WATER TREATMENT ISSUES – KNOW WHAT YOU WANT TO TREAT YOUR WATER FOR
Before considering any treatment devices, you should know the quality of your water supply. Odor and hardness problems can sometimes be detected by simple observation. Detection of bacteria, potentially toxic substances and other contaminants usually requires laboratory-conducted tests. If any undesirable qualities are identified in the water, the problem can often be solved by repairing or replacing the existing water system or treating the home water supply. Here are some of the Technologies used to treat household drinking water.
GENERAL WATER TREATMENT TECHNOLOGY METHODS
Disinfection - This method includes chlorination and ultraviolet light.
Filtration (NSF/ANSI 42 & 53) - This is the physical process that occurs when liquids, gases, dissolved or suspended matter adhere to the surface of, or in the pores of, an adsorbent medium. Carbon filters use this technology to filter water.
- Ultraviolet Treatment (NSF/ANSI 55) - This treatment style uses ultraviolet light to disinfect water (Class A systems) or to reduce the amount of heterotrophic bacteria present in the water (Class B systems).
- Chlorination - The most common, oldest and relatively inexpensive method used to disinfect water is chlorination. A chemical feed pump continuously dispenses chlorine chemicals into the water supply. Chlorine, an oxidizing agent, kills most bacteria and some viruses. In the proper concentrations and under adequate exposure time, chlorine is an excellent disinfectant.
Softeners (NSF/ANSI 44) - Water softening devices covered by Standard 44 use a cation exchange resin, regenerated with sodium chloride or potassium chloride, to reduce the amount of hardness (calcium, magnesium) in the water. The hardness ions in the water are replaced with sodium or potassium ions.
Reverse Osmosis (NSF/ANSI 58) - A process that reverses, by the application of pressure, the flow of water in a natural process of osmosis so that water passes from a more concentrated solution to a more dilute solution through a semi-permeable membrane. Most reverse osmosis systems incorporate pre- and post-filters along with the membrane itself. RO systems force water under high pressure through a synthetic semipermeable membrane to reduce inorganic minerals. These systems vary widely in their ability to reject nitrates, chlorides and some other contaminants. RO performance is affected by water pressure, water temperature, pH, bacteria, dissolved solids and the chemical contaminant level of raw tap water. Like other filtration systems, gradual clogging of the system by collected contaminants will result in declining effectiveness and can also lead to contamination from bacterial growth.
Distillers (NSF/ANSI 62) - These systems heat water to the boiling point and then collect the water vapor as it condenses, leaving many of the contaminants behind, particularly the heavy metals. Some contaminants that convert readily into gases, such as volatile organic chemicals, may be carried over with the water vapor.
NOTE – REGULAR MAINTENANCE IS AN ESSENTIAL COMPONENT IN ANY SYSTEM
TWO MAIN CATEGORIES OF WATER TREATMENT FOR HOME USE
Point-of-Entry (POE) System
- These systems typically treat most of the water entering a residence. Point-of-entry systems, or whole-house systems, are usually installed after the water meter.
Point-of-Use (POU) System
- These systems typically treat water in batches and deliver water to a single tap, such as a kitchen sink faucet or an auxiliary faucet mounted next to the kitchen sink.
APPLICATION OF WATER TREATMENT TECHNOLOGY FOR HOME AND PERSONAL USE
Personal Water Bottle - This type of product consists of a bottle and a filter. The filter may be integrated with the push/pull cap of the filter bottle or may be integrated with a straw. The Berkey Portable Water Filter Bottle is a good example.
Pour Through or Gravity Fed Filter Systems - In pour-through products, gravity causes water to drip through a pitcher or a stainless steel or plastic container. The Berkey line of Stainless Steel filters and the Berkey Light are excellent example of this treatment method. The advantage is they operate without the useof electricity and are ideal in an emergency where electricity is not available.
Faucet Mount - This type of filter is mounted on an existing kitchen sink faucet (usually replacing the aerator or installed immediately before the aerator). A diverter is usually used to direct water through the system when treated drinking water is desired.
Counter-Top Manual Fill - This system is usually placed on a counter and filled by pouring water into the system and activating it for a batch of water. (A manual fill distiller is usually considered to be a Counter-Top Manual Fill.)
Counter-Top Connected to Sink Faucet - This product is usually placed on a counter and connected by tubing to an existing kitchen sink faucet. The treated water dispenses out of a return tube from the kitchen faucet, or the treated water is dispensed from a spout on the system.
Plumbed-In This type of system is usually installed under the sink and requires a permanent connection to an existing water pipe. The filter water is dispensed through the existing sink faucet.
Plumbed-In to Separate Tap - This product installs in the same manner as plumbed-in systems (above). However, the filter water is dispensed through an auxiliary faucet mounted next to the kitchen sink. People who live in apartments may not want to drill a hole in the counter top.
TYPE AND DESCRIPTION OF WATER TREATMENT TECHNOLOGIES
Ultraviolet Radiation (UV)- Low-pressure mercury arc lamps produce ultraviolet light, which has germicidal properties. The radiation kills or deactivates pathogens. Bacteria are killed with relatively low amounts of radiation, viruses are more resistant, and cysts and worms are unaffected.
