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Friday, March 20, 2015

Testing Our Water

Have you ever tested your drinking water? We don't normally think about whether the water we're drinking is healthy. We diet and try to eat healthy foods, but what if you found out that the water you're drinking is causing you and your family health issues without even realizing it?

Trent and I have been trying to be extra healthy lately, not only to get ready for the wedding, but since Trent recently discovered that he has gallstones, we've both been trying to watch what we're eating and start a "detox" by introducing more fresh and healthy foods, so we can make it a habit. Researching healthy foods online led me to pH's of foods and liquids (whether they're acidic or alkaline), which led me to water pH.

I found a few videos online that showed how different bottled waters you buy in the store have different pH's - and some are surprisingly very acidic! So you may think you're doing something good and healthy by drinking water, but it may actually not be as healthy as you think. Just by doing a little research online I learned that you actually want water to be neutral or a little more alkaline, as opposed to acidic. Your body naturally balances out your pH, and a pH of around 7 or a little higher is ideal.

So, this week we decided to do a little at home science experiment and test our water. We picked up this at-home water testing kit. You can get them at home improvement stores. We got this one at Menards:

It came with 2 of each test: pH, Alkalinity, Chlorine, Hardness, Iron, Copper, Nitrates, and Nitrites. Then there was a description of each, along with directions for each test, and what measurements are ideal, poor, etc.

Then you have all the little packets with the test strips inside, which change color based on the level in your water.

One thing about our water that I hate and have always noticed, is that it smells and has a bad taste. So we already know that something's weird with it. And we normally don't drink water straight from the faucet for that reason. Instead we have a Brita filter pitcher that we use for all of our drinking water. 

It has a carbon filter inside and it's supposed to make the smell and taste go away. And the water does smell and taste better after going through the filter. So it has to do something, right?

We decided to use the two sets of strips to test the water straight from the faucet, and then the water from the filter pitcher.

Here's my whole set up for our little science experiment:

We did one test at a time - Trent tested the tap water, and I tested the filtered tap water. After each test, I recorded the result.

Here were the results from the first test - The first strip showed that both the tap water and filtered tap water were the exact same. The pH was "safe" at 7.5. The alkaline level was ideal at 80 and the hardness was ideal at 50, but the chlorine level was in the "danger" category at 10.

The total chlorine, as you can see is definitely dark blue! The darkest you can possibly have. This explains the bad smell and taste. And what's odd is that even the filtered water has the exact same chlorine content.

The other tests also came back the same between the filtered and non-filtered. The iron content was low, but everything else was normal, safe or ideal.

So when we found out the chlorine levels were high, we looked closer at the Brita filter box to see just what exactly this is supposed to filter out. Apparently, copper, mercury, and cadmium are the biggies - which this water test did not test for. But then it also says that the filter will reduce Chlorine (taste and odor) and Zinc (metallic taste).

So...does the filter actually remove the Chlorine, or just the taste and odor of it? We're a little confused now. The "dangerous" chlorine levels were exactly the same, yet the filtered water smells and tastes better. It looks to me that the filter only removes the taste and odor of chlorine, but not the actual substance. I don't know how that works, or how it's possible, but that's what Brita states anyway according to the box.

So now that we know our water is extremely high in Chlorine, what does this mean? Well, you can read it for yourself:

Based on the information in the kit and the scale provided, we tested at least 10 parts per million of chlorine in our water, which is a dangerous level and can lead to health problems and irritate skin and eyes. Water companies use chlorine to disinfect water systems, and we get our water from the town water company. It's a little scary, because we did a little research about what exactly chlorine can lead to health-wise, and this article, for example, says that it's been linked to bladder, rectal and breast cancers. 

So what can we do? Carbon-based filters (like the one we have) are supposed to take chlorine out - but it seems like our filter pitcher isn't working so well. Trent read somewhere that lemon can take the chlorine out, so we've been adding a little lemon to the water in the pitcher. We also received a survey from the water company a while back, so Trent filled that out and added some comments about the high chlorine levels. Maybe they'll see it and want to do something about it... or maybe they don't have a choice but to use chlorine! I read that some cities like Las Vegas have been using ozone, which is harmless, instead of chlorine to disinfect the municipal water. Maybe more cities will catch on to this... In the meantime, I guess we'll have to live with some harmful chlorine in our drinking water! So, have you tested your water lately?


  1. Wow. Thanks for sharing this. I have a Brita water pitcher and believed that it was taking harmful substances out of the water and making it safer, so I was surprised when I saw the side by side comparisons were the same!

    1. crazy, right? I was definitely thinking it was going to be different and was shocked when EVERYTHING was the same. I still don't understand how it removes the smell and taste of chlorine, but not the actual substance!


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