natural health of your body is always the way to go and is easily accomplished through an easy switch from hard-water to soft-water.

If you’re looking for a no-hassle water softener in the Central Texas area, give Clear Water of San Marcos a call today to discuss our no-salt water softening system!

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U.S. Cities with the Cleanest Tap Water

August 5, 2015 | Posted in Uncategorized | By

Last time, we ran an article supporting the tap water over bottled water movement. But earlier that month, we had also brought up concerns about possible contaminants and other dangers in municipal tap water sources. In central Texas, in particular, hard water and high levels of chlorine and its resulting by-products are common problems. So if bottled water isn’t an option, is home filtration the only way to enjoy clean, sustainable water?

Not all tap water is created equal. Almost all drinking water in the U.S. meets the EPA’s standards for Safe Drinking Water, but some cities exceed expectations better than others. As it turns out, where you live can dramatically change the quality of tap water available to you, and this article will go over the top 5 U.S. cities in terms of tap water quality. Whether you’re thinking of moving and drinking water quality is a priority for you, or whether you’re just plain curious, keep reading!

Lowest Haloacetic Acid levels: Tucson, Ariz., Lincoln, Neb., and San Antonio, Texas

The above 3 cities earned the honor of having the lowest levels of haloacetic acid, a chlorine disinfection byproduct that weighs heavily on this list because of its EPA-found link to increased risks of cancer. As a previous blog post talked about, adding high levels of chlorine to disinfect contaminated water can result in some seriously harmful byproducts. These cities, therefore, are blessed with the luxury of not needing to add too much chlorine to their water. Good for them!

Lowest Concentrations of Lead: Jackson, Miss., San Diego, Calif., and Mobile, Ala.

Unfortunately for many of us, lead used to be a common material used to build plumbing systems, and lots of older systems still contain high quantities of this dangerous element. Since lead can be corroded and leeched into drinking water, it can be consumed by children, causing developmental delays. The above 3 cities have a significant health advantage by scoring lowest in this metric.

Lowest Turbidity Levels: Billings, Mont.

This city earned top marks for its low turbidity, or cloudiness in the water. Turbidity results from colloidal particles that are too small and light to settle out of the water. While no one would argue that cloudy water is ever appetizing, it can even be dangerous as these suspended particles can be harmful chemicals or even bacteria. The less turbidity, the better.

Lowest Bacteria Levels: Tucson, Ariz.

Once again, Tucson, Arizona makes our list. Perhaps because its water is pumped from the Colorado river and naturally filtered through its aquafer, this desert city’s water supply passes with flying colors in multiple areas. Well done, Tucson!

Best Overall: Des Moines, Iowa; Austin, Texas; and Sioux Falls, S.D.

Taking all of the above variables into account, these cities have some of the overall safest drinking water in the U.S. Low levels of lead, turbidity, and chlorine byproducts mean that people in these cities enjoy some great water right out of the tap. Maybe that’s why Austin is one of the fastest growing cities in the country!

For those of us living in San Marcos and the Central Texas area, however, our water doesn’t always exceed expectations. Luckily, home water softening and filtration systems are widely available to improve your drinking water quality no matter where you live. Give us a call and see what you can do for your own water!

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5 Reasons to Drink Tap Over Bottled Water

July 22, 2015 | Posted in Bottled Water, Tap Water | By

water bottles sitting on a table

By now, most of you have probably heard of the dangers of bottled water. News stories, documentaries, and scientific studies all report potential dangers that buying pre-packaged bottled water can have on your health, your wallet, and the environment. At the same time, we also hear about health risks associated with tap water, and bottled water sales don’t seem to be dropping at all. We still see them sold at every supermarket or gas station, and their plastic carcasses still litter every recreational gathering spot you can think of.

So where should you be getting your water? Is buying pre-bottled water worth the extra cost for its convenience and promised purity, or is it just a waste of money and resources? This article will hope to end your watery debate and show you that it’s best for everyone if you forget the retailed H2O and instead invest in filtering your own tap water.

Plastic Waste

The first and perhaps most consequential reason not to buy bottled water is what’s left behind after you’re finished drinking. Whether you litter or do the right thing and properly dispose of them makes no difference; all those flimsy plastic bottles will ultimately end up in the same place. They’ll eventually be washed into the ocean, where they’ll be pulled by currents to join millions of other plastic waste particles in a swirling maelstrom of ever-expanding garbage. And it will never leave.

Unlike everything else in the ocean, plastic never re-enters the food web, instead breaking down into smaller and smaller particles that, despite their changing size, are still plastic. Life forms cannot break plastic down into nutrients. Thinking they’re food, fish eat these particles and ultimately starve because their stomachs fill up with something inedible. So while water bottles may not be the only source of this pollution, they certainly have a significant impact on this plastic epidemic.

