- r-, I.\ c "
Reu \ I
A. M. Pettis
Florida Cooperative Ex tension Service
Institute uf Food and .Agn ui'lturd Siiences
University of Flond.d, GameseLlle
A. M. Pettis
Associate Agricultural E' .
Florida Cooperative Extension Service
Rural and suburban residents of Florida a
blessed with plentiful ii..i i-r..II1 sources
water in practically all areas of the State. IHo
ever, some water .iiiplple have problems. TI
most common of these is hardness in wate
others are iron, iron 1.1, t.-r;,i. .-uih!, sulfurl
chlorides (salt), acidity (low pH), and disease
producing pathogens, such as bacteria.
By using the proper equipment, most we
water problems can be corrected. Equipment f
treating water is not cheap; living with "b'
water" can also be expensive.
M.- -t pump dealers, well-drillers, and company
ielliniri equipment for c(rr..-thi i water problem
are rendering a valuable service in an hone
manner. However, some equipment may n
prove to be satisfactory since there is no one pie
of ,:ljuipni,-tt that can solve all home water pro
The first step, therefore, is to have the wat
tested. One test gives mineral content; anoth
eTplairate test for bacteria, by the County Heal
D. par tin' it, determines whether the water
safe for human consumption at the time of t
There are steps that must be followed in wat
treatment. If the test shows a low pH, the ac
condition must first be neutralized. If iron
present in quantity, it must then be oxidized a:
filtered to remove the precipitated iron. If exce
hardness is pr,.-.-p!t. it may be removed last.
The hardness of a water is due to the amou
of soluble compounds of niyin-eiinin and calcil
found in the water. Hardness in water requii
extra ',.aii for bathing, v..-lliiir,- dishes, and was
ing clothes, and it has an abrasive effect whi
causes clothes to wear out sooner than th
should. Women object to hard water because
e soap ".-ii',l" that forms, leaving dishes and
:,fl !h'. dull and the hair dull and hard to man-
;e. Hardness is the villain that robs food of its
itural color and flavor and makes some foods,
:ch as beans and peas, .'-11.1 and -hri- .-lled.
11 -nr water produces scale which f',rin- in the
water heater ri ii.;'-: extra fuel to heat the
water, lirt. ,ili,. the useful life of the heater,
,' causing the pipes to become clogged more
Th.- term most commonly used as the measure
water hardness is l'.,ii- per gallon (-p,-ri.
here the test report is in r'illirin;ir- per liter
ng/1) or parts per million (ppm), divide by 17.1
find o!-L' One classification of hardness is the
0 to 1 ~v-' soft
1 to 3 .zrL relatively soft
3 to 7 ir,. moderately hard
7 to 10 p. 1- I.!
10 and over -rs-z very hard
Rain water is an example of soft water. When
ster passes over minerals in the earth it dis-
Ives them and carries away small amounts in
lution. The minerals calcium and magnesium
'oduce hardness in water. Ac. -,!;r.'n- to the
.S. Public Health Service, water with hardness
,eater than 17 grains per c.rll."r is not considered
*sirable for ordinary domestic use.
To correct the problem of hardness a water
ftener is needed. Home water softeners may be
rt:,;iiin in manual or automatic f ',p.- and in
veral sizes to fit the needs or desires of the
,Il;.. They contain a mineral known as zeolite
resin, and operate on the ion-exchange prin-
ple: as hard water p,,- between the i;_rtih-I
"h-ii.-. i,-\ h%', li:.g 0. t h. calcium and magne-
am ions in the water are absorbed and a chemi-
Ily equivalent amount of sodium is released into
e water. These sodium compounds do not cause
irdness; thus the water from the softeners will
When the supply of sodium in the ion-exchanger
exhausted the units will no 1,I gi.i remove hard-
!ss. To correct this condition, all softeners must
Si, ,i'iir.atd. at ret ul:tr intervals as the .ip'::ity
soften is used up. The length of time between
gtlijfitir'oni varies with installations and de-
pends on 'b,. capacity f" the softener, the -.-, ;n
-f hardness removed, and the amount *.! softene
water used. .i.., -, are regenerated 1 usin
a brine solution ." salt. It is best to use the sal
recommended by the softener manufacturer o
Water softeners are rated in capacities e)
pressed as grains of hardness ..- 1, i, i r r
generation. The number of gallons between rt
generation is found by d; '.; i- the rated capacity
of the softener by the hardness removed in L-pi
Problem: A softener is rated -i, grains capacity:
The water is ii rains hard. IHow many gallons of so:
water will be available before regeneration ?
