H20: From Tap to Reverse Osmosis
you're on city or municipal water, what you're drinking goes through a maze of
processing and filtration before it ever reaches your tap. Raw, unclean water
enters the system and is then passed through a fibrous bed of either sand, fine
gravel, synthetic floss, or a combination of all three. This mechanical filtration
removes sediment and some cloudiness. Activated carbon and other substances then
leech harmful toxins out of the water in what is known as chemical filtration.
A final stage of filtration is biological filtration. Some treatment plants actually
run their water through plant life to absorb nitrates and other forms of nitrogen.
similar occurrence is found in home aquariums. To clean your fish's water, some
form of filtration is necessary. The most common is what is known as a hang-on-the-back
(HOB) filter. Water is sucked through the intake tube and then pumped through
a layer of fine floss to remove visible particles and waste. There is then a layer
of activated carbon for chemical filtration. Finally, good bacteria called nitrobacters
exist on the filter floss, the gravel, and plants to consume the harmful ammonia
and nitrite which is produced from fish waste and uneaten food. Generally, a water
treatment plant is a macrocosm of this system.
city usually adds chlorine or chloramine to the water to eradicate any pollutants
outside the treatment center on the water's path to your sink. Chlorine is like
a neutron bomb when it comes to killing everything in water. Chloramine is added
as a supplement in some municipal areas to add more oomph when distribution systems
are known to carry large tracts of bacteria. Both substances eradicate all bacteria.
They are also known poisons in larger volumes and quantities.
filters remove chlorine through activated carbon and other means. Bottled water
also is chlorine and chloramine free.
that we've discussed water treatment and basic filtration, let's get down to brass
tacks and talk about additional purification. Many filters offer multiple features
in purification, ranging from activated carbon, UV light, to reverse osmosis.
- Activated carbon
is the most simple means of filtering tap water. As mentioned above, granules
of carbon remove harmful substances like chlorine. With systems that utilize carbon
there is often a secondary mechanical filtration layer which eliminates sediments
from the pipes. Some units often brag of multiple layers of filtration. This could
include carbon, floss, or a UV lamp.
next step in filtration is a process called KDF (Kinetic Degradation Fluxion).
Now, for those of you who are like me and never took a chemistry class in college,
here it is in layman terms: KDF uses oxidation and reduction to remove chlorine
and other substances from your water that carbon can't touch. Ok, in English,
this is basically another form of chemical filtration which is more powerful than
carbon. Many home filters a grade or so higher than those that mainly use carbon
utilize the KDF system.
ultraviolet light. UV light fries viruses and bacteria. A UV lamp is placed
in the center of a water passage, and the water surges through the tunnel and
is exposed to the bacteria-killing light. Though the light looks really neat,
unfortunately, it is only really effective at killing living germs and bacteria
and does nothing toward other contaminants.
water is simply water with all the ions removed... this makes this type of
water very hungry, so to speak. Like distilled water which has no trace elements
or minerals whatsoever, D/I water actually seeks out its missing ions. This water
is largely used for laboratory experiments and saltwater aquariums. It certainly
should not be consumed on a long-term basis.
creme de la creme of filtration is water purified by reverse osmosis. This
process is so powerful that it's been called hyperfiltration. Water is passed
through a membrane so fine that it can remove pretty much anything. There are
also several stages of pre-filtration, as well as a storage tank for purified
water. Obviously, this system is costly and would take up some amount of space...
imagine having a miniature treatment plant under your sink!
stores offer water purified through reverse osmosis. There are even vending machines
that allow you to buy R/O water as cheap as 25 cents a gallon! This is ideal for
me because I maintain a nano ten gallon reef aquarium and R/O water is perfect
because all the necessary trace elements are added when the salt is mixed.
if you're looking for water for you and your family, R/O water may not be your
best bet because of the loss of minerals. Contact your local water department
or run a google search to see if they have a website. You can obtain a report
of your water read-out, usually free of charge. You can find out if your water
is fluoridated, as well as see the level of phosphates, nitrates, and other bad
things that comes from the plant to your tap.
if you're really concerned about the water you put in your body, consider purchasing
an aquarium pH test kit at a pet store. These are approximately five dollars and
can provide you with clues about the water you're drinking. If the water is below
7.0 on the pH scale, it is acidic. If it is above, it is alkaline. Synthetic saltwater
has a pH of approximately 8.4. Reverse osmosis water generally has a pH of 6.
Spring water is supposed to be on the alkaline side due to its dissolved minerals.
According to many experts, acidic water is not good for you on a long-term basis
and should not be consumed.
Throughout this website, statements are made pertaining to the properties
and/or functions of food and/or nutritional products. These statements
have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and
these materials and products are not intended to diagnose, treat,
cure or prevent any disease.