It’s almost a tie. Around half of our populated regions on planet earth have hard water, the other half, soft water.
‘Hard water’ is water with calcium and (perhaps) magnesium dissolved in it. The term refers to water from your tap.
‘Soft water’ is the opposite. It has little or no dissolved minerals.
Both have their problems, so let’s discuss them first.
Because it carries alkaline minerals, hard water is also capable of depositing these minerals when you use it. Typical problems are calcium encrustation on kettles, glasses, hot water system elements, dishwashers. Even the kitchen tap can block up with calcium!
Also, because hard water is high in calcium, drinking it increases the amount of calcium we get internally. This sounds good.. but without the right calcium management strategy, it can be quite dangerous, with possible CVD, and no advantage to your skeleton.
The WHO has made very clear that demineralised or mineral free water is NOT healthy. The recent scientific study of Israeli deaths attributed to reverse osmosis water demonstrates the problem.
We have a need for set ratios of electrolytes (charged minerals) in our body and lack of them does have a resulting longterm health effect.
People do get confused about what should stay in your water and what should leave, but the above dire result demonstrates that we do need some minerals in our water.
Our water filtration decision, therefore, comes down to:
Maximum contaminant reduction.
Minimum dissolved mineral removal.
Your two choices are reverse osmosis and non-reverse osmosis..
..has been sold as the ultimate filter. While reverse osmosis is effective for removing a variety of contaminants in water, the reverse osmosis membrane alone does NOT remove volatile organic chemical (VOCs), chlorine and chloramines, pharmaceuticals, and a host of other synthetic chemicals found in municipal water. However, some newer, more expensive R.O. systems now have multi-stage filtration media (in addition to the R.O. membrane), such as activated carbon, which does remove chlorine and certain pesticides.
It is seen as the best all round contaminant filter system but as we have seen here it’s now clear that drinking ’empty’ water is a real health risk. (lack of electrolytes)
Vendors offer remineralising cartridges but frankly, most are of very poor quality, do not give a regulated dosage over the life of the filter, and are usually sourced from China.
Reverse osmosis is also a hard install job, the most difficult of all filters to keep replenished with replacement filters, and the hardest to repair. If you buy a quality RO you will most probably be also buying an ongoing contract for filter replacement by a professional who has to come to your home.
.. is your alternative. I’ll keep to the basic points of comparison here because this is a BIG subject.
The standard carbon filter you can buy off the shelf at a big box store is a basic filter and doesn’t come anywhere near an RO for contaminant removal.
It’s usually GAC (Granular Activated Carbon) the cheapest and least effective form of the most common filter material, carbon. Carbon works for chlorine, taste odor and smell, some pesticides and lead, but only for a short time. This is why these filters never show you a life-of-filter test result. Their first day of use is their best and it’s all downhill after that!
More advanced filters may include technologies like activated catalytic carbon, fluoride reduction media, heavy metal reduction media and electro-adsorptive technology to remove viruses, bacteria and cysts.
These cost more, naturally (you really do get what you pay for in filtration!) but give filtration efficiency even better than RO in some areas, without the complexity of installation, support and maintenance. The most important comparison point to RO is that they allow dissolved minerals through, but also remove the nasty ones (heavy metals).
Effects Of Hard Water
The ‘mechanism’ of hard water effects is:
1. Water with dissolved calcium enters a water filter.
2. Calcium comes out of solution and accretes on internal surfaces.
This may be caused by heat, passing through filter media, or a change in pH.
For people who want to control their weight or reduce their intakes of sugar, sodium and saturated fat, there’s something in your kitchen sink.
It seems that tap water may be what the doctor ordered.
A new study that examined the dietary habits of more than 18,300 U.S. adults found the majority of people who increased their consumption of plain water — tap water or from a cooler, drinking fountain or bottle — by 1 percent reduced their total daily calorie intake as well as their consumption of saturated fat, sugar, sodium and cholesterol.
People who increased their consumption of water by one, two or three cups daily decreased their total energy intake by 68 to 205 calories daily and their sodium intake by 78 to 235 milligrams, according to a paper by University of Illinois community health professor Ruopeng An. They also consumed 5 grams to nearly 18 grams less sugar and decreased their cholesterol consumption by 7 to 21 milligrams daily.
