How To Test Spring Water For Drinking
You just stopped by your chosen campsite and are thrilled to know deep spring mountain water is available nearby. It consoles you to know that you don’t have to worry about access to water. But is the spring water safe?
Since you will rely mostly on your bottled water while camping, you need to worry about whether the water you will be getting is safe for drinking. And since buying bottled water is more expensive than drinking from spring water, it would benefit you to depend on healthy natural water while camping.
This is particularly important to me because I always camp with family and friends and it made a difference that I can get extra water from the spring. That’s why I wrote this post – to help you get the most of the natural water while you’re camping.
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#1. Testing Spring Water For Drinking
Although spring water is safe, there have been cases where it has been found with contaminants such as microorganisms and minerals. Knowing how to test spring water safety would give you an advantage since you don’t need a professional laboratory to aid you in this task.
1. Reasons And Benefits Of Testing Spring Water
There are several reasons why testing your water source is important and beneficial. The most obvious would be that it would be good for your health and you can have a supply of safe water for free. Other Reasons Why You Should Test Spring Water Include:
- Recurring gastrointestinal distress could happen while you’re camping
- There may be children in your group who are more vulnerable to contaminated water
- There are no guarantees that spring water is clean, especially since it is a natural source
- You don’t know how old the property is and whether or not it is properly maintained
- The property you are using could have leaks that you don’t see
- You may be camping in an area where there are a lot of people and livestock nearby
- You may be camping in an area with a nearby agricultural land where chemicals and pesticides may be carried by the rain and the elements to the water source
- It may be the rainy season and the water beneath the earth may be turbid
- Gas drilling factories, oil factories, salted roadways, junkyards, landfills, mining operations, and chemical plants may be present near your camping site.
Your water may not seem contaminated or polluted, but you would still need to test now and then because conditions may change without your knowledge. And sometimes, the water would show signs that you need to test the water on a regular basis.
You can learn more about natural water quality here.
2. Water Purity Test Kits
You can test water safety in two ways: with purity test kit and without the kit.
You can buy a purity test kit online or at the nearest hardware store. These tests measure minerals such as lead, copper, iron, minerals, nitrites, nitrates and water hardness. The results are more accurate compared to simply looking at the water.
Types of Test Kits
- Watersafe Well Water Test Kit. This kit was designed to aid you in getting a quick test in the ten most common particulates: hardness, PH, chlorine, nitrates, pesticides, bacteria, lead, copper, and iron.
- PurTest Home water Analysis Kit. This is an EPA-based test kit which enables you to test drinking water fast for several conditions and contaminants. Such test includes nitrite, nitrate, copper, chlorine, hardness, pH, alkalinity, and iron.
- Essential Indicators Test. The Essentials indicators test is the most detailed. There is no need for you to send water to the lab just to get some results. The test can check over 170 health-related contaminants such as Inorganic Chemicals, Heavy Metals, Essential Elements, and Organic Compounds. The contaminant you are testing for here is pathogenic bacteria that could cause disease if present.
Refer here for water quality test kits.
3. Testing It Yourself
If you have a water test kit, then great, you can accurately test for water purity using the test sheets. But if you don’t one, then you can still test the water on your own. You can check if the water is clear, odorless and naturally clean.
3.1 Using The Test Kit
Such kits aren’t hard to use. When it comes to the test itself, you will be dipping test strips within the water. There will be a chart inside the kit that will guide you into reading the test strips and determining the contents of the water.
You will not only see the different types of contaminants that may be present in the water, but you will also be able to determine if it’s safe or dangerous for drinking. You can specifically determine the levels of safety and danger on the water.
Once you’ve obtained the result of your test kit, you can then decide whether buying a filtering system is necessary. Campers consider it a rule of thumb to bring water purifier on every camping trip (just in case). But if your water is safe for drinking, then you can save it for times when it’s needed.
3.2 Testing The Water Without The Test Kit
As we have mentioned earlier, you can also test the water’s purity without a purity test kit.
- Filling in a clean and clear glass with water, try to see whether it is clear or cloudy. Are there particles floating in the water or settling at the bottom? If you find particles in the water, then it’s probably contaminated with particulates or bacteria.
- Try and smell the water. Does it smell like paint, swimming pool water, rotten tomatoes, or anything nasty? The odor may be caused by natural sulfur, organic solvents, chlorine and other particulate pollutants.
- Tasting the water with your tongue. If the water happens to taste unusual, like if it tastes like metal or soda, then it may not be safe for drinking. Such tastes would mean that your water has mineral concentrations of manganese or iron.
- Observing its color. Your water may not have obvious particulates floating on it, but if the color is not clear, then it could still be polluted. The possible colorations that may indicate purity issues may include: blue or green, yellow, red or brown.
Check out this video to see how a simple water purity test is done:
Never assume that the water in your camping area is safe for drinking, even when it comes from a deep mountain. The water in these springs may look crystal clear, but they may also contain several contaminants and bacteria that could be harmful to your health.
Unless the there is a formal post in the campground which shows that the water source is safe for drinking, then you must always test it using the testing methods we’ve shared with you. A testing kit will help you do the test quickly and accurately.
I still think it’s cool to drink from spring water as long as it’s safe. We hope you learned and enjoyed from this post. If you have any comments of inquiries, feel free to address them in the comments section below.