Should I filter my well water?
August 7, 2007 1:54 PM   Subscribe

Should I filter my well water?

I just moved in to a new house, and the well water leaves a blue tint in the tub and shower. I would imagine that this is from the copper pipes, but I've been assured by my landlord that the well has been recently tested and is within EPA safety limitations on all minerals contained therein.

The water tastes great, and I'm thrilled to have well water instead of the city's chlorinated junk. I've heard from friends that using a Brita or similar water filter can reduce a lot of the healthy mineral content that well water provides. My Google-fu isn't strong enough to give me any conclusive answers, and these two previous AskMe's don't really answer my question, which is more about the health benefits of mineral content in water rather than the taste.
posted by solipsophistocracy to Food & Drink (8 answers total)

Don't forget to get your fluoride supplements as well water has none (or very low levels).
posted by unixrat at 2:05 PM on August 7, 2007

Well, IMO the only reason to filter your well water is if it's damaging/staining your fixtures and you're bothered by this.

I used to live in a house that had well water with a very high iron content; this meant that any dripping faucets would leave rust-colored marks on the porcelain. We installed a filter to try and combat this. The water still left marks, but it wasn't as severe.

I've also heard that exceptionally 'hard' water can shorten the life of your water heater, so perhaps it's worth just putting a filter on the inlet to it (as opposed to on your whole house's water line, where you'd have to change the filter more frequently) ... but I'm not sure what the cost/benefit would be of most home filters.1

What exactly do you want to filter out? If you're concerned about the blue tinge in your tub/shower, and want to remove the copper, I think you'll need an NSF Standard 53 activated-carbon filter, which probably will have to be replaced frequently. Unless the blue tinge really bothers you, or you're planning on moving out soon, it may be a lot cheaper to just ignore it and have the tubs reglazed when you want to sell the house.

I don't think there's any health reason for filtering, and there might be some good reasons not to filter it.

(Sigh) Now that I live in a place with horrible city water that tastes like the shallow end of a kiddie pool unless it's run through a Brita, I seriously envy you and your well water.

1 - I'm setting aside the whole issue of water softeners, which I think are a terrible idea, although I know some people who had/have them. Why you'd want to turn perfectly good well water into disgusting soft city-like water -- not to mention putting a lot of sodium into it -- is beyond me.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:09 PM on August 7, 2007

If it's blue, that's from copper in the water. Either the well water naturally has a high copper content, or acidic water is dissolving copper out of your pipes. This won't be good for the plumbing in the long term, but that's not your problem.

You don't have hard water. Hardness or softness of water is not determined simply by well v.s. city water, many cities have hard water. Likewise, areas where the groundwater is naturally high in fluoride will have fluoride in the well water.

If you are concerned about your water, you can have it tested. Test it at the point of use, if your landlord did have it tested it might have been at the well. Some people don't feel the EPA has strict enough standards for some things, that would be a personal decision for you to make for yourself. If you are uncomfortable drinking the water, check to see that the filter you are considering does filter out what you are concerned about, the Brittas are mainly meant to improve the taste of the water.
posted by yohko at 2:24 PM on August 7, 2007

It depends a lot on what kind of aquifer your well is pulling water out of. The house I grew up in used an aquifer running through several tens of feet of glacial outwash sand meaning other than things actually dissolved in it, it was already about as filtered as it could get.

You might think about asking your local extension office for hydrology information.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 2:30 PM on August 7, 2007

The "Healthy" mineral content of water will be reduced but normal dietary minerals should not be present in water in a quantity significant enough to make a difference in your health.

The blue tint, is it a copper compound, maybe copper(II) nitrate maybe copper(II) sulfate? is it something else? The truth is you don't know, but copper isn't nice and friendly like iron, it's very toxic.

Have your water tested.
posted by 517 at 3:48 PM on August 7, 2007

Don't forget to get your fluoride supplements as well water has none (or very low levels).

It depends. Ours has just as much as the city water.

Consider getting your well water tested yourself. Even though you're within EPA limits, it would be nice to know where you actually stand.
posted by musicinmybrain at 5:20 PM on August 7, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks so much for the answers, folks. Will I have to pay to get the water tested, or is this a service that a local government institution will perform for free?
posted by solipsophistocracy at 6:20 AM on August 8, 2007

If you live in a state with a University Extension office in your county, they'll generally do it for free.
posted by unixrat at 6:56 AM on August 8, 2007

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