Monday, March 30, 2015
Home Depot water testing and RainSoft
I have recently seen a significant uptick in people investing several thousand dollars in a whole house water "softener" system that is sold as a water "purifier". When you walk into Home Depot, you are practically assaulted by a sales force that tries to snare you into having your water "tested" for free. This testing is not true water quality testing - they are testing for TDS - total dissolved solids. TDS is something that you can easily find on the web for free and is basically reflective of how much calcium there is in the water (technically it's the sum of all the cations and anions in the water - calcium, magnesium, carbonates, chloride, etc). If you make the mistake of getting RainSoft to test your water for free, they will call you to tell you your water is full of impurities, but they will have no idea about any of the common water contaminants. Since we have relatively hard water here in Florida, the TDS test can be made to "look" quite alarming (however the TDS of our water is only slightly higher than some pristine spring waters from around the world).
After the call from RainSoft that informs you that your water is full of "impurities", they send a salesman to your house who will "test" your water right in front of your eyes. He will even test your bottled water for you for free. You will see the RainSoft water crystal clear and all the other water "full of impurities". However, again, the only thing they are testing for is TDS - which is basically calcium and magnesium (and their associated anions). If you ask the salesman "Wait a minute, I thought calcium and magnesium are good things, aren't they?" ... the response is "yes, but you can get that from your food - it doesn't need to be in your water." Then you might ask, "And sodium does belong in my water?" the salesman response is "We only add a little bit of sodium to purify your water." This reasoning is a little irrational - to pull out one Ca2+ ion, you must put in two Na+ ions.
A water softener is not a water purifier. It simply exchanges the calcium and magnesium in your water for sodium. Yes, this water "cleans" better and soaps work better. But there is something fundamentally wrong with drinking salt water instead of spring water with natural minerals. Just watch your blood pressure soar and your bone density decline. The good old fashioned carbon filter is still a pretty good water purifier. Reverse osmosis is also a good strategy for water purification.
Dr. Mercola's opinion:
"If you would like to have your water tested, the most comprehensive test kit I recommend is from National Testing Laboratories. We have these test kits available at cost, a significant discount from the standard online price. If you're interested, you can purchase a test kit for Well Water or for City Water.
If you could only afford one filter there is no question in most experts minds that the shower filter is the most important product to buy for water filtration, even more important than filtering your tap water. This is because the damage you incur through your skin and lungs far surpasses the damage done by drinking water (which at least gives your body a fighting chance to eliminate the toxins through your organs of elimination).
An even better solution to the problem of harsh chemicals and toxins in your home's water supply is to install a whole house water filtration system. This not only protects your body, but also your appliances as well.
There's just one water line coming into your house. Putting a filter on this is the easiest and simplest strategy you can implement to take control of your health by ensuring the water and the air in your house is as clean as possible.
Just remember, if you are getting your water from a municipal source your indoor air quality, especially in the winter when your windows are closed, is likely atrocious. This is related to the chlorine and other toxins evaporating from all your toilet bowls, showers, baths, dishwashers and washing machines.
My advice for whole house filtration systems is as follows: Find a system that uses at least sixty pounds of filter media and can produce eight or more gallons a minute. When you are running two different showers, the dishwasher and the kitchen sink at the same time, you'll find our why these minimum levels are so important.
Now, this recommendation covers a home or apartment up to 3200 sq./ft, or in other words, a residence with about three and a half bathrooms. For more than that you will probably require two whole house water filtration systems.
You also need to look for a whole house water filter that has three separate stages of contamination removal:
•Stage one removes sediment.
•Stage two removes chlorine and heavy metals.
•Stage three should be a heavy-duty carbon filter for removing hormones, drug residues, chemicals, pesticides, and herbicides.
You want to look for granular carbon in the carbon filter, not a solid block of carbon. The granular carbon allows for better water flow, which translates to more water pressure and better filtering properties as well.
You also want to look for NSF certification, which ensures your water filter is meeting national standards. NSF certification is not given before a product can prove it removes everything it claims to remove. It's also good to makes sure all particles under .8 microns are being filtered out of the water. A lower number is actually better, but .8 microns is the standard I recommend because that covers most bacteria, viruses and VOCs."