The day I found out that my expensive machine did not remove fluoride I drove an hour and a half to get the new one. Admittedly, it did make my water taste great - even my 4 year old could tell the difference. And I believe it removes plenty of toxins for $680, but it does NOT remove fluoride, which is what I was promised. The bottom line is...I'm embarrassed. I'm known for diligently doing my research and not only did I not do my research and took someone's word for it, but I even sold this junk to my friends and poisoned their families as well as my own. Believe this, the research I did after I discovered the truth was thorough and even down right annoying to the salesmen I bombarded day after day with questions following the research I did based on their answers from the day before, and those answers led to more questions the following day. Almost all of them told me on more than one occasion "I have never had someone ask about that" and "I have never had anyone concerned about that issue before...let me check". And after they checked, I checked. Again and again.
What else would I have done besides use that cheap little filter? Anything! I would have taken out a second mortgage if I needed to in order to avoid poisoning my kids. We drink a lot of water around here. In fact, we came to the conclusion that we didn't even want them bathing in the toxic waste and went on a search for pure water for the whole house. Fortunately, after weeding through several hours of salesmen's pitches and explanations and answers, dozens of hours of online research, and asking about 1,000 questions, I found what seems to be the obvious choice for the best water available, and it is surprisingly affordable.
The first guy that came was the only one with a fluoride meter and tested my water. Really, he wanted to prove to me that my counter-top alkalizer/ionizer/filter was useless, but with class enough that he didn't say that...he just said, "Let's see how this is doing" knowing full-well what the result would be. I learned that the federal limit for fluoride dumping in our water is .7ppm. As far as I'm concerned the limit should be 0ppm. My tap measured up at 1.15ppm! And when he measured my trusted alkalizing water purification system, he found the fluoride content to be 1.12ppm. I was devastated. Honestly, I had to activate some kind of "ignore" button in my brain to get through the rest of that meeting, in addition to several parts of the next week.
Over the next 3 meetings and week following I learned the difference between Jacobi Catalytic Carbon and Activated Carbon, water softeners with purification systems built in and those without, activated alumina verses bone char, potassium or sodium for flushing water softeners, the softening pellets...and silica quarts??? (this end conclusion was unsatisfying to say the least), dirty dealings with unscrupulous companies, those that actually know the industry compared to those that only know what their company taught them (strangely similar to essential oil companies, ha!) and how varied in quality a Reverse Osmosis system can actually be.
Here I'm going to process the information I received from various companies that pitched their water purifying systems to me. I am also going to highlight the things that interested me most about each of these systems.
The regional sales manager who typically sends out other sales representatives actually decided to come to my house himself after our brief initial phone call because of my history with ionizers, understanding of alkaline water, and severe aversion to fluoride and other chemicals. He has been in the industry for 29 years, even testing water all over the country. He knows the industry, not just his system and would only sell something he believed in. His test equipment was unmatched - he was the only one able to test our fluoride levels and ours is off the charts.
What did he suggest for us?
A 2-part system:
1. A water-softener that doubles as a state-of-the-art whole house purification system
2. Reverse Osmosis (RO) system for under our sink to eliminate 99.99% of fluoride and extra filtration for our drinking and cooking water.
What aspects of this system were selling points and which were not?
1. One of the main points he went over several times is that their system uses Jacobi Catalytic Carbon rather than just plain old coconut shell activated carbon and said that Jacobi absorbs 5x more toxins than activated.
2. He knew what potential threats could be in water and how his system could handle them. The whole house system both softened water, which is great for skin, water use, detergent use, and ridding detergents, but it removed 99.99% of chloramines, pesticides, herbicides, pharmaceuticals (that could potentially end up in our water if our water supply starts using reclaimed water, which some cities already do), haloacetic acids, trihalomethanes, scale, hydrogen sulfide, fertilizers and more.
3. The RO system
- 6-stage, including a re-mineralization filter to add back in important minerals to increase the pH of the water to healthy drinking pH (8-9).
- includes a Jacobi Catalytic Carbon filter (not just activated carbon).
- the Perfect Water 507 Permeate Pump yields 2 gallons of good water to 1 gallon of waste water.
