Water - Fact of Interest
Here's a look at the four primary types of contaminants that may be found in the water:
BIOLOGICAL: This category includes bacteria, viruses, cysts and other types of microorganisms. Examples can include E-Coli, cryptosporidium, hepatitis, typhoid and cholera. Biological contaminants are considered the most dangerous of all the contaminants. The health problems associated with some biological contaminants can include gastrointestinal illness, liver damage, severe pain, neurological damage and in some cases even death.
INORGANIC: Inorganic contaminants are toxic metals and elemental contaminants that are not structured around the carbon atom. Examples include lead, copper, arsenic, and magnesium. While many inorganic contaminants are considered harmless, others have been proven to cause brain damage, learning disabilities, and cancer.
ORGANIC: There are tens of thousands of chemical contaminants structured around the carbon atom. Organic contaminants include solvents, pesticides, herbicides, and gasoline. Many organic contaminants have been linked to a number of forms of cancer and are suspected in a number of other types of illnesses.
RADIOACTIVE: Radioactive contaminants are typically inorganic and can be naturally occurring or man-made. Some radioactive contaminants have been linked to cancer.
With few exceptions, the pH of freshly distilled water will test between 6.8 and 7.0 (neutral) on the pH scale. If distilled water sits in an open container (exposed to air in other words) it tends to absorb carbon dioxide from the air. This will result in a gradual lowering of the pH due to the formation of a weak carbonic acid. Through this process the pH can get as low as 5.5 on the pH scale. This is of little consequence since carbonic acid at this level is only slightly ionized and is therefore very weak. This does however make the distilled water more aggressive in the dissolving of light metals such as copper and is one of the reasons copper should not be used to store or plumb distilled water.
For consumptive uses the dissolved carbon dioxide may actually be a benefit in that it tends to discourage the regrowth of bacteria from the air. It also gives distilled water an improved taste. (Remember that carbon dioxide is deliberately pumped into carbonated drinks at very high levels for the same reason.)
As far as the affects of steam-distilled water on the body, I recommend that you look at what Andrew Weil, M.D. has to say on the matter, "As far as acidity goes, distilled water is close to a neutral pH and has no effect on the body's acid/base balance. Distilled water is safe to drink, and the kind of water I use myself."
Our water is purified to near-distilled quality. We are monitored and inspected by the FDA and the Illinois Dept. of Public Health, and we are members of the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA). In addition to testing all water in our in-house lab, we also send weekly samples to an independent lab. Finally we send samples annually to a national lab for extremely detailed testing.
There are three primary points to consider when comparing R.O. (Reverse Osmosis) units to Steam- Distillers:
1) BARRIER VERSUS NON-BARRIER: Reverse Osmosis is a process that employs a barrier in its operation. On one side of the barrier is raw water and on the other is filtered water. All barriers eventually break down, clog and deteriorate, which is why you have to change your filters periodically. This means that you never know how effective the membrane (filter) is, or what contaminants are passing through this barrier. The process of steam-distillation does not involve a "barrier", but rather it boils the water (which kills biological contaminants), then separates and captures only the pure steam.
2) CONSISTENCY OF PERFORMANCE: Any number of factors can affect the quality of water produced by a RO system, such as temperature, pH, water pressure, water quality, age of the membrane, deterioration of membrane, etc. With a distiller, none of these variables affect the actual outcome of the process, which means that steam-distillation produces excellent results year after year, virtually irregardless of the quality of the source water.
3) BACTERIA: Reverse Osmosis systems do not kill bacteria or other biological contaminants, and can actually cause bacteria to grow and multiply in the membrane. In fact, if your tap water is contaminated with bacteria you should NOT use a reverse osmosis system. Steam-distillation on the other hand actually boils the water, which kills biological contaminants, then it removes and separates the pure steam, leaving the dead bacteria behind!
ALL living things must have water to survive. Every cell in one's body not only is composed largely of water it is also surrounded by water since no cells in you body actually touch! Living cells need and depend on an adequate supply of water in order to carry out all of life's functions. Water is required for every bodily function; breathing, digestion, growth, movement, elimination of waste products, heat dissipation, secretion and all glandular functions. The purer the water is the better!
