Metro Vancouver flows in from three watersheds, Capilano, Seymour and Coquitlam. For us down here in Delta, we also source water from 3 Artesian wells near Watershed Park in North Delta. Metro Vancouver and our municipalities do an excellent job of keeping our water safe from diseases and contaminants. However there is one set back, they must use chlorine to disinfect the water as it passes through the system and at any time that it comes into contact with the atmosphere. Although it is a very small amount (approximately 0.4 to 0.7 milligram per litre (mg/L), it still has some unpleasant side effects, as well as potentially carcinogenic by-products. Our water also has metals and vinyl chloride that leach into the water from the distribution pipes. Chlorine can also produce an odour and taste that could be unpleasant to some.
A purification system is a good way to remove impurities from your water. They work by using carbon filters, a reverse osmosis system or distilling system. Each one of these options has advantages and disadvantages, which we will talk about next.
A carbon filter can remove these impurities down to .5 micrometres, these are also known as microns. The inside of a carbon filter is a bed of activated carbon, which is a very porous material that has a high surface area. Because of its micro-porous characteristics it is able to catch and trap contaminants in a process called Adsorption. Adsorption is the adhesion of molecules, atoms or ions to a surface. This process allows the removal of most contaminants from the water down to .5 microns.
Carbon filters can be used to filter the whole house or it can be used to filter a point of source, for example a kitchen tap, water cooler, or a fridge line. A great example of a point of source filter is the commonly used Brita filter.
They are the more practical and economic choice when it comes to filtration, as it tends to clean the water instantly and without any waste of water in the process. Here are the your options below:
A whole house filter will be bigger and will protect your whole plumbing system. It will require reconfiguration so you do not end up washing your car or watering the lawn with filtered water. A whole house carbon filter can filter water down to about 5 microns. They are durable and last longer than others.
A point of source filter can be much smaller as its not working through large quantities of water, these type of filters are more compact and can get down to .5 microns. These types of filters are designed to fit under your kitchen sink and can have multiple cartridges allowing you to choose what level of filtration you want. Choose everything from taste and odour, micron measurement (1,5, 10), and even a pre-filter to catch the larger particles to increase the life expectancy of your filter.
You can also install a carbon filter on your showerheads to remove the chlorine for the water and provide a healthier shower experience.
Reverse osmosis is more common than you may think; in fact you’ve probably enjoyed a few sips if you drink bottled water. It is a very effective way to remove most contaminants from your drinking water such as arsenic, nitrates, sodium, copper, lead, fluoride, and some organic chemicals. These systems are more compact and designed as point of use that can fit under your kitchen sink and come with their own faucet.
The process of reverse osmosis removes contaminants in the water by passing the water through a semipermeable membrane. This membrane requires pressure to be applied to it to force the water through it and remove ions, molecules and other larger particles from your drinking water.
Although reverses osmosis removes most harmful contaminants from your drinking water it is not capable of completely removing all of them. It does not remove chlorine, chloramines, volatile organic chemicals, and other synthetic chemicals found in your tap water. The water that a reverse osmosis system provides is also acidic and has a low ph balance due to the removal of minerals during the process. However, there are two ways to rectify these drawbacks; start by using a pre-filter to remove those harmful chemicals and then add a re-mineralizing filter to rebalance the water ph level.
One major downside to a reverse osmosis system is the amount of wastewater it produces. During the process, household RO systems produce only 5 – 15% of drinking water and the rest will be wastewater.
The process of distilling water is to bring water to its purest form by separating the water from any other impurities. This is done by heating up the water to produce steam and then cooling down the steam to produce condensation, and that condensation gets collected to become your clean drinking water. It’s really quite fascinating!
Although this is a great method for purifying water it is not effective for preserving nutrients in the water as it removes everything, including healthy minerals. Distilled water is the purest form of drinking water but we do recommend adding minerals back into the water after purification to make your water healthy for human consumption. Adding minerals can be done by adding mineral drops to your glass or by installing a re-mineralizing filter to your system.
It all comes down to making the best decision for your health, although all these purification methods are all great and have fantastic advantages, some of the disadvantages could also affect your health. We recommend using a combination of these systems to provide the best solution that is also the healthiest for you and your family.
Your home water protocol could be something like this:
A whole house filter to remove the chlorine and other chemicals from your home water system to help save your plumbing system and your skin from drying up.
Followed by a point of use system to source your drinking water. You can use a multistage carbon filter system, a reverse osmosis or water distiller to remove the other impurities and then follow that with a re-mineralizing filter to bring your water back to a healthy balanced state.
Anyone of these options will have great impacts on the environment by reducing the use of plastic water bottles and keeping our oceans clean. Use glass drinking cups and carry your own bottle whenever possible. Bottoms up!