How My Conditioned Water Turned Me Into a Water Snob

by Diana M Published 1.2.2014

My name is Diana and I’m a water snob. After having water treatment equipment installed in my home and living with the difference the equipment can make, I’ve become accustomed to a certain condition of water.

I expect my home and self to have a clean, fresh appearance. My conditioned water helps me to achieve my expectations. Conditioned water eliminates the hardness minerals that cause unsightly stains and soap scum build up. Build up that can be in the plumbing, on tubs, sinks and faucets, in water using appliances and even on our skin and hair and clothes.

I have no use of harsh cleaning agents in my bathroom, kitchen, laundry and self. I use eco friendly cleaners and much less of them. The cleaners are not fighting the grime in the dishwasher or clothes washer, they are concentrating strictly on the item needing to be cleaned. This leaves my dinnerware and clothing looking new, my home looking fresh and clean; as does my hair and skin. My use of skin lotions and hair conditioners is minimal and I’m pleased at how much longer they last.

Water snobbery includes expectations for the water used in our home that we don’t always see—‘working water’ as it’s known in the industry. I know that the plumbing running through my walls is filled with water flowing freely without internal build up or corrosion. I know that my water using appliances are operating at peak performance.

These luxuries are now expectations. I expect the water out of my drinking water faucet to be clean, crisp, and refreshing with no unpleasant after (or during) taste. I expect my drinking water to inspire me to drink more water.

I take my water snobbery with me everywhere I go. The town in which I live has 4 car washes. I’m in the snow belt, so there are a lot of dirty cars here in the winter. Just 1 of the car washes uses reverse osmosis water. Reverse osmosis removes almost every dissolved mineral, metal or chemical that might be in a water supply. I wait as long as I must to use this car wash instead of the others. It makes no sense to me to pay to wash my car only to arrive home and see it covered in spots.

I pre-judge a restaurant and its food simply by looking at the table. If the dinnerware is clean and spot-free, I expect an enjoyable meal. I imagine that my soup will not be tainted with unwanted flavors from the water and I will not have the need to polish my fork under the table to remove unsightly spots. Based solely on the sparkle of the tableware, I feel the establishment is clean and I can relax.

I also know that when the check for the meal arrives, I won’t be paying inflated prices that cover the costs of inefficiently operated appliances within the restaurant. Water heaters and dishwashers use much more energy when their operating components are coated with hardness minerals. The dishwashers will also use much more detergents and the establishment operators will probably select detergents with harsher cleaning additives to work against the hard water and perform their intended job.

Detergents that can end up back in the water supply perpetuating the water problem, but we can discuss the life cycle of water another time.

I’m not alone as a water snob. This is a common fate of folks in the water treatment industry. A coworker and I were discussing a work-related trip she had been on. One look into her Hard Water Hotel bathroom told her volumes about her next morning.

From the stains in the bathroom, she knew that her morning beverage was not going to be the flavor she expected, it would be tainted by whatever stained the bathroom. She knew she could possibly be in for a bad hair day from the lingering minerals in her hair and that little bottle of shampoo was definitely not going to get her far. Her skin would probably feel tight, dry and itchy. What ended up surprising her was spotting on her pedicure and the amount of time required to buff her freshly painted digits of the hardness.

Are you a water snob? Do you share any of the characteristics of a water snob? Or do you have water heater elements that burn out before their expected time? Do you use a lot of ‘elbow grease’ cleaning the shower? It’s not just about seeing spots, although the aesthetics are huge. It’s also about efficiency with time, energy and environment. I would encourage everyone to be a water snob.

Contact Diana M.


Is drinking water your home's only water safety concern?

by Keith B Published 10.24.2013

As water treatment professionals, most of our time is spent thinking about improving the quality of either drinking water or working water. (Working water is water used for cleaning, washing clothes, cars, dishes etc.) For drinking water, we often focus on aesthetics and health concerns, and for working water we typically just focus on the aesthetics. However, there is a third category when considering water used for bathing, swimming or playing where aesthetics and some unique health effects are of concern.

