how to remove lead from drinking water

How to Remove Lead From Drinking Water: Quick Guide

Lead has been a huge topic over the last few years, and a lot has been discussed. We are all familiar with the disastrous impact that lead has made on Flint, Newark, and other regions.

But behind all the noise about how lousy lead is, we have forgotten to ask ourselves the most important question: how to remove lead from drinking water to protect us?

In short, the only way to remove lead is with the help of water filters. Technologies such as reverse osmosis activated carbon, and ion exchange filters are capable of removing lead from water. Other methods such as boiling or sedimentation are not effective in lead removal.

Let’s be honest, many more products and events that could contaminate water than lead in pipes.

Although this is still the major one, let’s explore other ways that could release lead into the water.

Lead Contamination Sources

As I said before, the pipeline network is currently the biggest contributor that contaminates water with lead. Even though the lead was banned in 1986 from being used in plumbing, there are still millions of miles of old pipes that contain lead and needs to be replaced asap.

For some reason, this is not happening, and this is why events like Newark or Flint will continue to happen.

But in all honesty, there are also many other sources of how our water is exposed to lead.

Although less, lead could also be present in faucets, fixtures, or plumbing where lead solder is used.

Over time the plumbing is exposed to water of different conditions. These could be ranging from the temperature, pressure, alkalinity or acidity of water, etc.

All these factors play a significant role in the condition of the piping, and there is a direct correlation with how much lead is leached.

Other than that, we are regularly exposed to lead from other industries as sources.

Dust is a prime example of how we expose ourselves to lead at home. The source of this could be old lead paint used within your household or home improvement activities.

You will be surprised, but lead has also been used as one of the materials in lipsticks in the past. Personally, this was shocking for me knowing how bad lead is.

I have one more fun fact before we move one.

During the Roman civilization, lead has been used as a wine sweetener.

Naturally, lead salts have a sweet taste. What happened is that aside from honey and other available sweeteners, Romans used lead instead.

There is a somewhat discussion about whether they knew about its toxicity or not. However, various sources proved that elites knew that it’s poison, yet it didn’t stop them.

I hope you have found it as interesting as I did, but now, let’s have a look at what lead does within our bodies.

Lead Health Impact

The problem with lead is that it creates deposits in our bodies. Specifically, it deposits in bones, blood, and kidneys, and from there, it is distributed into the blood.

Through blood, it reaches other organs, and this is where all the problems are coming from.

Lead has been known to have the following impact in our body:

  • Nervous system damage
  • Brain functionality problems
  • Blood pressure and heart diseases

I understand you come here to read about how to get rid of lead from water. Because this article is not about deseases I won’t go into much detail of this matter.

But click here if you want some further information.

I believe that if you have found this article, you already know that lead is bad, and rather than stating this fact again, let’s get into the most important part – how to remove lead from water.

How to Test for Lead in Watertest water

Before you get to remove lead, you need to establish its amount. This will directly determine how you should go about it and what type of filter you would need.

The problem with lead is, it is impossible to tell its presence in the water. Unlike iron it doesn’t oxidize and change the color of water or change its taste and smell.

There are many things you can do to check water quality. You can smell it, check the shade, taste it, but in this case, lead won’t reveal itself.

For this reason, you will have to invest in the kit test to confirm the presence of lead in water.

The good thing is, many of the available kits on the market are not expensive and apart from lead will also test water for other contaminants like iron, bacteria, mercury, copper, etc.

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Using testing kits is pretty straightforward.

Collect the water sample into the container and insert the testing strip into it.

When collecting water, don’t forget to let it run for a couple of minutes to flush the plumbing. Otherwise, the testing kit might not show you the accurate representation of your water. But will include contaminants it has collected while traveling through pipes.

Wait for results, and use the color shade to determine the level of lead present in water, which will then determine what type of filter you would need.

Ways to Remove Lead From Water

There are many various methods to remove contaminants from water, even without using a filter.

For example, simple sedimentation could be very useful to reduce the number of heavy metals. Although some heavy metals will settle at the bottom of the container, unfortunately, it won’t work with lead.

Lead does not settle in the water, and lead from pipes partially dissolves in it.

This is why these methods are not efficient with lead, and why you cannot physically detect it in water, without using testing kits.

So what is the solution?

The only and truly efficient solution is water filter in this case.

As you know, there are many types of filters, and in the next chapter, I will talk about how you can select the right filter for you.

How to Select Filter to Remove Lead

Not all filters will be capable of removing lead, but no worries I got you covered in this chapter.

Generally we can split filters into the types based on how they treat water.

These are:

  • Reverse osmosis
  • Activated carbon filters
  • UV filters
  • Ion exchange
  • Distillation

Not all of these types are effective in removing lead, so I shall probably start with them.

Only UV filters don’t remove any lead or heavy metals in general. However, if you have a problem with bacteria, this is your best solution in combination with other types.

Now, let’s talk about the rest of the list.

Out of all types, reverse osmosis (RO) is by far the most efficient solution.

If you have heavily contaminated and nothing worked for you so far, RO will be your rescuer.

RO units usually remove between 97 to 99% of lead and other heavy metals, so you can’t go wrong here.

On pair with reverse osmosis, distillation process will give you similar results. Although these two types are slightly different, which you can read more about this here.

The thing with activated carbon filters is that they can be efficient at removing lead. However, some activated carbon cartridges are not capable of this.

You have to be careful with this and check with the manufacturer in advance to avoid any surprises.

The ion exchange method, or in other words, de-ionization, also removes lead.

I would like to warn you, however.

Despite using the ion exchange method, water softeners do not remove lead.

Because the resin used inside is only designed to replace ions of magnesium, calcium, and a small amount of iron.

The bottom line is:

RO and distillation is the best way to remove lead, followed by activated carbon and ion exchange methods.

UV filtration does not remove lead or any other heavy metals or sediment.

To make your life even easier, I have done all the hard work for you and selected best filters to remove lead.

So go ahead and check out my tips.


Does Activated Carbon Remove Lead?

As said before, yes, activated carbon removes lead. But be careful because not all activated carbon filters are capable of removing lead.

Do Water Softeners Remove Lead?

Ion exchange is a great way to remove lead. Still, unfortunately, the resin used in softeners is not capable of removing lead. It is only designed to replace magnesium and calcium ions with ions of sodium. Also, it removes a small amount of iron.

Does Boiling Water Removes Lead?

No boiling water is not an efficient way of removing lead from water. During the boiling process, the lead will not evaporate from water, and boiling doesn’t affect it in any way.

Final Words

Although lead is a hazardous contaminant, it is not that difficult to remove, and most of the filters in a reasonable price range are capable of doing it.

Especially people who are located in industrial areas and live in the old house should be aware of lead and test their water regularly.

  • Did you ever had lead in water? What did you do?
  • Which of the treatment methods do you prefer and why?

Share your thoughts and ask me any questions in the comments below.

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