Copper is one of the most abundant and naturally occurring metals on earth’s crust which is found almost everywhere, from soil to water and rocks to plants and animals. Most commonly, it is found in plumbing materials and electrical wirings. Copper is essential to human health as it helps in energy production, the healthy immune system, and the nervous system. The majority of people get the necessary 0.9 mg of copper from their diet, but its excessive amount can cause problems for your health and your home appliances.
Copper can be found in drinking water up to 2mg/L, which is more than the recommended limit. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests the maximum safe limit for copper in drinking water is 1.3mg/L. Copper more than this recommended limit in drinking water can be harmful to your health and also to your home’s appliances. Thus, you must know the methods of removing excess copper from water. This article provides you with the most practical and useful solutions for removing excess copper from drinking water.
Where Does the Copper in Water Come From?
As described earlier, copper is a naturally occurring metal found in water, soil, and rocks, so it easily makes its way into the drinking water. There are two main sources for copper to enter into drinking water. The first one is the erosion of copper-containing rocks and copper pipes and the second one is the corrosion of household plumbing fixtures and appliances.
Symptoms of Copper in Drinking Water and Home Appliances
Copper found in drinking water mostly comes from household plumbing fixtures and not from the water supply. Copper pipes corrode from inside over time, especially in hot water. Compared with cold water, hot water can dissolve copper quickly and more. When hot water dissolves copper, it increases your appliances’ copper concentration. The following symptoms are associated with copper in water.
- Stains in the shower
- Blue-green stains in the sink and faucet
- Black or blue-green film inside the hot water tank
- Discoloration of laundry
- Metallic taste in water
Methods of Removing Copper from Drinking Water
Unnecessary or excessive amounts of copper in drinking water are harmful to human health as they can cause diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, gastric complaints, and headaches. Long-term exposure (years and months) of copper can cause liver damage and ultimately death. Thus, its important to remove copper from drinking water. Here are the most practical and useful ways of removing copper from water.
Reverse Osmosis Filter
Through the reverse osmosis process, you can remove 97-98% of copper from the drinking water. A semi-permeable membrane removes various ions, particles, and molecules in the reverse osmosis filtration system. This semi-permeable membrane allows water molecules to pass through it but blocks the movement of copper ions. It is one of the most useful ways of removing copper from drinking water.
In a reverse osmosis system, there is a tank to hold treated water, a membrane, and a faucet. The faucet is attached to the top, and the membrane is installed under the sink. For tank installation, you have many options like you can attach it to the entry point, under the sink, or can also use it as a standalone countertop unit.
Water distillation is a contaminant-removing method that can remove 99% of all contaminants, including copper. Through a water distiller, steam is filtered. The copper stays behind the filter while the filtered water turns back into the water tank. After that, the water is cooled before drinking.
Water distillation is less convenient than reverse osmosis because only a limited amount of water is filtered through this process at a time. But it is one of the cheapest and most affordable water filtration options that you can have.
Using ion exchange water softeners is another good option for copper removal from drinking water. It can remove up to 95% of copper from drinking water, depending upon the size and type of resin bed. The resin bed in water softeners is covered with negatively charged ions. So, when metal ions like copper ions come in contact with the resin bed, they exchange their place with the negatively charged ions. The entire process is known as ion exchange.
You can also regenerate the resin bed by running a salt solution through the bed. Various water softeners are available on the market, and you can choose as per your affordability.
An acid neutralizer system uses a chemical reaction to remove copper from the drinking water. The lime soda ash system is one of the most effective acid neutralizers. You can remove up to 65% of copper from the drinking water through acid neutralizers. Removing copper with acid neutralizers is not the best option compared with reverse osmosis filter systems and water distillers. An acid neutralizer system uses natural minerals to increase the pH of your water supply at the main line.
Flushing Your Water System
As most of the copper comes through plumbing pipes in drinking water, thus flushing your water system is a good way to eliminate excessive copper. You should turn on the cold water tap for around 10-15 seconds before use. This way, most of the copper is flushed away, and water is ready for cooking and drinking. Do not worry about wasting water as you can use it for watering your plants. This is the simplest method to avoid excessive copper in drinking water, but it is surely not the best one.
If your drinking water quality is deteriorating with excessive copper, you must use the first three methods of cleaning water.
Copper from plumbing pipes and other fixtures can enter your drinking water, making it unsuitable to consume. You can remove excess copper from your drinking water by using reverse osmosis filtration, water distillation, water softeners, and some other methods.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can boiling water help get rid of copper?
No, the boiling water doesn’t reduce the copper levels. In fact, if your water has copper in it, boiling may increase its levels.
2. How to test for copper in water?
Take sample water into a container and dip a copper test strip into it. After one minute, the test strip will change its color and indicates the level of copper in the water by comparing it with the reference chart.
3. Is drinking copper water harmful?
Drinking water with excessive amounts of copper can cause liver diseases if you are exposed to this water in the long term. Besides this, consuming high levels of copper can cause vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and stomach cramps. Years of exposure to high concentrations of copper in water can also lead to death.