As human being, we cannot live without water. We can get water from rain water, ground water (wells or springs), municipal systems, bottled water, and other sources, but not all water is potable and some of them are so dangerous to consume. Water quality depends on many factors and whether the water meets water quality standards or not. If the water quality is poor, of course, water is not safe to drink.
In the U.S., there is a special agency called EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) to set water quality related standards. In other to evaluate water quality, they test water quality on a regular basis under the SDWAA (Safe Drinking Water Act). It offers much helpful information about certain water pollutants in the water, which can be helpful to alleviate consumers’ concerns about potable water. Generally, according to the EPA, the water systems on most states are overseen, so any water from your local municipal or public water system is considered to be treated and meet these water quality standards. For example, tap water is treated and meets these standards before it reaches the faucet in your home.
However, if you don’t trust the water from your tap, you can do some tests or just ask your local water system for a water quality report. If you plan to test your water, this water testing kit may help: HM Digital TDS-EZ Water Quality TDS Tester.
However, many people don’t like drinking tap water because an undesirable taste is left in the water after it is treated by the water system. Therefore, some ways can be used to make the tap water tastes better. We also don’t recommend buying bottled water, because it may pollute the environment and also leaves a bad taste in the water.
For people who live in rural areas where municipal or other public water systems are not available, water sources can be lake water, river water or ground wells. In order to make the water safe to drink, people should monitor the water quality themselves. There are also some good solutions used to treat raw water and make raw water potable.
In this article, we will discuss these solutions for improving both the water quality and the taste. These solutions are helpful to make water drinkable. Not all potable water is considered to be drinkable regarding to taste.
1.After a Disaster, How to Make Tap Water Safe to Consume
If you are on city tap water, sometimes these water plants may fail to offer clean treated water and pollutants may enter the water supply. Or if a natural disaster happens (like an earthquake, a storm or a flood), the water source can be contaminated, making your water not safe to consume. If these disasters happen, the first thing you need to do is to make your top water potable.
At least, you need to boil water to drink. Although this is only a temporary measure, it is also useful before your water plant can restore to provide you with high quality water. Boiling water cannot remove chemicals or heavy metals, but it can kill most bacteria and virus in our water. Except this, we have more things to prepare. You also need to monitor the local news which can tell you when the tap water restores the water quality. You can read this article to learn more: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Emergency Preparedness.
It is highly recommended to have a ready-to-use disaster kit which is specially prepared for a natural disaster or emergencies. This disaster kit includes bottled water, flashlights, blankets, medications, solid food and other items which depend on your family’s special medical or dietary needs.
2. Conserving Water
In many cases, you need to conserve water. After a disaster, you may need to conserve water because of the limited supply. Or you are on the water from your dug well, but the water level is very low. Or you just want to conserve water to save money. No matter what purposes are, conserve water becomes practical. There are several ways to help you conserve water. Each gallon of water you conserve means more money you can save. On the other hand, water source is limited and we have the obligation to save water.
3. Activated Carbon Filters: Making Tap Water Drinkable
Even if your tap water is treated by the local water plant and meets water standards and is safe to drink, it doesn’t mean the tap water is pleasant to drink. At best, tap water is potable not drinkable. This is because tap water may have an unpleasant smell and taste. Some chemical residue can cause these bad smells and tastes and these chemicals are called odor-causing particulates. For example, chlorine is widely used for a disinfectant and the water plants cannot remove all chlorine in the water, so there is a little amount of chlorine residue in our tap water, which makes our water not pleasant to smell and taste. Or, these odor-causing particulates in the water source cannot be effectively removed also can cause bad odors and smells.
Water filtration systems are used to remove contaminants in our water, including chemicals, heavy metals, and bacteria & virus. They can make us reduce the exposure to these waterborne health risks. We can use a basic carbon water filter (built-in a water filter pitcher), a point-of-use faucet water filter, or a carbon filter at the home’s water point-of-entry to get tap water drinkable or more potable. Carbon filters are helpful to address odor, taste and clarity. However, how effective it is depends on its design. For example, a multi-stage water filtration system is mostly more effective than a single. And the type of carbon filtration also influences the effectiveness.
Well, we should notice that carbon filters can only remedy minor water issues. Carbon filters have their limitations. If you think you water filtered by a carbon filter also contain harmful bacteria or virus, you may need to test your treated water to allay or confirm your features. If the testing result shows some virus or bacteria are in the filtered water, you may need a multi-stage filtration system. Or you need to install other types of water filtration systems.
4. When Carbon Filters are inadequate: Water Filtration Options
If you suspect that a carbon filter cannot remove harmful chemicals, bacteria, virus and other contaminants, you should test your water and find out what types of contaminants that a carbon water filter cannot remove. You also ask your local water treatment agency for a latest water quality report.
If a single carbon system cannot be effective, you also can try a combined carbon water filtration system plus other types of water filtration systems, which can help to reduce the exposure to these harmful contaminants. On the market, there are many various water filtration systems, including water distillers, reverse osmosis water filters, water softeners, or UV light water filters. These water purifiers often combine some form of carbon water filters. The water specialist in your local area will recommend you to choose the best type of water filtration systems according to the water situation in your area. On the other hand, you can a small water filter to purify water.