Recently several articles have been written, including one by Matthew Hamilton on latimes.com, about the “Brain Eating Amoeba” found in the drinking water supply of a parish in Louisiana. The amoeba is said to cause a fatal brain infection called Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis (PAM) by being introduced into the sinus through the nose. Infections created by this amoeba are quite rare with CBS Houston reporting a total of 32 cases in the US from 2001 to 2010. Of concern is an amoeba called Naegleria fowleri, which is found quite frequently in warm, relatively stagnant waters throughout the southern United States. Louisiana state health officials report that drinking the water containing the amoeba does not cause illness, since stomach acid kills it. Most previous infections have been contracted by people swimming in these warm waters, getting water in their nose in the process. Though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that Naegleria fowleri is commonly found around the world in warm fresh water, the number of reported cases is surprisingly low.

Tragically, these most recent articles recount the death of a 4 year old boy from this disease, which he contracted after playing on a “Slip 'n' Slide” fed with municipally-supplied water in that parish. Jonathan Yoder, an epidemiologist with the CDC, stated that this was the first time that Naegleria fowerli has been found in a treated water supply in the US. CBS Houston and several other news agencies are raising the question if Hurricane Katrina might be the cause of the contamination. Their thought process is that after Katrina, so many people left the parish that the water lay dormant in the supply pipes for longer periods than it had before the hurricane, when the system was serving more people. As a result, the chlorine residual may have dissipated, allowing the organisms to grow. Presently, the parish is increasing chlorine content and flushing the water lines, which has some residents complaining about the taste.

Once again, we find ourselves faced with questions about the quality of our tap water—not because of problems at the central treatment plant, but possibly because of conditions outside of its control. In this case, buying bottled water is of little help since taking a shower, bath or playing in the water would be the cause of infection. As a home owner, options for treatment might include a point of entry (POE) solution like ultraviolet (UV) treatment or whole house water filtration, sized properly by an authorized source. Or, if your municipality has increased chlorine content in your water, you could use a point of use (POU) treatment system to remove the taste of chlorine from your drinking water.

Even if you don’t live in a warm climate like Louisiana’s, it never hurts to get your water checked out. I have been in the water treatment industry for a long time, and I have seen how contaminants in your water can cause all kinds of problems for your family and home. As I wrote in an earlier post, I find that it’s best to be proactive and informed about my home’s water quality, just in case.

Contact Keith B.


How a Reverse Osmosis System Works

by Abbey R Published 9.27.2013

With every passing year we learn more about what is in our water and the effects those contaminants can have on our health. It takes the EPA years of study to figure out what is an acceptable level for contaminants in our water or how best to treat them. Contaminants in residential drinking water can include almost anything, from industrial waste that was dumped in a river, to fertilizers and household cleaning products. Many times, treatment involves adding a chemical to the water to neutralize the contaminant—for instance, chlorine is added to water to control the amount of microbes—but these chemicals can give water undesirable tastes or odors. Technology like reverse osmosis systems exists to remove contaminants from water without adding any chemicals.

Reverse osmosis (RO) systems are becoming an increasingly important, needed appliance in our homes. RO systems utilize your water pressure and a semi-permeable membrane to reduce contaminants for great-tasting water without adding any chemicals. They are typically used to purify drinking water which is where contaminant levels matter the most. Some areas, however, have such terrible water that an RO system is used for the entire home.

Every reverse osmosis system has at least four parts: a prefilter, an RO membrane, a storage tank and a postfilter. Water supplied by the city or a well enters the system through the prefilter, which protects and extends the life of membrane by filtering out the things that can harm it, like chlorine and sediment.

A reverse osmosis membrane uses a semi-permeable membrane to separate water molecules from other molecules. “Semi-permeable” means that some things can pass through and others can’t. A familiar example would be your furnace’s air filter, although, semi-permeable membranes for water treatment allow passage based on the size of the particle as well its molecular charge whereas typical air filters separate the contaminants exclusively by size. Holes or pores in the membrane are sized just big enough for the passage of a water molecule—even small contaminants such as tobacco smoke or paint pigments are too big to go through an RO membrane. At this point, because the membrane only lets certain molecules pass through, there is some waste liquid with a highly concentrated amount of contaminants that goes to the drain. The virtually contaminant-free water that makes it through the membrane, called a permeate stream, is safe to drink and tastes great.