In many respects the human body can be considered quite unique. It is actually a highly specialized, porous and hairy blob of water. Within this blob of water literally thousands of chemical reactions are occurring around the clock without our knowledge. The chemicals that the body needs to carry out these reactions come largely from the food and water we consume and the air that we breathe.
The body does not need the stray chemicals that are generally found in tap water. That is one of the reasons why drinking steam-distilled water, free of virtually all contaminants is so important. Stray chemicals can easily cause side reactions which are undesirable or even fatal. Therefore both the quantity and the quality of the water that you drink determines the quality of your tissues and organs and their performance as well as their resistance to disease.
Everyone knows plastic isn't good for the environment, and that all businesses should try to reduce their carbon footprint. At UltraPure we use PET plastic bottles, we use bottles that have 30% less plastic than other retail bottles. We also use less packaging materials so there is less waste.
Most importantly, we are a local company. That means short shipping distances and less carbon emissions, so you can feel good about your purchase.
One of the simplest ways to determine the purity of water is to do a TDS test, which can be done with a simple electronic TDS meter.
"TDS" stands for "total dissolved solids". This is a measurement of inorganic solids that have been dissolved in the water. The easiest way to think of this is if you take a pinch of salt and put it in a glass of water, the salt dissolves but it's still in the water. Dissolved solids in water will cause the water to conduct electricity (pure water does not conduct electricity). So a TDS meter measures the electrical conductivity of water, which is a very good way to determine the total amount of dissolved solids in the water.
Keep in mind the following points about a TDS test...
A TDS test does not tell you what contaminants are in the water, but rather it gives you a fairly good overview of how pure the water is. Steam-distilled water, for example is highpurity water and usually reads at 0 to 5 ppm.
A TDS test only tests for inorganic contaminants, which is only one type of contaminant. It does not test for organic contaminants, such as pesticides or solvents and it does not test for biological contaminants, such as bacteria and parasites.
A TDS meter will typically measure in "ppm", which stands for "parts per million". This tells you how sensitive the equipment is. We will explain this further in another Ask Dr. Water article.
In summary, a TDS meter is a useful, simple method to get a general idea of how contaminated your water is.
There has been some misinformation propagated on the internet regarding steam-distilled water, mostly from persons selling filters or some other inferior type of water treatment system. The most common misleading statement is that steam-distilled water is too pure, and that it will somehow leach water from the cells in your body. This is a ridiculous statement.
First of all, the term "leaching" is not a biological term, but rather is a geological term. There is no such thing as leaching in a living organism.
Second, there is no such thing as high-purity water in your body. As soon as you consume water it is mixed with saliva and other bodily fluids. In fact, to demonstrate this fact we will have people take a mouthful of high-purity steam-distilled water and immediately spit it back into a cup. We then test the water and find that the TDS (total dissolved solids) will measure anywhere from 10 to 150 parts per million! When you swallow high-purity water it mixes with all of your stomach acids and instantly becomes part of the soupy mixture that makes up your body.
High-purity water, such as rain water, is simply water that is free of most of the contaminants that are present in all tap water around the US today.
Good drinking habits are especially important for children. Children have higher metabolisms so they need more water (for their weight) than adults. Because of children's low body weight, they can easily become dehydrated. There have been a number of reports that actually link proper hydration to mental development for children and improved attention spans.
Water quality is also extremely important for children. Children have a less developed immune system than adults and are definitely more susceptible to contamination (especially biological contamination) than adults. Contamination outbreaks are considerably more dangerous for children than adults.
Since children drink more water for their weight than adults, toxins may build-up in their bodies faster. This is the main reason that lead contamination is such a concern for children. Children are very sensitive to bad tastes in water. This causes them to turn to sugared drinks that hide the bad tastes. When children have access to good tasting water and they are encouraged with positive drinking habits they can develop a taste for water over sugared drinks. Distilled drinking water is an important key to keeping them healthy.
As of January 17th, 2001, the EPA ordered that allowable levels of arsenic in drinking water be reduced to 10 parts per billion. This represents an 80% reduction from the arsenic standard established in 1942, of 50 parts per billion. Environmentalists have argued for years that the arsenic standard should be lowered. In 2000 the EPA proposed going to 5 parts per billion as demanded by many environmentalists and those in the health field. Mining and chemical industries had opposed changing the standard because it is expected to be used as the standard for cleaning up toxic waste sites. Water municipalities had also complained because of the cost of making improvement, estimated at $5 billion for capital costs alone.
