Frequently Asked Questions

Water Problems

  • Why does my water smell like rotten eggs?

    In some parts of the country, drinking water can contain the chemical hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas, which smells just like rotten eggs. This can occur when water comes into contact with organic matter or with some minerals, such as pyrite. The situation mostly occurs as ground water filters through organic material or rocks. Hydrogen sulfide can be treated by a manganese greensand filter, or by chlorination.

  • My water smells like rotten eggs, but I had it tested on site and there is now hydrogen sulphide in the water. Could it be anything else?

    First of all, it still could be hydrogen sulphide, it just may not have been present in the water supply when you had it tested. It is important to remember that H2S is a gas and levels can fluctuate from a day-to-day basis due to barometric pressure. If you are sure it is not H2S, it could be a reaction of the magnesium anode rod located in your hot water heater. To remedy this, remove the rod, or replace it with an alternate material such as aluminum.

  • Why does it take so long to rinse the soap off my hands?

    The terms "soft water" and "hard water" are important here. Water is said to be soft if it has a low concentration of calcium and magnesium ions in it, and hard water has a high concentration of calcium and magnesium. If you use soft water, the ions react with the soap you use to produce a residue that feels like it is difficult to wash off. If you use hard water, you also will have a harder time working the soap up into a lather. Hard water is typically the number one concern of water treatment professionals and can easily be addressed with a water softener.

  • Why is our porcelain sink stained brown?

    The brown stain is from a large amount of iron in your water. It is closely related to simple rust you see on metal, which is iron oxide. The source of the water you use probably is ground water, and the water has filtered through rocks containing iron-rich minerals on the way to the well.

  • Why does my drinking water look cloudy sometimes?

    Once in a while you get a glass of water, and it looks cloudy; maybe milky is a better term. After a few seconds it miraculously clears up! The cloudiness is due to tiny air bubbles in the water. Like any bubbles, the air rises to the top of the water and goes into the air, clearing up the water. The water in the pipes coming into your house might be under a bit of pressure, and gases (the air), which are dissolved in the pressurized water, will come out as the water flows into your glass, where is under normal atmospheric pressure.

  • I've noticed that my stainless steel sinks and flatware have black stains and are pitted. What could this be caused from?

    It sounds like there is a very high chloride (Cl-) content in your water. The problem with the stainless steel flatware is likely enhanced if they are cleaned in a dishwasher as the high drying temperatures of the dishwasher will accelerate the corrosion. High chlorides can be reduced with reverse osmosis technology.

  • My porcelain sinks and tub have green stains on them and my water has a blue-green hue to it. Can this be fixed?

    It sounds like the water has a high carbon dioxide content (pH below 6.8) reacting with the brass and copper pipes that are causing the staining. To remedy this acid water condition, you could use a calcite filter to neutralize the pH, feed soda ash into the water with a feeder, or use a mixed media of calcite/magnesia oxide.

  • My water is yellow (like tea).....what's up?

    Your water contains tannins (humic acids) which are harmless organics caused by water seeping through decaying organic matter such as leaves or peat. Water with tannins are typically from a surface water supply such as lakes and streams. Tannins can be removed by an absorption process using a special macroporous Type 1 anion exchange resin or by chlorination.

  • My municipal water has a fishy taste to it, is this normal?

    If your municipally treated water has a fishy taste and brewed beverages (coffee & tea) don't taste right, the problem is likely caused by a residual of chloramines (chlorine & ammonia) in the water. Municipalities like to use chloramines as they tend not to form disinfection by-products like traditional chlorination does. Granular activated carbon works extremely well to reduce the chlormaine level in drinking water.

  • I've heard of "blue baby syndrome" in relation to water, can you explain what this is?

    Blue baby syndrome, or cyanosis, causes a dusky bluish or purplish discoloration of the skin of a baby or in the mucous membranes due to insufficient oxygen in the blood. This is typically the result of excess nitrates (NO3-) in the water and methemoglobinemia in infants. In methemoglobinemia the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood is reduced as a result of a reaction with nitrite (NO2-), which changes the healthy hemoglobin to an inactive methemoglobin form. RO, distillation, or a strong Type II base anion resin can reduce the nitrates.

  • Why does my water taste like a swimming pool?

    Your municipality is adding chlorine to the water at the water treatment plant to ensure that the treated water leaving the plant arrives to your tap, wherever it may be located in the distribution system, with enough of a residual chlorine level to ensure safe bacteriological levels. Unfortunately, this chlorine is the same basic compound that you likely use in your swimming pool and it can be objectionable in regards to both taste and odour. Simple granular activated carbon filtration will easily remove this chlorine taste and odour from the water.