Reverse osmosis technology relies on pressure to push the water molecules through the. Water pressure varies with your water source. City water is usually supplied between 40 and 100 psi (pounds per square inch). Well water is usually less pressure, delivered between 20 and 60 psi depending on your pump. The production rate of the membrane is dependent on factors such as temperature, pressure and Total Dissolved Solids levels. Because flow and production rates vary, most RO systems also have a storage tank, allowing more pure drinking water to be available on demand, so you can fill your glass or pitcher much faster.

Because the water is so pure, bad tastes and odors from the storage tank’s bladder and walls can find their way into the water during prolonged contact, so they must be taken out. That’s why a postfilter is an important part of the reverse osmosis system; any odors or tastes picked up from the storage tank are removed and the water is once again great-tasting.

To raise the pH if it is too low, whole house systems use a “polisher” after the postfilter, which adds minerals to the water which protect the pipes and which come people feel enhances the water’s taste.

Sometimes seeing is believing. Personally, I love seeing ice cubes made with RO water because they are virtually colorless. Ice cubes made from city-supplied tap water are almost white in color, which tells me that there are minerals mixed in with the water molecules. Whenever I see transparent ice cubes, I know the RO system must be removing a lot from my water. If your home has questionable drinking water, maybe it’s time to check out a reverse osmosis drinking water system—you won’t regret it.

Contact Abbey R.


The Better Water Blog 1-Year Anniversary

by Kinetico Published 7.1.2013

Time really does fly when you're having fun, doesn't it? Over the last year, we have tried to bring you posts that help you understand, value and respect life's most vital resource: water. We know some of you have been with us from the very beginning, and we're really grateful for that. But for those of you who are new to the Better Water Blog, here are some posts you could start with from this time last year.

Why are Boil Water Alerts So Important?

By Cathy J in The Science of Water

Have you ever had a Boil Water Alert (BWA) issued in your area? These public warnings can be worrisome if you've never heard them before. You may ask yourself, "Is my water really safe?" Cathy answers some common questions about BWA's in this informative first-ever Better Water Blog post.

How a Water Softener Works—Mystery Solved!

By Stuart P in Water Treatment Technology

Stuart's fascinating, lighthearted post clears up some of the mystery behind water softeners. Even if you already know all there is to know about ion exchange, water softeners, soap curds and electrons, you'll enjoy the fun, straightforward video presentation where we get to see how water softening works close-up, featuring Mr. Resin Bead! 

We All Have Our "Just In Case"...Mine Has To Do With My Drinking Water

By Keith B in Water in the News

Keith explains a few of the reasons why he and millions of others rely on reverse osmosis filtration for drinking and cooking water. "Better safe than sorry" is his philosophy as he illuminates some of the effects that fracking and PPCP's (Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products) might have on your water.


Steve Schimoler: Using Pure Water to Give Your Recipes Pure Flavor

by Guest Bloggers Published 6.17.2013

Based on Steve’s passion for cooking, innovation and creating the best flavor in his recipes, he realizes that no ingredient is to be overlooked, including water. In 2012, Steve teamed with Kinetico to prove the notion that purified water is core to creating great-tasting dishes in his restaurant and in the home. Read more about culinary expert Steve Schimoler.

View this video on Kinetico's YouTube channel

As a chef, I’ve been very fortunate to work in various capacities within the restaurant and food arenas. My experiences have helped provide me with a unique perspective in the appreciation of flavor and product development. There are so many variables that can impact flavors during cooking, but it wasn’t until I started working with our Kinetico water filtration system that I fully realized how important our water quality affected the flavor in my foods.

After 12 months of testing and working with the different blends and levels of filtration through our system in the Crop Bistro kitchen, I have come to the conclusion that our best results were with our Reverse Osmosis (R/O) water. It seems so simple, but by using the R/O water that is absolutely pure, I was not competing with any off flavors or aromas that were interfering with the flavor of the ingredients that were being featured in the dishes we prepare. Just like painting, you need to start with a totally blank and clean canvas when cooking. As a chef, I go out of my way to find and procure the best ingredients, why wouldn’t I want pure water! Water can be the majority of so many recipes and if it’s not pure, my other ingredients suffer.

