Water Purification -Is It Really Necessary?
In this post we will be dealing solely with water purification and the ways you can further purify tap water.
If you have already decided to choose bottled water over tap water, you obviously feel bottled water is safer, regardless of what the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) say, in a previous post on bottled water. Water – Which Is Best?
May I suggest, before making a final decision on which type of water to use, it is worth considering the long term cost-effectiveness of the various types of water available.
If using bottled water what will your weekly usage and expenditure be? Will it be used just for drinking, or will it also be used for cooking?
Difference Of Opinions
There are different opinions on the subject of water purification. Tap water is subject to extensive and stringent daily tests as to its purity and quality before being released into the water supply, and the majority of health experts say it is perfectly safe to drink with no ill effects and, in the main, is purer and safer than many bottled waters.
One big advantage of using tap water, apart from the charge by the company or authority that supply the water, although this charge will be levied whether you use the water or not, is that it’s free.
Opposed to this are many water purification experts (some who may have a vested interest in water purification systems) accept that, although great care is taken in the purity and quality of tap water, due to storms, floods, interruption in supply, leakage from underground supply pipes, etc, long-term use without some form of further purification is not recommended.
Methods of Water Purification
Below are the most common ones which I will attempt to explain briefly as going into in-depth detail would need several pages dedicated to each individual purification method.
Boiling water, although not removing them, will destroy any pathogens or bacteria that may exist in the water and render them harmless. It also won’t remove any cloudiness, suspended matter or odor that may be present in the water but this can be removed by passing it through a coffee filter paper or similar.
While boiling maybe simple and easy it does have its disadvantages. Mainly, if you use copious amounts of boiled water you may find a sharp increase in your energy bills. Another problem is the amount of time it takes to cool.
I would suggest you work out the amount of water you use daily, plus a little more in case of emergency, and boil it before retiring for the night, that way you will always have a supply of boiled water on demand.
Water doesn’t necessarily have to come through the tap before being distilled, commercial producers can draw the water from sources most convenient for them.
Also known as empty water by virtue of the fact that all contaminates, including any mineral content, have been removed making it one hundred per cent pure. So, if it’s so pure, you may ask, isn’t it the best water to drink?
That depends on how you view the different opinions. As with most things, opinions are divided when it comes to health and weight loss, and the use of distilled water is no different.
Those in favor say, due to its purity, drinking distilled water helps prevent serious illness, removes toxic waste from the body and, because all mineral content that can build up in the joints has been removed, greatly reduces the chances of contacting arthritis.
In reply to those who claim removing the nutrient and mineral content from water isn’t conducive to good health, they say it is not a problem as any deficiency can be gained through diet or they can be added to the water after distillation.
I am certainly no expert in water purification techniques and not in any position to advise people on the water they should drink, that is up to the individual, but I see no point in removing substances from water to make it one hundred per cent pure then putting them back again!
If the claim that drinking distilled water reduces the risk of contracting arthritis, does the adding of the minerals that have been removed, once again increase the risk of contracting arthritis?
How do those against the use of distilled water for drinking refute these claims? First of all they say the disadvantages of drinking distilled water far outweigh the advantages, and water passed through a reverse osmosis system is just as safe and more beneficial to good health as it does not remove essential minerals such as calcium, salt and magnesium.
As far as getting the necessary nutrients through diet, they say that this is hard to ascertain as cooking with distilled water, as many families do, will destroy any nutrients during the cooking process.
They also point out that distilled water absorbs carbon dioxide, this produces carbonic acid which lowers the pH of the water causing it to become acidic. Prolonged drinking of distilled water will gradually reduce the natural pH of the body, which will then become acidic, giving rise to many unpleasant side effects.
These are just a few of the reasons of the experts, both for and against, the use of distilled water. Personally, I would give serious thought about the use of distilled water, but if you do decide to use it how do you go about obtaining it? There are two main ways: DIY and commercially produced.
There are a number of drawbacks to doing it yourself. First, it is a slow process, which I won’t go into here, and hard to produce the amount of water you would need on a daily basis. Secondly, the cost would not justify the amount of water produced. Thirdly, there is no guarantee that the water will be one hundred per cent pure.
It is possible commercially produced distilled water is available in your local supermarket, but you may find it more advantageous to contact producers directly and negotiate a price for, say, a regular weekly supply, possibly with free delivery. Not only could this work out cheaper but you can guarantee the water will be one hundred per cent pure.
Chemical additives to purify water should only be used when there is no other alternative of purification and then only in the short term. The two main sources of chemical purifiers are chlorine, found in household bleach, and iodine.
Unless you have some experience in the use of chemical purifiers they are not recommended. Chlorine is highly poisonous and excessive use can lead to organ damage or collapse and, in severe cases, death.
The amount of iodine needed can be hard to determine depending on the state of the water. Iodine can be absorbed by the debris in the water, the more debris the more iodine will be absorbed, although passing it through a coffee filter paper, if available, before adding the iodine, will remove most of the debris.
Iodine should never be used if pregnant or suffering from thyroid problems.
Water purification tablets are the safest if you are going somewhere where you need to purify water. In most cases they will give the amount of each chemical in the tablets and instructions on how to use them, although the safest way of all, if at all possible, is to take enough purified water with you until you return.
Filtration, without doubt, is the most effective way of purifying tap water. Not only is it effective purification wise but, in the long term, is also effective cost wise. Apart from the initial cost of purchasing and installing, and maybe changing the filter occasionally, it should give you years of trouble free purification.
There are various forms of water filtration systems ranging from simple DIY, carbon absorption filters, and, at the moment, the ultimate in water purification systems, reverse osmosis.
Used in conjunction with activated carbon, it is the most economical and not only will it remove any odors, bad taste, pathogens and bacteria, it also removes dangerous heavy metals including plutonium and strontium that may exist around nuclear processing plants, giving you the safest water you can drink.
If you decide to go with filtration, unless trying DIY, contact manufacturer’s or supplier’s of water filtration systems and inquire about the various systems and the difference in costs. If you agree, they will send a representative who will probably take a sample of your tap water, analyze it, and recommend the most suitable system for you.
Don’t just take the first recommendation, get several from different suppliers. You will probably find they vary, both in the most suitable system for you and the price.
That about sums up tap water and the different opinions of the experts regarding its safety and purity, also their opinions on the various methods of further water purification and their effectiveness.
To purify or not to purify? water purification all boils down (no pun intended) to personal choice. If you decide on further purification of your tap water, I would advise seeking advice from the experts before making a final decision.