Use of Resources

Pollution isn’t the only way plastic water bottles negatively impact the environment. In order to manufacture, package, and distribute such a large volume of products in this massive industry, all kinds of limited resources are used in vast quantities, from fossil fuels to, ironically, water. It takes a whole lot of fuel to ship a boat load of water bottles across the globe, so why not just use tap water from local sources and skip the entire water shipment process altogether?

Toxins in Plastic

The damage plastic can do doesn’t stop with the environment, either. Even when they have “BPA free” slapped all over their packaging, plastic water bottles still have a slew of other potentially toxic chemicals laced into their flimsy walls. These chemicals can seep out of the plastic and into their contained water if exposed to heat or simply sitting too long, and they can even be leeched from littered bottles into soil and groundwater.

Most of these chemicals haven’t been properly tested, so we don’t really know what they can do to the human body. It’s probably best to not find out the hard way.

It’s Often the Same Thing as Tap

But isn’t bottled water more pure than tap? With images of mountain springs and claims of unrivaled purity, bottled water companies love to sell you the notion that their water is somehow better than your local supply. This is a total lie. As many as 40% of bottled water companies just use local municipal supplies and up-charge their products by up to 10,000%. It’s a total waste of money.

If you notice a difference in taste, it’s probably because these companies add certain minerals to bottled water to enhance the flavor. It’s just glorified tap water with a fancy label; you’re better off filtering your own tap water from your own home.

Making the Switch is Easy

The final reason you should wane yourself of pre-bottled water is that it’s easy and cheap to make the switch to all-tap. Rather than buying a gallon of water next time you’re at the grocery store, instead invest in a water filter and a reusable bottle. BPA-free ones are easy to find, but stainless steel is an even better option. As far as filters go, you don’t even need to spend more than on small cartridges you replace every few months. And the best part about making the switch to tap is that you’ll know your preventing further damage to the environment, your health, and your wallet.

So go out and buy yourself a reusable bottle and start filtering your own water! If you’re worried about hard water or possible contaminants in your local supply, remember that there’s a huge variety of filters, softeners, chlorine removers, disinfectants, and all kinds of other products out there designed to improve your tap water, and many of them are sold right here on this site. You have no excuse; ditch the bottles and bring on the tap!

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What’s in My Tap Water?

July 9, 2015 | Posted in Tap Water | By

This is an excellent question. What we put in our bodies is extremely important, and the water we drink is no exception to this. Yet tap water, more often than not, is a subject of controversy and concern. From foul odors to bad taste and mineral deposits, it’s no challenge to be able to tell that there’s more than just dihydrogen monoxide coming out of our pipes. But how do you know exactly what else is in there? The best way to learn what’s in tap water is to understand the processing it goes through on the way from nature to your tap.

Covering the water treatment process, the video above offers a good visual introduction to what most tap water goes through before it reaches people’s homes. Read on to learn this process in a bit more detail and really start to get to know what’s in your water!

Initial Screening

In Texas, most drinking water comes from various aquifers as ground water. This along with river water are the two most common places we get our drinking water from and, in both cases, the water undergoes a strictly regulated cleaning process before it makes its way into the tap pipes.

In the first step in this process, illustrated in the animation above, the raw river or ground water passes through a series of screens made of metal bars. these collect large organic matter like plants and animals as well as any trash in the water. The video above illustrates how these series of screens are designed.

Flocculation

In the next step (mentioned at 0:45 in the introductory video), certain chemicals called flocculates are added to the water to allow suspended dirt particles to settle out. This chemistry along with a rapid spinning movement causes almost all of the murkiness in the water to settle to the bottom, while the now clear water moves on to the next step. Check out the above video for an in-depth look at this chemical process.

Disinfection

The water is now clean, but it may still harbor dangerous bacteria or viruses. While several disinfection methods such as boiling have been used in the past, these days chlorination has proven to be the most efficient and cost-effective means of neutralizing harmful pathogens. As a result, nearly every public water system in the U.S. uses chlorine as the exclusive disinfectant.

If you’ve been keeping up with this blog, however, then you’d know that chlorination is not all good. As it neutralizes bacteria, it produces chemical by-products that have been shown to be surprisingly dangerous in recent years, and even skin contact with these chemicals can be harmful. You can rad about this in our previous blog post.

So, as you can see, no matter where it started from, water undergoes some pretty in-depth processing before it gets to your tap. But this processing isn’t perfec. Several minerals, like those that make water “hard” slip by, and many of the added chemicals may do almost as much harm as they do good.

Keep these things in mind as you decide which home filtration or water softening systems you might need for your own home; sometimes spending a little extra to add one last layer of water screening of your own can make all the difference.

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