If you live in a rural area, you enjoy the freedom and self-sufficiency the country provides. When you own your own well, you are free to control the purity and quality of the well water on your property. Depending on the location of your well, the water contains naturally occurring minerals. However, high levels of some minerals can be harmful. Does your well water contain these two minerals?
Iron may be present in your well water as it filters through iron-bearing rock or soil. Corroded iron and steel from well casings and pipes also leach into well water.
Iron and the Human Body
Iron is a necessary mineral that can be difficult for the body to absorb. Women especially often take iron supplements to make up for a lack due to menstruation. Your body needs iron to enable red blood cells to deliver crucial oxygen throughout the body. Without sufficient iron, you feel tired, dizzy, and anemic.
However, too much iron in your diet can give you gastrointestinal problems. Vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea are most likely to occur. Extremely high iron levels result in iron toxicity, which can lead to organ damage, coma, and death.
How to Tell If Iron Is Present
Public water should not have more than 0.3 mg/L, or milliliters per liter of water, of iron. However, the level of iron present in a well is not regulated. Determine if your water contains high levels of iron with these signs:
- Water tastes metallic, especially coffee and tea made with iron water.
- Some foods cooked in iron water darken in color.
- Visible brown, red, or yellow stains remain in tubs and sinks.
- Clogs occur in appliance lines and other water-related systems.
One good way to detect iron in water is to let a glass of water sit undisturbed. Water that turns brown, yellow, or red contains iron.
Copper occurs naturally in water but also enters ground and well water from nearby farm and mine activities or industrial wastewater. Surprisingly, copper is more likely to enter your water supply via copper plumbing pipes and fittings. Water can contaminate if it sits for long periods in:
- Very new copper pipes that have not yet formed a protective mineral film inside
- Older copper pipes that begin to corrode
Acidic well water tends to corrode copper pipes more quickly.
Copper and the Human Body
Copper aids the body in producing red blood cells and helps maintain nerves, bones, and blood vessels. Copper also assists the body to form collagen, necessary for skin, bones, and connective tissue that hold the body together.
You might mistake over-absorption of copper in your body for flu symptoms such as stomach cramps and diarrhea. However, extremely high levels have been linked to headaches, mood swings, eating disorders, and low blood pressure. Infants and those with Wilson's disease are especially susceptible to high amounts of copper.
How to Tell If Copper Is Present
Sometimes water high in copper tastes metallic or bitter. You might notice blue or green mineral stains in the bathtub, shower, or sink. The addition of chlorine to well water that already contains copper and magnesium can make your hair turn green. Also, your hair can feel dry and dull and experience more split ends if washed in water with high levels of copper.
Iron and copper occur naturally in well water, but high levels can be harmful. If you are concerned about the mineral content of your well water, test your well water for contaminants. Then visit Brown & Cox to find out more about all your options for removing minerals.