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How can I tell what's in my tap water?

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There is a lot that we can learn about our water just by the way it looks, tastes, and smells. If you are concerned about the quality of your water it is always best to have it professionally tested, but we can also discover much about it at home. When using a water ionizer many things in our water can be condensed into higher, more noticeable levels. Some are desired, some are not.

If you are on a public treated water system you can always ask for a consumer confidence report, or CCR. These are done annually to insure the public of drinking water safety. The easiest way to obtain these reports is to call your local water authority and ask for the most recent CCR. You can also ask them if they are using chloramines as a disinfectant. Chloramines are fairly new in the treatment of water systems in most areas, and may not show up on the report. Chloramines are definitely unwanted, and require a different type of filtration than the standard chlorine removal methods.

Although it is a great idea to look at your CCR, you can always take it one step further and have the water at your home tested locally. Keep in mind that the water reports provided are shown in averages and may not reflect exactly what is coming in to your home.

If you are on a well water system it is important to test your water before running an ionizer, as well water is generally untreated and can contain contaminants not present in treated water systems. Testing the water in your well can protect your health, as well as the life of your ionizer.

To obtain a water report you can call your local health authority and express concerns for your drinking water. They will usually have a place locally to do the necessary testing. The test you want to ask for is called “A Routine Domestic Panel,” and doesn't usually cost an arm and a leg.

Water reports will list a bunch of numbers that can be a little confusing, but once you learn to read the report you'll be able to see exactly what's in your water. The important numbers to look at will be the levels recorded - this is the amount found in your water - and the MCL, or Max Contaminate Level. In comparing these two sets of numbers you can judge if the levels are safe or should be addressed before using your new ionizer. If the levels recorded for your water are lower than, or close to, the MCL levels you may want to consider pre-filtration. You would also want to consider pre-filtration anytime you have specific concerns.

In this list we will be covering some basic at-home tests for testing drinking water contaminants, what they are, where they come from and how we can remove them. Of course, you can always use our Reverse Osmosis System For Water Ionizers to remove the most common water contaminant concerns.

There are many things the following tests can tell us, but certainly not everything. For example there is no good way to test at home fluoride, bacteria, arsenic, and many other drinking water contaminants without a professional water test.

For the contaminates that we CAN test for at home, all you will need is your faucet and a clear glass.

The Way That Water Tastes

Chlorine or chemical taste
This taste is usually caused by normal chlorination, or an abundance of chemicals in either treated municipal water systems, or chlorinated wells. This is normally removed by your water ionizer internal filter, but if this is not enough to remove the unpleasant and possibly harmful carcinogens we recommend using our External Chlorine/Chloramines Reduction Cartridge.

Metallic taste
A metallic taste is usually caused by manganese, or other heavy metals. These can be present in well water systems, and older homes with metal pipes. To remove these heavy metals we recommend our KDF55 Heavy Metals Reduction Cartridge.

Water no longer tastes as sweet as it used to
This is caused by the lack of iron present in your source water. Some folks complain that there water no longer taste as sweet as it used to. This is caused by the removal of iron. Although iron is a harmful heavy metal, it adds a pleasant sweet taste to the water. Often, after changing to non metallic pipes or adding a heavy metals pre-filter, the lack of sweetness can be present. Usually after a week or two, it is no longer noticeable.

Water tastes fishy, or earthy
The fishy, or earthy taste is generally caused by harmless organic matter and is usually associated with surface water supplies. To remove this we recommend that you regularly change your internal water ionizer filter.

The Way That Water Smells

Detergent, or soapy smell
Sometimes a septic odor. This is usually an indication that you need to hire a plumber, or call your city water authority. This is caused by the leaking of a sewer system into your water supply, and should be addressed as soon as possible.

Water tastes fishy, or earthy
The fishy or earthy smell, again, is generally caused by harmless organic matter and is usually associated with surface water supplies. To remove this we recommend that you regularly change your internal water ionizer filter.

Rotten egg smell from the tap
Dissolved hydrogen sulfide gas in the source water, or raw sulfur deposits in a well water situation. Sulfur deposits are naturally occurring, and common in some areas. Dissolved hydrogen sulfide comes as a result of organic matter decomposing in a raw water situation, such as plant matter in a well (think of tree roots). This gas reacts in a water ionizer and can become much more noticeable after ionization, and is condensed into the alkaline stream. To remove this gas we recommend using our KDF85 Sulfur & Iron Reduction Cartridge.

Rotten egg odor from hot water only
Rotten egg odor from the hot water only is caused by sulfates reacting with magnesium anode rod in your hot water system, which will react to create hydrogen sulfide gas and cause this odor to only be present when using hot water. To remove the rotten egg smell you need to have a plumber replace the anode rod with one made of aluminum.

Chlorine or chemical smell
This odor is usually caused normal chlorination, or an abundance of chemicals in either treated municipal water systems, or chlorinated wells. This is normally removed by your water ionizer internal filter, but if this is not enough to remove the unpleasant and possibly harmful carcinogens we recommend using our External Chlorine/Chloramines Reduction Cartridge.

The Way That Water Looks

White stains on cookware and in glasses
This is a sign of high alkalinity, which is exactly what we do with our ionizers. Completely harmless and nothing to worry about, but not aesthetically pleasing. An easy way to remove this is too soak in a solution of white vinegar and water. Be sure to rinse all the vinegar off before using.

Suspended stuff in your glass
This is caused by sediment. It is common in well water using pumps, and in older homes and neighbor hoods. This can easily removed by your water ionizers internal sediment filter, or with our External Sediment and Bacteria Reduction Cartridge.

Green stains on sinks and fixtures
Green stains in your sink or on other household fixtures is caused by acidic water with a pH of 6.8 or lower reacting with brass and copper pipes and fittings. Your best bet is to hire a plumber to update these to a more modern system.

Red or yellowish water
If water is clear when first poured but turns yellowish or reddish after 24 hours of standing time, there is un-dissolved iron in your water. If it is yellow or reddish when at first poured but clears up after 24 hours then there is dissolved iron in your source water. Iron is a big concern with water ionizers as it can directly cause damage to your ionizer's electrolysis system. In either case we would recommend using our KDF85 Sulfur & Iron Reduction Cartridge.

Black tint to water
A black tint to water that clears up after 24 hours of standing is usually dissolved manganese. This is easily removed with our KDF85 Sulfur & Iron Reduction Cartridge.

Blacking, pitting, and tarnishing of metal sinks, pipes, and utensils.
The blackening, pitting, and tarnishing of metal sinks, pipes, and utensils is caused by chlorides and sulfates (salts) or hydrogen sulfide gas. Both are removed using our KDF85 Sulfur & Iron Reduction Cartridge.

Milky water
If your water looks milky after ionization don't worry, this is caused by the ionization process and is a sign of both the high alkalinity and the micro clustering. Micro clustering creates air pockets that can make water look milky. The increase in alkaline minerals can also cause this effect.

This list in no way can replace the results of full water work up done in a laboratory environment, but can help to troubleshoot quickly and at no cost. All of the external pre-filters that we provide require a pre-filter housing, and these housings can be run in sequence if there is more than one concern.