Category : Water Quality
Tap Water vs. Bottled Water… What’s the Real Story?
Those of us who have lived in areas with clean smelling, pure well water are sometimes shocked at the pungent odor of chlorine in city water. When I was young, we never really thought about the water we were drinking and if someone asked for a glass of water, we ran over to the kitchen faucet and filled a cup.
Over the years, though, a mix of sales propaganda, scare tactics and a pinch of reality have thoroughly indoctrinated us into thinking that bottled water is the better choice, a cure for our water ills. Is it? Or have we been hoodwinked? If so, at what cost? You’ll be amazed!
According to a ConsumerReports.org investigation, the difference in cost between drinking tap water vs. bottled water is staggering. Assuming you purchased one bottle of water per day at a cost of $1.00 instead of drinking average priced tap water, you would spend $346 over the year. (This assumes you returned the bottles for the 5 cent deposit.) Read more »
Rocks are part of the earth’s natural water filtration process.
Image via David Spinks (Flickr)
The Process of Water Filtration
There is nothing better than a cold, refreshing drink of naturally filtered spring water. If you’ve ever been hiking and filled your canteen with mountain spring water, you know what I’m talking about! Americans spent $11.8 billion dollars on bottled water in 2012 in an effort to enjoy “natural spring water.” The problem is that most of that bottled water was just municipal water poured into a bottle and marketed cleverly. How can you get fresh filtered water at home without breaking the bank (and being fooled)? Let’s look at the process of water filtration for the answer.
Natural Water Filtration
I’m going to begin by explaining how natural spring water is filtered and why it tastes so darn good! You might be thinking that the water out of that mountain spring is brand new, but it’s been around for a while. You see, the earth’s water supply is several million years old. It is just recirculated through the process of absorption, evaporation, and rainfall. You’ve been using the same water your ancestors used, and your great-great-great-grandchildren will be using the same water you use.
The earth is our water’s natural filter. As water falls to the ground or runs in a stream, it flows through layers of dirt, gravel, and sand. It is these layers of the earth’s natural sediments that filter the spring water you scoop up into your hand to quench your thirst while backpacking. This natural water filtration only works in natural areas, however, such as the earth’s desserts, forests, and wetlands. When rainwater falls in the city, something different happens. Read more »
Nope! Not better for you!
Image via Steven Depolo (Flickr)
5 Busted Myths About Water
Television shows such as MythBusters have encouraged our natural curiosity in a good way. Throughout our lives, we hear all kinds of myths, old wives’ tales, whatever you want to call them, and sometimes, it’s hard to decipher fact from fiction. Well, I’m a water expert, and I’m here to help you debunk some of the myths you’ve heard about H2O. Do you believe that bottled water is better for you? Think again!
Myth #1 - Bottled Water Is Better for You Than Tap Water
Let me just debunk my intro-teaser right off the bat. Bottled water is not better for you than tap water, not even the costly “enhanced” bottled waters. A majority of bottled water is treated tap water thrown into a bottle and sold at ridiculous prices. Additionally, the bottles in which the water is stored are hazardous to your health and our environment; they contain BPA, which is a possible carcinogen, and they are not biodegradable. Finally, unless you’re running a marathon, you do not need to drink “enhanced” water. In fact, placing electrolytes into your body when you don’t need them can cause serious health complications. Bottled water is not better for you than tap water.
Myth #2 - Tap Water Is Perfectly Safe Read more »
Shopping carts aren’t the only metal lurking in your water supply. Image via Brian Smithson (Flickr)
Heavy Metal Pollution in the Water Supply
Heavy metal means different things to different people. There are heavy metal elements, heavy metal music, heavy metal artillery, and heavy metal auto, truck, or radio-controlled-whatever competitions. What does heavy metal mean to me? Well, I do like a hard-rocking song now and again, but heavy metal means water pollution to me. Heavy metal elements contribute to heavy metal pollution in our water supplies, and as with any type of water pollution, we need to be concerned about it!
Heavy Metals Found in Water
The types of heavy metals most commonly found in our water supplies are arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, mercury, selenium, and zinc. You probably recognize that some of these metals are bad, such as arsenic and lead, and others are included in your daily multivitamin, such as copper and zinc. Too much exposure to any of them is not healthy, but I’ll explain more about that below. Right now, let me give you a brief rundown of each metal so you know what you’re dealing with: Read more »
Know Your Well… and it will Serve You Well!
