Tuesday, July 11, 2017

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Unf*** My Tap Water.

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So, city water. It's a bit crap at the best of times, doubly so if you live in an area that uses a lot of chlorine and has plumbing that consists of 100-year-old wood pulp. I've been struggling with things as simple as taking baths, since I have pretty sensitive skin and can't seem to do it without breaking out in a rash and feeling itchy and miserable for hours afterward.

What can you do when your tap water makes you itchy? When having a date night means purposefully not shaving your legs and underarms, because you don't want to be distracted by the burning and itching all night?

Sure, there are shower and bath tub faucet filters, but these only go so far. While most of them contain filter media that's supposed to last for three months, you might be lucky to get a single month out of them if your water's bad enough. Since most people don't take cold baths or showers (especially in cool weather), the heat makes them wear out even faster -- the warmer the water, the greater its potential for dissolving and picking up all of the things you're trying to filter out.

I've even tried just using the spigot to get wet and soapy, then using a couple of wash cloths soaked in distilled water to clean up. It's a solution, I guess, but not really one I can sustain long-term.

Unfortunately, since we rent, a whole-house filter isn't really an option. In the end, we ended up compromising by using a couple of things. First, we picked up a filter that attaches behind the shower head, like this:

It's pretty easy to install, you just unscrew your shower head, screw this to the spigot, and screw the shower head to the end of the filter. The middle portion is threaded, so the capsule itself opens up so the filter cartridge can be replaced. It doesn't seem to harm the water pressure or flow rate at all, either. Even when the cartridge is full of junk and ready for replacing, everything seems to work just fine. The only complaint I have is that the cartridges only last us for a few weeks before they need replacing, but, as I said, it's very difficult to compare how long a filter is supposed to last against how long it lasts with actual real-world usage.

While the filter's great for grabbing some of the compounds that leave a film on your skin and rings around your tub, I needed a little extra help coping with the chlorine content. (After a shower, I come out smelling like I've been in a swimming pool.) A little sodium ascorbate powder helps a lot, though. When using vitamin c to remove chlorine, a little goes a very long way. It may take some experimenting to find the sweet spot between "skin irritated by chlorine" and "skin irritated by too much vitamin C," but it's well worth it. My skin feels better, my bathroom doesn't smell like a YMCA, and $10 worth of vitamin C lasts for a heck of a lot of baths.

As a side note, it's a good idea to pick up ascorbic acid versus citric acid -- citric acid tends to be a little harsher and have a more dramatic effect on pH.

Lastly, I keep a bag of epsom salts on hand. I like using them to make homemade bath salts, and they're great for helping muscle cramps, strains, and assorted other aches and pains. You can get a couple pounds of them inexpensively on Amazon, but they're also likely to be available at your local pharmacy in smaller quantities. Add a couple of drops of lavender and frankincense oil, and you're good to go!



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