How to Make Your Well Water Fit for Drinking

Without proper filtration, your well water could make you and your family seriously sick. Learn how to purify well water here.

Darrell Smith
Well Water Well Water

You might be surprised to learn that there are 15.9 million water wells in the US.

While there are benefits to getting your water from a well, if you own one, keep in mind that the water is untreated, and you should not drink the water straight from its source.

Let's take a look at some different strategies for purifying well water.

Why Purify?

The Environmental Protection Agency doesn't regulate wells the way it does public water sources. The agency only provides information regarding the importance of testing and guidance on technologies that can reduce or eliminate contaminants.

In other words, treating and purifying your water is up to you.

While the groundwater that feeds wells is generally safe, well water can still get contaminated from a number of sources. The groundwater gets inside the cracks and spaces in underground bedrock, where it gets exposed to minerals that contain arsenic, calcium, sulfur, copper, and more.

Microorganisms like bacteria and parasites can find their way into well water. Pesticides, mining and other industrial operations, and mishandled waste near water sources can also be sources of contamination.

The level of contamination in your water depends on these and other factors, including the depth of your well. In fact, the deeper your well is, the less contamination will likely be present.

To sum up, it's vitally important to purify your well water.

When To Test

Well water should be tested at least once a year for PH levels, total dissolved solids, nitrates, total coliform bacteria, and more. After that, you should treat your water regularly in order to eliminate these contaminants and help your water taste better.

Bacterial and fungal contamination can lead to disease. Large quantities of sand, silt, and dirt can also cause sickness.

Contaminants have been linked to serious health issues, including cancer, neurological problems, reproductive problems, and gastrointestinal illness. Nitrates are particularly unsafe for newborns since they can disorganize their oxygen flow.

Testing and purifying your water will put your mind at ease.

Purification Methods

Under-Sink Filters

Under-sink filters are installed (surprise!) under your sink and attached to your home plumbing, providing filtration for the sink under which they are attached, but not for the entire home.

For sale at most home-goods stores for a reasonable price, under-sink filters are long-lasting and easy to install.

Some under-sink filters use a process called reverse osmosis to remove contaminants. A semi-permeable membrane removes virtually all particulates, including heavy metals, bacteria, viruses, and hard-water minerals. Reverse osmosis systems are a standard for the bottled-water industry and military practices.

It's important to note that under-sink filters purify the cold water going into your faucet, but not your hot water. Also, they don't produce any wastewater.

Countertop Filters

Countertop filters get attached directly to your tap, taking up little space and requiring almost no expertise to install. Like under-sink systems, they only filter the water in the sink they are attached to.

Relatively low-maintenance and stress-free, countertop filters work by pushing water through a filter with small pores. Ion resins remove the calcium, magnesium, and other contaminants in water.

If you have hard water, a water-softening countertop filter may be the right choice for you because soft water has been shown to make your hair and skin softer and also prolong the life of your appliances.

Countertop filters also incorporate other processes, including KDF filtration, alkalization, silver filter, and remineralization.

Distillation Systems

Water-distillation systems work by boiling impure water, collecting the steam, and condensing it in a separate container, leaving all of the solid contaminants behind.

Water distillers can be placed on your countertop, and many come ready to use with no assembly. Often made of stainless steel or plastic, water-distillation systems are easy to clean.

Disinfectant Systems

Disinfectant systems remove or kill microorganisms through physical or chemical processes.

Physical disinfectants include ultraviolet light, electronic radiation, and heat. Chemical disinfectants include chlorine, chlorine dioxide, and ozone.

Portable Water Filters

Water filters also come in smaller, portable forms that many people use for travel and outdoor activities. A portable water filter will eliminate contaminants from your well water such as bacteria, parasites, and sedimentary rock.

The barrier in most portable water filters is a replaceable cartridge that contains several layers of permeable material. The materials include a porous cloth that traps sediment and activated carbon, which binds impurities to it.

Ultraviolet Light

Ultraviolet rays can be especially useful when killing harmful bacteria and pathogens. This special form of light has been standard at the municipal level for decades but has recently become available for home use.

The intensity of your ultraviolet water-purification system will determine how effective it is at killing germs. The light is mounted in a chamber that the water flows through, killing bacteria, waterborne illnesses, viruses, and mold.

Ultraviolet light doesn't affect the water itself in any way or give it strange tastes or odors, but it's unable to remove heavy metals or particles. The systems are also a bit more work to maintain, requiring frequent cleaning and proper part replacement.

Choose Your Method

As you can see, there's no shortage of ways to purify your well water. The most important takeaway of this article is that it's critical to choose the system that best fits your situation, style, and budget and get it installed, so you and your family can enjoy safe, purified water from your well.

In this post: well water, well water treatment
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