Answer: Softener capacity= gallons before regeneratic
20,000 =- 1250 -c i .... soft water before ri
Some softener dealers provide a service the
eliminates the need 1 regeneration at home. A
i .-.,11.,I intervals rI ,. softener company brings
,*-.' -,1 if.-,1 softener tank exchanging it for th
tank that needs i-1. i ti ,.
T!-, presence of iron in water creates man
problems. Iron imparts a metallic taste to th
water, causes red ., I :-- clothes in launder
ing, and stains 1.1 n,1 i, : -..t Staining ca
be caused by as .,:tri- as I.I rii iron.
Iron .. -.1 '11l occurs in water in two forms-
iron i..,ii ,-.nr i i,. and iron bacteria. Iron that:
soluble in water (ferrous) combines with ,- :-,-
from the air to form reddish-brown rust (ferric
Iron is fii, accompanied by acid water and some
times by hardness in water.
1. < 1i i !l I i,,. ii i i- dechlorination will ri
move iron. A chlorinator or pump device is use
to feed small amounts of chlorine into the wate
The chlorine chemically oxidizes the iron in sol
tion 1I.:iiL.i L' it to iron particles (red rust), the
a fine pre-coat filter removes both the rust ar
S11. excess chlorine.
Superchlorination means ,',!it about 3.0 1
0 ppm chlorine in the home water system where
intact time is much less than in a municipal
'stem. This higher concentration of chlorine
lls disease- I 1 ;..:.r i :.-,.,.r'- oxidizes iron,
:1i 'f .-,'. and kills iron bacteria whenever
icy are present.
In a municipal -- .,;,, which has 1,,:- contact
me, simple chlorination (0.2 to .2 ppm) is usual-
I,',I I" ,.
2. An oxidizing filter will remove certain types
,i amounts of iron. It i. i-!,- contains man-
iuese *.:'-.' sand which converts soluble ferrous
on to ferric red rust. which is then -tl. i-,I
his can i.. a reasonable i .' when Il...,, 1' ..i>.'-
:ed. The top -ii: .-. of the filter bed is the
ost effective filter i.i, ... but it is not used
f.. 1, i ',: since most of the iron is precipitated
i the lower half of the bed. The t"l!, r loads up
ith iron .ini sometimes -'1.:-I" of it may pass
it Illn inllr p surges such as a i-lillr ma-
A 1'- ,,1' .,ft 'e is that a flow rate of three to
ve times lth. usage rate is required to backwash.
his rate is not usually available in a home water
'stem but a local dealer ri provide ,..:, 1.- .-!b
rvice. If laundry bleach is used in the '.v,1i
ie il' ,',.i,--. imparted to the water 1.- the filter
f the pH of the water is less than 6.8) may
ain the clothes brown just as tih iron did.
3. Another device for treating the iron problem
a chemical : .1' ih..-; 1 I :, i .,i-. This device
*eds certain 1,' Iph.i. 1 ,.t-- which will b.1i. if
ie iron content is not over 2 I1, r. i,i;.--- chemi-
is do not remove the iron but literally wrap
themselves around it and thus prevent the iron
solution from (,, -'i .' stains. Th.- ,.1 ,lit.L*g
' this method is its simplicity and low cost. But
has certain disadv in'. L. It will not take
ire of .n11, iron that has precipitated,, ,i j it does
)t remove the iron Ii. t llir taste. When the
ater is heated, as in a water heater, the Irl'.v-
hosphate chemicals i,. v cease to be effective and
le iron may be precipitated as red rust.
4. A water softener will remove certain
counts of soluble ferrous iron at the same time
Sit removes hardness. However, a softener used
remove iron 1 1 eventually become fouled and
se its .1.1ii' to soften. When this occurs, the
softening medium will have to be rcll.-ei'l, o0
cleaned ith an acid bath. Various softened
manufacturers may state ,ri'.ig,- limits for iroi
removal for their units. Sometimes, up to 2.0 ppn
iron can be removed economically by a watel
IRON BAt TERI.\
Iron bacteria are not harmful to man, but "htl.
do produce .linc., .t!jil*,-,, .l,.ie ti,.1 l ,. material
tlIi.t ir i come out of "' ii. impeding the watel
11f'', and sometimes in-.l' rtiirL an iinipk'. .tit tast(
and odor to the water. An indication of theii
presence is a slimy rust-colored mass on the in
terior .-, i. of l -;.', tanks.