Here’s what he said: (and here is the report)
“The impact of plain water intake on diet was similar across race/ethnicity, education and income levels and body weight status. This finding indicates that it might be sufficient to design and deliver universal nutrition interventions and education campaigns that promote plain water consumption in replacement of beverages with calories in diverse population subgroups without profound concerns about message and strategy customization.”
In plain words?
Drink water. Lose weight.
Ian: Of course the study didn’t take into account water quality which has reared its head recently with the discovery of a vast avoidance of water quality testing in hundreds of locations across the US. here in Australia my friend and water technologist Neil Sweeney has this to say:
“I would encourage all families to get the news out about the dangers lurking in our drinking water. Encourage them to join here or read up as much as they can about the hidden risks in the water supply. Connect my page to any groups you are in if you feel I am right after reading and considering this.
For the past 2 years I have been writing articles about the dangers of Bioaccumulation in the body from Heavy Metals, Chemicals and Pharma in our Potable (Tap) Water.
If you have been following the news you will have seen, finally, this year, Sydney Water and the NSW govt are now coming clean about the dilapadated state of our ageing water pipe system and the impossible and restrictive costs placed on replacing the thousands of kilometres of 60 to 100 year old pipes in this country. The costs runs into the billions PLUS we just dont have the manpower to replace it quickly.
Have you noticed the increase in water main bursts?
So why are we JUST being told now?
The growing presence of Endocrine Disruptors in our reservoirs, the increased concentrations of pharmaceuticals, in particular; antibiotics, the development of organic super bugs and the ever-growing concentration of heavy metals from mining are polluting our catchment and dam systems in this country like never before.
This means that every time we have a heavy downpour of rain the concentration levels of bio-toxins and metals increase exponentially in the reservoirs creating new mutations at the molecular level of harmful chemicals, larger concentrations of soft and heavy metals and more virulent and resistant super bugs and microbial infestations which effect our G.I. tract, Neurological and Endocrine systems.”
Ian: We are about to field test our new UltraStream UltraH2+. It’s still in prototype but the BIG news is that we’ve been able to enhance the already excellent filtration of the present UltraStreams. It will increase its ability to filter out:
>99.9 % of viruses, (polio, rotovirus, norovirus)
>99.99% of bacteria (e-coli, legionella, pseudomonas, etc)
>99.95% cysts( giardia, cryptosporidium)
>80% Ferrous Iron
>95% Arsenic V
PCB’s and BPA
This takes the UltraStream, already an unchallenged leader in water filter and ionizer filtration, to a level unparallelled anywhere in the industry, yet still at a price ordinary people can manage.
You don’t even have to wait for the ‘new improved model’ with an UltraStream. If you order our present model, you’ll get the new model when you order a new replacement filter. That’s the joy of the UltraStream. It never gets obselete!
Most water filters should remove VOC’s (Volatile Organic Chemicals.
Contrary to what many people think, volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) aren’t necessarily harmful, writes Dr. Joe Cotruvo in the latest issue of Water Technology.
“VOC” describes a chemical’s physical property. Because volatility can increase the potential for chemicals to be exposed to humans, VOCs can be health concerns if the chemical is also toxic.
“The principle environmental aspects of VOCs are the ability of some to be released into outdoor air and contribute to smog due to photochemical formation of ozone in the lower atmosphere or ozone reduction in the upper atmosphere and the presence of some in drinking water from external contamination and as disinfection byproducts,” says Cotruvo.
View the full article at water tech online
How to protect yourself.
Drinking Water: The UltraStream uses the world’s best catalytic carbon. It’s almost 8 x the efficiency of ‘big box’ carbon, a.k.a granular active carbon and we have sufficient quantity to protect you for over a year.
Shower water: A shower filter when you have chlorine in your water is, to me, an essential of life. Not just to reduce VOCS and chlorine, but you’d be amazed at the improvement in your skin when you give up showering in a gas chamber. (Which is hugely more dangerous than drinking chlorinated water!
First.. the Good News about drinking Coffee.
The benefits of coffee consumption have long been questioned, but now a new group of experts have given it the thumbs up – at least for one issue.