Some home water filters may need a professional to do the installation job, but most of them come with a step-by-step instruction to guide you how to install them. Small systems are so easy to install and you can do it yourself. If you need to purify all the water in your home, you may need to buy a point-of-entry whole house water filter, or a point-of-use system is enough. For example, you only need water to drink and cook, you can choose an under sink water filter.
5. Water from other sources – Raw Water Source Treatment
If you live in a rural area, your water may be from river, lake, dug well or ground water. And we don’t know whether the water quality is good or bad or what’s in our water unless you have tested the water.
When your water is drawn from ground water, dug well, lake or river, what is in the water is a mystery, unless you have your water properly tested. Before taking a water sample to do testing, decontaminate the water intake system is a must-have step. Generally, you can get related information from the local water testing facility and they will offer you detailed instructions and you will understand how to prepare to sample, how to take a water sample and they will also offer sterile water bottles for sampling. The total costs are minimal and the final testing results will tell you what types of contents are in your water and what types of filtration systems can get rid of contaminants accordingly. You can install a whole house water filtration system or just install a small system that combines several stages of filtration methods used to make your raw water potable and drinkable. If you feel confused, you can hire a water specialist to do the entire job for you, from choosing the right type of filtration systems, installing and maintaining. Of course, the cost may be high than a DIY project.
6. Bottled Water: Safety Concerns
If bottled water is prepared for emergencies, it is OK due to its superb convenience. Like I said before, it is highly recommended that an emergency or disaster kit should have bottled water. However, every several months, replace the old bottled water with a new one because of the expiration (EXP) date.
However, bottled water also has some safety concerns. As consumers, we don’t know whether the water quality is good or bad, or whether it meets the local water quality standards, or whether it exposes to BPA plastic bottles. Plus, bottle water is also costly. If you regular drink bottled water, you will find it will cost you more in a long time, which could be a drain on your food budget. And plastic bottles may place enormous pressure on our environment. Therefore, it is not recommended to consume bottled water on a regular basis.
7. How to Store Water and Dispense Water
Storing water for emergencies, disasters and power outages is really a good idea. We can store water in sealed bottles. Generally, water stored in the sealed bottles can be kept indefinitely. However, something is also needed to be noticed. The surround temperature should not be low, or water can be frozen and this can make particulates separated from the water, leaving a bad taste. It is also not recommended to make sealed water exposed to the sun, because this can make the plastic broken down and release harmful pollutants in the water. Therefore, the surrounding temperature is also very important. Because even our purified water contains some forms of contaminants more or less, we need to make the water in refillable containers replaced every 6 months at least. Before the refilling, you also need to disinfect the container first. You can use a tablespoon of bleach as the disinfectant, or just simple fill 1 gallon of clean water and make it sit for several minutes in the container. Before starting to refill, rinse thoroughly.
If you need water bottles, make sure they are safe to use. You can choose stainless steel, aluminum, glass or BPA-free plastic bottles. If you are looking for a baby bottle, BPA-free bottles are essential.
Water cooler dispensers are becoming more and more popular due to their superb convenient access to both hot and cold water. The convenience is OK, but the water quality is the key point. Some prefilled water bottles may cause some concerns. Consumer should confirm the water stored in the water bottle is safe to drink. Therefore, you need to choose a reliable water company and you can read its labels or just inquire from the water company and its distributor to lower the risk of exposure to contaminants. A good suggestion is that you only need to buy water bottles and use your filtered water purified by your home water filter to refill the bottle and remember to disinfect the plastic bottle on a regular basis.
8. Water Appliances, Parts and Resources Buying Considerations
Before buying any water filter, water distiller or other water appliance, make sure their replacement parts are easy to access. If they fail and need to replace some parts and the parts are not easy to get, it will be a nightmare for you. And you also need to notice the cost of these replacement parts.
Therefore, before making a purchase decision, it is a good idea to read customer reviews and know its pros and cons. And all the water appliances must meet related electrical standards and is easy and safe to use.
9. How to Soften Hard Water
If there is a large amount of minerals in your water, your water is called hard water. This means hard water contains so many minerals, like magnesium, calcium, etc. A little amount of minerals in the water can make water taste fresh, but a large amount of them can cause problems. Most water filters are not designed to make hard water soft except reverse osmosis systems.
Generally, hard water doesn’t cause health issues, but it can lead to mineral limescale build-up which can result in annoy rust-colored water stains in bathroom fixtures and kitchen sinks, or shorten the lifespan of appliances that need water to work, like dishwashers, clothe washers, humidifiers, steamers, etc. And it also can make soaps, dishwasher or laundry detergents less effective, rising the use of them. Humidifiers and water filters may be clog up if water is hard, and you need to change their filters very often.
Well, how to soften hard water? A good way is to install a whole house water softener which can soften all the water enters your house. And this can protect your appliances and fixtures. Whether your house needs a softener or not depends how hard your water is. If you are not sure, your water specialist can help you. If the concentration is light, such a softener is not essential but you need to clean the limescale on a regular basis.