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How to Clean Water

By Edited Jul 29, 2016 3 1

Why should you know how to clean water?

Clean water is a basic human right, and really a "need" if you want to have good health.  In Ancient Times, and even in some un-developed nations, people did not realize that there was more to quality water than appearance and taste.  Water can look perfectly clear and taste delightful, but still be rife with parasites and impurities. 

How to clean water
Credit: Jenn Durfey

Water quality issues

-Taste

Since ancient times, people have wanted their drinking water to taste nice.  As early as 4000 B.C., there are records of attempts made to improve the taste of water.  Some of these methods included boiling, filtering, and exposure to sunlight.[1]

-Odor

If you have an odor issue with your water, it is critical that you get it checked out and remedied. Please call your public water supply if you have any doubt, or a well expert if you are on well water.

When you first notice the odor, take a glass away from the sink and smell it in another room.  Is the odor gone?  Then it is likely that the bad smell is emanating from your drain, plumbing, or household trash, and not your water supply.

Here is a good infographic on determining what your water smell could be:

Water Odor Infographic
Credit: caes.uga.edu
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-Hard Water

Hard water is when you have too many residual minerals in the water. 

If you have hard water, you may experience some of the following:

  • Pipes becoming clogged constantly and flow is decreased.
  • A high degree of scale (white/chalky mineral deposits) builds on your plumbing fixtures, coffee pot, pots and pans and dishes as well as other kitchen utensils.
  • You have higher than normal hot water heating costs and shorter lifespan of hot water heating elements.
  • Your laundry is not getting entirely clean and looks dingy due to noticeable decrease in cleaning power of detergent and soap.
  • There is increased soap scum residue in your bathtub and on bathroom tiles.
  • A film is left on your skin after taking a shower or bath.[2]

-Soft Water

According to the Chicago Tribune, soft water "contains few or no extra elements. It can be naturally occurring, or produced with water treatment devices that remove hardness elements, such as calcium and magnesium."[3]

Soft water makes cleaning and showering easier, because you will get a better lather with soft. 

How to Clean Water
Credit: jeremyfoo on flickr

-Parasites

Globally, water borne parasites are a major problem.  They can cause minor illnesses such as stomach upset, all the way up to being potentially fatal!  Especially if it is a parasite that is foreign to your system, such as drinking or swimming in unsafe water during travels, it can be especially deleterious to one's health. 

There are two ways you get get parasites from water: From drinking it, and from swimming in it, thereby accidentally swallowing it.  Usually these diseases get in to the water via fecal matter of a contaminated person or animal.  Then it is transmitted by an individual accidentally ingesting the contaminants. 

The good news is that if you are in a position where you have no other choice, commerically available tablets can sanitize most contaminated water for emergency use.

Potable Aqua Water Treatment Tablets
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(price as of Jul 29, 2016)

Water Treatment Methods Explained

Very Basic Methods, for when you are desperate...

-Settling

This is essentially just letting the water sit in an open vessel and letting the impurities settle to the bottom.  The problem with this method is that it only protects you from the impurities that can be seen with the naked eye.

-Boiling

This is the best basic method, along with the tablets.  Almost nothing can survive the boiling process, especially if you do it for a good 10 minutes.

-Water Purification Tablets

These types of tablets are good to have in an emergency or camping type of situation.  They are either iodine or chlorine tablets which, while they don't improve a water's taste, usually can clean it sufficiently for drinking.  But you shouldn't use this method as a long-term solution.

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Home water treatment methods, for those on public water...

-Filtration Pitchers

Filtration pitchers are a popular and economic choice for improving the quality of water that you drink in your home.  They come in many different sizes and types.  Usually they have a filter somewhere in them that needs to be changed regularly, depending on how much water you filter.  Some of them have a reminder built in that will tell you when it is time to replace it.

-Faucet Mount Filters

This seems to be the second most popular home water filtration method.  Many companies, such as Brita, Pur, and DuPont sell these types of systems.  Like the pitchers, they have a filter that needs periodic replacement.  But these have the added convenience of not needing to constantly refill a pitcher-- just activate the filter on your faucet and you are good to go!

-Personal Filter Bottles

The newest thing in water filtration seems to be individual sports bottles that have a water filter inside that needs to be periodically replaced.  The benefit to this type of filter is that if you need to, say, refill your bottle at the gym, you can ensure that your water is going to be filtered.

 -Under Sink Filter

While usually the priciest to install and replace the filters, these do the best job of purifying your home water.  They may look intimidating, but under-sink filters are very easy to install.  The filter is also easy to replace.  Anyone can learn to do it.  This is the water treatment system that we use in our home. 

3M Filtrete 3US-PS01 Undersink Water Filtration System
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(price as of Jul 29, 2016)

Whatever water treatment system you use, take the time to determine the water quality for yourself and your family. 

And if you can, take some time to give back, and help those in the world that do not have access to clean water.

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Comments

Dec 22, 2013 12:28am
shar-On
There is also another way of looking at good pure water. My mum took me up to a fishing camp when I was six weeks old. All their water came from a hole in the ground where even kangaroos drank.
She felt guilty always boiling their water and then someone told her that she should not feed me on bad water. She sent a sample off to the water board and the result was. Keep using that water for your baby as long as it is boiled. That water is purer than water in Perth scheme water. So she felt much better receiving that letter.
Although I do believe that most water especially when traveling should be put through a filter of some sort before drinking these days.
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Bibliography

  1. "History of Water Purification." US EPA. 12/12/2012 <Web >
  2. "Hard Water Symptoms." Water Systems Specialist. 12/12/2012 <Web >
  3. "Hard Facts about Tap Water." Chicago Trbune. 12/12/2012 <Web >

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