Turn on the tap and out pours a beautiful crystalline stream of life-giving water. We couldn’t go for a day without this essential wellspring. Although tap water in South Africa is considered safe for human consumption, is the water that flows from your tap as nature intended?
The quality of our water is intimately involved in our everyday life – especially as it is the very thing we use as a cleanser. From our clothes to our kidneys! By the time water reaches your tap, it has been exposed to so many things, chlorine, fluorine compounds, Trihalomethanes (THMs), hormones, heavy metals, endocrine disrupting chemicals, pesticides and even small traces of prescription medication. Even the methods used to purify it leave some less-than-desirable residues that are the pay-off for safe water. Not the kind of cocktail you would necessarily want spiking your daily cuppa and absorbed through your skin when you shower. All these things compound to make the quality of your household water a major health consideration.
You can take a simple step to restore the health of your water though. There are some good water filters available that will take a large amount of these contaminants out of your daily routine so you can still down some pure good health in a glass.
What are the options for cleaning up that toxic cocktail that comes out your tap?
Activated carbon is a composite of carbon-based materials that is created in a high-temperature process. This results in a compound that has many crevices and crannies that amount to a massive surface area that traps or absorbs microscopic particles and larger organic molecules. Block Carbon filters are one of the most popular and effective filters and recognized for cleaning up things like herbicides and pesticides, bacteria, heavy metals, nitrate, nitrites and parasites. Gravity based block carbon filters are also useful as they don’t need electricity and also need to be replaced less often. Carbon filters are usually coupled with some other form of water purification methods such as UV treatments or ceramic filtration.
Ultraviolet radiation inactivates germs and bacteria through a process called photo-oxidation, but doesn’t remove other contaminants, so is an added safety precaution for sanitisiing water.
Ceramic filtration does provide a measure of effective filtration as clays are very good at absorbing toxins and bacteria and larger protozoa, however they have not been found to be effective on their own when it comes to viruses. Combining a ceramic filter with something to disinfect water from biological organisms further would be best. For a combination of germ-killing technology and good thorough filtration, take a peek at these options:
The Stefani Water Filter has the advantage of using gravity, not electricity, so it saves energy and will work regardless whether you have access to power or not. The ceramic container acts as a natural electricity-free cooler as small amounts of water evaporate through the porous, breathable surface. Using both ceramic and activated carbon technology, it has also been treated with colloidal silver, which is a very effective anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-parasitic. It has been designed to make sure you are left with beneficial minerals in the delicious, clear, cool water that comes out on tap.
The BIBO Water Bar is very thorough in that is uses a multi-stage carbon filter and also doses your water with sanitising UV light to make sure all harmful bacteria and viruses are taken care of. Overall a very effective system, but it does require electricity to function.
Many water jug filters use a granulated form of charcoal, that does remove some contaminants, but require frequent filter replacement and also are not as effective as the solid carbon which is much more thorough due to its density. They don’t remove heavy metals, endocrine disruptors or fluoride. Granulated carbon filters are the kind most often sold as jug purifiers and they do improve water taste and quality by removing basics such as chlorine and some heavy metals. For a quick convenient basic water clean-up on the go, they can be very useful.
Distillation has been around for a long time. It works by heating water to create steam that rises, leaving contaminants behind it. The purified water is then cooled, condensed and collected. The effectivity of water distillers depends on the boiling points of the various pesticides and contaminants in the water, as if these are lower than water, they can rise up with the steam and remain in the water. But overall distillation is considered a very effective form of purification that produces a very thoroughly cleansed water.
The one drawback is exactly that – it has been cleaned so thoroughly that is can become flat and lifeless as it has been drained of all its trace minerals and is also low on oxygen. This kind of water can be good for doing certain types of cleanses for a short time and taking certain supplements that want as little interference as possible. If you use a distiller, it may be a good idea to consider adding a few drops of ionic trace minerals to your purified water so that it will not be ‘hungry water” that can actually leech your own body of minerals. It also is quite a slow process that requires a lot of energy use – although there are also some solar water distillers available.
Reverse osmosis uses a very thorough system of pushing water through tight membranes that is extremely effective at removing many contaminants including things like arsenic and asbestos and heavy metals. However because it uses a membrane to repulse contaminants, it also tends to reject a lot of water too, in fact, more than it purifies. So it wastes a lot of water in the process and also removes a lot of naturally occurring minerals that make water the balanced healthy drink it should be.
A quick solution that has perhaps become all too easy and popular is to buy bottled water. In the long run, is this really feasible? Firstly, it is impractical to buy all the water you use in your household just in terms of volume. But also there have been worries that chemicals such as endocrine disruptors from plastic containers leeching into bottled water. Bottled water also leads to a need for a lot more unnecessary packaging, where you could be rather be reusing your own personal water bottle again and again. There is also debate about the ethical value of big companies sourcing water from, and depleting natural underground reservoirs that are used by indigenous local communities.
Water is a precious resource that is essential to our wellbeing, so making sure you use it in it’s best life-giving purity is something that your body will thank you for. Lift a glass of the clear sparkling stuff of life and drink to your good health!