Do You Know What’s In Your Drinking Water?
70% of the Earth is covered in water, but only 1% of water on the planet is drinkable. Do you know where your water comes from? There are several different sources for fresh drinking water, each with pros and cons. Depending on where you get your water, you may be getting more than you bargained for.
As the name implies, drinking water (also called potable water) is intended for people to drink. It is safe for human consumption and comes from a municipal source. There are no added ingredients besides what is considered usual and safe for any tap water, such as fluoride. Depending on your municipal water provider, they may filter or add different materials to your city’s water supply. To learn exactly what’s in your city’s local water, visit the EPA to find your state’s water quality report.
Especially for homes that do not have access to municipal city water, most home owners outside of the city limits have to have a contractor drill for a well and install a water pump. Well users use water directly from the ground. Unless you install an additional filtration unit, the water you drink will not be filtered or purified in any way. Well water tends to be hard water, containing more minerals than municipal city water.
Homes using well water must also have a septic tank installed beneath their homes to process waste. Filling your septic tank with too much solid waste or water can cause your septic tank to back up into your home or yard, so be mindful of your water usage.
Spring water comes from an underground source that has naturally made its way to the surface, and it may or may not have been treated and purified. In order to earn the term “spring water,” collection methods performed should include retrieval only at the spring or through a borehole tapping into the formation of the spring underground that does not compromise the natural physical properties of the water. Spring water contains small amounts of natural minerals and appears crystal clear or sometimes tea-colored from the spring.
Although spring water and well water are more sheltered from pollution than rivers and streams, pollution caused by erosion, drilling or chemical waste can sometimes affect this type of water.
Though spring water sounds more appealing (like many others, I imagine my spring water coming from a rushing fresh spring at the base of a tall snow-capped mountain), it’s not necessarily the best water for drinking if you have other options. Studies done by the Natural Resources Defense Council have found contaminants such as coliform bacteria, arsenic and phthalates in bottled water. Some homes with well water, spring water or excessively hard water prefer the taste of bottled water to their home’s tap water.
As for bottled spring water from your local grocery store? To meet FDA safety inspections, most bottled water is purified tap water that has been properly treated. The law now requires bottled water companies like Coca-Cola’s Dasani or Pepsi’s Aquafina to label the water source on each bottle. Do your digging and learn where your water is really bottled.
Purified water can come from any source, but has been purified to remove any chemicals or contaminants. Types of purification include distillation, de-ionization, reverse osmosis and carbon filtration. Like distilled water, it has its advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are that potentially harmful chemicals may be taken out; the disadvantages are that beneficial minerals may be removed as well.
Distilled Water:Distilled water is a type of purified water. It has gone through a rigorous filtration process that strips it not only of contaminants, but any natural minerals as well. This water is best for use in small appliances — like steam irons — because it won’t leave behind the mineral buildup you often get with tap water. Though it may seem counter-intuitive, this water isn’t necessarily the best for human consumption because the often-beneficial minerals found naturally in water is absent.
De-Ionized Water: Often used in chemistry or industrial capacity, de-ionized water has had the minerals and metals neutralized. However, this does not mean the water is safe to drink. When water is sent through an ion-exchange resin, the dissolved minerals and metals are not actually filtered out of the water, and this process may leave resin in the water. Do not drink de-ionized water unless it is labeled safe for human consumption