You often hear that water is the staple of life. Did you know it makes up around 95% of our brains? All those people who insist on proper hydration are definitely onto something. But when you drink water, when you make your food with it, what else is in there?
There are a great number of factors that influence the quality of our water, both in urban and rural environments. You can read a comprehensive study on this matter at this link. Meanwhile, you are probably interested in your own home and what you, your family, and your pets are exposed to every day. So here is a handy guide on how to figure out its condition.
Having your water professionally tested
Okay, yes, we know everybody flinches when it comes to “calling in the pros”, mostly because that means something will cost you money. But honestly, it is still a way smaller price to pay than blundering around in the dark. Having the quality of your home water tested by a legitimate lab is the best way to go if you are not sure what you want.
Think about it: what kind of contaminant are you looking to identify? The “quality of water” is a compound notion and there are several different dimensions to it. Are you worried about excess chlorine? Weird colors? Do you think you might have a rogue population of bacteria running in your pipes? Or do you want to “test for everything”? You have to get specific to get any results.
Go to a reputable laboratory and share your concerns with the technicians. From your descriptions and the data they have about the area aquatics, they will be able to recommend a proper course of action. It is also a good idea to do one in-depth wide-sweeping test, and then use that to determine what might need to be monitored at an ongoing rate.
Testing your water on your own
Supposing that you still prefer to give your own home chemist skills a try, there are several ways that you can do this on your own. You can find the most easily doable strategies at this link: https://www.wikihow.com/Test-Water-Quality
The most straightforward way would be to use a home water testing kit. Basically, there will be several strips coated in various reactants, and they will change colors to indicate that a given substance is present in your sample. You can buy these online or at some home improvement centers. You might even take a look at better-stocked gardening shops, since there is certain plant life that is sensitive to water quality conditions.
These kits are usually able to test for pesticides, chlorine, nitrites and nitrates, lead, bacteria, hardness level, and pH values. Their big downside is that they are fairly inaccurate, and they will not test for everything that is potentially harmful. Moreover, there are certain kinds of contaminants that the kits will not pick up unless their levels are very high.
So, if you are concerned about safety and health, a home testing kit is not a legitimate assurance. An independent laboratory is still your best choice – just steer clear of those that insist on peddling you some fancy filtration solutions. If they are aiming to sell you something, the credibility of their test results is questionable.
What are the most common contaminating substances?
Like we keep saying, the things that influence the condition of your water supply are numerous, and not all of them are necessarily bad. On the other hand, not all of them are safe to disregard, either. The specific substances that you might find in your sample will depend largely on your geographic area, the condition of the local infrastructure, and the state of your own home’s pipework – its age, maintenance, etc.
Even so, there are a few things that can be considered universal, so we decided to list them here for your convenience.
Chlorine is a necessary presence in any settlement’s aquatic infrastructure, especially in urban areas. A small amount of it is always present in the pipes, because it makes sure there would be no microscopic organisms splashing around, making mischief. That said, an excess of chlorine content can give water a nasty scent and upset some people’s stomachs, so there are many filters offering solutions for that. Learn more about water filtering at waterfiltermania.com.
Bacteria can be divided into harmful and nuisance. Harmful bacteria are those that cause diseases. The most widespread ones are Coliform, Fecal Coliform, Fecal Streptococci, and Escherichia Coli. Nuisance bacteria are not necessarily harmful, but they secrete sulfur and iron. These guys are the film on the surfaces of wells.
Sulfur, in the form of hydrogen sulphide, is what makes water smell like rotten eggs. It can occur naturally (like in some hot springs), and is sometimes the byproduct of local bacteria.
Iron and manganese cause discoloration, leave stains on fixtures and laundry (especially iron, it ruins anything white), and they give a bitter taste. Excess iron will color the water orange, yellow, or brownish, whereas manganese will make it purple or black.
Whitish-yellowish crystalline flakes that form on pipes and containers are sediments of a salt known as calcium carbonate. This is what makes water “hard”. In itself, it is not dangerous, though if allowed to accumulate it can wreak havoc on your appliances. Look into water softening solutions if you notice calcium carbonate buildup anywhere in your home.
Grit and sand are common, a little annoying, but harmless. Basic filters get rid of them nicely.
Lead is a silent hazard which can infiltrate from pipework. Typical causes are leaded solder or old plumbing components made of brass. Lead is a neurotoxin, so even small amounts are a danger. If you already know that you have brass components installed, or faulty solder, or if you detect any lead traces in your samples, take measures to get rid of it all right away.