The lamp's efficiency decreases with age and must be replaced annually. Color, turbidity and organic impurities in the water also interfere with transmission of ultraviolet energy and may reduce efficiency to unsafe levels. Also, radiation leaves no residual product that continues to disinfect beyond the treatment period.
- Boiling water for three minutes kills bacteria, including disease-causing organisms and giardia cysts. However, boiling concentrates inorganic impurities such as nitrate and sulfates. Boiled water also tastes flat because the carbon dioxide is removed.
Filtration - Filtration
Filter systems are a relatively simple and effective way to control a variety of contaminants. These include mechanical filters, activated carbon filters, oxidizing filters and neutralizing filters. Filtration systems are designed for use only on potable water. This means that your water supply should be clean, uncontaminated and suitable for drinking.
Early versions of water filters can be found throughout the world. Porous stone was often carved out to hold water. The filtered water would penetrate the stone, which would collect suspended impurities and then drip out the bottom where it was collected.
Modern Filter Technology has been around since the use and development of ceramic filters by Henry Doultan in England in the 1800’s. Filtration systems based on this technology are still being produced by the British Berkefeld company in England. Similarly designed systems are used in the Berkey Brand filters and are extremely effective.
Mechanical Filters (microfiltration)
- Mechanical filters remove suspended material from water, including sand, silt, clay and organic matter. They do not remove dissolved or very fine particles and are often used in combination with other treatment equipment. Filters are commonly of fabric, fiber, ceramic or other screening material. Mechanical filters can be cartridge units, mounted in a single waterline or on a tap, or tank units, which treat an entire household water supply. The filters must be serviced periodically.
Activated Carbon Filters
- Activated carbon filters absorb impurities as they pass through a carbon cartridge. Generally, they are used to eliminate undesirable odors and tastes, organic compounds and to remove residual chlorine. Most inorganic chemicals, metals, microorganisms and nitrates are not removed by the filters.
Carbon filters also remove some potentially hazardous contaminants such as radon gas, many dissolved organic chemicals and trihalomethanes. If low levels of these contaminants exist, a whole-house unit can be used. However, these filters are not designed to remove persistently high levels of these contaminants. When contamination cannot be eliminated, an alternative water supply may be the safest solution.
The carbon filter loses its effectiveness as it becomes saturated with contaminants and must be replaced on a regular basis. Using the filter longer than its rated lifetime may cause contaminants to be flushed into the drinking water. Before purchasing the unit, ask the dealer if the filter can be replaced, the frequency of replacement, where replacement filters may be purchased and how much they cost.
The material in an activated carbon filter provides a growth surface for certain bacteria. If the filter has not been used for five or more days, simply run chlorinated water through the filter for at least 30 seconds before use.
Some manufacturers claim the addition of silver in their carbon filters will reduce or prevent bacteria growth. These carbon filters are registered as bacteriostatic by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) due to a requirement by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act. The required registration indicates the filter does not release excessive amounts of silver. The EPA has not endorsed these methods for reducing bacteria in the filter or in the water. Furthermore, a bacteriostatic carbon filter is not adequate to treat water that is microbially unsafe.
- Reverse osmosis pressurizes and passes impure water through a semi-permeable membrane and removes many of the impurities (approximately 90 percent free of mineral and biological contaminants). The quality of the membrane and the pressure of the water help determine how effectively the water separates the contaminants.
Reverse osmosis (RO) units remove substantial amounts of most inorganic chemicals (such as salts, metals and minerals), most microorganisms and many organic chemicals. They do not effectively remove some organic compounds such as nitrate; they will reduce levels somewhat.
Mechanical filters and activated carbon filters are most always used with an RO unit. First, the mechanical filter removes dirt, sediment and other impurities that clog the reverse osmosis membrane. The RO unit is installed next. An activated carbon filter then removes some organic compounds which pass through the RO unit. Nitrates, however, will pass through carbon filters.
Reverse osmosis units use large amounts of water. Typically, about 75 percent or more of the water put into RO units is discarded with the contaminants. These systems may not be appropriate for households with a limited water supply. These units are expensive to purchase and require regular maintenance. Usually they are connected to a cooking and drinking line only and installed under the kitchen sink. Regular testing of the water supply is necessary to make sure the membrane is intact.
- Distillation heats water until it vaporizes as steam. Based on Mother Nature’s primary purification method, distillation uses evaporation and condensation to separate pure, fresh water from its contaminants. In nature the process is called the hydrologic cycle. It occurs when water evaporates, condenses, and then falls to the earth as precipitation. The prolonged boiling process of distillation kills virtually all types of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses and parasites. Microorganisms are not evaporated into the product water but remain in the boiling chamber as part of the residue Minerals, bacteria and other substances are left behind when the steam re-condenses into relatively pure water. Distillers remove bacteria, minerals, trace amounts of metals, many organic chemicals and nitrate. Some stills allow contaminants with boiling points lower than water (some pesticides and volatile solvents) to vaporize with the water and re-condense with the distilled water. A vented distiller avoids this problem. Distillers also remove beneficial minerals and make water taste flat or bland.