A review of studies published in the journal Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics says that increasing coffee intake could help reduce the chances of developing alcohol-related cirrhosis.
To examine the relationship between coffee consumption and the risk of cirrhosis, a research team from Southampton University, analyzed nine studies involving more than 430,000 participants. The studies included 1,990 cirrhosis patients. The length of the studies varied, but one lasted nearly 20 years.
In eight of the nine studies analyzed, increasing coffee consumption by two cups per day was “associated with a statistically significant reduction in the risk of cirrhosis” – specifically by 44%.
And.. compared to no coffee consumption, researchers noted approximately one cup per day was linked to 22% lower risk of cirrhosis, three cups helped decrease the risk by 57%, and four cups significantly dropped the risk to 65%. “However, there may be an upper limit beyond which there is no further benefit,” expressed Kennedy. Nevertheless, the researchers cautioned caffeine enthusiasts not to immediately load up on fancy lattes and sugar-laden frappes.
It’s not yet clear what compound in coffee or even which type of coffee bean leads to a healthier liver. The team noted that the potential link between coffee’s health benefits and cirrhosis isn’t a new discovery; however, health care professionals often find this a difficult concept to accept. Additionally, researchers expressed some of the studies reviewed did not account for other risk factors for cirrhosis, like obesity and diabetes.
Now for the Bad News
Chlorine in your coffee water has a dirty little secret. When chlorinated water meets organic matter like coffee grounds, or even tea, it forms carcinogenic trihalomethanes. So unless you have a water filter that removes chlorine and its even nastier alter ego, chloramines, you’re ingesting carcinogens with every sip.
Here’s the conversation we overheard from top water quality specialists from around the world on LinkedIn.
Franz Dillard: “Dear All,
I suppose many of us drink coffee or tea using tap water without removing chlorine from it and we do it every day. I was wondering if the process of coffee or tea making could produce THMs when using chlorinated drinking water?
~ THMs (Trihalomethanes) are carcinogens, byproducts of the reaction between chlorine and organic matter in water.
~ Drinking water has a free chlorine concentration from 0.2 to 0.5 mg/L and coffee or tea are a concentrate of organic matter.
~ During the water treatment process, we avoid the production of THMs by removing as much organic matter as we can before chlorinating the water.
~ But with the coffee or tea preparation process, we put chlorinated water in contact with a concentrate of organic matter.
Owen Boyd : FYI..Trihalomethanes (THMs) are suspected carcinogens and reproductive toxicants commonly found in chlorinated drinking water. This study investigates THM formation during the preparation of beverages and foods using chlorinated drinking water.
A total of 11 foods and 17 beverages were tested. Under the experimental conditions, each food and beverage formed THMs, primarily chloroform, although low or trace levels of brominated THMs were also detected. Tea formed the highest THM levels (e.g., chloroform levels from 3 to 67 microg l(-1)), followed by coffee (from 3 to 13 microg l(-1)), rice (9 microg l(-1)), soups (from 0.4 to 3.0 microg l(-1)), vegetables (<1 microg l(-1)), and baby food (<0.7 microg l(-1)). Chloroform formationwith instant tea, used as a highly reproducible model system, increased with free chlorine concentration, decreased with higher food (tea) concentration, and was unaffected by reaction (steeping) time and bromide ion concentration.
Erik Desormeaux There is not always a silver bullet in terms of water distribution or food and beverage. TTHM’s are just a fraction of the disinfection byproducts that can be of concern. When not utilized properly, Ozone can create bromate that exceeds regulated levels and chloramines can lead to NDMA and other nitrosamines with potential risks that we do not yet fully understand. So the best solution will likely be different at different places based on specific needs.
Also, cold brewed coffee is becoming a popular way of making coffee without boiling.
Hoda Tafvizi I think the best idea is using a filtering device on the tap including activated carbon filter and then you can be sure about THMs!
Ian: Now here’s the silver lining to this bad news. It’s a secret Brita and other filter jug sellers definitely DON’t want you to know!
