In pursuit of pure water. Or at least water that tastes that way


I recently had a heavy-metal test (no, not that kind — the sort that detects blood toxins) and found my lead levels were very high. The test’s written interpretation suggested that my life’s work might be as a welder, or someone who works in a battery factory.

A couple of years earlier, I found my blood showed a high level of MTBE, which, as my doctor said, indicated that my life’s work might be pumping gas at a gas station. (Aside: I moved to a state where it’s illegal to pump your own gas, only because I hate the smell so much. So, I don’t think sitting in the driver’s seat while someone puts gas in my jalopy once a month is a high health risk.)

I have a white-collar job. I sit and type in front of a computer all day. While some the emails I receive might be construed as toxic, I don’t think they have a lasting effect on my blood composition. Blood pressure, yes, lead , mercury or cadmium in the veins, no.

I live in a new house, with no metal pipes and no lead paint. I live in a picturesque town that doesn’t tolerate icky industries who pollute. I’ll talk about my amalgam fillings in a separate post — but for the moment, I’ll just say that I don’t think they are a contributing factor.

I really don’t do anything interesting without washing it first. (I’m talking about washing fabric before sewing it, you, with the dirty mind — tons of formaldehyde in that stuff.)

So, I went to work on water quality in my house.

First, I ditched the bottled water company.

Then I bought a water filter.

Then, I bought another water filter.

Now, I’m thinking about distillation.

Let’s rewind to the MTBE part of the story.

“What water do you drink?,” asked the doctor.

“Oh, XYZ water. We have it at work too,” I answered.

“Ix-nay on the bottled water,” she said (that’s a direct quote). “Those companies aren’t regulated enough. You’re better off with tap water.”

“Blergh,” I replied. “My tap water tastes like hard-boiled eggs.”

So, you might say we were at an impasse.

I was quite sure the local tap water was safe, as they’ll give you the test results if you ask. But the smell . . . I grew up on a farm with a deep spring that’s been going strong for centuries. It tasted like water. Or, it tasted what was imprinted on my brain as how water should taste, filtered through layers of limestone.

Since I was renting at the time of the MTBE incident, I bought a counter-top filter from a leading brand. The filters in the unit last from 6 months to a year, depending on how many people are in your family. The water tasted like . . . water. I was happy. And I was drinking tap water, so my doctor was also happy.

This year, I moved to a different apartment with a fancy kitchen faucet, the sort that goes from stream to spray and pulls out to get into all the corners of the sink. That was nifty, but the faucet adapter from the old water filter no longer fit on the spigot. So back to the hard-boiled-egg-tasting water. Again, blergh.

My apartment is rich in sinks; four of them to one of me. Unfortunately, they are from a faucet company that thinks you should buy a different wrench for each one to get the aerator off. I got some help on that, and put the old carbon-based water filter on one of the bathroom faucets, in a bathroom with a his-and-her sink. Happy again.

Then came the high levels of lead in my blood test. I thought maybe I should get a filter to hold the water for use in the kitchen (since it’s a drag fetching it from the bathroom to the kitchen in pitchers–very little-house-on-the-prarie if only Laura had wall-to-wall berber). The new filter was a reservoir brand that says it allows ZERO parts-per-million of particles to pass through its patented filter.

And that claim was true. I got a particle tester with the filter. My tap water was in the high 290s. The two-stage filter in the bathroom reduced the ppm to the 140s. The new filter really did make it 0.000 ppm. “Replace the filter,” said the filter lid (in writing, it doesn’t really speak), “when the level is at 006.”

OK. no problem. Then I discovered how quickly a single filter, with a single person in the house, got to and exceeded that level. I was particularly lazy this month, and found the water was tasting lemony. Lemony, like citric acid, a substance I use frequently — to clean the coffee pot, to boost the dishwasher detergent, to up the acid in preserving. I tested the water. 498 ppm. Yikes! I re-tested the water going into the filter from the bathroom filter. 146 ppm. Hmm.

While I’m not accusing anyone of anything, it seems to me to be a brilliant idea to have a small slow-dissolving capsule of citric acid in a water filter so that the ppm can suddenly go from zero to the hundreds without harming anyone. It might be a safeguard even, so the filter isn’t neglected to the point where nasty things can grow in it. I’m on my fourth filter in six months, and the reservoir holds two gallons of water. Like I said. I do work all day most weekdays, even though not at a gas station. And I live alone.

