Treating water to release it back into the ecosystem is different than treating water for the purpose of making it potable. The requirements for each type of water treatment and the methods used would vary as well as the end-product purity level. Water treatment for drinking water must meet minimum federal standards for purity. Even though water may technically and legally pass tests for potability, it still may not have been treated in the best way. Here are four water treatment methods to avoid.
Bleach and Chloramine
Chlorine is sodium hypochlorite. It is the same chemical found in liquid household bleach. However, household bleach is manufactured for household cleaning, disinfecting and laundry. It is not made for water purification. Bleach cleaning products may contain other chemicals, such as fragrances, that could pose a hazard. Plus, the purity of the sodium hypochlorite in bleach may not meet the standards for use in water purification. Chloramine poses the risk of becoming corrosive and causing the leaching of lead in pipes that contain lead.
Distilled water is made by first boiling it and then condensing the water vapor back into liquid water. Distillation can remove many contaminants, but it also removes minerals that are needed by the human body. Part of the dietary intake of necessary minerals includes what is ingested through drinking water. Demineralized water can potentially lead to mineral deficiencies. Plus, distilled water is not very palatable. For those who must drink distilled water for a time, aerating it to oxygenate it improves the taste. Aerating can be accomplished by quickly pouring a quantity of distilled water back and forth between two containers such as drinking glasses.
This method of water purification is in wide use. There are home systems available to purify drinking water at the tap. It is a very effective water treatment process. You should not necessarily avoid it but rather take the time to understand its risks as well as its benefits. Reverse osmosis water treatment uses semi-permeable membranes (filters) to treat the water. Pressurized water is forced through the membrane. The contaminants stay on the pressurized side of the membrane while the purified water passes through. The problem is that minerals get filtered out too. Relying on only reverse osmosis-treated water for daily intake may result in mineral deficiencies. Also, demineralized water has an odd taste to many. This is why bottled water treated through reverse osmosis has minerals added back in for taste.
This water treatment method is typically used for short-term survival and other emergency situations. Iodine tablets for water purification are sold online and in stores that sell camping gear. However, the tablets are getting to be more difficult to find on store shelves because the chemical is also used in the illegal manufacture of methamphetamine. It is still typically available in limited quantities by asking for it at pharmacy counters or as prepared in tablet form for water purification use. The problem with iodine is that it can cause thyroid problems and goiters if used as a long-term water treatment method. The standard is to not exceed 2mg per day and not drink water treated with iodine longer than three weeks.
Most water purification methods have a risk versus benefit profile. Minuscule amounts of residual chlorine in drinking water are preferable to pathogenic bacteria and other contaminants that can cause illness or death. Demineralized water that is pure and safe to drink is preferable to drinking contaminated water that has minerals. It is easy to take a daily mineral supplement to compensate for drinking water treated by distillation or reverse osmosis. No water treatment option is perfect for every person. Those with compromised immune systems or chronic illnesses should take the time to educate themselves about water treatment methods used in the treatment of the water they drink.