Category Archives: Water Treatment

What’s the Difference Between Water Softeners & Water Conditioners?

whole home water conditioner softener

As a new homeowner, you’ll likely face a common question: do I need a water softener? After some research, you’ll likely come across some info about a similar piece of equipment called a water conditioner. The differences between the two can be confusing, but making the right choice can have a significant impact on you and your family’s health and your home’s appearance and value. 

Many areas across the country – especially Southern California – have “hard water,” which means your tap water has exceptionally high mineral content.

Hard water is not particularly unhealthy, but it’s capable of causing some costly problems for your home. The most costly issues include scaling, pipe blockage and even pipe leaks. 

Your Home’s Health

Scaling is the buildup of minerals to form a deposit called lime scale. Hard water mixed with soap forms nasty soap scum, which leaves a bathtub ring on your surfaces. 

hard vs soft water

The difference in scaling between a showerhead with hard water and soft water is obvious.

Excessive scaling can lead to clogged pipes, which decrease water flow rate to your faucets and showerheads and can even affect the life of toilet flushing units.

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A pipe clogged with hardness minerals.

Eventually, the scaling in your pipes will allow less water to flow through. Showerheads will dribble instead of spraying and faucets will deliver a weak stream of water. Buildup in your faucets can also lead to faulty shutoff mechanisms and dripping faucets.

The third costly effect of hard water is when dissolved minerals eat through pipes causing leaks and water damage in your home. It’s important to realize this potential issue early, because there are water pipes throughout your home and even a small hole can result in VERY costly damage.

hard water pipe damage

Pipe with a significant leak due to hard water.

 

Your Health and Happiness (and Sanity)

The effects of hard water are not limited to your home and plumbing fixtures; it can also affect your quality of life. Hard water requires more soap or detergent and water for showering and laundry.

åAdditionally, mixing soap and hard water on the body can cause what’s referred to as a “curd,” which can remain on the skin after rinsing, clogging pores. This serves as a breeding ground for bacteria, rashes and dry skin irritations.

Hard water also leads to mineral deposits in your hair, making it harder to untangle post-shower.

So What’s the Solution?

Now that you understand the multitude of issues surrounding hard water, let’s discuss the best way to get rid of hard water in your home. A water softener may be the more popular option, but I’m going to explain to you why a water conditioner is the better option for your home, your health and your wallet.

Water Softeners vs. Water Conditioners

Both water softeners and water conditioners solve the problems associated with hard water. The two are significantly different, though, in 3 main ways:

  1. Water Quality
  2. Simplicity
  3. Price

Water Quality

The biggest difference between water softeners and water conditioners is water quality. The reason is pretty simple: water softeners DO NOT filter your water and water conditioners do.

Water softeners use what’s called “ion exchange,” which swaps hardness mineral ions for sodium, reducing the water’s hardness. The problem is that softeners only focus on hardness, not contaminants such as chlorine and carcinogenic disinfectant byproducts like chloroform. 

Chlorine is generally the most noticeable contaminant in tap water (due to the large amount added in at a municipal level in order to disinfect water). It is also quite dangerous and damaging to your health and beauty. Chlorine can cause cancer over time when ingested and is notorious for drying out skin and hair. In addition to being dangerous to the body, chlorine can contribute to pinhole leaks in your pipes.

Without a conditioner, you will not be able to remove chlorine and other dangerous contaminants – you will simply have softer, dirty water.

Simplicity

As I mentioned above, water softeners use a process called “ion exchange,” which is about as complicated as it sounds. It requires electricity (which drives up cost of operation) and maintenance such as buying, hauling and adding salt periodically. In addition to being physically trying and time-consuming, adding salt also requires upwards of $200 per year.

Ion exchange is also not eco-friendly in any way. The process requires waste water to be expelled through a special drain. Research showed that this briny waste water was actually affecting area water supplies, leading to the recent ban of salt-based water softeners in cities such as San Diego and Los Angeles. That’s right: if you live in Southern California, you are likely outlawed from even purchasing a salt-based water softener.

Water conditioners do not use any electricity, saving your energy bill. They also create zero wastewater and require no maintenance aside from annual filter changes. Additionally, water conditioners use significantly less floor space in your garage and make no noise.

On an aesthetic level, conditioners produce water that mixes well with soaps and detergents, allowing you to use less of each, saving you even more money. Conditioned water also feels better in the shower, whereas softened water leaves a distinct “slippery” feel on the skin. 

