What are Some Water Basics I Should Know?

Water can be classified into two groups: Surface Water and Ground Water. Surface water is just what the name implies; it is water found in a river, lake or other surface of the earth. This water is usually low in mineral content, which is good news. However, surface water is exposed to many different contaminants, such as animal wastes, pesticides, insecticides, industrial wastes, algae and many other organic materials that frequently cause bacteria in water. Even surface water found in a pristine mountain stream can contain Giardia or Coliform Bacteria from the feces of animals, and should be boiled or disinfected by Ultra Violet light or chemical disinfection prior to drinking.

Ground Water is water trapped beneath the ground. Rains that soak into the ground, rivers that disappear beneath the earth, melting snow are but a few of the sources that recharge the supply of underground water. Because of the many water sources, ground water may contain any or all of the contaminants found in surface water as well as the dissolved minerals. Waters that contain dissolved minerals such as calcium and magnesium above certain levels are considered "hard water". Because water is a solvent, it tends to dissolve and 'gather up' small amounts of whatever it comes into contact with.

Due to the different characteristics of water, it is important that we know the source of your water -- Surface or Ground.

How often should I have my water tested?

If you receive your water from a municipal supply, you can be fairly certain that the water supply is checked on a regular basis. The frequency of the testing is based on the number of people served, and may vary from more than once per week to once per month, or even less.

If you have a private well, you are the only person who is responsible for the water your family drinks and bathes in. Your local Health Unit recommends testing three times a year for Bacteria. Private wells should be tested on a regular basis for Pesticides, Herbicides, Metals, Organic and Inorganic chemicals and volatiles. Currently, no laws govern the frequency of such testing -- that is why you are the only person responsible for your family's water.

Remember too that the next day after testing and finding "no contaminants", your source could become contaminated and unless you have some way of killing the bacteria, like an Ultra Violet disinfection system, you will not know that bacteria is present until the next time you have it tested.

What is Reverse Osmosis Water and how is it made?

This is a process that is often described as filtration, but it is far more complex than that. Ordinary water filters use a screen to separate only particles of dirt and sediment from the raw water source. Reverse osmosis employs a semi-permeable membrane that removes not only particles but also a very high percentage of dissolved contaminants, molecule by molecule, from your raw tap water. Your system will deliver pure, bottled water quality water to a faucet conveniently located at your kitchen sink, inside your refrigerator's ice maker and cold water tap or any other designated area.

The membrane element consists of several thin layers or sheets of film that are bonded together and rolled in a spiral configuration around a plastic tube. As the raw water passes across the surface of the membrane, only pure water molecules are allowed to pass through and collect in the tube, while all other mineral and contaminant molecules are rejected and washed from the surface of the membrane to the drain.

Our Reverse-Osmosis systems use several stages of treatment to produce your drinking water. The raw tap water first flows through a particle filter to remove dirt, rust and other sediment. The second stage is the block carbon filter that is used to reduce chlorine and many chemical compounds and very fine suspended particles. The third stage is the reverse osmosis membrane that separates most dissolved contaminants from the water molecules. The final stage is a block carbon filter that eliminates all remaining traces of taste and odour that the water may have absorbed from the holding tank or the plumbing system. Our home system also includes a holding tank for the purified water, a faucet and the hardware and tube needed to complete the installation.

Does reverse osmosis water have a taste?

As most of the chemicals, organics and minerals are removed, your water will taste similar to distilled water or low-mineral bottled water. Most people enjoy the natural flavour and the soft texture. You will immediately notice that brewed coffee and juices from concentrate have a greatly enhanced taste and aroma.

What Contaminants does Reverse Osmosis Remove?

The combined filtering and RO processes in your system will remove more than 98% of many organic compounds, including THM’s (chloroforms), DBCP, TCE (trichloroethylene), PCE (tetrachloroethylene), carbon tetrachloride and chlorine.

The Water Superstore's Reverse Osmosis Systems remove the following chemical contaminants:

Barium     99% Boron     99% Bromide     99%
Cadium      99% Chlorates     99% Chlorine     99%
Chromium (Hex)     95% Chromium (Tri)     99% Copper     99%
Cyanide     99% Cysts     99.9% Fluoride     97%
Lead     98% Mercury     98% Nickel     99%
Nitrate     99% PCB's     99% Radium (226/228)     96%
Selenium     98% Silver     98% Sodium     98%
THM's     99% Turbidity     98% Zinc     98%


Will Reverse Osmosis Remove Sodium and Salts from Water?

