Frequently Asked Questions about Water Quality
Many questions have been raised in the last couple of years about the quality of the water Canadians drink. These are some of the questions our customers have most frequently asked:
- Why do I need to filter my water?
- What can I do to improve the safety of the water in my home?
- Isn't bottled water easier, cheaper and just as safe?
- What about water pitcher filters or faucet-mount filters?
- Why should I be concerned with filtering my shower water?
- Is drinking distilled water dangerous? I've read that it's harmful!
- What is distilled water?
- My water tastes really bad, what is causing this and how can it be fixed?
- What colour is water?
- Our Lake has been contaminated by coliform bacteria. How can I make sure that the water is safe to drink?
- What is the difference between filtering, reverse osmosis (RO) and distilling?
1. Why do I need to filter my water?
The human body is 60 - 80% water. Every five to 10 days we need to replace all of our body's water to keep functioning smoothly, efficiently and to maintain good health. It is important to replenish our bodies water with clean, pure, filtered water. Our filters are long-lasting, reliable, and provide water filtered down to 1 micron (a human hair is about 100 microns) to prevent long-term health risks due to gradual buildup of toxins, heavy metals, chemicals and chlorine.
Most municipal water systems are chlorinated to kill bacteria and viruses. However, the chlorine can form carcinogenic compounds, such as trihalomethanes and chloroform. Also, this water still has to travel through miles of pipes before it enters your home. The pipes are usually not clean and contain heavy metals from solder joints, fixtures, etc. The only way to ensure that your drinking water is free of contaminants is to filter it yourself in your home or office.
2. What can I do to improve the safety of the water in my home?
You can install a home water filter. One of the easiest and most effective filtration devices is a system that treats water at a single point of use for drinking, cooking and watering plants. This can easily be installed as a countertop unit, or an undercounter unit with a separate faucet. It is also important to use a shower filter to remove chlorine while you shower.[Back to Top]
3. Isn't bottled water easier, cheaper and just as safe?
It is perfectly legal to bottle water from wells, springs and even public tap water. You could actually be carrying home water bottles containing the same low quality water that comes out of your faucet. Bottled water is not always free of contaminants either, in 1990 a test by the Suffolk County, New York Health Dept. found that 9 of 88 brands tested did not meet state and Federal drinking water standards, even Perrier had that recall due to Benzene contamination. Sometimes you can even taste and smell the plastic water bottle. Also if water is bottled and sold within the same state, it is not subject to EPA regulations. Finally, bottled water is much more expensive than a home filter system, averaging about a dollar a gallon in comparison to less than 10 cents a gallon.[Back to Top]
4. What about water pitcher filters or faucet-mount filters?
In our business, we refer to these as "feel good" filters. You get to "feel good" that you're doing something about your water quality, however, these small filter elements tend to be ineffective against everything but Chlorine, taste and odor. Also, they are very expensive to use and need frequent filter replacement.[Back to Top]
5. Why should I be concerned with filtering my shower water?
You can absorb more chlorine through your skin and lungs in one shower then you can in all the tap water you could drink in a day. Chlorine not only dries your skin and hair, studies show that long-term exposure to chlorine has been linked to various cancers, and, recently, to increased risk of miscarriage.[Back to Top]
6. Is drinking distilled water dangerous? I've read that it's harmful!
First of all, let’s review for the record what distilled water is — its water that has been turned into steam so its impurities are left behind. The steam is then condensed to make absolutely pure water. The process of distillation kills and removes all bacteria, viruses, heavy metals, and other organic and inorganic contaminants. Once distilled, the water is as pure as water can be.
A number of myths — some quite extreme — have grown up over the years about distilled water. A quick Internet search today will take you to sites that put forth such views as "distilled water leads to early death."
This is nonsense.
One claim holds that distillation removes all of water's beneficial minerals. While it's true that distillation removes minerals as well as various contaminants from water, we don't know that the human body can readily absorb minerals from water. We get our minerals from food, not water. By one estimate, you would have to drink 676 liters of tap water in Winnipeg to reach the daily recommended dose of calcium.
Not only is distilled water not dangerous, it's the purest form of water possible!
7. What is distilled water?
Distilled water is water that has been heated to the boiling point so that impurities are separated from the water, which itself becomes vapor or steam. The steam is then condensed back into pure liquid form.
The impurities remain as residue and are removed. Pure Water Distillation Systems remove waterborne biological contaminants such as bacteria, viruses, organic and inorganic chemicals, heavy metals, volatile gases, cysts and other contaminants. Distilled water contains virtually no solids, minerals or trace elements. It is clean, natural and healthy. Steam distilled water is the standard by which all other waters are measured.
8. My water tastes really bad, what is causing this and how can it be fixed?
Various odours and tastes may be present in water. They can be traced to many conditions. Unfortunately, the causes of bad taste and odour problems in water are so many; it is impossible to suggest a single treatment that would be universally effective in controlling these problems.
