Sunday, 17 July 2016

How clean is your drinking water?

How clean is your drinking water

In a recent email I sent out to newsletter subscribers (subscribe to my newletter here) I mentioned my interest in optimisation of drinking water. Water is one of the few things that we, as humans, require daily in order to maintain a good level of health. It therefore makes sense to ensure that the water that we’re drinking every single day is as good as it can be.
I’m a sucker for a home-based experiment so, a few days ago, I set about testing the water that I’m drinking to see how pure it really is.

Until recently I was unaware of how easy it is to test the water coming out of our taps. I guess I wouldn’t even really have known what I was looking for. I’d read about chlorine filtration systems that you can attach to your shower which use vitamin C as a de-chlorinating agent. These are meant to be good for your skin and hair. I’d heard mixed reviews about their efficacy and, to be frank, the cost of buying and installing these upgrades kind of put me off.
Specifically for filtering household drinking water there are options such as reverse osmosis filtration and structured water systems. Reverse osmosis systems typically use charcoal filters to remove unwanted substances whereas structured water systems actually change the vibrational frequency of the water, preventing the impurities being absorbed into the body. Each are pretty smart and have their own benefits.
Here’s an example of a reverse osmosis system
Here’s an example of structured water systems
Unfortunately, I’m not in a position financially to throw lots of cash at a household water system right now. That’s why I opted to start out with a modest Brita Water Filter.
The first thing we need to appreciate here is that filtering water at this level is by no means an exact science. Municipal water in the UK is loaded with toxins, chemicals and hormones. You’d have to pay for a comprehensive water evaluation in order to get exact numbers on all of the variables here. However, with the use of a fairly inexpensive contraption called a Total Dissolved Fluids meter (TDS meter) we can get a ballpark figure as to how much extra stuff is floating around in our water. The test won’t tell you exactly what that stuff is, but typically, the higher the number, the poorer the quality of your water.


I picked up this TDS meter on Amazon and went about comparing the readings for my tap water vs my Brita filtered water. The results were interesting…

Apparatus
TDS meter
Distilled water
Tap water
Brita Filtered water

Method
Wash the TDS meter with distilled water to ensure it’s clean. You can either buy distilled water or make it yourself. I made mine by boiling tap water in a pan with the lid of the pan placed upside down on top, catching the condensation in a glass tea-light holder placed above the boiling water. I, inventively, sat the glass on a flat rock to keep it above the level of the boiling water, as seen below. THIS TOOK AGES!

britta water filter
Once the TDS meter is clean you can go ahead and test the water by dipping the meter into the water and waiting for the digital display to provide you with a number, re-cleaning it each time. I actually tested the distilled water too as I was interested in just how ‘clean’ it actually was.

Results
Distilled Water – 62 (just higher than 'ideal')
Tap Water – 204 ('marginally acceptable')
Brita Filtered Water – 158 (slightly better than 'average tap water')

Conclusion
This little experiment certainly served a purpose in that I’m now much more aware of the difference in purity between different water sources. It would be interesting to test my favourite bottled mineral waters, perhaps noticing comparisons between the readings based on the country of origin, the materials used in bottling etc. But for now I’m done geeking out on water.


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