The initial cost proposal: $3900.00
Maintenance over 5 years: $450
The salesman was very nice and thorough in his answers. He did say that in some respects it is hard to tell what is in the water because it changes all the time and it would be hard to know how to remove each contaminant and so their filtration system for the whole house might not remove everything and it would be hard to prove. I think that there is obviously some truth to that, but I also want to use the most powerful system that will remove everything possible.
What did he suggest for us?
A 3-part system:
1. Water Softener
2. Big Blue Filter
3. RO under our sink
What aspects of the system were selling points and which were not?
I didn't know it at the time, but having the whole house purification function separate from the softener is beneficial, the reason I will cover in Part 3.
On the other hand, they use activated carbon rather than Jacobi Catalytic and has a 5-stage RO system rather than 6.
Initial Cost Proposal: $4720
Maintenance over 5 years: $972
The sales representative from this company was likable. He came with test equipment and although he couldn't measure our fluoride, he did measure and compare our tap water to our purifier and showed us a few things. He had us wash our hands with soft water, and I honestly had to laugh out loud - my husband's reaction to this phenomena was infomercial-worthy! It was at that moment, and his discussion on water softening, that we were convinced we wanted soft water for our skin, not just for purification benefits.
What did he suggest for us?
A 3-part system:
1. An Activated Alumina tank right after our main water supply to remove 90%-95% of fluoride coming into the house.
2. Their water softener/whole house purification system.
3. RO system for our kitchen.
What aspects of the system were selling points and which were not?
The primary factor that shot this companies rankings to the top was the ability to remove fluoride from our whole house for less than $8500. Their softener/purification tank is a 5-part system. On the other hand, their RO was only 5-stage and both the RO and purification tank use activated and not Jacobi Catalytic Carbon.
One other fascinating part of the offer was that they don't lower their price, but they include several years worth of natural cleaning products. At first, this did not appeal to me, but after looking at them I admit, I got excited to use them, including the natural dish washing liquid. A major downside was that the RO system produces 1 gallon of good water for every 2 gallons of wasted water. He also gave me a handy chart that showed which media removed which toxins...a reference that proved valuable later.
Initial cost proposal: $5490 financed/$4990 cash
Maintenance over 5 years: $1075
So, as I considered what these systems had to offer some questions came up and the answers I found.
Q: Is Jacobi Catalytic really better than activated carbon?
A: Yes, yes, and yes.
Q: What are the ways fluoride can be removed?
A: Reverse Osmosis, Activated Alumina, Distillation, Bone Char, link here. However, it turns out only Reverse Osmosis actually does the job when tested.
Q: Can fluoride be absorbed into the body through the skin?
A: Some say yes, some no. I know currently there are 3 forms of toxic fluoride pumped into our water system. Maybe some are, some not. Maybe they will dump some it that is in the future. Either way, do I want my kids bathing in toxic waste? No.
So, in the end, I was thinking that since only the third company had the option to remove it from my whole house, they would win. But then I thought, why compromise? I liked the RO system better from Company 1, and their carbon better. So I thought I, being the customer, could split the difference. Company 3 told me that the Alumina tank add-on was normally $800, but they would throw it into the deal "for free" (insert eye-roll). When I contacted the sales rep to confirm the price if we only get that, he said he wasn't sure if it included installation. He later came back and said the installation was another $400. And text me once again to say, "It isn't worth it for us, good luck with the other guy". I replied that I thought it was poor customer service to not be willing to sell me something to protect my family just because I didn't buy all their products and they came back and said they would do it for $1800 cash price, $1900 financed. That didn't sit well with me, so I decided to see if I could find it somewhere else. They aren't the only people in the world with an alumina tank. What I found threw a wrench into my entire plan and led to 1,000 more annoying questions for a 4th company.
I want to back up for just a second to mention that the day after I found out our expensive counter-top unit did not remove fluoride, a Culligan man informed us that the purified bottled water at Costco was actually RO water. The next morning I went to Costco and bought a case of water, plus a case of locally sourced very special water from Carlsbad Mineral Springs. Upon testing their pH, they were both acidic - about 6.5. The Carlsbad water has a pH of 8-9 at the source, but apparently it loses is charge and pH after bottling. It was very expensive. Obviously, the RO water wasn't using a remineralization filter and if it did, it lost it's high pH as well. So we added alkalizing drops and/or baking soda to each bottle to boost the pH while we waited for our new water and sorted through the decision. After barreling through about 3 gallons daily I couldn't wait to get our eventual water system in!