The minute I started to look at water when I was reducing or simmering sauces or soups it became so apparent that when the water contained impurities, I was concentrating them by as much as double or more. Not a good thing…

So now I’m hooked and somewhat obsessed with learning more about our most basic yet valuable ingredient.

In future blog posts, I will share more culinary insights that you can use in your own kitchen, including exploring the many benefits of purified water.  Stay tuned.


Hydrogen Sulfide in Well Water

by Cathy J Published 10.20.2012

“My water smells like rotten eggs.” This is a very common complaint from many homeowners but one that may be easily explained. Hydrogen sulfide, a compound that is widely known for its distinct rotten egg or sulfur odor could be the culprit. This colorless, flammable gas occurs naturally in gases from swamps and stagnant pools of water, volcanoes, hot springs or crude petroleum. H2S is also a waste product of many industrial processes and from municpal sewers and sewage treatment plants. The production of H2S is due to a process called anaerobic digestion, a breakdown of organic matter in the absence of oxygen.  

In well water supplies, H2S is commonly formed by sulfate reducing bacteria. Well water naturally contains minerals of sulfate picked up from soil and rock formations. Sulfur reducing bacteria can change sulfates in the water to hydrogen sulfide gas. In other cases, hydrogen sulfide in well water can be caused simply by the decay of organic matter.

The human sense of smell can detect H2S in concentrations as low as 0.5 ppb (parts per billion). In addition to the odor, the taste of the water may also be affected. If left untreated, H2S can corrode steel, stainless steel and copper pipes. It can also tarnish silver and leave yellow or black stains on bathroom fixtures. While the amount of H2S typically found in most household water supplies is not high enough to pose serious health risks, slight nausea can occur due to the foul odor.

There are several options to treat H2S in a water supply. Trace amounts of the gas can be handled by activated carbon. If you have low to moderate amounts of H2S in your water, the gas can be converted to elemental sulfur and then filtered out by using an oxidizing filter. High amounts of H2S may require more advanced treatment.

It is important to note, if the rotten egg smell is only present in the hot water, not in the cold water, chances are the problem lies in the hot water heater. All hot water tanks have an anode rod, which is in place to prevent corrosion of the tank. However, if anaerobic bacteria are present in the water, they can use the electrons produced by the corrosion of the anode rod as an energy source to produce H2S. One simple fix is to switch out the anode rod in the tank. Check with a reputable dealer for replacement anode types to ensure you keep the warranty intact. Turning the temperature up on the hot water tank for a short period of time to kill the bacteria may help. But, remember to turn the temperature back down and drain the tank, otherwise scalding may occur. Shock chlorination of a private well is a temporary solution as well. Although these fixes can reduce the odor problem, they aren’t permanent.

If you suspect you have H2S in your water, it is best to contact a water professional for further on-site testing and precise treatment solutions.

Contact Cathy J.


Which water treatment system is right for me, Point-of-Use or Point-of-Entry?

by Guest Bloggers Published 9.21.2012

L. Heiden has been in the water treatment business for more than 25 years. Currently, she is a National Account Executive for UL and is an active member of the Water Quality Association

Some terms in the water treatment industry can be confusing, point-of-entry (POE) and point-of-use (POU) are no exception. It is not a matter of one being better than the other, but which do you require for your needs.

POE is for the treatment of all of the water you use in your home. There are many different types of treatment that fall under the umbrella of POE. The one you need depends on the type of problem you are having with your water. The two most common issues are hard water, which causes scale build up on plumbing fixtures and in hot water tanks, and chlorine, which is associated with taste and odor.

If you have white scale on your plumbing fixtures or a film on your glass shower door that is difficult to remove, you may have hard water. Hard water is mostly made up of calcium and magnesium and these deposits are doing more harm than just making things hard to clean. They eventually build up in your hot water tank, which makes it very inefficient. According to American Water Heater Company (2006), use of a softener ahead of a hot water tank can give you up to 29% more efficiency.  Other benefits to softening the water in your home are ease of cleaning, reduced use of soaps, shampoos and detergents and softer skin and hair. Refer to the Kinetico website for more details on benefits of softened water.

