Water is considered the ultimate sustainable resource because of the hydrological cycle that returns water to nature in the form of rainfall so that it can be used again and again. However, during that process, water collects both natural and artificial impurities.
The term "impurities" refers to things in water other than H2O molecules. Some of these are natural and improve water quality, like naturally occurring minerals from rock sediments underground. Other impurities are from manmade chemical processes.
Unfortunately, it seems like our modern world has complicated the drinking water process. There is much discussion and debate about drinking water purity and impurities, but simply put, water coming from an uncontaminated natural spring water source is exactly how it should be: Nothing added, nothing removed.
Recently, homeowners have become more aware of dangerous contaminants in their water supply that can affect their health and wellbeing. As a result, they are increasingly looking for more natural options.
Impurities in Water
Generally speaking, water impurities are any constituent besides H2O found in drinking water. Remember, impurities aren’t necessarily bad. For example, there are naturally occurring electrolytes and minerals found in spring water that improve both the taste and overall quality of the water. We previously wrote a blog post on why ultra-pure water is inferior.
There are, however, negative impurities in water that decrease water quality including dust, dirt, harmful chemicals, biological contaminants, radiological contaminants, and total suspended solids (TSS). All impurities in drinking water are either soluble or insoluble, as explained below.
Soluble and Insoluble Impurities in Water
Soluble simply means that a component in water can be dissolved in it. From a chemistry perspective, solubility occurs under dynamic equilibrium, in which a solvent (water) goes through a dissolution phase with a solute, creating suspended molecules of ions in the solvent.
The solubility of a substance fundamentally depends on the physical and chemical properties of the solute and solvent. In contrast, insoluble impurities in water can include sand, clay, total suspended solids, and organic matter—in other words, any material that does not dissolve in water.
Examples of Soluble Impurities in Water
In the context of quality drinking water, what are some of these dissolved impurities in water that are natural and what are some that should be removed? Both soluble and insoluble constituents in water are determined by the characteristics of the ground water source.
Naturally occurring components such as calcium chloride, calcium sulfate, calcium bicarbonate, magnesium chloride, magnesium sulfate, magnesium bicarbonate, sodium chloride, sodium sulfate, and sodium carbonate are examples of soluble impurities in water that are actually good for water quality.
Negative soluble impurities in water can include organic matter, harmful chemicals, and biological contaminants.
How to Remove Soluble Impurities in Water
To remove unwanted soluble impurities in water, treatment centers add chemicals to form a precipitant and then the water goes through a process designed to remove the solids created. Adsorption also is used to remove unwanted soluble impurities by trapping them in activated carbon filter.
For example, substances that are highly soluble in water but highly insoluble in other materials can easily crystallize into the carbon mixture. Trituration removes highly soluble impurities, usually from solid or insoluble materials, by rinsing them with a suitable solvent.
Why Is Water Purity So Complicated?
Water is simple, but our advanced society has found many ways to complicate it! Municipal water providers add substances in attempts to improve water quality, people pour dangerous chemicals down their drain and expect the treatment plant to get them out of the water, and companies use distillation or reverse osmosis to create a “pure” product, only to strip away vital naturally occurring electrolytes and minerals in the process.
That's why people who understand water quality are such big fans of natural spring water. They understand that it comes out of the ground exactly how nature intended it to be: devoid of harmful contaminants and full of naturally occurring minerals and electrolytes.
Click below to see why the source of your water really matters.