A chlorine feeder that pir.,l small amounts o:
chlorine into the well at intervals will successfully
control iron bacteria. If iron bacteria are not to(
numerous it may be i...-i.l to control them b3
p!.,ri, 1 or 2 ,.ill,'i of chlorine- '.it.diii ,ii
household bleach (5.25% sodium hypochlorite) ii
the well. Each _-.ll1i of bleach should be dilluter
with two gallons of water to lessen any danger ol
Draw water containing chlorine through al
pipes and leave I. .ri-t 'h.t TI next day star
the pump, ...ili, each faucet in rotation anc
.ll.., ii. the water to flow until there is no chlo
rine odor or taste to the water. This procedure
may have to be repeated at intervals.
Sulfides are often referred to as sulfur. Th<
causes of sulfur hydrogenn sulfide LS... H.S) it
water are the reduction of mineral sulfates an(
I -c- ... l': organic matter.
Th-, sulfide content of water causes many prob.
lems. Waters which contain sulfides exhibit
marked corrosiveness and are characterized b3
an ffT, ,-~ l ,. "- it r.!L-, ir" odor; this odor i,
characteristic of hydrogen sulfide, a gas, thai
escapes rapidly to the air. ci.lt l,-s also tarnist
silverware and corrode pipes.
1. Siip,,.-l h-l,, iii,itiiin dechlorination. Th(
chlorine feeder device previously described undel
iron removal may be used to solve the -ul rid
problem. The chlorine chemically oxidizes th(
hydrogen sulfide and other -;Ilri-~ tlinr.LtiinL
hem completely. The chlorine also kills disease
bacteriaa which may be present. The dechlorinator
fine filter) removes any r: ni,iiing chlorine after
t has accomplished its purpose.
2. Carbon filtration.-Activated carbon will
absorb hydrogen uilfil,.. and if the riter is fine
nu'-imh it will also remove iron sulfide (black
vater). The capacity of these units is limited,
md there is no way of ren,',rat;.." the carbon
)ut it can be replaced when its capacity has been
3. Oxidizing filters.-These 1:t'.-r-, d.-'- il..,1
inder iron removal, will also remove -n1,.1..-
vhere the concentration is not greater than 5.0
>pm. A gieei sand .x\iliziig r1iltor should not
)e used where the water is acid.
4. Aeration.--Aeration is not recommended
is a method of removing sulfur from home water
systems because the water may become contami-
iated from bacteria in the air. With an aerator,
;hlorination is needed to make certain the water
s safe to drink. 'hlif.rii.ot.lI alone will oxidize
md eliminate the sulfur, therefore aeration would
)e an unnecessary expe-ne.
An accurate test for sulfur can be made only
it the well. Usually home water supplies are not
:ested for sulfur because a person knows if he
ias it, and if he doesn't there's no need to worry
bout it. Sulfides should be removed prior to
softening because hydrogen sulfide can rapidly
'oul the common household softener.
There is no medical evidence to show that sul-
:ur and most other minerals in water are benefi-
cial to the human body.
Chlorides are present in all natural waters,
although in many areas the amounts are small.
'hlorides are measured in parts per million (ppm)
nd this is the g.r-il el, method used in testing for
;alt in water. A person can taste 20'1-2.-l') ppm
salt. Water containing more than 2"P-P..n, ppm
:hlorides should not be used by the ;averrae per-
son on lawns and ornamentals in most instances.
With good nial.?.Igen!it' t pr:,:ti, --. well-water
containingg 500 ppm chlorides or more has been
successfully used on certain plllt-. There is i
p,!,.ti,..l method for !'rr,,- iiiL, salt fIrni hon
water 1,1 qli'i- at this time.