Yes. Reverse osmosis was originally developed to make drinking water from seawater. Your system is equipped with a membrane that will be very effective in reducing sodium levels normally found in ground water or softened water. This is particularly important for those with restricted sodium diets. Our Reverse-Osmosis systems are not designed for use on seawater.

Reverse osmosis membranes will virtually eliminate most chemicals, bacteria, viruses and parasites such as Cryptosporidium from the water. Where these conditions exist, pre-filters and other system components located before the membrane will become contaminated from exposure to them. Cross contamination of the entire system may occur when the membrane or filters are changed or disturbed. Our Reverse-Osmosis models have the ability to flood the RO system, right up to the kitchen sink faucet, with chlorinated water to allow a periodic disinfection of the unit, usually at the time that the cartridges are changed.

What's the best water for coffee?
  1. All oxidants removed. (Chlorine or other such "sanitizers".)
  2. All organics removed. (THM's, insecticides, pesticides, etc.)
  3. TDS (total dissolved solids) from 60 to 100 ppm (parts per million)
  4. Hardness of about 3-4 grains per gallon. (51.3 to 68.4 ppm)
  5. Low sodium water, i.e., less than 10 mg/L.
  6. pH depends on the Bean you are using, plus the method of extraction.
  7. Iron, Manganese and copper gone, or less than 0.02 ppm.

What is the best way to get this type of water?

With a reverse osmosis system! This system usually has a particulate and carbon filter (organics, oxidants and particulates are reduced); and a membrane (reduces the TDS by about 90% -- including hardness, sodium and others as well). Reverse osmosis water has the impurities typically reduced by 90% or more, leaving only high quality water behind. Which is perfect for coffee.

What is hard water?

Hard water is the most common problem found in the average home. Hard water is water that contains dissolved hardness minerals above 1 GPG.

What are the benefits of soft water ?

Soft Water Benefits

Feel the difference in every drop


Eliminate the minerals (calcium and magnesium) that create soapy residue that block pores and leave fabrics rough and dingy.

  • Softer, healthier skin and hair.
  • Brighter, cleaner, longer-lasting clothes.


Less detergent, scale-buildup and energy consumption add up to real savings for you.

  • Save money by extending the life of your plumbing fixtures and water-using appliances.
  • Use up to 75% less soap, shampoo, detergent, and other cleaning products.
  • Improve appliance and plumbing efficiency by preventing scale build-up.


Avoid soap scum, mineral build-up, and lime stains in your home.

  • Enjoy spotless, scale-free dishes, tile, sinks, faucets, bathtubs, showers and appliances.
  • Save time and effort cleaning.


Reduce your carbon footprint by softening your water.

  • Dramatically reduce your home energy consumption and save up to 48% on your water heating bills.

Lessen your environmental impact by limiting detergent and energy use.

How much sodium does a Water Softener add to my water?

For every grain of hardness in your water, 7.5 mg of Sodium will be added to each litre of water by the ion-exchange method. For example, if you have water that is 10 grains per gallon hard; you will add 75.0 mg of Sodium per quart of water softened by ion exchange. To put that in perspective, one 8 oz glass of milk contains 120 mg of Sodium, one slice of white bread contains 114 mg of Sodium.

What is Wrong with having Hard Water?

For bathing, washing dishes and clothes, shaving, washing your car and many other uses of water, hard water is not as “efficient’ as soft water. For example:

  • With soft water you only use 1/2 as much soap to wash your dishes or your laundry so you will save money.
  • Hard water and soap combine to form "soap scum" that can't be rinsed off, staining all surfaces and dries leaving unsightly spots on your dishes and shower walls.  So with soft water it is much easier to keep these areas clean.
  • When hard water is heated, the hardness minerals are re-crystallized to form hardness scale. This scale can build up inside your pipes and hot water heater, causing premature failure, and costly replacement.
  • If your water is hard, soap scum remains on your skin even after rinsing, clogging the pores of your skin and coating every hair on your body. This serves as a home for bacteria, causing diaper rash, minor skin irritation and skin that continually itches.
  • For many industrial uses, hardness minerals can clog equipment requiring expensive de-lime processes.
What minerals make the water hard?