It is said that a person can live for weeks without food, but only a matter of days without water. Indeed, civilizations flourish only where there is abundant, clean water. Without it, there are no crops, no livestock, decreased personal hygiene (bath, anyone?)… Essentially little hope for the long, healthy, comfortable life we desire for ourselves and our children.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), approximately 15% of Americans are “off the grid” when it comes to obtaining water for their homes, detached from public supplies. And, though there is some value in schemes, such as collecting rainwater in barrels or drawing water from nearby ponds or rivers, the most reliable source of non-public water available to most people is the underground well. Read more »
This element isn’t good if it is found in your drinking water!
Image via Mrs. Pugliano (Flickr)
Determining if There Is Mercury in Your Water Supply
If you love seafood, you probably already know about the concern over mercury in water. The FDA has advised pregnant and nursing women in particular to cut down on their seafood consumption because of mercury pollution in water. Mercury is a liquid metal, and it is found in many natural elements. Unfortunately, mercury is not safe for consumption, and too much mercury can cause kidney failure. Mercury in drinking water supplies is definitely something you should concern yourself with, and there are ways to determine if mercury is in the water coming into your home.
Mercury in the Water Supply
Mercury is a natural element found in the earth’s crust, particularly in rocks such as coal. Mercury makes its way into our air when coal is burned. In fact, according to the EPA, coal-fueled power plants account for the largest emissions of mercury released into our environment. When that mercury settles out of the air and onto the ground, it is washed into our water supply. Read more »
Never assume that water even this clear and beautiful is safe to drink!
Image via Nate Eagleson (Flickr)
Water Filter, Water Purifier… Same Thing, Right?
Many people believe that water filtration and water purification are one and the same, but this isn’t actually the case. Water filtration and water purification are two different methods of treating water, and it is important to know the difference. Whether you should filter or purify depends on your current circumstances: You won’t always need to purify, but you should always filter. Here’s the difference between the two.
Filtering Vs. Purifying
The difference between water filtering and water purifying is the same as the difference between before and after. If you filter your water, you’re filtering out all of the bad elements before the water reaches your drinking glass. If you purify your water, you’re treating tainted water after it reaches your drinking glass.
Even if your water well only supports your household, it needs to be tested regularly for contamination.
Image via Oliver Murani (Flickr)
Drinking Well Contamination
Many areas in the United States, especially rural areas, utilize water wells to supply their drinking water. These wells are as susceptible to water contamination as municipal water sources – if not more so in some cases. Additionally, these wells are not regulated by the EPA as municipal water is, so the well owner is solely responsible in ensuring there is zero drinking water contamination present in the water well. It is critical that you test your water well for contamination on a regular basis, because any type of contaminated water can cause illness and potentially death.
Water Well Facts
According to the Centers for Disease Control – you know them as the CDC – 15 million households in the United States get their drinking water from water wells, and all homes sharing the same aquifer are affected by any water well contamination. Water contamination inside these wells can actually occur naturally, resulting from the chemicals and minerals found in our water. Other ways water wells become contaminated is through runoff from food and animal farming and sewage overflows. Read more »
Benzene leaches into groundwater from landfills.
Image via Bill McChesney (Flickr)
Benzene in Drinking Water
It is unfortunate, but there are so many dangerous compounds that we must worry about finding their way into our water supply. I’ve discussed many of these compounds in my past posts, now I’d like to educate you about benzene in water. Benzene in drinking water is a serious concern, and has been listed as a no-no by the EPA since the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974. Please allow me to take a moment and answer some important questions about benzene and its effect on drinking water.
Q: What is the compound benzene?
A: Benzene is classified as a volatile organic chemical compound.
Q: You just said volatile; does that mean benzene is flammable? Read more »
Just because it’s beautiful does not mean the water is clean.
Image via Manuel Calavera (Flickr)
Filtering Water When in Remote Locations
If you’ve been following me online, you know that I love nature. I love to spend time outdoors enjoying all this beautiful planet has to offer, especially bodies of water. If you’re a hiker, or a camper, or somebody who loves to explore remote locations, you know the importance of having safe drinking water in great supply with you. Whether you’re out on a day hike, or planning to rough it for a couple of days, you cannot survive without clean drinking water. This seems simple enough, doesn’t it? Just make sure you have enough water with you. It’s not as simple as it may seem, however.
It’s a Matter of Weight
When traveling to a remote location, whether by foot or by vehicle, you cannot have cases of bottled water with you. You don’t have the ability to carry that much weight, nor the space in which to pack it. It’s simply not a viable plan to lug a ton of heavy water jugs on a trek. You need to find a way to get the water you need using lightweight, compact options.
The Best-laid Plans…
The best-laid plans can also go wrong, no matter how seasoned you are. You might have the perfect portable way of filtering water to ensure you have plenty of H2O at your disposal. You might also become trapped in a remote location due to unexpected weather, or you might get lost. The best-laid plans do always see themselves through to fruition. You need a backup plan in case of emergency.