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Clean drinking water is an essential component of everyday life. Many of us take our water supplies for granted, trusting that it is safe to drink right from the tap. Even in modern U.S. cities, water quality and safety are not always given; flooding or other contamination of water supplies can put your health at risk. When it comes to ensuring safe, clean drinking water, there are typically two choices: boiling the water before use or using a whole house water filtration and water softener system. This guide will explore these two options, helping you ensure safe water for you and your families.
Contamination of Water Supplies
Severe weather events and natural disasters can often lead to contaminated municipal water supplies. In cases of flooding from excessive rain, runoff from farms, paved areas, or sewage treatment facilities can find their way into drinking water treatment systems. This runoff may contain harmful pathogens like:
In 2018, the water treatment system for the city of Austin, Texas was flooded, leading authorities to declare a boil-water notice for residents. The city’s filtration system was overwhelmed, and the only recourse was to have citizens boil their water until the flooding subsided. This is only one of the numerous examples of flooding or other events that have compromised the safety of drinking water supplies.
For thousands of years, boiling water before use has been a proven method to remove harmful microorganisms. Whether you are at home or out camping in your favorite park, the heat from the boiling process effectively neutralizes bacteria, viruses, and cysts. Water is brought to a boil in a can or pot; the boiling temperature of 212 degrees Fahrenheit is more than sufficient to kill most microorganisms, which cannot survive in water above 160 degrees. The water is allowed to boil for several minutes, then cooled before use.
Unfortunately, boiling water takes time and energy to ensure safe drinking water. Another aspect to consider is that not all microorganisms are killed by the boiling process. Certain factors can interfere with the safety of boiled water as well. Factors to consider when boiling drinking water include:
Another disadvantage is that boiling does not remove chemicals or other contaminants from the water. In other words, even though bacteria and viruses were killed, the metals and waste byproducts found in contaminated supplies may still be present in the water.
To remove harmful pathogens and also to remove dangerous contaminants from drinking water supplies, a superior alternative to boiling is that of water filtration. Whole house water filtration systems are available that use multiple filter stages to purify drinking water supplies. Some of these water filter systems may also incorporate treatment options like water softening, which can eliminate dissolved minerals commonly found in both municipal and private well water. Filtration systems equipped with whole house water softeners use a special resin that traps minerals like calcium and magnesium carbonates. Softened water is gentle on the skin, keeps clothing and fixtures bright, and reduces unsightly water spotting and streaks on dishware.
The best whole house water filtration systems use a three-stage filter to remove contaminants. These systems are connected between the water supply piping and the plumbing fixtures in your home. The first filter removes sediments and particulate matter. Next, the water passes through a secondary filter stage which removes heavy metals like lead, chromium, and nickel. The second stage further purifies the water by removing hydrogen sulfide, a compound formed from decaying plant material that smells like rotten eggs. Finally, the water passes through the third filter stage, incorporating activated carbon particles in a block format. This carbon filter improves the water’s taste and odor as it removes volatile organic compounds (VOCs), pesticides, and petroleum residues. The result of these whole house filter systems is safe drinking water for you and your family.
When comparing boiled water to filtered water, one choice stands out as the superior method of ensuring clean drinking water supplies. Boiling water can reduce harmful microorganisms, but it is not a total water safety solution. In the battle between boiling water and filtering water, filtration wins. A whole house water filtration system provides peace of mind for you and your loved ones as it treats the water supplies you use for drinking, cooking, and bathing.