Calcium, manganese and magnesium are the most common.

How do you Measure Hardness?

Parts per million or grains per gallon are the most common. 17.1 PPM equals 1 GPG.

Who can Test my Water for Hardness?

Call Water Superstore at 905-685-9996 for a FREE IN-HOME Water Test today (in the Niagara Region of Ontario, Canada only, please)!  We will arrange a convenient time to meet with you at your home, discuss your concerns about your water, test it, discuss the findings and recommend a solution providing you with a written quote.  While at your home we will also review where the equipment would be installed and of course answer all of your questions and concerns about your water and about the installation of Water Treatment Equipment.

My Water is Hard, now what do I do?

If your water tests over 3 GPG hard, you should soften it by having a water softener installed, you will save enough money by using less soap, decreasing damage to your dishwasher and improved efficiency in your water heater to pay for the cost and maintenance of a water softener.  If you have a “tank-less” water heater hard water will cause it to fail within 1½ year.

What Should I Look for in a Water Softener?

You need a metered water softener.  Water Superstore does not recommend any other types, as they are far too expensive to operate in the long term. Metered Water Softeners have a meter installed in the water line and measure how many gallons of water you actually use. The unit is set according to your water hardness, and will recharge when the gallons used have exhausted the capacity of the resin bed.  This will save you salt and money. 

Make sure that the water softener has large porting throughout (at least ¾”) to minimize pressure loss to your shower and taps.  You should also be looking for a water softener that is made up of common components that are used by many different water treatment companies to make sure that in 10 or 15 or 20 years from now you will still be able to get parts and service.  The valve should have a self-diagnosis system that helps trouble shoot problems to make long-term service easier.  Also, purchasing a water softener that is made in North America and from a company that offers installation and service is very important.

I Have a Water Softener and my Water Feels 'Slimy'..

When the hardness minerals are removed, soap no longer has to overcome the hardness of the water to make suds so you need to use far less soap on your body.  The slimy feeling is due to excessive soap being used.  By using far less soap with soft water you save money and reduce the risk of skin irritation caused by the hard water and from the excessive amounts of soap being used.

That slick feeling you feel is your natural body oils -- without the soap scum that was caused by the hard water. By the way, that soap scum provided an excellent place for bacteria to hide and grow, causing numerous minor skin ailments.

I Have Blue or Green Stains on my Fixtures!

You have copper pipes and highly corrosive water.  Call Water Superstore for your FREE In-Home Water test and we will test your water to determine the problem and then suggest a solution.

Often the cause is acidic water.  If the pH of your water is between 5 and 7, you may raise it by passing the water through a sacrificial media. By sacrificing calcium carbonate into the water, the corrosiveness will be reduced.

I have Red Stains in my Sinks and Other Fixtures - What should I do!

Red stains are normally caused by iron in the water. Call Water Superstore for your FREE In-Home Water Test to determine the amount and the type of iron you have. Some types are: oxidized, soluble, colloidal, bacteria or organic-bound. All are a problem! It only takes 0.3 ppm to stain clothes, fixtures, etc. 


Soluble iron is called "clear water" iron. After being drawn form the well and contacting the air, the iron oxidizes, or "rusts", forming reddish brown particles in the water. Depending on the amount of iron in the water, you may solve this problem with a water softener, or a combination of softener and filter. You can also use an iron filter that recharges with potassium permanganate, or inject air to oxidize the iron and then filter it with a media filter. This would provide a superior solution as it would be chemical-free resulting in lower on-going costs and better for the environment and your septic system.


Colloidal iron is very small particles of oxidized iron suspended in the water. They are usually bound together with other substances. This iron looks more like a color than particles when held up in a clear glass, as they are so small. Treatment is usually one of three ways: Feed chlorine to oxidize the organic away from the iron, thus allowing agglomeration to occur, feeding polymers that attract the static charge on the particles, forming larger clumps of matter that is filterable or air-injection systems.


Iron bacteria are living organisms that feed on the iron found in the water, pipes, fittings, etc. They build slime all along the water flow path. Occasionally, the slimy growths break free, causing extremely discoloured water. If a large slug breaks loose, it can pass through to the point of use, plugging fixtures. These types of bacteria are becoming more common in Canada. Tell tale signs of Bacterial Iron are a reddish or green slime build-up in your toilet flush tank. This type of iron problem is difficult to eliminate. You must kill the bacteria, usually by chlorination. It will be necessary to feed chlorine continuously to prevent re-growth. A filter alone will not solve this problem. 