Efforts to tighten the federal requirement gained momentum after a 1999 National Academy of Sciences report found that arsenic in drinking water causes bladder, lung and skin cancer and may cause kidney and liver cancer!
The new standard is now in line with the standard for the World Health Organization. All the 54,000 U.S. community water systems, serving about 254 million people are subject to the new standard but only about 5% or 3,000 systems serving 13 million people, have to upgrade their systems to meet the new standard. Communities in parts of the Midwest and New England that depend on underground sources for drinking water will be affected the most.
Steam-distillation is the best method of removing arsenic from drinking water and Pure Water Appliances have excellent 3rd party tests to back up these claims.
Proper hydration is important to your health and happiness. Your body continually replaces the water in your body. It's continually expelled through breathing, perspiration, urine and bowel movements, and it's replaced through eating foods and drinking beverages. It's clear that the amount of water you consume has a direct affect on your health.
We have all heard that we need to drink our eight glasses of water a day. This may be oversimplified because we are all different shapes and sizes, but now modern science is proving how absolutely necessary good hydration is to us. Dehydration, which occurs when your body doesn't have enough water, has been linked to headaches, mood swings, attention deficit problems, sluggishness, and has been directly linked to children's ability to learn.
Many people think that they can drink 8 glasses of any beverage and it is the same as drinking their 8 glasses of water; this is not true. Many drinks, such as ones that have alcohol or caffeine are categorized as "diuretics", which means that instead of satisfying your body's need for water, they actually cause you to lose water, which dehydrates you further. Other drinks, such as juices and sports drinks have large amounts of sugar. While these drinks can be good in moderation, your body needs water more than it needs sugar or any other additives.
Clean, fresh water should be part of any solid nutrition program. Water is the most essential nutrient in our diet, yet it is the one that is the most overlooked by doctors and nutritionists. Water is the building block of life. It is the most fundamental nutrient in our body and it plays a vital role in every bodily function including circulation, breathing, digestion, brain activity and growth. Water is crucial for controlling body temperature, lubrication and purifying toxins from each cell your body.
Our bodies are composed of approximately 70% water. Blood is 83% water, our lungs are 75% water, and even bones are 22% water. The body constantly maintains this remarkable balance well that even a 2% drop in the percentage of water can cause fatigue and a 10% drop in the percentage of water can result in death.
The quality of water that you put into your body is vitally important. It's just common sense; if over 70% of your body is water and you continually replace the water that makes up your body, then make sure that it's the highest quality water that you can get, which i s steam-distilled water.
In many ways the Steam Distillation process is like the Hydrologic Cycle. This is sometimes referred to as Nature's Distiller or "Rain in a Chamber". There are in simple terms, three steps. They are: Evaporation, Condensation and Precipitation. Rain is actually distilled water but as it falls through our polluted atmosphere it immediately begins to pick up dust particles, bacteria, toxic fumes and other contaminants, which can then convert the pure rain into "Acid Rain".
In a steam-distillation appliance, the shortcomings of the hydrologic cycle have been overcome. Water in the boiling tank comes to a boil which creates steam. The steam, being lighter than air, rises leaving virtually all of the biological and chemical impurities that may have been present i n the boiling water behind. The pure steam then enters the cooling section where it is cooled and converted into pure steam-distilled water. Bacteria, protozoa and viruses are killed almost instantly during the boiling process. Salts, heavy metals, dead bacteria and other high boiling point substances do not rise with the steam, but rather are left behind in the boiling chamber to be dumped down the drain.
What Nature has shown us as a model, man has learned to improve on through the process of steam-distillation.
To answer this question, let's take a look at how Mother Nature purifies water. Nature's primary method of purifying water (and in fact the reason we have fresh water of any kind) is the hydrologic cycle. In nature, the Sun provides heat to the Ocean, which causes evaporation. The pure water vapor rises until it condenses into clouds. With further cooling the clouds precipitate, causing rain.
Rain water, as long as there is no air pollution, is extremely pure water. Unfortunately, now the rainwater picks up contamination even before it hits the ground. And after it hits the ground it can be exposed to numerous chemicals. Until a few decades ago, we could rely on nature to provide us with pure water, but now we have to take care of the problem ourselves.