Price

Of course, one of the most important aspects of any home improvement purchase is the price. What is it worth for you to have clean water and fortified investments in your kitchen and bathroom fixtures? Obviously, many companies will use this argument to justify ridiculously-priced items. But water conditioners are actually priced significantly below water softeners.

The Evolution Whole Home Water Conditioner starts at only $795, compared with softeners in the thousands of dollars, plus maintenance costs. Conditioners also save you from the electricity and water costs associated with a complicated softener. 

Most importantly, though, a Water Conditioner preserves the health of you and your family, as you can be sure the dangerous contaminants found increasingly in tap water supplies will be eradicated at the source. 

Call 619-356-3766 or email info@evolutionhealthworks.com today for more info about how a Water Conditioner can help improve your life and the value of your home!

What’s the Deal with Fluoride in My Water?

fluoride

The controversy over fluoridated water is making news lately, as more and more concerned citizens question their local governments about the benefits and possible drawbacks of adding fluoride to drinking water.

In 1945, dental researchers and city officials in Grand Rapids, Michigan agreed to fluoridate the city water supply for experimental purposes. After eleven years, the results were staggering; tooth decay rates had dropped 60%.

Ever since, cities across the country have adopted fluoridation. The American Dental Association and other prominent public health organizations endorse the practice wholeheartedly.

In a situation becoming more familiar in our information-heavy world, though, people are speaking out and challenging institutions on the benefits of fluoridation. Similar to the anti-vaccine and anti-GMO movements, there is a spectrum of dissent ranging from legitimate concern to government conspiracy mongering.

It’s hard to argue with the wealth of information proving that fluoridated water has improved dental health, but it’s also important to acknowledge that many beneficial public health policies have detrimental side effects.

(For example, adding chlorine to public water supplies for disinfection purposes was one of the great inventions of the 20th century, improving life expectancy for millions. But chlorine reacts with natural materials in water to create dangerous, cancer-causing disinfectant byproducts.)

Fluoride’s drawbacks are documented at length across the web, but few have been widely accepted. A recent British study showed a link between water fluoridation and thyroid issues (hypothyroidism). One undisputed fact is that an excess of fluoride (fluorosis) causes tooth decay. There is minimal evidence of fluoride as a carcinogen.

The real issue with fluoride in public water supplies is informed consent.

Americans have always been fiercely individualistic; the explosion of the internet has magnified this trait. Citizens can now pull up information on other countries’ fluoridation practices quickly and realize that the U.S. adds fluoride more widely than any other country in the world.

People can also look up the fact that fluoride is a chemical, one being prescribed to them without consent. This issue is also at the core of the anti-vaccine movement, but there is one very important difference.

If you don’t vaccinate your child, others are at risk of catching a disease from him or her. If you don’t opt to fluoridate your water, you are not putting anyone else at risk.

This is the core of the fluoridation issue today. People deserve the option of what they consume, especially if it has the potential to affect their health.

All Evolution Healthworks drinking water products reduce fluoride content by 65%. For those wishing to remove more than two thirds of fluoride, we offer an additional filter attachment to remove 99.9% of fluoride.

The Next Water Revolution

city water

Drinking water has evolved in three major shifts – or revolutions – over the past 2,000 years. Each of these revolutions either made water vastly more available or potable for a large number of people.

In his book, Water 4.0: The Past, Present, and Future of the World’s Most Vital Resource, David Sedlak discusses the three water revolutions of the past 2,000 years as well as the next one – Water 4.0 – that needs to happen for the sake of societal health and safety.

The author explains that today, “continued population growth and climate change stretch the ability of urban water systems to meet our needs.” The process of devising and financing a solution will be anything but east, but Sedlak is confident there is a way. 

In today’s post, we’ll discuss Sedlak’s 3 water revolutions as well as the one we need to start planning for today.

Water 1.0

The Romans are known for a number of astonishing accomplishments, but one we don’t often hear about (maybe because it’s not sexy enough for a Hollywood blockbuster) is how the behemoth ancient civilization managed to provide anywhere from 500,000 to 1 million people with drinking water.

Ingenious Roman engineers devised a system of gravity-harnessing aqueducts to bring water into the city from surrounding rural areas. Not only did they build this solution to solve the issue of water shortage, but the Romans also built a sophisticated sewer system to handle runoff. This revolution paved the way for the expansion of civilization over the next 1,900 years.