Thierry Minguet Just put tap water in an open bottle in your fridge. After about half an hour, the chlorine dissolved in the water , maintained in solution under pressure in the pipes, will evolue into gazeous chlorine and evaporate Under atmospheric pressure. Hold the water into the fridge to avoid an infection under room temperature. Don’t hold the water for a long time. Use/replace it. Very cheaper and tasty, not only for coffee.
Moustafa Hedayah Before I make my tea and coffee I boil the water ,,, and that will remove Chlorine gas in case if you don’t have carbon filter.
Richard Ebong There is need for in depth and independent study on this subject. The effect might vary with geographical location and race.
Joy Montgomery How much do bleached coffee filters add?
John Robertson If we were to drink 10 cups (2L) of water from a tap or 10 cups (2L) of boiled water from the same tap per day which would be safer. Safe water needs to be available to the broad population which economically precludes carbon filtration at the point of consumption.
Ian: So.. we’ve learned that if we consume a sixpack of beer a day, it’s a good idea to drink coffee.
But if we do.. we’re ingesting a known carcinogen.
Strange world. Here’s my tuppence worth.
1. If you have a coffee maker, see if the water tank in it is vented. If it is, you’re lucky, becasue as discussed here, chlorine is a gas and will ‘outgas’ from your coffee maker water if it has sufficient surface area.
2. Ring your local council to see if they are using cheap n’ nasty chloramine. This is a mix of ammonia and chlorine which does NOT outgas, but still has the same effect on organics like tea leaves and coffee grounds.
3. If you bought a water filter jug to remove chlorine you were gypped. As you’ve seen here, the chlorine will outgas anyway.
4. Want a better coffee anyway? A good water filter like the UltraStream will remove a far greater range of contaminants and it will alkalize the water, making it take up coffee flavour better. You’ll get more from your coffee dollars and enjoy it more. just like us here at home.
Common contaminants found in our drinking water
This toxic element is found naturally in soil and bedrock. Ingestion in high amounts can lead to serious health problems.
Small amounts of salt are natural. Higher levels are unnatural and may indicate a faulty water softener, road salt, septic waste or fertilizer contamination.
A natural part of the microbiology of soils, insects, and warm-blooded animals, coliform bacteria is the primary indicator for the presence of disease-causing organisms in water.
Found naturally in water, but now artificially added. While low levels of fluoride are desirable, excessive amounts may stain teeth.
Interferes with cleaning tasks from laundering and dishwashing to bathing and personal grooming. Clothes laundered in hard water may look dingy and feel harsh and scratchy. Dishes and glasses may be spotted when dry. Hard water may leave film on glass shower doors, shower walls, bathtubs, sinks, faucets, etc. Hair washed in hard water may feel sticky and look dull. These deposits also collect in household plumbing lines, water heaters and appliances, reducing their efficiency.
A gas dissolved in water. It is easily detected by its rotten egg odor.
Not considered hazardous to health, but when the level of iron exceeds 0.3 mg/l water may leave behind red, brown, or yellow stains on laundry, glassware, dishes and fixtures. The water may have a metallic taste and an offensive odor, or even restrict or clog piping and fixtures.
Houses built before 1985 may contain lead pipes or lead-based solder. Lead can cause serious health problems in young children.
A metal found in rock, which does not occur naturally in its pure form. It is often accompanied by iron and hydrogen sulfide and causes black stains. Evidence of manganese staining is typically found in the dishwasher.
Elevated levels can be an indication of farm chemical or lawn fertilizer contamination, or even septic saturation. Nitrates can pose a serious health risk to infants.
High levels of sulfates can cause odors, leave spots, taste bitter and have a temporary laxative effect.
Ian: There are many, many more now in our water beyond this list. The US EPA tells us that there are 600 identified toxins for which they ahev insufficient data on danger levels.
Then, of course, there are the toxins added by water supplies, including chlorine, chloramines and (see list) fluoride. Chlorine can combine with organics to create even more toxins.
TV News alleges:
In 2013 and 2014, Sacramento residents were exposed to a carcinogenic chemical in their drinking water called aluminum chlorohydrate.
During those 2 years, Sacramento tested aluminum chlorohydrate (ACH) at its main water treatment plant and according to TV station ABC10, alarm bells sounded almost immediately.