In simple terms, nature purifies water by...
1) Evaporation 2) Condensation
Steam-distillation duplicates this process of evaporation, condensation and precipitation. Steamdistillation is the only process that mimics nature's primary process of purification.
The simple answer is yes. There is no water source in the US today that is completely contaminant free. A more accurate question to ask yourself is, "Does my water contain harmful contaminants?" This is a very difficult question to answer because of the following reasons...
Water quality can vary from day to day, thus if you get your water tested, it is only a "snapshot" of a single moment.
There are many contaminants that have unknown effects upon our health, thus they are not listed as "harmful", even though they may be harmful. Every year this becomes a more serious problem because of the increasing number of chemicals put into the environment.
While there can be potentially thousands of contaminants found in drinking water, the Safe Drinking Water Act requires that water treatment facilities conduct tests on only a few over 100 possible contaminants to determine whether water is suitable for drinking.
Even with fairly lax water quality regulations, it's estimated that one in five municipal water treatment facilities did not meet the safe drinking water standards for microbial contamination.
So the answer to the question "Does my water contain harmful contaminants?", is that it's very difficult, if not impossible to know whether your water contains harmful contaminants at any given time.
It is true that various minerals are essential for the proper functioning of the heart and the rest of your body. A very important point to remember is that minerals must be in a form that the body can readily assimilate and use. The minerals that are found in water are in an inorganic form, and are a result of the water dissolving the minerals from the rocks and soil that it comes in contact with. Inorganic minerals are in a form that is poorly assimilated by the body. We cannot get our minerals, calcium for example, by sucking on a rock. For proper adsorption of minerals we need to get our minerals from a plant source. A simple rule to remember is; Plants use inorganic minerals, such as rocks and soil; animals (humans included) use organic minerals, which come from plant sources, or from animals that have consumed plants.
In fact, inorganic minerals such as is found in water, can be considered to be contaminants, because your body has to eliminate them from the body. Dr. Peter Lodewick, the author of the book, A Diabetic Doctor Looks at Diabetes, recommends that people, especially diabetics, drink distilled water so their bodies don't have to go through the stress of eliminating the inorganic minerals.
Finally, even if the minerals in water were in a form that was usable by the body, the minerals are often intermingled with other contaminants that are not beneficial, or possibly even harmful. (Examples: metals such as lead, mercury, arsenic, solvents, pesticides, herbicides, other chemicals or biological contaminants.)
From our own records, we know that there are thousands of doctors, and nutritionists around the world that drink steam-distilled drinking water. Here are what some well-known experts have to say on the subject...
"I use a steam distiller to purify my water, because I believe distilled is the cleanest you can get." Andrew Weil, M.D., The Healthy Kicthen
"We believe that only steam distilled water should be consumed." James F. Balch, M.D. & Phyllis A. Balch C.N.C., Prescription for Nutritional Healing
Both of these terms are units of measurement. Measurements most have units (or dimensions) with them. Both of the terms, ppm and ppb are ratios that show concentration of one substance compared to another usually by weight. The first is parts per one million and the second is parts per one billion. (Many do not realize that the more common symbol "%" is actually designating parts per one hundred.)
When these measurements are associated with solutions, ppm would more accurately be designated as milligrams per liter. (A liter of distilled water weighs one kilogram.) For example, if a water sample is tested and determined to have 10 ppm of Nitrate, this solution has 10 milligrams of Nitrate per liter of water. If a water test shows 50 ppb of Lead, it would more accurately be expressed as 50 micrograms of Lead per liter of water, and so on. (This is quite often the way results will be expressed at a water testing facility.) For simplicity, water standards are generally listed with ppm and ppb designations.
It is very difficult for the typical layman to visualize the terms such as ppm and ppb. It usually helps to compare these terms to common everyday measurements. For example: a part per million is like one inch in 16 miles or one drop in 35 gallons. Extending this concept, one ppb is like one inch in 16,000 miles or one drop in 35,000 gallons. There are now laboratory methods for measuring down to parts per trillion and parts per quadrillion but we won't go into that here!
Eldon Muehling, affectionately called "Dr. Water" by his peers, is the author of numerous articles and books on water chemistry and for over 25 years (before health was trendy) has trained thousands of people on the advantages of consuming only the purest drinking water. Eldon Muehling, aka "Dr. Water"