Water is the source of life. If you’re a human, then roughly 60 percent of your body consists of water (interestingly, that percentage is higher in babies, but it settles in at around 60 percent by the time a person hits adulthood). We rely on it more than we realize. When we’re flushing the toilet at 3 a.m because our bladder just woke us up, we’re probably not thinking, “Clean running water is a modern miracle!,” but it really is. People used to die because they didn’t have reliable access to good, safe water (just ask Emily Bronte, among countless others).
Still, it’s natural to wonder about just what exactly is in the water that we’re using to drink and bathe and cook. It can’t all be good stuff, right? Fluoride
There’s a ton of controversy about fluoride in the water supply, even though most of it has been vastly overblown by conspiracy theorists. According to the Centers for Disease Control, most water has a bit of the mineral known as fluoride, but usually not enough to prevent cavities. So many municipal water systems add in fluoride as a way of improving the community’s dental health. It’s a safe, cheap way to lower healthcare costs in the community, and there’s good evidence to suggest it lowers the cavity rate. Some people remain suspicious, though, and say that fluoride actually causes cancer but that the government doesn’t want you to know that. The government is certainly capable of doing unpleasant things, but that doesn’t mean it’s covering up a massive conspiracy to give people cancer in the name of dental health. The issue has been studied repeatedly, and there’s just no evidence of an increase in cancer rates that can be tied back to municipal fluoridation. There are also people online who believe that fluoride is being used as a form of governmental mind control, but these are the same people who believe that 9/11 never happened, so it’s best not to listen to them. Rest assured that when you go to the dentist
and are offered a fluoride treatment, it’s because your dentist wants you to have healthy teeth. Please don’t wear a tinfoil hat to your next cleaning. Hard water vs. soft water
If you live in a city where you hear the residents talking about “hard water,” that means your municipal water supply has more minerals. Soft water, by contrast, has been “softened” via certain processing mechanisms. One of those processes is known as lime softening
, and it uses calcium hydroxide (commonly known as limewater) to remove calcium and magnesium. Soft water is generally seen as preferable to lime water, as it’s easier on the pipes, but if you grew up in a town with hard water, moving to a place with soft water may require an adjustment period. Some people prefer soft water for bathing and hard water for drinking. Think of all the people who go to a store and buy fancy mineral water in a bottle. The good news is that, personal preferences aside, neither hard water nor soft water is considered detrimental to your health.