The distillation process for most home units is very slow (daily capacity is usually between two and five gallons). Approximately five gallons of tap water are required to produce one gallon of distilled water. Stills are relatively expensive. They require frequent cleaning and may be difficult to keep clean. The maintenance requirements and electricity consumption should be major considerations when purchasing a distiller.
Ion Exchange (water softeners) -
A common problem of water supplies is hardness, mainly caused by excess calcium and magnesium. Ion exchange systems soften hard water by removing the minerals causing hardness. These hardness minerals may interfere with the cleaning action of soaps and detergents and cause scale buildup in hot water pipes, water heaters and fixtures. The system also effectively removes some iron, manganese and many heavy metals.
The hard water is pumped through a tank containing an exchange resin. Sodium on the exchange resin replaces the hardness minerals. The sodium remains in soluble form in the softened water. Persons with heart problems should discuss this issue with a physician who will need to know the sodium level in the existing household supply of softened water.
To function properly, the resin tank must be periodically flushed (or recharged) with a solution of sodium chloride (salt). Some softeners automatically recharge the tank either on a regular schedule or when an electronic sensor detects that the resin needs to be recharged. With automatic recharge you only need to keep the sodium storage container filled. Other softeners must be recharged manually and are usually serviced by water treatment companies.
- Oxidizing filters remove iron, manganese and hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg odor). A manganese zeolite-coated filter causes dissolved iron and manganese to form particles the filter then traps. These filters are useful in removing iron if a water softener is not wanted. The filter usually treats the entire household water supply. Periodically, the filter must be rinsed with a chemical solution to remove the accumulated iron and manganese.
- Neutralizing filters treat acidic water. The filter treats all of the home water supply by passing it through limestone chips or other neutralizing agent. Where acidic water does occur, it can leach lead, copper or other toxic metals from household pipes into the water supply.
Two potential problems occur with the filter. First, it may increase water hardness. Secondly, acidic water may intensify any iron problems already present in the water supply. The filter requires little maintenance except the need to occasionally replace the limestone chips.
It is important to keep in mind that all home water treatment devices need regular maintenance to operate effectively. Please read the operating manual that comes with your water treatment system to ensure you are operating your system in accordance with the manufacturer's directions. Filter cartridges should be changed on a regular basis as recommended by the manufacturer.
HOW CAN THIS INFORMATION HELP YOU MAKE A GOOD CONSUMER PURCHASE??
Every water treatment method has its pros and cons, choosing the right one can be difficult. Very often multiple problems involve multiple solutions. If you have hard water and would like a method to reduce the hardness then a water softener would be the best choice. If your primary concern is making sure your water is safe to drink then some method of disinfection would be your choice. Initial cost, installation cost, maintenance cost and convenience, replacement costs all result in a cost per gallon that you will have to fit into your budget. The overall effectiveness
of the unit is a major consideration as well. All these issues will inform your decision.
HERE’S WHAT WE’VE FOUND
In researching these issues for several years we have found that the overall most effective method for treating our water and making it safe and fresh-tasting is the gravity fed micro filtration system in the Berkey products. We use the Big Berkey in our home. It is practical as well as efficient.
Check out some of the features below:
10 GOOD REASONS TO BUY A TRAVEL BERKEY
1. LOW COST
Provides you with safe and fresh-tasting drinking water for pennies per gallon.
2. LOW MAINTENANCE
Unique design allows you to easily remove and clean the filter elements.
3. EASY INSTALLATION
No plumbing hook-up, no tools, ready to use in minutes
Each Black Berkey filter element will purify up to 3,000 gallons of tap water.
5. HIGHLY EFFICIENT
So effective it actually purifies the water.
6. HIGHLY RELIABLE
Its gravity fed design means is not dependent on electricity
It's free-standing design and light weight makes it easy to move wherever you need it.
High grade stainless steel design makes it strong and corrosion resistant.
Polished stainless steel makes it an attractive addition wherever you place it.
10. PROVEN AND CERTIFIED
This filter formulation has been tested by State and EPA accredited laboratories
BERKEY WATER FILTERS
A COMMON-SENSE AND COST-EFFECTIVE APPROACH TO A HEALTHIER LIFESTYLE
OUR 3 POINT IRON-CLAD 90 DAY GUARANTEE
1. We guarantee that you will be 100% satisfied that the claims we make about our products are true.
2. We guarantee that you will be satisfied with our products and happy about your purchases.
3. We offer you the opportunity to use your unit for 90 days. If you are not fully satisfied for any reason, return the product for a full, prompt and cheerful refund.
All the Above Features and All the above Benefits –
A 90 DAY GUARANTEE makes this a consumer-wise choice
HELPING YOU MAKE A GOOD PURCHASE
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Water Quality Issues - ARE YOU AT RISK?
Technical Information about the - BLACK BERKEY FILTER
Testimonials (rave review really) from BERKEY USERS
THESE BERKEY MODELS TO GET THE RIGHT "FIT" FOR YOUR LIFESTYLE
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