29 March 2010

How bad is your water?

I am not a scientist, but I love to conduct experiments.  Bored one Monday, I decided to break out my ZeroWater TDS Tester and test some water.  According to TDSMeter.com, Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) "refer to any minerals, salts, metals, cations or anions dissolved in water. This includes anything present in water other than the pure water (H20) molecule and suspended solids."  Wikipedia defines (TDS) as "the combined content of all inorganic and organic substances contained in a liquid that are present in a molecular, ionized or microgranular suspended form."  Basically anything that isn't water. Stuff that you taste when drinking water - water should taste like nothing at all, right? Well, not always as you're about to find out. 

The TDS Tester I used is HMDigital's ZT-2 Handheld Basic Tester.  The reason I did this instead of going with a high-end tester is two part: 1) It came with my ZeroWater pitcher and 2) I'm not a scientist, this was good enough to use for me.  While some argue that TDS isn't the proper way of testing what's in water, it is the easiest way for me to test it, and certainly provides accurate results.  In the high TDS content waters tested, you CAN taste something in the water!  Waters that had little to no TDS content taste pure and clean, the water you want to be drinking!

So let's get on with the show....  Here's the basis of my test, the control variable for my ZeroWater, and a good place to start.  Tap water from Windermere, Florida:

The TDS Tester reads:  128 for Tap Water (Click here for 800 x 600 image)

While not TERRIBLE, that is considered in the average range for American water.  

The TDS Tester reads:  204 for Filtered Water at 91% (Click here for 800 x 600 image)

The filter on my Kenmore Elite refrigerator was replaced 2 weeks ago and was at 91% efficiency at the time of testing.  It wasn't done at 99% as that would make the test erroneous because the filter hasn't properly settled yet.  I have seen lower numbers come out of this filter before, and will amend this picture with another if I can get a lower number, but seriously, this means that the filter is ADDING dissolved solids into the "filtered" water instead of taking them out!  You can definitely taste something in this water, though it doesn't taste nearly as bad as Zephyrhills....

The TDS Tester reads:  001 for Aquafina (Click here for 800 x 600 image)

In my opinion, this is the best bottled water you can buy.  And strange that it states clearly on the bottle that it didn't come from any fancy spring water source, "Aquafina originates from public water sources and is then purified through a rigorous, seven-step process..."  Wow, all that and it came from "the tap," in essence.  

The TDS Tester reads:  163 for Zephyrhills (Click here for 800 x 600 image)

God this stuff is nasty.  I don't know how Floridians haven't burned this town to the ground yet!  Being "local" to a natural spring water bottling company sounds like a good thing, but there aren't enough words to describe the "chewy," stale tasting Zephyrhills water.  With 163 on the gauge, the TDS is high enough to stay clear and leave it on the shelves at the grocery.  

The TDS Tester reads:  000 for ZeroWater (Click here for 800 x 600 image)

The king of filtered water.  I tried it on a whim because I wasn't that happy anymore with my Britta - filters didn't last that long and the taste wasn't all that great anymore.  Maybe my pitcher got old and the plastic was adding something to the flavor, but something was at play (washed it a bunch and that didn't help either).  Had seen commercials for ZeroWater claiming the purest filtered water on the market, and it came with a meter to prove it - now you're speaking my language (nerd?).  It delivers, no questions asked.  

Saw a lot of reviews of it on Amazon by Britta employees apparently, claiming the filter lasted only a month and then it started tasting like complete crap, then made them sick to their stomachs.  Well, I've been using this on worse water at my girlfriend's house since 12.16.09, using roughly one pitcher a week on average since then, and have yet to replace the filter.  As you can see, it still reads 000 and the company recommends changing it at 006, still a long way out it would seem!

So there you have it.  My very simple "review" of five different qualities of water based on their total dissolved solids and personal tastes.  With this being said, don't think that there aren't some substantial Disadvantages of Drinking Pure Water, and therefore you should also consider your diet when searching for "the perfect water," which can be different if you eat a lot of junk food or if you eat plenty of fruits and veggies like I do - or at least get the vitamins from expensive GNC multi-vitamins everyday....  

It should be noted that I don't work for or publicly endorse any of the companies listed above, I was just doing this to educate a few people and see what your reactions are to it.  If you'd like me to do any future comparison testing, you can always donate something to me and I'll be glad to continue my research!

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