Today's question came from 'James', who asked, "I don't know anything about my water so what is your most popular test kit? That should work for me, right?"
Thank you, James, for your inquiry. Interestingly enough, James is far from alone when it comes to this line of thinking... because most people do not know that subtle, and sometimes not-so-subtle differences do exist between water supplies around the world, around the country, and around a region.
So what IS our most popular water test kit? Over time we have noticed that the drinking water contaminant of most concern to people... really poses no serious health risk at all: Total Hardness.
By most folks' definition, the term contaminant, when dealing with drinking water, refers to the presence of an unwanted substance or material in their water supply. So yeah, water hardness (i.e. dissolved calcium and magnesium in water) certainly qualifies as a contaminant, but personally, we believe people should dig a little deeper and care more about drinking water contaminants that can harm them.
Excess water hardness leaves stains, clogs pipes (in extreme cases) and results greater usage of soaps and detergents but it does not cause potential organ failure (like metals), gastrointestinal distress (like coliform bacteria) or, in extreme cases... death. Too much or the wrong types of metals and/or bacteria in drinking water CAN kill you. Maybe not right away, but over time it can happen.
Proper diagnosis (i.e. water testing) followed by the correct preventive measures (i.e. water treatment and/or filtration) go a long way toward helping us stay healthy, live longer, and live better.