You may feel frightened when the word acid is used in the same sentence as water, especially when it comes to water from your tap. You may not understand what acid water is, but it sounds menacing, and that is because it can be. When we talk about acid water, we are referring to the pH level of the water which is the potential of hydrogen (pH) in liquids.
The more hydrogen ions in a liquid the more acidic it becomes. Less hydrogen ions and more hydroxide ions make the water alkaline or
basic. The pH measurement system is a logarithmic scale numbered from 0 to 14 with 0 representing highly acidic and 14 representing high alkalinity. The number 7 on the scale represents neutral which has balanced concentrations of hydrogen ions and hydroxide ions. Distilled water is an example of water which is neutal on the pH scale. Each number on the pH scale represents a tenfold change from the number next to it, a pH of 6.0 is ten times more acidic than a pH of 7.0, and 100 times more acidic than a pH of 8.0.
Any point below 7 is considered acidic water, so even a pH of 6.8 can be harmful to your plumbing system, and therefore, your health.
Can you tell your water is acidic without having it tested? In this article we will discuss what signs to look out for, when to have your water tested, and if you should purchase an acid neutralizer or not.
Acidic Water Signs
If you notice any green or blue stains in your sinks, bathtubs or toilets, then it would be a good idea to check the pH level of your water. Over time acidic water will eat away metal pipes that come into contact with the water, especially copper pipes. The green or blue stains are a direct result of copper or brass (copper/zinc) residue left on surfaces after the water flows down the drain.
To find out what other reasons may be causing these stains, or how to remove them, view this article.
Another sign you should be on the look out for are small pinhole leaks in your pipes, especially if you have noticed any green or blue stains in your sinks, bathtubs or toilets. Since acidic water eats away at copper, and brass, pinhole leaks may show up under your kitchen sink, in the connective piping of your washing machine, or anywhere else there is visibly exposed piping. .
If you begin to notice any corrosion on your faucet fixtures, or if they are leaking, that can also be a clear sign of acidic water eating away at them. If the shower head you own is spewing water in every wrong direction, or your kitchen faucet leaks after you turn it off, that could be another sign of acidic water.
Although lead piping is mostly a thing of the past, most homes, built up until 1986 using copper pipe as the water supply, were soldered together using solder containing a combination of 50% lead and 50% tin. In 1986 Congress ammended the Safe Drinking Water Act to prohibit the use of solder or flux that was not lead free. So if the age of your house falls within this time frame you will want to pay particular attention to acidic water signs. When the corrosive nature of acidic water eats away at plumbing pipes, the pipe materials, such as lead and copper, leach into the water, possibly causing irreparable damage to your health. Make sure to identify these issues quickly to save yourself and your family any long term health issues.
Testing Water for Acidity
If you notice any of the signs listed above then testing your water is the next step. Testing will help you determine just how acidic your water is and provide you the information needed to discover the best treatment method. Any pH test should be done on-site at the water source. Taking a sample of water and driving just 10 minutes away can cause the pH test to be erroneous.
Testing is very easy and can be done at home. If you have a pool, you may already have a pH testing kit. You can purchase a pool test kit or consider buying some pH strips to test your water with. PH strips give you a numerical representation of the acidity in your tap water. Collect some water from your tap in a glass, then dip the pH strip into the water for a few seconds. Once you remove the strip from the water, the colored indicator on the strip will begin to change color. After the color has set, match it against the colors on the chart provided in the pH kit, this will help you determine how acidic your tap water is. For more information, view this article
How do acid neutralizers work?
Acid neutralizers are usually fiberglass tanks filled with food-grade calcium carbonate, commonly called calcite. When calcite comes into contact with water, calcium carbonate dissolves to produce calcium and carbonate ions, which raise the pH level in acidic water. Incoming water from a well or municipal water source is piped to the inlet side of the tank head assembly. The outlet side is piped to the main water supply for the house. As water flows into the tank head, it flows through a vertical distribution tube, forcing the water to exit into the bottom of the tank. The low pH (acidic) water flows upward through the entire bed of calcite to get the most contact time with the calcite. The higher pH of the calcite interacts with the low pH level of the incoming water and neutralizes the acidic properties of the water, making it safe to drink and stopping corrosion from eating away at your plumbing fixtures. For pH ranges between 5.9 and 6.9, acid neutralizers using only calcite to boost pH are effective. However, if the water has a lower pH range between 5.5 and 6.0, then mixing magnesium oxide (Corosex®) with the calcite can increase the pH level to a non-corrosive condition. Corosex® magnesium oxide is a highly reactive bead-like medium that is useful when lower pH correction is required or higher flow rates are needed.
Pro Tip: Magnesium oxide must be mixed with calcite. Magnesium oxide, without some calcite, will solidify inside the tank and will not neutralize your water.
Should you purchase an acid neutralizer?
If you have noticed any of the signs we have mentioned in this article, followed up with a pH test and determined your tap water is acidic, then it would be a smart idea to consider purchasing an acid neutralizer. Acid neutralizers are, by far, the best way to make your water safer for consumption. Adding calcite or a mixture of calcite and Corosex® to your water will adjust the pH level, and in doing so will increase the hardness of the water. If this creates a problem then you may also want to consider installing a water softener following the neutralizer. Calcium and magnesium are both nutrients the human body needs so this fact should be taken into consideration when deciding what action you should take regarding your water quality. We offer many water filters, acid neutralizers and water softeners to help you improve the quality of your water.
Do Your Research
Before you jump the gun and just buy any acid neutralizer, it is necessary to do your research when making such an important decision. Some things you should consider are how much the acid neutralizer will cost, the size of your family, how much water you and your family consume, and how many gallons per minute your particular household requires. The slower the water flows through the acid neutralizer, the longer the contact time with the calcite occurs, which is dissolved into the water. If water flows too quickly through the neutralizer, then the pH may not be raised as needed. Calcite and Corosex® will need to be replenished annually or sooner depending on your water chemistry, pH level, and water usage. Keep in mind that Corosex® will dissolve at about twice the rate of calcite.
Acidic water can be a silent devil. The symptoms of acidic water and the health effects of the corrosion of plumbing fixtures can go unnoticed because they are slow to develop. If you know the signs to look out for, testing for acidic water is easy and you can do it on your own. Water neutralizers are wonderful devices that make your tap water safe and healthier for everything you may use it for. If you take the plunge and decide to purchase an acid neutralizer, make sure to do the right research and find the unit that best fits your needs.