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Filtering gross well water

 
Posts: 92
Location: Winters, California
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I just moved into a farm rental that's hooked up to well water. (The entire property is pesticide free other than a small amount used on the gravel driveway.) It tastes okay when I drink it straight from the tap. But when I make tea, there's a gross oily film at the top and a lot of scum sticks to the sides of the cup (see pictures). What can I do to filter the water and prevent this?
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residue-from-tea.jpg
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dirty-mug.jpg
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steward
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There's a water filter maker called Berkey and they make these "water cooler" style housings with a filter in them and they work off of gravity. According to them, you can essentially pour any kind of non-potable water in the top from river, stagnant pond, well, roof rain run-off, etc. and out the spigot on the bottom comes pure drinkable water. Perhaps something to look into if you need just a few gallons a day for drinking needs and don't want a reverse osmosis system or need to rely on pumps to push your water thru other types of filters.
 
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Location: Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep clay/loam with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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I think even with a Berkey you might want to 'prefilter' anything questionable through layers of cloth, especially if you can see a residue in the water.   It's a great choice for clean, pure water though.  We actually just got one to use to filter our municipal water...chlorine was bad enough but then they decided to fluoridate also....had to buy an extra filter just for the fluoride.  

I wonder if the residue in your water is from iron pipes? or maybe because the well hadn't been used in awhile?  

Here's a link to the one we got...the 'scratch and dent' listings have better prices... http://www.berkeyfilters.com/berkey-water-filters/systems/berkey-scratch-and-dent-sale/big-berkey-scratch-and-dent.html

 
pollinator
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Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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You can also buy the Berkley replacement filters and make your own.  It's much cheaper than buying the actual Berkeley system.
 
steward
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Does the film form just by boiling the water? Or is it only from interaction with the tea? Perhaps use a different brand  or type of tea?

 
pollinator
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I'm no chemist, but my two guesses are
That brownish residue on the sides of the cub are most likely calcium (calcification). So you probably came across to hard water. High pH might be an indicator of that, if I am remembering correctly. There are many treatments for hard water. Not crucial, but hard water is really hard on pipe connections. Many other things also..
Oily film at top usually indicates organic content (anything from sewage leak to the previous use of the cub or tab). Clean everything thoroughly to make sure it is the water not dishes, or pipes etc. If it is the water, please don't drink it till you figure what causes it.
There are many things that make water undrinkable, each one has a different way of filtering. It is better to know beforehand what you are dealing with. Testing kits cost less than 30$.
Hope it is helpful!

 
pollinator
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It is just limescale from hard water. Nothing to be concerned about. All our water here in the SE UK is like that, as it is pumped from aquifers in the chalk.

https://www.reddit.com/r/london/comments/viy7a/just_moved_to_london_from_glasgow_question_about/

 
pollinator
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That looks like normal tea to me - I live in an area with lots of Ca in the tapwater. I guess it's the organic stuff leaching from your tea that coalesces into a film near the surface of the liquid as it stands (and cools). Perhaps tanines?
I guess you came from a dwelling with a different type of water ?


If you add lemon or lime juice you will see less of that film on your tea.


S Ayalp is correct in mentioning pipes - it's worth checking out. Iron-deposition is just as bad but it is easier to detect. Rust stains on toiletbowls etc...

In my region there is a lot of concern of excess nitrate and nitrite in the water due to overuse of fertilisers and manure. Worth checking if you have very young children around as they are more vulnerable - it is the cause of blue baby syndrome.
 
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Yup, it's normal if the water is hard and/or has iron in it.

The Berkey will not remove hardness.  That takes reverse osmosis filtration.


Every pay extra for the fancy mineral water in the bottle?   Guess what's coming out of your tap...extra fancy mineral water.

Not all mineral water is good for you, but most of it is.  

If you have any concerns your public health department likely has inexpensive water testing for the common problems.

 
pollinator
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Rainwater through a Berkey won't have the minerals that ground water does although I bet it won't taste as good.
Better for washing dishes and clothes too.
 
Juniper Zen
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Thanks for the advice, everyone! My tap water at the previous location tasted better and did not create any gross film and gunk. :/

Updates: I brewed tea of a different flavor and the taste was still off and there was still a residue on top, but it wasn't as much as with my favorite tea (the one I had posted pictures of). When I boiled plain water, there was no visible film.

But more importantly, I found out I was not correct in saying that the property is pesticide-free - it turns out that only PART of the property is. My new home is surrounded by a walnut orchard and the property owner doesn't know what chemicals are used on the walnuts. So I will assume that they do spray pesticides.

I will look into a water testing kit next week. But I am wary of continuing to drink it due to the almost certain leeching of pesticides. I guess I will have to sign up for deliveries of those giant plastic jugs...
 
Michael Cox
pollinator
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Have you considered paying to have the water lab tested? If you are concerned about pesticide leaching tell them and they should be able to include tests for it.

In general I think pesticide leeching is unlikely into well water; it would take massive scale misapplication to get down as far as the water table. You would likely be aware of other issues if that were the case. But getting a test will give you peace of mind.
 
James Freyr
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Juniper- I agree with you that getting your water tested is a good idea, and having the data to know what's in your water will be very helpful. I myself would be concerned with the conventional agriculture orchard next door. Chemical fertilizers and 'cides can and often do contaminate watersheds and groundwaters. May I suggest considering a small reverse osmosis water filter. RO filters work by having a membrane in them with holes so small only water molecules can fit thru, thus removing *everything* else in the water. I have one under my kitchen sink for several reasons which include the removal of fluoride and the fact that I personally do not trust municipal water. Flynt, MI made the news because it was reprehensible, but there are hundreds of other municipal water districts that do not meet federal water safety guidelines, but children aren't sick yet so it's not in the news. I imagine the cost of having jugs of water delivered will add up fast and quickly surpass the approximately $250 for a small RO unit in your home. They do have a minimum water pressure requirement to work, something like 15 or 20 psi if memory serves me correct, which is actually quite low for standard faucet water pressures.
 
Posts: 264
Location: Virginia,USA zone 6
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You might want to consider an under the sink RO system.   You may find them for about $100.00 and some change.




Or how about a whole house water softener?  They come in  all sizes and prices, including a 2.5" x 10" cartridge type.
 
pollinator
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Hi Juniper,

You could consider sand filters.  When we got our first smallholding/homestead in the UK some 20 odd years ago, we had 3 large sand filters system that were built in the 1920's.  It used to filter all the rain water collected from the roof of the various buildings and store it into underground cisterns, the water was crystal clear even though we found out later that the roof tiles contained asbestos fibres.  At the time, we only had a hand pump in the larder that was providing the water in the house through copper pipes.  We had it analysed every few years for safety reasons and there never was any problems.

You could research Bio Sand Filters on wikipedia and meanwhile have a look at this site: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/237142736599291725/ it might give you some ideas and maybe you could build yourself one.  Anyway, hope this help although it might not suit your situation.

Good luck
 
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I moved in to a house on a well a few years back and had the same problem. Since I drink mostly tea it was a big deal. I started keeping bottled water around for my tea and wifes coffee. I put in some good inline filters and it helped the water but the film was still there. One day after about a year I ran out of bottled water and had to use tap water and much to my surprise the film was gone. I came to the conclusion that it just had to be flushed out and that took a long time.
 
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I've heard the Berkleys will get you out of trouble for small scale use, but over time the better option would be to go a whole house water filter designed for well water. It's a bit more cost up front but over the long run you'll make some savings.
 
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