How To Test Water Quality
Learning how to test the quality of water you use daily can give you the added comfort of knowing that your family is safe!
With the large number of impurities that are found in water today, anything concerning the odor, color, clarity or taste of your water that seems odd should give you the desire to have the water tested so you can determine the cause. Even when the water you are using looks and tastes fine, you should consider having it tested, especially if your water source is a spring fed well, cistern in a highly populated, industrialized or farming area. In many cases your county health department or Cooperative Extension Service may be able to test your water or send you a list of laboratories that will do the testing for a fee. Even some water treatment companies will do given test without charging you for the testing.
Although water purification systems and water softening systems are great for removing impurities from water, most are relatively expensive and do not fit into the budgets of many people today. To find out if you have water problems you will need to take a test sample using a sterile bottle. Fill the bottle from a cold water faucet that does not leak. If there is an aerator it should be removed before you begin. Open the cold water tap and allow it to run hard for two minutes. Then reduce the water pressure to one third and allow the water to run for two more minutes. Fill the bottle to within 1\2 inch of the top and cap it. Take it to a laboratory without delay. A delay of more than 24 hours can affect the validity of the test.
There are several different things you should have the water tested for. A test for coliform bacterial will tell you if there is any pollution caused by animal or human waste. Any time that there is an unhealthy count it is necessary to boil all drinking or cooking water until treatment equipment can be installed. Nitrates that are in a concentration of more than 45 milligrams per liter can be harmful, especially to infants. The same is true with high levels of chloroform, which is a by product of chlorinating water. If there is any lead, cadmium, mercury or arsenic in the water consider the water to be highly dangerous. Even the occurrence of other metals such as copper or iron above certain levels can be harmful.
Many people that live in areas where the water is hard, mistake the presence of calcium and magnesium for impurities. In some areas these minerals will create a sediment in ice and water that settles in the bottom of your glasses or containers. These two minerals make the water hard and can form deposits in pipes and water heaters, even reacting with soap to leave a residue on laundry and dishes. To find out how hard your water is check with your local utility company, plumber or water treatment company analyze it. If you learn that your water is more than 9 grains per gallon of hardness you should consider having it softened. These two minerals are not dangerous to people but they can wreak havoc in plumbing and plumbing related items.
A pH test kit can be purchased at any local swimming pool supply house to test the pH of your water. The pH test will determine whether your water is acidic or alkaline. Acidic water has a pH of less than 7, while alkaline water has a pH that is above 7. Acidic water will corrode pipes and leach harmful metals into the water supply. There are many other treatments available for water problems. The effectiveness of each one depends on several different conditions. Always consult an expert before installing any new equipment for water purification.