Filtering your home water is the best way to guarantee quality and safety. Despite being filtered by the authorities – provided you’re receiving tap water – your home water may still contain several contaminants which affect the taste and odour of your water and can be potentially harmful. In this article, we’ll look into some of these harmful contaminants and tips on filtering them out.
Contaminants in Your Home Water
Some harmful contaminants that you may need to filter out of your water include:
These are potentially harmful microorganisms that are found in water supplies, and flow directly into homes. Examples are viruses, bacteria like E. Coli, protozoa, and parasites. They can make you sick and expose you to long term health challenges. These microorganisms are more dangerous to pregnant women, older adults, and young children.
Sediments and Deposits
These are physical contaminants that you can spot with your eyes. They affect the appearance and taste of your water and make drinking it a rather uncomfortable experience. Deposits consist of organic material present in rivers, lakes, and streams. They need to be filtered out for the best water experience.
Chemicals may be artificial or naturally occurring in residential water. They include chlorine, chloramine, pesticides and literally thousands of other compounds.
Tips for Filtering Water in Your Home
Before selecting a filtration method, you have to consider the kind of contaminants you’re trying to get rid of. The most suitable filtration method for you will depend mainly on the most pressing contaminants, your environment, budget, the state of your water, and how much energy you’re willing to put into filtration.
Here are some ways you can filter water in your home and make it more drinkable.
Boiling is a fast and straightforward way to decontaminate your home water. Most microorganisms cannot survive the boiling process and are quickly destroyed. Boiling water is especially beneficial because the minerals found in tap water are retained. However, while boiling water is easy and uncomplicated, there are some downsides to it. For one, it’s time-consuming to boil AND cool water before drinking. It also adds to your energy bill, and despite how it looks, it does not remove any heavy metals or chemicals present.
Contaminants like chlorine, fluoride, and lead are retained in your water. More so, boiling can even increase their concentrations due to some of the water evaporating.
2. UV treatment
To filter your water using UV treatment (without fancy equipment), all you need to do is allow sunlight to shine through your water. Sunlight contains ultraviolet rays, which can kill bacteria by damaging their DNA. It’s equally effective against viruses and protozoa. You can add lime juice to your water to make the treatment faster.
If you don’t want to put your water out in the sun, UV light water filters are widely available. They can be installed both at the point of use – think a single tap – or at the point of entry so that every last drop of water flowing through your home will be disinfected.
3. Activated Charcoal
Using activated charcoal is an inexpensive way to filter your water and remove chemicals. Activated charcoal filters water due of its porosity. Clean water passes through, while impurities are trapped on the surface of the filter media.
Activated charcoal can eliminate debris, toxic compounds, smell, and sometimes even bacteria. However, it’s not so effective at getting rid of viruses, algae, and heavy metals.
4. Water Purification Tablets
Using water purification tablets is an effective and convenient way to purify your water, especially when you’re on the go. To use this method, add the purification tablets to your water supply to eliminate any microbes lurking around.
Most people use these tablets to purify water from lakes or streams, but you can also use them for your home water.
Water purification tablets contain iodine, chlorine, or chlorine dioxide. These chemicals are responsible for killing harmful pathogens. The effectiveness of the tablets depends on the concentration of the chemicals they contain. By the way, water purification tablets may get rid of pathogens, but they don’t work against harmful chemicals at all.
Examples of water purification tablets include:
- Chlorine dioxide
- Sodium dichloroisocyanurate
- Tetraglycine hydroperiodide
You can find instructions regarding their use on the packaging.
Filtering Fluoride from Your Home Water
Most of the tips mentioned earlier are effective for killing microorganisms or removing chemicals, but they don’t work well against fluoride. Chances are that fluoride is present in your water intended to help with tooth decay, but studies now show that excess fluoride can be harmful, leading to all kinds of diseases and health issues.
Excessive exposure to fluoride causes discoloration of teeth, bone weakness, thyroid problems, neurological problems, and heart issues. If you’re wondering how to remove fluoride from water, you can try out some specialized filters like
- Reverse osmosis units:
Reverse osmosis units use pressure to force your drinking water through a semipermeable membrane. Small particles and chemicals do not pass through so that only clean water can make it to the other side. This is an effective way to get rid of fluoride, and other toxins, although it may prove to be time consuming.
It takes a few hours to filter a couple of gallons, which is inconvenient, especially in large households. This is why reverse osmosis systems come with their own storage tanks. They store the purified water ready for dispensing.
- Activated alumina filtration:
This treatment method uses dehydroxylated aluminum hydroxide to reduce the fluoride in your drinking water. Although it has proven to be a very effective way to remove fluoride, its performance depends on the pH level of the water being filtered. Optimal fluoride removal occurs at pH levels between 5 and 6.
If you decide to get reverse osmosis or activated alumina to remove fluoride from your home’s water supply, keep in mind that the effectiveness of the filtration systems also depends on the manufacturer and the quality of materials used.
Tip: Keep an eye out for NSF testing and certification when buying a fluoride water filter. Yours should be NSF 53 certified. Check for fluoride reduction specifically as not all NSF certified filters remove fluoride.
Besides your home water, be sure to watch out for other ways that you might be consuming excess fluoride. For instance, processed foods like cereals, fish and soups may be prepared using water high in fluoride. You may need to cut down on these foods. You can also switch to non-fluoridated dental products and consume only organic fruits and vegetables that have not been exposed to fluoride-containing pesticides.