  • I've read allot about MTBE lately, what is it and should I be concerned?

    Methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), is a chemical compound with molecular formula C5H12O. MTBE is a volatile, flammable and colorless liquid that is immiscible with water. MTBE has a minty odor vaguely reminiscent of diethyl ether, leading to unpleasant taste and odour in water. MTBE is a gasoline additive, used as to oxygenate and raise the octane number, although its use has declined in response to environmental and health concerns. It has been found to easily pollute large quantities of groundwater when gasoline with MTBE is spilled or leaked at gas stations. Activated carbon adsorption is used to remove, however the carbon will be depleted at a rate that is two to three times greater than if the carbon was used to treat chloroform.

  • My water has a distinct grittiness to it and it leaves a residue in the bath and sink. How can I get rid of this?

    The grittiness you are experiencing is caused from excessively fine sand or silt in the water supply that is bypassing any well screens and settling out in the bath tubs and sinks. Simple sediment reduction cartridges will address this common problem.

  • The water at my parent's house has a distinct salty taste, what could this be?

    The problem could be one of two things. The first, could be from a high sodium or magnesium content (e.g., NaCl, NaSO4, or MgSO4), while the second could be a malfunction of the water softener resulting in brine entering the water lines. The first problem can be fixed with RO or distillation technologies and the second would require a service call to fix the water softener.

  • My water has a strong alkali taste, like baking soda, and my aluminum pots are all stained. Is this a water issue?

    The likely cause of this phenomenon is a high dissolved mineral content (TDS) and high alkality in the raw water (e.g., SO4, Cl, or HCO3). Reverse osmosis technology will address these issues.

  • The water at my parent's farm has a strong metallic taste. What could this be caused from?

    The metallic taste is likely the result of one of two things. First, it could be a high iron content in the water and this would be recognizable if there was any staining in the fixtures in the home, or, it could be the result of a very low pH (acid water), in the range of 4.5 - 5.5. The iron can be address with a water softener or iron filter and the low pH can be corrected with a calcite media filter.

  • What technology should I use for microorganisms?

    UV does have an effect on all microorganisms to some effect. Whether it is bacteria, virus, algae, protozoan cysts, spores, mould, etc., exposure to UV light will harm the organism. Each individual organism requires a different level of exposure (know as UV Dose) in order to prevent cell replication. Some organisms, usually viruses, require extremely high doses of UV light in order to achieve disinfection. The important issue here is that one should ensure that the UV system they are purchasing delivers enough UV dose at the end of the lamp life to ensure adequate disinfection against a typical array of organisms found in drinking water.

  • I have been hearing a lot about E.coli on the news, how can I treat E.coli?

    Escherichia coli, or E.coli for short is a bacterium found in the lower intestine of warm blooded organisms. There are many strains of E.coli, some of which can be found in the water supply. Although E.coli has been blamed for many deaths (i.e. Walkerton in 2000), when exposed to ultraviolet light, at relatively a relatively low dose, UV is easily destroyed. Even the particularly virulent O157:H7 strain of E.coli (as found in Walkerton in 2000) has a 4-log (99.99%) reduction at a UV dose of 6 mJ/cm². It should be mentioned that all LUMINOR UV systems deliver a UV dose in excess of 30 mJ/cm² at the end of the lamp life.

  • My area has had problems with Cryptosporium and Giarda lamblia, I have read that UV is not effective against these this true?

    No, although you may have read scientific articles from prominent researchers and from other UV companies, this information was based on old research studies. Original studies performed in the 1980's were based on excystation methods which lead to the belief that UV was ineffective against these protozoan cysts. In the early 2000's, it was proven by a host of independent research that UV was in fact extremely effective against both Cryptosporium and Giarda lamblia at a UV dose of less than of 10 mJ/cm². The change was a result of testing methodology used in the earlier testing. This new information has opened the doors for UV to become a mainstream disinfection method.

  • I grew up on a farm with a cistern that gathered rainwater, my parents said it was the best, but I was always sick as a kid, were my parents right?

    Your parents were right and wrong! It is true that rainwater, when it leaves a cloud, is pretty close to pure H2O, but that's about where it all stops. As that raindrop falls to earth through the atmosphere it picks up many impurities along the way. Once it enters the cistern, even more issues begin to happen. Although cisterns store water, they also act as a huge breeding ground for all forms of bacteria. No water should be consumed form a cistern without being disinfected by some method such as ultraviolet light.

Water Chemistry

  • What is water made up of?

    The chemical description of water is H2O, which means that water is formed by the combination of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. Hydrogen atom weighs one-sixteenth of an oxygen atom, thus in water molecule, 88.8% of weight is from oxygen, while 11.2% belongs to hydrogen.

