Ways of Measuring Hidden Properties in Water
In our Mitte lab we obviously concern ourselves with water quality on a daily basis. By now everyone in our team has become quite the water-geek and we suspect most of friends know more about TDS scores and flow rates than they ever wanted to…
Still, we believe that water quality is a fascinating, multifaceted and very important field. Let’s take a look at some key aspects of water quality, and some interesting examples of how they can be measured.
„Water quality describes chemical, physical, biological, and radiological properties in water. Quality is always measured in relation to its purpose. That means, whether you are analyzing lake water or tap water, the parameters for indicating its quality are different.
The substances which are measured are distinguished into the following categories:
- Microorganisms: These include all living substances, like bacteria, viruses, and protozoa
- Inorganic contaminants like salts, metals, and dissolved gases
- Organic chemicals, that enter the water as industrial and agricultural effluents and pharmaceuticals
- Radionuclides, which occur naturally as trace elements in rocks and soils
The amount of certain, inorganic contaminants like salts and metals can be measured by testing the electric conductivity of a water probe.
Pure water consists solely of hydrogen and oxygen. Both elements are not conductive. Yet, dissolved minerals, salts, and metals, are. Their concentration in a water probe therefore can be determined through the water’s conductivity. They are referred to as the amount of total dissolved solids (TDS)[ indicated as milligrams per liter, or respectively parts per million (ppm).]
Another quite interesting method of measure is the water’s turbidity, or haze. The haze is caused by very fine parts of inorganic and organic matter, and microscopic organisms. The Formazin Turbidity Unit (FTU) is defined through pointing a light ray on a water probe and evaluating the scattering of incident light. High intensity of scattered light equals high turbidity.
Bacteriological water analysis can be carried out through plate count, combined with membrane filtration: After filtering a water probe, the membrane is placed in a nutrient solution, where the bacteria will breed. After a set time, the cultures are counted. Since all surveys are based on a comparatively tiny probe, the results are based on statistic principles.
Alkalinity is not the same, but closely linked to pH. While alkalinity describes the water’s ability to neutralize an acid, pH is the actual value of the water’s acidity or basicity. pH is commonly indicated on a scale from 0-14, whereas the the value 7 means that a substance is neither acid, nor basic, thus it is defined as „neutral“. For a healthy environment and if used by humans, water should have a neutral or slightly basic pH.
Total alkalinity is measured by collecting a water sample, and measuring the amount of acid needed to bring the sample to a pH of 4.2. At this pH all the alkaline compounds in the sample are “used up.”
The measurement we understand best is perfection
Whatever the quality of tap water where you live, Mitte is designed so that at a push a button you get purified water boosted with the select mineral combinations your body needs, whenever you need it.
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