Those having wells with high chloride conte
should contact the County .-,ntL for information
on good il;lmnraL-rlc1tit practices in :pplvl..'iin wat(
and for information about plants having sor
salt tolerance. If the salt content is too high f
the desired use, another source of water, such
a different well, a cistern (for collecting rai
water), or a municipal water -I ill' should be o
The pH of a water sample indicates wheth
the water is acid, alkaline, or neutral. Neuti
water has a pH of 7.0. Below 7 the water is ac
and above 7 it is alkaline. Alkaline water is n
detrimental unless the pl- is 10 or above, and tl
is not usually found in Florida. Acid water
corrosive; therefore water should be on the alk
line side to prevent d.ii,,i,, to the metal parts
the water system. To correct a slightly ac
water condition a neutralizer may be used. Tl
device passes the water thi'i gh a bed of lirr
stone (hip-. or ni.lgI.-si:. which will add sor
hardness. Another method, which does not a,
hardness, is to feed a soda ash solution into t
water supply. This can be done with the chlorir
feeder device previously mentioned. If a chlorir
feeder is installed to oxidize iron or elimina
sulfur, it can feed the soda ash solution alol
with the chlorine solution.
The most important water treatment proce
is disinfection. Disinfection is necessary to c
stroy all disease producing bacteria and oth
harmful organisms present in (riiil.ni;-Lg water.
Water-borne diseases include t,-ph lil,, dyse
tery, and cholera. Tests must be made to be c(
tain that water is safe for drinking. Upon reque
the County Health Department will test wat
for 1i-n iiikg utiue. i-u:ally. at no cost. Pe
odic tests are necessary.
The County Health D.-p.'irt'w!rnt will also ass:
with information on the proper location and cc
truction of wells for l.h-i'l..g water. S.:ft water
or drinking involves:
1. P! i pI. well location.
2. Proper well construction.
(']Chi. 1.1I is Ilhe universally-used chemical for
he ,li-.iife .ti,.! of water. ('hli lirti t i is accom-
lished by a small pump or feeding device which
eeds a definite amount of chlorine solution into
he water where it remains for the time interval
needed to kill bacteria and viruses. The chlorine
rill disinfect the water, eliminate ilfii. kill iron
bacteria, and oxidize iron which can then be filter-
d. Any remaining chlorine taste or odor can be
moved easily with a small activated carbon filter
laced at the kitchen sink.
SUMMARY OF WATER PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS
0-5 grains per gallon
6-9 grains per L ill-rn
10-20 grains per uiI..i1,
20 or more grains
0.3 ppm to 2 ppm
Over 2 ppm
7.0 or higher
6.2 to 6.8
?aste and Odors
A softener would help.
Softener definitely needed.
Remove with super-chlorina-
tion and fine filtration; or
remove with water softener,
if needed; or
use polyphosphate feeder.
Remove with super-chlorina-
tion and fine lt;.,ti.,i.
Remove with super-chlorina-
tion, dechlorination, or
carbon filtration; or
use oxidizing iil.-,
(up to 5 ppm).
Learn to live with chlorides
or get a new water source.
Chemical feeder for soda ash
(if chlorine feeder is used, it
will feed soda ash along with
Chlorinate for sulfur. Other
odors use a carbon filter. If
algae are the cause use cop-
per sulfate to control their
T .i hil tj (Suspended matter
in water) Approved filter
Bacteria Consult County Health
Ul- ,r.r: 1 'li.i jrlii.innr -
When you buy water treatment f'luiilrilnet-
sure the dealer and izl ;ilufintinl irer are reputa
The experience of i,,irhlll.'., friends or relate
may be helpful. Water tests, made before
after the e'!uIiplmetit is used, will indicate w
the .',jri;pmnii-t will do. Your state university
a private laboratory may be able to make tf
Always insist on a guarantee in n riting, stal
exactly what can be expected from the dev
For o\;i ipl:. "a 2.'-.w....;r guarantee" means n(
ing except perhaps that the tank will last foi
years because it is made of a durable mate]
The giL'Iiltee you should look for will state t
the device will soften the water by removing
calcium and n~gliig.-i inin. or that it will complex'
remove all iron, or that it will eliminate all sul:
Remember, no gadget or gimmick can solve
'rciL: copies free to residents of F.l .I Bulk rate
available upon request. Please submit details o
request to Chairman, Editorial Department, Institut
of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University c
Florida, G.l,, ,- 11. Florida 32611.
This publ ic document was promulgated at a
annual cost of $280.80, or $.028 cents pe
copy to inform public about quality water.
COOPERATIVE EXTENSION WORK IN
AGRICULTURE AND HOME ECONOMICS
(Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914)
Cooperative Extension Service, IFAS, University of Florida
and United States Department of Agriculture, Cooperating
Joe N. Busby, Dean