Now, I’m thinking it might be better to just use the filter carafe and forget the filter. I have some more filters to use, so I’ll keep going, but, honestly, this thing is ADDING stuff to the water I put into it if I don’t replace it every five weeks. I just replaced it today. Back to ZERO.

Now, I’m thinking of a distiller. I’m not sure I really want to drink distilled water — some mineral tastes, I like, but I use distilled water for many things, such as a fountain and my Aerogarden. Alas, I just bought a pack of 10 filters for this zero-thing, because they cost three times as much when bought singly.

Nine more filters to go. Then distiller. I’m sick of carrying bottles up the stairs. To be continued.

Otherwise, I’ve heard there’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold. Going to see if she has a twitter feed. I’m sure she has an opinion on heavy metal. I’ll ask her about water filters too.

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5 thoughts on “In pursuit of pure water. Or at least water that tastes that way

  1. So I love your writing style replete with explanations for literal people. I also love that you had spring water growing up. Can you find out if anyone bottles that water locally? Even something close might be a great blessing to you. I went through thinking about water a while back and drank distilled but came across how that’s not even good for you. Then I thought about how God made water – I hope you don’t mind my Christian world view. Even by the ocean their are springs within walking distance; I always thought people who lived near an ocean boiled their water or collected rain water 600 years ago. They just walked to the spring like anyone living in the country. šŸ™‚ God provided spring water to drink, and it is also used in many places for its reputed healing properties in hot springs around the world. I hope you find the source of that lead. Lord, will you make it clearer than clear what’s contributing to this person’s high lead levels? Also, you can read about chelators like greens to help clean the metals out of your system. Finally, I read a cool article about cilantro cleansing stream water and how stream water becomes clean after it sits in a glass container for a day or something. I hear a lot about how blessed we are with our sanitation and indoor plumbing but I do wonder who is really better off – the people hauling a bucket of water from a (clean) river or those who turn on a faucet?

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    1. I had to take an oxidative stress test to see if there were any toxins in circulation after the heavy metal test. Since the lead levels were so high in the post-challenge test, it was possible the other metals showed a false negative, because the challenging agent can only bind so much metal. The stress test would have shown any toxins present.

      If the stress test came back positive, my doctor would have started me on a metal detox. However, there was no significant stress, so I believe she will decide to leave the metal alone — it’s bound up in bone, and not affecting anything else. There’s a risk of toxic overload during the detox, so, doing nothing is an option, as my body has come up with its own solution to the high lead levels. I believe the lead is a legacy of much home renovation and furniture refinishing I did years ago.

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  2. Dear @jesusdiedandlives,

    Thank you so much for you kind comment and your prayers and good wishes. My family still owns the farm with that spring so I hope to get back there someday.

    Heavy metal testing has two parts. First you do a test in a normal state, a random sample. Next, you take some pills that bind heavy metals and take the test again after a specific amount of time. Since I had very little lead before the test and three times the normal after, it means that it is being kept somewhere, probably in my bones, to protect my body from it. This proves once again how amazingly our bodies are designed.

    The doctor is now trying to figure out what to do. Either it gets drawn out (with more of those pills) or let be (since it is safely contained). She’s doing more tests to see if it’s causing problems. Her view is that if not, it might be more harm than good to remove it.

    So, I thank you for your concern. It may be that I do a chelation treatment, or I might leave it wherever it’s tucked away. I expect it was all the restoration I did on the old farmhouse that caused the lead buildup in the first place. Everyone was expecting mercury to show up because I have a lot of silver fillings, but nope. Lead. Maybe I can blame the number that shows up when I step on the scale says on that?

    I remember that my great-grandmother lived in a house where the water source was a hand pump mounted on a slate sink. She was very proud of that indoor water! From the kitchen, water got carried everywhere to use for cooking, bathing and cleaning. I wish she could have lived longer to see how much easier, not to mention warmer, the water business got, but I agree that her water was probably a lot better tasting than mine. I got a real kick out of being allowed to stand on a chair and pump that pump. (I expect there was some adult help there but I remember doing it all myself.)

    Take care, and I hope you find yourself surrounded by healthful pure water.

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