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How to Find Out What’s in Your Drinking Water
Posted by Ty Woods on 18 January 2012 02:09 PM
Dirty water has a certain look, smell and taste, right? Well, not always. Water can sometimes look and taste fine despite the fact that it has other substances dissolved within it. So how can you tell what is in your drinking water, and does it even matter as long as it tastes fine?

The taste of water is a subjective matter that changes from person to person. The minerals in mineral water, for instance, give it a distinct taste that some dislike. In this case, the “bad” taste is not a sign that the water a polluted, but simply that it has a high concentration of minerals. Other times, though, the bad taste (often described as “pool water” or “like metal”) is a sign of something potentially harmful.

With all the chemicals in our environment, it would be foolish to think that none of those chemicals make their way into the water supply. Many water supply companies combat these pollutants by treating the water with high amounts of chlorine bleach. This kills any germ and irritants, but it also leave the water full of chlorine—hence the pool water taste.

There have been studies that have shown everything from dissolved pharmaceutical medication to arsenic in tap water.  These same chemicals and others have been found in the water from some bottled water companies. Though it seems store-bought bottled water would have more stringent regulations regarding its sourcing and filtration, the truth is that tap water is the more regulated of the two. Some bottled water companies self regulate (and do a great job of it) but others simple use a fancy label and sell the idea of fresher, cleaner water. Sadly, the two can sometimes be hard to tell apart.

To know what’s in your tap water, you can contact your local water department to gain more information about their testing methods and findings, but these answers will likely give you a general, composite description of the drinking water in your whole city. It won’t give you clarity about the water coming out of your faucets. Though your city may have generally good water, the piping in your house may greatly affect the quality of the water you and your family members end up drinking. They may be contaminating the water by leaching harmful debris.

You can always take your water to an independent lab and have it tested, but that can be inconvenient and costly. The best way to handle this problem is to purchase a high quality water filter. They are cheaper than buying bottled water (which may or may not be filtered) and they come in convenient variations that allow you to filter water as it comes through the faucet. Many skeptics may think that filters are just a waste of money, but the proof is in the product. Satisfied filter users can tell a significant difference in the taste of their water, but more importantly, tested filter water reads much lower on contaminants that could potentially be harmful.

Water filters use various methods to clean the water. A very popular and simple method is to use granulated charcoal as a drain that allow the water to pass whiling catching dissolved solids. The more drains the water has to pass through, the cleaner the water is in the end. Other, more advanced, filters use a mixture of charcoal and carbon-based media to break down the bonds of chemicals like chlorine, allowing it to detach from the water molecules. 

Water is supposed to be the purest substance on earth. It is what our bodies are made of, the one thing (besides air) we need more than anything else. Our bodies use it to cleanse and detox, so we can’t afford to drink contaminated water that can actually end up doing more harm than good.

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