Well water is one of the most natural water sources you can find. However, natural does not always mean healthy; it can come with its own risks. So, if well water is your preference, you need to have a water filter as well. Water filters can purify well water, removing any odors, sediments, or even hardness.
Although given the range of contaminants that could be found in your well water, a water filter may not be all you need. To understand how much purification your well water needs, you’ll have to test it. We’ll explore some of the best ways to test well water and what you should test for in order to make it drinkable.
Before we talk about what you should test in drinking water, let’s take a look at the best way on how to test well water:
Test for Nitrates in Water
Many kinds of contaminants may be in your well water. Like I mentioned earlier, you can’t always remove them with your water filter. Nitrates are prominent examples of such contaminants. They could get into the underground water that leads to your well through several means.
It can be due to fertilizer usage or industrial waste finding its way underground. Herbicides used to kill pests can find their way into the earth. They can also be derived from animal waste or metabolized by bacteria in the soil.
So, suppose you’re living close to an agricultural or industrial community. In that case, your well water is likely to have nitrates, which is not something you can test for yourself. That’s why you need to contact laboratories that can do it for you. You can send samples of your well water to the lab for professional analysis.
Or, if you prefer, the laboratory can help you with detailed instructions on doing the testing yourself and the tools to do it right. Whichever you choose, do ensure that you check the quality of your well water from time to time.
Test for Coliform Bacteria in Drinking Water
Testing for nitrates alone does not guarantee water safety. You need to test for bacteria as well to make sure your well water is healthy for drinking. Coliform bacteria are usually found in animal waste. And if you’re living in a community with agricultural activities, your underground water can be contaminated by them.
Not all coliform bacteria are harmful, but some strains can cause severe diseases. That’s why you must make testing your well water a priority. Just as in the case of nitrates, you can’t do this test yourself. Coliform bacteria’s presence cannot be detected through smell, color, or taste. Only laboratory tests can confirm their presence or absence.
So, you should send samples of your well water for bacteria testing periodically. And to increase the accuracy of results, send in as many samples as possible. Furthermore, coliform bacteria are most likely to contaminate your well during wet weather. So it would be optimal to take your samples in the right seasons.
Note that coliform bacteria can be removed from your water through boiling, but it can be dangerous to do this if there are nitrates in the water. Boiling can increase the nitrate concentration in well water. Although there are a couple of filtration techniques that can filter out coliform, you have to be sure of their efficacy if you’ll be going the DIY route.
Test for Fluoride in Well Water
Unlike nitrates and coliform bacteria, fluoride is not necessarily harmful to you. You’re already aware that it is added to your toothpaste and to water to help prevent tooth decay. However, in both cases, the fluoride level is well-regulated. This is because fluoride can cause you harm when its concentration exceeds a certain threshold.
It is possible for your well water to be tainted by excessive fluoride concentration. It is therefore important to test its fluoride level from time to time. Fortunately, testing for fluoride is cheaper and more convenient than testing for nitrates or coliform bacteria. You don’t have to take water samples to the lab to do your testing. There are affordable fluoride test kits that will give you accurate results.
You may choose to rely on your water filter to get rid of fluoride. But be aware that many water filters specifically designed for this purpose only remove half of the fluoride concentration. Depending on the fluoride concentration level before using the water filter, you may still be in danger of fluoride poisoning. Therefore, the importance of fluoride testing cannot be stressed enough.
Test for Sulfate
Proximity to agricultural or industrial environments does not only increase the risk of nitrates in your water. Industrial and animal wastes can also contaminate your well water with sulfates. If the concentration is not too high, it might cause only mild inconvenience. However, if your well water is too highly contaminated, this can have adverse health effects, especially for children.
You should therefore test your well water for sulfate by sending samples to a certified lab. Be aware that your water filter cannot remove sulfate from water. And while you may choose to carry out other water treatment techniques that get rid of sulfate, you may make mistakes due to a lack of expertise. So you should make sure to prioritize the periodic testing of your well water to keep sulfate contamination in check.
No well water test is complete without testing for all of these compounds above. A lab is the easiest way.