  • Why is water called the "universal solvent"?

    Water has the capacity to dissolve more substances than any other liquid, thus, is called universal solvent. The universal solvent quality enables water to take other valuable minerals, nutrients or chemicals with them wherever they go. The polar bonds in water molecule make it a universal solvent.

  • What is a hydrophilic compound?

    Substances dissolving readily in water are called hydrophilic compounds. They consist of ions or polar molecules that use electrical charge effects to attract water molecules. The water molecules surround these polar molecules and carry them into the solution, thereby dissolving them. For example, ionic substances like sodium chloride dissolve in water, as the positive sodium ions and negative chlorine ions of sodium chloride get attracted to the polar water molecules.

  • What is a hydrophobic compound?

    Molecules with prevailing non-polar bonds are the ones that are mostly insoluble in water and are called hydrophobic compounds. Hydrocarbons containing C-H bonds are examples of hydrophobic compounds. This is because the intensity with which water molecules are attracted to C-H bonds, is far lesser than the intensity towards other water molecules. Hence, water molecules do not carry these hydrocarbons into the solution.

  • What does pH mean?

    The pH scale runs from 1 to 14, wherein ph 1-6 refers to acidic pH, while pH 8-14 refers to basic pH. At pH 7, a chemical is known to be neutral. The pH of a chemical substance is determined by the amount of hydrogen atoms in it. Thus, a chemical compound with high pH has higher number of hydrogen atoms in its chemical composition and are called acids. Whereas compounds with lower pH contains lower number of hydrogen atoms and are called bases. The pH of water is neutral. Read more on how to make alkaline water.

  • What are the differences between physical and chemical properties?

    Physical properties of a substance are properties that have everything to do with the substance's appearance. Chemical properties are properties that are often used in chemistry, to address the state of a substance. Physical and chemical properties can tell us something about the behaviour of a substance in certain circumstances.

  • Why does ice float on water?

    When substances freeze, usually the molecules come closer together. Water has an abnormality there; it freezes below 0°C, but when temperatures go below 4°C, water starts to expand again and as a result the density becomes lower. Density of a substance means the weight in kilograms of a cubic metre of a substance. When two substances are mixed but do not dissolve in one another, the substance with the lowest density floats on the other substance. In this case that substance is ice, due to the decreased density of water.

  • How come all substances are not water soluble?

    Polarity determines if a substance is water-soluble. A polar substance is a substance that has two kinds of "poles", as in a magnet. When another substance is also polar the poles of the substances attract each other and as a result the substances mix. A substance then dissolves in water. Substances that contain no 'poles' are called apolar substances. Oil for instance is an apolar substance, which is why oil does not dissolve in water. In fact it floats on water, just like ice, due to its smaller density.

  • At what temperature does seawater freeze?

    The answer is, "That depends?". Salt water freezes at a different temperature than fresh or pure water. The freezing temperature for salt water depends on how much salt is present in the water. The more salt there is in water, the lower the freezing temperature will be. Typical ocean water that is not close to a glacier, rivers or any kind of inlet contains about 35 g of salt per 1,000 units of water. This means that ocean salt water will freeze at about -1.91°C.

  • Why does salt water have a lower freezing point than freshwater?

    Salt water (NaCl) freezes at a lower temperature than pure water (H20) because of its chemical properties. Normally for water to freeze, the H and O have to bond. However, the presence of salt in the water makes it harder for the H and O to bond together. The salt does not naturally bond with the ice and because the salt particles replace the water particles, the rate of freezing drops.

  • How much does a water molecule weigh?

    The weight of a molecule is determined by the atomic masses of the atoms that it is built of. The atomic mass of an atom is determined by the addition of the number of protons and neutrons in the nucleus, because the electrons hardly weigh anything. When the atomic masses of the separate atoms are known, one simply has to add them up to find the total atomic mass of a molecule, expressed in grams per mol. Hydrogen has a relative atomic mass of 1 g/ mol and oxygen has a relative atomic mass of 16 g/ mol. Water consists of one oxygen atom and two hydrogen atoms. This means that the mass of a water molecule is 1g + 1g + 16g = 18 g/ mol.

  • How much does one gallon of water weigh?

    The weight of 1 US gallon of water is approximately 8.35 lbs (3.79 kg), while the weight of 1 Imperial gallon is approximately 4.5 kg (10.0 lbs). As a reference, the average weight of 1 US gallon of seawater is approximately 8.56 lbs (3.88 kg), while the weight of 1 Imperial gallon is approximately 4.61 kg (10.2 lbs).