Organic bound

This iron may be mistaken for colloidal iron. We test for Tannins and if present, it is most likely combined with iron. The low level amounts can be removed by use of a carbon filter, which absorbs the complex. The carbon bed would need to be replaced when it becomes saturated. Higher amounts require removing the iron through oxidation and then removing the Tannins with a Tannin filter.

What Does Ultra Violet Disinfection do to the Water?

UV (Ultra Violet) technology can be more effective than chemicals in destroying certain waterborne contaminants without altering the taste of the water. This makes it a practical process for treating water that is used for drinking and food preparation.

UV light disinfects by penetrating microorganisms and disrupting their DNA, preventing them from multiplying. The only function of a microorganism is to breed and produce colonies this is why when we ingest microorganisms they make us sick. These organisms get into our intestinal system, begin to breed and produce colonies, which cause our bodies to react trying to get rid of this invasion. This is the reason why bacteriological contamination is almost always associated with occurrences of diarreha.

A microorganism that cannot breed is of no concern.

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My Water Stinks! What Should I do?

First, call Water Superstore for your FREE In-Home Water Test (Niagara Region of Ontario, Canada only, please) to help you determine what is causing the smell.

Minor, musty smell:

If it is a minor, or low-level smell, you MIGHT be able to solve it with a small, carbon filter. You can place these types of filters on the water line going to the cold water line that you use for drinking water. Or, you might solve it with a whole-house back washable carbon filter on your incoming water line to filter all of the water inside your home.  Water Superstore will advise you on what would be best for your situation.

Strong, rotten-egg smell:

The strong, rotten-egg odours that are found in raw water are usually the result of the decomposition of decaying underground organic deposits. As water is drawn to the surface, hydrogen sulphide gas can be released to the atmosphere. In strong concentrations, this gas is flammable and poisonous.  This problem is very common in our area and is often, but not always, found in water that has high amounts of iron in it.  In most cases we treat it with air injection to oxidize the sulphur gas and remove the iron at the same time.  This is a Chemical Free system that will not leave any residual in your water that could harm your septic system.  Call Water Superstore to arrange your FREE IN-Home Water Test to determine what is causing the problem and our technician will recommend the best solution based on your situation.

Chlorine smell:

Municipalities use chlorine to eliminate bacteria in water.  Unfortunately the residual chlorine ends up in your home, which makes drinking the water very unpleasant and standing in a shower with chlorinated water uncomfortable due to the chlorine that is being absorbed by your skin and the vapours given off being inhaled.  We have back-washable carbon filters and even a series of water softeners that remove chlorine at the same time as softening your water.

Who Will Fix My Water?

Water Superstore has been the local water experts with fair pricing for the last 15 years.  The majority our new customers are referred to us by our very satisfied existing customers.  With 3 service technicians and 7 problem water technicians on staff there is always someone here to help with any of your water needs.

What is water pollution?

Any chemical, physical or biological change in the quality of water.

Where does water pollution come from?

Water pollution is generally caused by human activity. Are we careful not to throw toxins in our waterways, down our drains at work and at home? Is it easier just to look over our shoulder and hope we’re not caught? After all, it’s just one time, right? Drinking polluted water has serious effects on everyone’s health.

What are major water pollutants?

There are several categories of pollutants. Disease-causing agents include bacteria, viruses, protozoa and parasitic worms that enter sewage systems and untreated waste.

Another cause is water-soluble inorganic pollutants, such as acids, salts and toxic metals. In large quantities these pollutants result in water unfit for drinking and can cause death in aquatic life.

Nutrients also pollute our water – they are water-soluble nitrates and phosphates that cause excessive growth of algae resulting in depletion of the water’s oxygen supply. I have witnessed ‘red-tide’ on several occasions in the Gulf of Mexico when our beaches were deemed unfit to swim in and thousands of fish washed up on the shoreline. The results were devastating.

Let’s not leave out oil, plastics and pesticides, which are harmful to humans, plants and animals in our water.

Finally, water-soluble radioactive compounds can cause cancer, birth defects and genetic damage and are considered very dangerous water pollutants.