Water 2.0

The boom of the Industrial Revolution at the end of the 19th century saw the emergence of water wheels and steam engines. This led to toilets and the vast amount of waste created as a result. Rather than disposing of waste in the fields, urban toilets sent human waste down the sewers, from where it entered bodies of water and traveled downstream to some less fortunate communities.

The corresponding rise in typhoid fever and cholera necessitated the need for another water revolution. This time, the engineers behind water’s advancement were from MIT. They formulated a system of filtering with sand, which surprisingly eliminated most disease from drinking water. Similar improvements used chlorine to further disinfect the water. Water 2.0 was born, effectively increasing the average American lifespan by 15 years.

Water 3.0

While the second water revolution allowed for drinking water to be treated, there still was not a widely available technology for treating wastewater. Thus, industrial centers and large municipalities simply disposed of sewage in rivers and lakes. Waterfront cities such as New York, Cleveland and Chicago reeked and fish died at an alarming rate.

In an ultimately successful effort to curb the expansion of water pollution across the country, the federal government passed the Clean Water Act in 1972. This landmark legislation allocated federal funds toward the construction of sewage treatment plants. Water 3.0 saved the health of The Great Lakes and numerous other bodies of water across the country.

Water 4.0?

Sedlak explains that we are now in need of a 4th water revolution, one that is likely going to be more complicated – and more expensive – than its precedents.

Many of the water utilities constructed 40-50 years ago are aged significantly. As with many societal problems, the roadblock in front of water reconstruction is cost. The growth of population has led to a consequential strain on water systems built for far fewer people.

In the Northeast, many cities have experienced raw sewage overflows when snow or rain fills treatment plants to their limits. The Southwest is experiencing a problem on the other side of the spectrum; areas such as Arizona and California are suffering from drought and water shortages.

The problem for both regions is that climate change models suggest that the areas experiencing overflow will only get wetter and the drought-stricken regions will only get drier.

Three areas in which Water 4.0 has already begun to take form are desalination, water recycling and decentralization.

Desalination – the process of treating seawater to make it potable – will be a significant, but not nearly a majority of San Diego’s water (7%) starting next year. Water recycling, in which wastewater is either treated to drinking water standards or at least to a level that it can be used for watering crops, is also popular in Southern California. Decentralization likely will be a prevalent technology across the country, especially given the amount of Americans living in suburbs. This practice would involve the construction of smaller water treatment facilities outside of the large ones in city centers.

Sedlak says that Water 4.0 will happen one way or another, the only question is whether we will be proactive in preparing our water systems. The sad truth is that more often, civilizations wait for catastrophe to allocate the necessary funds for water system improvements.

 

 

 

 

San Diego’s Water Treatment Process

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We have spent plenty of time outlining why San Diego’s Tap Water Is So Bad, but what is the process that the city uses to attempt to clean it?

Overall, the city does the best it can to disinfect the water we import from the Colorado River and Northern California, but it doesn’t remove everything harmful; San Diego has a relatively high total dissolved solids (TDS) count in its water.

Water treatment isn’t all about removing substances though – the city also adds chlorine, ammonia, sodium hydroxide and fluoride before sending it to your home.

The Disinfection Process

#1. Primary Disinfection with Ozone or Chlorine Dioxide to inactivate viruses, bacteria and other pathogenic organisms. While this process is pretty effective in killing off nasty stuff, there are still chlorine-resistant parasites such as cryptosporidium and giardia in our water.

#2. A chemical mixture is added to remove dissolved solids.

#3. Chlorine is added again for further disinfection.

#4. Water is filtered over a coal and sand composite to remove small particles.

#5. Ammonia is added (creating dangerous chloramines) to prevent microbial growth, and sodium hydroxide is added to correct the pH of the water.

#6. As mandated by California state law, Fluoride is added to the water to ‘promote strong teeth’. And as we outlined, HERE, this is an issue.

Next, the water is sent to your tap.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has a list of some contaminants it requires the City of San Diego to monitor. There are still hundreds of thousands of harmful contaminants that do not require monitoring.

The  2013 Annual Drinking Water Quality Report states that during 2013, contaminants requiring monitoring were detected at or above Detection Limits for Purposes of Reporting. They issued this warning:

“Some people may be more vulnerable to contaminants in drinking water than the general population. Immuno-compromised persons such as persons with cancer undergoing chemotherapy, persons who have undergone organ transplants, people with HIV/AIDS or other immune system disorders, some elderly, and infants can be particularly at risk from infections. These people should seek advice about drinking water from their health care providers.”

Want to ensure you have the cleanest, safest water in your home? Check out our water filter products HERE.