When you are on a municipal water supply, chlorine is a common issue. Chlorine, or more recently chloramines, is added to your water as a disinfectant to ensure it is safe to drink.  These chemicals affect the taste and odor of the water coming into your home.  Most supplies aim for one part per million (ppm)as it distributes water to your home, the difficulty in this is that as chlorine does its job it gets used up and will also dissipate over time. This means that the levels a municipality may have to use may be higher than the one ppm to ensure that the very last house on the distribution line gets safe water. In turn the house closest to the supply may be seeing levels at times in excess of three ppm, which is about the level in a highly chlorinated pool . High levels of these chemicals may have health affects as well. A whole house carbon filter or chloramine filter will reduce these levels significantly protecting your family from high levels of chlorine or chloramine.

There are many other contaminants that may require POE water treatment solutions such as: iron, hydrogen sulfide and sediment. If you are unsure of the type of treatment you require, contact your local water treatment professional for advice. You can use the online local dealer search to find your local Kinetico water professional.

POU is another form of water treatment which is generally used after a POE system to further protect and treat the water at a particular output such as a drinking water tap. It may be a simple under the counter filter for taste and odor of the water or a more stringent treatment such as a reverse osmosis drinking water system.

While a POE system treats all the water in the house a POU system will be treating only a portion of the water in your house. These systems produce less water a day relatively. You would not typically use this type of water for bathing and cleaning. Most often a POE system will be used for your drinking water and cooking use.

A common POE treatment would be a carbon filter which simply makes the water smell and taste better. Many people prefer using Reverse Osmosis (RO) which can provide additional levels of safety in the water they drink. RO uses a barrier method which, in simplified terms, separates the good things in water from the bad things in water.  Typically an RO will have minimally five parts to it:

  1. A pre-filter - carbon pre-filter for city water applications and sediment pre-filter for well water
  2. A membrane which rejects the impurities in the water
  3. A tank to store the processed water
  4. A post-filter which removes any taste and odor from the stored water
  5. A faucet to get the water out of the tank and into your glass or pot

In the end, the answer to which is the right water treatment, POU or POE is basically like asking what is better a fancy sports car or a minivan. The answer is part personal preference and part necessity. The sports car would be nice to have. Although it isn’t essential for everyone, it sure is fun and would greatly enhance your life. However for most people, the minivan is a requirement. It isn’t very exciting but provides you peace of mind. It’s a safe, reliable means to get where you need to go.

Contact L Heiden


Why having a second house isn't as glamorous as I thought it would be

by Brian L Published 7.11.2012

When my wife and I bought our house in a semi-rural area, we discovered a number of things we had never dealt with before, many of which involved water. I had grown up in the suburbs. I’ve always had city water and sewers, so I never really gave too much thought to where water comes from, or where it goes after we’ve used it. It was always there. Just turn on the faucet and water comes out, whatever water ends up in the sink, goes down the drain, never to be seen again.

Now all of a sudden, we have this little structure behind our house a little larger than a doghouse. This, we were told, is the well house. It’s where our water comes from. When I opened the door, after sliding aside a few boards and some obviously mouse infested fiberglass insulation, I was surprised to see that the house sits on a deep foundation. At the bottom, about five feet down was a pump, some piping and a pressure reserve tank. My first thought after looking again at the boards and insulation is “I wonder if the pipes in here ever freeze?” We do live in northern Ohio after all, and there’s no heat in this little building. Then I started thinking about all of the other ways that our “new” water supply might not prove to be as reliable as what I’m used to. Top it all off with the realization that the water is pumped out of the ground and straight to the tap without any treatment at all and I was starting to get a little uncomfortable with this situation.

Well, it’s been almost nine years since my first encounter with the well house and I can happily report that after replacing the boards and mouse nest insulation with rigid foam, (not to mention, cleaning and painting the outside since we have to look at it everyday) the pipes have never frozen; at least not yet. I guess there’s enough heat five feet below grade to prevent that. But I can also say we have had a fair number of system failures and have also made a few other water infrastructure improvements, the details of which I can share with you in future posts. 

 

 

Contact Brian L.


Water: Understand it, Value it, Respect it. Learn more about life’s most vital resource.

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