Water is on my mind these days. It is either bone dry in the garden or sodden (yes….the climate is changing). And two of my evenings this week will be devoted, in different ways, to campaigning to preserve the ecology and beauty of the mighty Ottawa river.
On a more mundane level, summer means more thirst for most people. I am bad at drinking water. But when I do drink it, I love the non-taste of my home water, which flows through a reverse osmosis (RO) purification system.
I know this is a controversial technology as there is a good amount of water wastage. I do, though, enjoy the pureness and I feel reassured me when I dip my ‘total dissolved solids’ meter and find that my glass contains maybe 1 or 2 parts per million (PPM) while city water is typically up at 56 PPM.
I am not suggesting city water does any harm: far from it. Just remember that 1PPM is 1 milligram in each kilogram of water.
I abhor the out-of-control use of bottled water, and particularly the global traffic in water (when so many have completely inadequate access to drinking water). I am therefore very glad to see water fountains making a come back in public spaces.
If you are someone who is reluctant to forego bottled or filtered water, check out GAC filters: these small bag of black ‘grit’ (actually granular activated carbon made from old coconut shells) remove many of the superficial nasties and taste in city water. In fact, activated carbon is one of four steps in a typical RO system.
GAC is a family-run Halifax-based company that sells compostable, teabag-sized pouches that you can toss in your water bottle and reuse (each pouch is good for 50 litres). The filters are actually put together in Sri Lanka using carbon from Haycarb. This is a green carbon source (actually a carbon-neutral carbon source, if you get my meaning) that uses waste products whenever it can.
So the advantage of these filters is that they are lightweight (less than 5g) and fully compostable (no plastic casings, the mesh surrounding the carbon is plant-based). They are small enough to leave in a coffee maker reservoir or in a sports bottle, but you can also use them in a pitcher in the fridge.
Each (reusable) sachet cleans about 50 litres of water and costs C$1.55 (with free shipping over $15 domestically and over $20 internationally).
The ‘cleaning’ process takes about a minute, though you can also leave the sachets in your bottle or pitcher and just refill. Sadly the sachets only work for already potable water, otherwise they’d be a sell-out for camping trips.
One word of caution, though. The packaging suggests you rinse the filter before use. I do recommend this. My first glass of water was alarmingly grey. Not harmful but not reassuring either.
Finally, full disclosure here, GAC sent me a few of their filters to try out. We did a family taste test this morning and my discerning children ranked the GAC water up there with RO water.