Tastes are generally classified in four groups - sour, salt, sweet and bitter. Odours possess many classifications. There are 20 of them commonly used and they are further classify terms of their intensity from very faint, faint, distinct and decided to very strong. If you are conscious of a distinct odour, without specifically seeking for such, the water is in need of treatment.
In many cases, it is difficult to determine what constitutes a taste and what constitutes an odour. The reason is obvious. Both the taste buds and olfactory organs work so effectively as a team, it is hard to realize where one leaves off and the other begins.
In a case like this sometimes the best thing is to go directly to distilled water.
9. What colour is water?
Ordinarily we think of water as being blue in colour. When artists paint bodies of water, they generally colour them blue or blue-green. While water does reflect blue-green light, it should appear colourless in the home.
Ideally, water from the tap should have no colour. If such is the case, there are certain foreign substances in the water. The colour in water is primarily from vegetable matter and is extracted from leaves and aquatic plants.
All surface waters possess some degree of colour. Like some shallow wells, springs and an occasional deep well can contain noticeable colouring. In general, water from deep wells is practically colourless.
Highly coloured water is objectionable. While colour is not a factor of great concern to your health, excessive colour lacks appeal from an aesthetic standpoint in potable water. In general, colour is reduced or removed from water through the use of filtration techniques.
10. Our Lake has been contaminated by coliform bacteria. How can I make sure that the water is safe to drink?
A. Water is the breeding ground for an almost unbelievably large variety of organisms. Water does not produce these organisms. It merely is an ideal medium in which they can grow. These organisms gain entry into water through a variety of sources. They enter the water supply from all sorts of natural causes, surface drainage and sewage.
The most effective and economical method of treating water for a household is to use ultraviolet light. The use of ultraviolet light is an attempt to imitate nature.
Sunlight destroys bacteria in the natural purification of water, but that takes a lot of time. Exposing water to pure ultraviolet light destroys any dangerous organisms in the water. To assure that the treatment works, the water must be free of any solids down to 5 Microns and must be filtered first. Otherwise, some bacteria will be protected from the germ-killing ultraviolet rays.
Since ultraviolet light adds nothing to the water it will not creating taste or odour problems and has no residual effect on the water. These systems do require maintenance to ensure that sufficient ultraviolet energy is reaching the water while in the ultraviolet chamber.
This is a possible solution but there are others, it all depends on the individual situation.
11. What is the difference between filtering, reverse osmosis (RO) and distilling?
What filters do well . . .
Filtering is the most cost-effective as a pre-treatment to your water. Filters range in size depending on how much water is required and can produce the largest quantity of water. Various types of filters can be used to solve any number of water problems. Washable pleated filters and poly-spun fiber filters are used to remove sediment from the water. Carbon filters can be used to remove colour and taste from the water. Other specialty filters can be added as they are needed to treat the water.
What filters do not do well . . .
Filters have the ability to remove particles as small as .5 microns, but such fine filtration is not economical for the whole house and seriously reduces water pressure. Water must also be treated for organisms before (chlorination used in municipal water supplies) or after (Ultraviolet light treatment) the filtration process.
Reverse Osmosis (RO)
What Reverse Osmosis does well . . .
Reverse Osmosis is often referred to as micro-filtration. This process involves forcing contaminated water through a synthetic, semi-permeable membrane at very high pressure. RO at peak efficiency (when the membrane is new) reduces certain contaminants by 70 - 90%. The purity of the water depends on fluctuating water pressure, age (breakdown) of the membrane, and clogging of the membrane pores. RO works really well at removing salt from water when using a water softener.
What Reverse Osmosis does not do well . . .
RO systems use a large amount of water - anywhere from 6 gallons to get 1 gallon of treated water. Although the RO system uses no electricity, they can be quite costly to maintain. RO is not recommended when very high contamination of toxic chemicals is present. The RO unit may not be able to remove enough of the chemical to make it safe to drink. RO is also very susceptible to bacterial growth and should only be used on pretreated water.
What Distillation does well . . .
Distillation is a method where water is removed from the contaminants rather than trying to remove contaminants from the water. Distillation involves boiling water, capturing the steam, cooling it and condensing it back to liquid. Materials that have a higher boiling point than water will not rise with the steam. Most contaminates have a higher boiling point than water and therefore will not rise with the steam. Contaminates that vaporize before the water are vented off so only water vapor is left. A distiller will remove up to 99.5% of all contaminants in the water. Distillers are also very easy to maintain and clean.
What Distillation does not do well . . .
Distillers require energy to raise the temperature of the water. Although they are energy efficient, they do require a small amount of electricity, which is an ongoing cost. Distillers also have a difficult time removing volatile organic compounds (VOC). VOCs are man made chemicals that turn to steam and condense at the same temperature as water. Good quality distillers have built in features to remove VOCs. Heat dissipated from the condensation coils can raise the temperature in the room that the distiller is located in. Distillers are only really effective and economical for drinking water.