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APS TechNotes See all articles

What Water Treatment do I need for my Home?

Also see Treating city water and Drinking water and your health

There seems to be almost a form of hysteria when it comes to the water in your home or for drinking. We receive calls everyday from people giving water purification far too much importance in their life. We find people in search of the latest 'FAD' with their water. Things like Alkaline water, Ionized water and water types that make outlandish health claims are usually plain and simple, scams.

I recently read a site from a company offering Alkaline water and making health claims that frankly make me wonder why the owner of that business is not in prison. Water has no 'magic' qualities. The only health claim water can make is that it will keep you hydrated and refreshed.

The first thing you have to ask yourself is, What don't you like about the water?.

Is it the taste?
Does it leave scale or staining on fixtures?
Are you clothes dingy?
Is your skin and hair dry?
Does it taste good?
and of course; Is it healthy?  

So lets look at what water is.

H2O = 2 Hydrogen atoms and one Oxygen atom. A more proper way to actually describe it is water is one Hydrogen Ion (H_) and one Hydroxyl Ion (OH-) makes up water.

What are the things about water you should be concerned about?

Do it yourself water test kits


pH is the measure of hydrogen in water. If you have an H without an oH, the pH is very low. As OH is added the pH increases. Hydroxyl neutralizes the pH effects of Hydrogen.  When you have one hydrogen ion and one hydroxyl ion, the pH will always be 7.

You can test this information by adding vinegar (pH 2-3) which contains acetic acid (CH3COOH) and see how the water pH changes. To raise pH you can add Drain cleaner because it contains sodium hydroxide (NaOH).

pH scale

People on city water supplies usually need very little pH water treatment. City governments set the pH of the water at about 8.0 using lime, or calcium to counter act the hydrogen balance of water. distribution pipes in most cities are made from concrete. The thing about concrete is that if you lower the pH it will start to dissolve into the water. At pH 8 the water in the pipes will instead deposit a layer of calcium carbonate on the surface of the pipe and over time the inside diameter pipe will become smaller and smaller. Eventually the pipe will need to be replaced. The alternative is that if the pH is below 8, the pipe will disolve and cause rupture and leaking. Low ph in Copper pipes will also have the same effect of dissolving he pipes.  

Pure Water has a pH of 7. What make pH shift in water are contaminents. For instance, If you take pure water (H2O) and put it in a container and let it sit for only a few minutes, it begins to change. The most prevelant contaminent available is Carbon Dioxide. It is everywhere and pure water will readily absorb it. So if we take water and add CO2, we get this H20 _ CO2 = H2CO3 which is known as carbonic acid.

Is this a health concern? No it is not. The pH of your water will be as low as 5.5 which is no lower then diet Coke or vinegar on your salad. We consume many acidic items everday. By the time you swallow it, pure water will absorb calcium from your mouth, teeth and tissues on its way to your stomach. If you have a desire to raise the overall pH, all you have to do is to eat a Tums. (Calcium carbonate). When you are healthy you body has the ability to self adjust your internal pH and there is nothing you can do in the long run to significantly increase or decrease the pH in your body.  

We usually see pH problems in well water. As the water contacts different minerals in the ground, the pH can shift dramatically. You want to short for a target of 7 to 8 pH in your final water. Along the way though, you may have to raise or lower the pH if it is beneficial for treatment of other contaminents.

Ways of adjusting pH

  • Chemical injection

    Acid Injection has been used for quite a long time in commercial and industrial applications. Basically you inject hydrochloric or sulfuric acid into the water to lower the pH. This creates a lot of out gassing, so a degas tower also needs to be added to combat the gassing. Acid injection in smaller dosses can be used in residential applications.

    Soda Ash injection is used to raise pH. It is more straight forward then Hydrochloric. Soda Ash (Sodium Hydroxide) does not have the same out gassing problems because as you raise pH atoms more readily for molecules where acid causes molecules to separate.  

    Chemical Feed Pumps

    Part 2 coming soon.

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