A User's Guide to Water

Water Drop

Anatomy of A Drop

A water molecule consists of two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen—however, you’ve probably never seen a sample of pure water.

Freshwater and saltwater both contain dissolved minerals and gases that have been picked up in the atmosphere, ocean, or underground pipes.

Acceptable materials found in water

  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Sodium
  • Potassium
  • Carbonate
  • Sulfates
  • Chloride

Bromide, Iodine, Rubidium, Scandium, Boron, Phosphorus, Nickel, Manganese, Chromium, Strontium, Sulfate, Cobalt, Zinc, Titanium, Lanthanum, Cerium, Barium, Copper, Iron, Silicon, Yttrium, Molybdenum, Tin, Gallium, Gold, Silver, Cesium, Beryllium, Selenium, Vanadium, Dysprosium, Holmium, Terbium, Praseodymium, Lutetium, Gadolinium, Samarium, Bismuth, Ytterbium, Erbium, Europium, Neodymium

Hazardous Contaminants

Contaminant Source Effects
E. coli bacteria Fecal waste Gastrointestinal infection, especially for people with immune disorders
Pesticides Agricultural sites Cancer, leukemia, endocrine diseases
Nitrates/Nitrites Sewage, livestock, fertilizers Risks to infants and local ecosystems
Arsenic Skin problems, cancer, cardiovascular and nervous system Pesticides, natural deposits, industry
Lead Damages nervous system, especially in children Originates in metal pipes and adjacent industrial sites
Fluoride Natural deposits, municipal treatment Potential skeletal damage with excessive consumption in children
Uranium Kidney toxicity and cancer Natural deposits

40% of our readers do not use a water filter

40 percent of people don't use water filters.

The water crisis in Flint, Michigan has exposed the decaying quality of infrastructure in the United States. Many people don’t know how their filters work, or if they are filtering out the desired contaminants. Visit the Solutions page to take action and learn more about water filters, or continue below for more water science.

Basically Central

40 percent of people don't use water filters.
pH range of global samples collected by the UN.

The pH scale measures how acidic a sample is, with 0 being very acidic and 14 being very basic. Water is exactly in the middle, with a pH of 7. However, since water almost always contains additional materials, it’s pH actually varies quite a bit.

Math Time

Acidity changes with the presence of Hydrogen ions (H+), according to the following equation:

pH = −log(H + )

Because pH is a logarithmic function, a change of pH from 3.0 to 2.0 marks a much larger shift in acidity than from 7.0 to 6.0. Water becomes more acidic when it reacts with carbon dioxide, which means that carbon emissions attributed to human activity directly influence the acidity of the rain.

The pH of acid rain can be anywhere from 2.0–4.0

(or lemon juice to tomato juice)

40 percent of people don't use water filters.
The body's overall percentage of water across age and sex.

In our exploration of the universe, water is a key requirement for life. About 60% of the human body is water, which makes it vital to know what you’re putting into your body and your environment. Keep reading to learn about how water gets to your faucet.