But… the city didn’t warn locals or take action for a year.
It appears Sacramento residents were exposed to disinfection byproducts (DBP: considered likely carcinogens). They have already been linked to an increased risk of bladder cancer. DBPs are typically found in products like deodorants, body washes and soaps. In addition to being potential cancer-causers, they’ve been shown to disrupt hormones and congest the lymph system when absorbed through the skin. These byproducts have also been known to cause low birth rate and even miscarriages.
Even though the testing generated DBPs at levels considered unsafe by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), especially with long-term use, it seems the city of Sacramento allowed the testing to continue. Sacramento’s Utility Director, Bill Busath says that the testing of ACH to replace another water treatment chemical called ALUM was intended to be a short-term trial, but continued for a full year because of the almighty dollar.
“There was an expectation that we would be able to save quite a bit of money,” he told ABC10.
Sacramento officials have finally admitted that the test created a dangerous situation, saying it allowed DBP numbers to rise to “historically high levels when using (ACH) aluminum chlorohydrate.”
ACH and ALUM are used to take river water and bond with impurities after they enter a treatment plant, but the ACH proved ineffective. To cope with the problem, city officials pumped in more chlorine, which bonded with the organic compounds, turning the chlorine into DBPs.
Busath said, “As soon as the levels got to where we thought that we wouldn’t be in compliance, and hence wouldn’t be protective of public health, we stopped the trial.”
But the trial didn’t end until May 2014, a full year after it began. Internal tests performed by the city show that time after time, the DBP readings went above what the EPA considers safe for long-term exposure. A city chemist noticed the problem three days into the test.
In an e-mail to managers, the chemist wrote: “I’m nervous about the distribution samples.”
Bob Bowcock, a man who grew up working in the water treatment industry and is an adviser to Erin Brokovich, explains that DBPs are especially dangerous for pregnant women and unborn babies.
“In first trimester pregnancies, there’s a significant rise in miscarriages, and in third trimester there’s evidence of low birth weight,” he said, describing how the water contaminated with DBPs is even more dangerous when its mists are breathed in while showering or washing dishes.
“I think the testing should have stopped immediately,” Bowcock said. “I think they should have called the Division of Drinking Water.”
But the lives of mothers and babies didn’t seem to matter to Sacramento city officials, who, it appears, ignored the warnings and, instead, expanded the test and told city council they needed enough money allocated, $850,000, to buy a truckload of ACH every week for a year for more testing.
In July 2013, Busath and other utility heads officially signed Sacramento residents up to be guinea pigs for a full year, telling the city council in a staff report that the State of California “has now mandated that the trial be extended from three weeks to a full year.”
But there is one little problem: the California EPA Division of Drinking Water claims it never told the city that it had to conduct a year-long trial of ACH or any other chemical. It was just the opposite.
“The city approached us,” said Division of Drinking Water Deputy Director Bruce Burton. “It was the city who asked us if they could use that chemical at their water treatment plant.”
When interviewed by ABC10, Busath said:
“The word mandate used in the council report was probably a poor choice of words.”
And when the news outlet asked Busath why the test continued, he repeatedly gave the same answer. “Because we had the anticipation of saving money with using ACH,” said Busath.
So, why didn’t Busath’s department share the troubling data with regulators and the public? Says Busath:
“As long as we were in compliance, we don’t need to contact them. All this trial, we were within the guidelines for the disinfectant byproduct levels, which is a one-year running average.”
At least once, in January 2014, the Sacramento River Plant where the chemicals were being tested was turned off, and the city took water from another plant on the American River. The city even intentionally switched water sources from the city to the county after one of the quarterly tests.
This was the subject of one email; “Request for emergency water service from Sacramento County Water Agency to the City of Sacramento.”
The emergency was that if Sacramento didn’t get water from another source, it was doomed to exceed yearly standards for its disinfection byproducts.
Ian: DBP’s are a very unfortunate result of the addition of chlorine to our water supply. If our water supply carried no organic matter, chlorine would not create DBP’s. In reality, there’s always some organics in our water, and hence, some DBP’s. Luckily for our clients, the UltraStream‘s powerful catalytic carbon neutralises DBP’s with ease.