Running water, straight out of the tap, is something most of us take for granted. But have you ever wondered where the water we receive on a daily basis actually comes from? Or what happens to it before it arrives gurgling through our pipes? The answers to both of these questions is startling, and at times, far from reassuring.
The official stance has long been that the water pumped into our homes is perfectly safe. In fact, research would have us believe that tap water is less harmful than its bottled counterparts. It is fairly common knowledge that certain substances are added to our water, with the claim that they are beneficial to our health. One such example is Fluoride, which is routinely added in some areas, yet dismissed as unnecessary in others (such as the water authority in Scotland). The reasoning behind adding Fluoride is that it helps prevent tooth decay, yet, most of us already clean our teeth with fluoride toothpaste and there is no evidence to suggest we need any more than that. Chlorine is also regularly mixed with our water to kill any lurking bacteria. Although Fluoride and Chlorine are added intentionally to “treat” the water there are other more worrying substances floating around in our water, such as chemicals, hormones and antibiotics.
Potential health risks aside, many people feel that their water just doesn’t taste that great and the culprit is usually Chlorine. Although reportedly used at a safe level, certain people are more sensitive to the taste (and smell) of Chlorine, which makes drinking tap water very unpalatable for them. The level of Chlorine can also vary from one water authority to the next, as each authority stipulates the amount of Chlorine used. You can find out who your local water authority is here.
The taste and quality of water can vary substantially depending on where you live. For example, the water provided to homes in London is sanitised sewage waste recycled and re-used many times. Although, again, the official stance is that it is perfectly safe, it is hard to believe that water quality is unaffected by constant recycling through the treatment system. In another example, some of the water supply for Birmingham is pumped from the Welsh hills. Although the water is still treated with Chlorine on its journey down, it surely stands to reason that water sourced from a natural environment, such as a reservoir or underground streams, will taste better than water recycled countless times. If you ever need to contact your water company or you’d like to find out more about the specifics of your local water supply, check out this handy map of suppliers on the Ofwat website.
Why do we need a water filter?
Well, in light of the above, why wouldn’t you want the best tasting water possible, as opposed to water that quite literally leaves a bad taste in your mouth? Or why wouldn’t you want to drink water that you know doesn’t have any unwanted nasties lurking in it? It is disconcerting to be unsure of what is in your tap water and for peace of mind and reassurance, the perfect solution is a water filter. Water filtration systems are easily implemented, are cost-effective (although being able to provide your family with the best water possible is priceless) and they offer a straight-forward and easy way to drink water directly from the tap. Companies such as Kinetico offer a range of water filters to suit different needs and households. The chart on this page can help you figure out what level of filtration you need for your home.
How does a water filter work?
The water from your mains pipe travels into the filtration system and passes through fine screens which do the job of filtering out particles and large bacteria. The water then passes through substances that act on the water, reducing the amount of contaminants (such as minerals and chemicals). The water passes through a second strain, this time to remove any carbon fibres and the result is fresh, uncontaminated water that tastes great.
What’s the difference between a water filter and a water softener?
Water softeners remove the minerals from tap water. Mineral-saturated water is known as “hard” water and in most cases it is not harmful, nor does it greatly affect the taste. Water softeners are not used to improve the taste of the water, but to reduce the effects of mineral build-up (known as limescale). Unlike water filters, softeners only remove minerals and cannot rid the water of any other contaminants.
The above highlights the fact that just because water is deemed “safe” doesn’t mean that it is of a high quality. Filtering your water is such a relatively simple thing to do, yet it offers reassurance and far-reaching benefits that simply can’t be overlooked.