Continuing where I left off, on my emergency search for an alumina tank, I called the manufacturer of the tank initially offered by company 3 (I only knew who to call because of a tip from a salesman who gave me the name of the company so I could further my research). When I got in touch with the manufacturer, who again explained to me that they do not sell to the public nor give the public advice, he was cool enough to confirm what the tanks are used for and give the numbers of other local retailers.
Meanwhile, I found an online company that sells these tanks. But their tanks are even a bit more special than the one that company 3 was offering because it doesn't just have Activated Alumina, the tanks also have KDF-55 and Jacobi Catalytic Carbon and you have the choice between the alumina or bone char for fluoride removal. This actually would take care of all of the whole house filtration. Come to find out they also sell water softeners and RO systems.
What could they offer for my needs?
A 3-part system:
1. whole house purification tank with catalytic carbon, KDF-55 and fluoride
media(activated alumina or bone char)
2. Water softener (huge capacity 64,000 grains or 2 cubic feet, smaller ones are available)
3. Reverse Osmosis
What I did and did not like about their system?
The only thing I didn't like right out of the gate was the RO system because it only has 4 parts and uses activated carbon rather than catalytic. I was very interested in the filter and softener and learned that it is best to keep your filter and softener separate because the softener media only needs to be changed every 15 years and the toxin filters should be changed yearly.
Initial cost of the filter and softener: $1525 (You could add the RO for $300)
Maintenance over 5 years: $1980
I needed to investigate their quality, sources, and materials which opened a whole process of this research uncovering even more information than the first portion. Here are the questions that came up as we learned about everything the online/install it yourself company offered:
Q: What is KDF-55?
A: A high-quality alloy of copper and zinc. It is awesome! It kills algae and fungi, control bacteria growth, and remove chlorine, pesticides, organic matter, rust, unpleasant taste and odour, hydrogen sulfide, iron, lead, nickel, chromium, cadmium, calcium, aluminium, mercury, arsenic, and other organic compounds.
Q: It produces ozone and we don't like ozone. Is there ozone in the finished product?
A: There should not be ozone in the final product because the charcoal removes it.
Q: Difference between Activated Alumina and Bone Char for removal of fluoride?
A: They seems to be equals in fluoride removal but bone char can't seem to handle a high pH coming in. I actually got various answers on this but when I sought to confirm, it seemed the bone char had that flaw. Also, bone char is not vegan, it is made from cow bones - lot's of them. Don't get me wrong, as much as I promote veganism and think it is awesome, if the only choice I had to give my children fluoride-free water was by using cow bones I'd do it.
Q: Does and RO system remove ozone in the event there is any remaining in our water?
A: Yes, because it has charcoal.
Q: If my system can handle 6 gallons per minute and my water pressure is much higher, will it ruin my tank?
A: No, it can clean that much per use. Showers often run around 2.5 gallons per minute, so if the whole house was running 6 gallons per minute it could clean it just fine.
Q: I see it is designed for water free of iron and sulfur. How do I know if I have those and what if I do?
A: Iron and sulfur are found in wells, they have different systems for wells.
Q: Installation instructions?
A:Very good ones. (from our personal experience)
Q: Do I want the optional Vortech tank?
A: Yes, it will save water and electricity (included in the price above)
Q: How long do the media replacement supplies last?
A: If kept in packaging and not exposed to moisture, many years.
My final decision:
Get my filter and Softener from the online company (pure-earth.com) and my Reverse Osmosis system from San Diego Pure Water (Company 1).
This was my final decision and what we purchased. After a few months of using this multi-part system, we had our water tested. We bought test equipment and had it professionally tested to confirm our findings. We found out that one of the systems was NOT working as it should. The alumina tank is not removing fluoride, in fact it looks as though it is combining with the fluoride and together adding a toxic fluoride to our water! I'm SO glad we have our awesome RO system because that is removing ALL THE FLUORIDE per our testing! Looking in to bone char, it was no more convincing to remove fluoride than alumina. We have decided to remove all of the media from our whole house filter and replace it with fresh KDF-55 and catalytic carbon to continue removing the other impurities from our house water.
For an awesome 6-stage, alkalizing Reverse Osmosis system purchase call San Diego Pure Water!
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