Water Quality Articles | Water Filter Information & Articles – Tagged "shower filter" – Hydroviv
Why Does Washington, DC's Water Taste Bad?

Why Does Washington, DC's Water Taste Bad?

Updated March 26, 2018 with 2018 dates and the 2018 video.
Starting today (March 26), we have had lots of questions about a noticeable chance in Washington DC's tap water taste.  While we've heard lots of interesting hypotheses, what's really happening is that the Washington Aqueduct (where DC Water purchases water from) has recently switched over from chloramine to chlorine for an annual "Spring Cleaning" of the distribution lines.

How Are Chloramine and Chlorine Different?

We answer this question in much more detail in a different post, but here's the skinny on chlorine in drinking water:  Like a growing number of US cities, Washington, DC uses chloramine as the primary disinfectant for a couple of reasons:

1.  It persists longer in the distribution system, so it does a better job killing bacteria in areas of the water distribution system that are near the end of the pipes, or don't have as high of flow as other areas.

2.  It doesn't form disinfection byproducts in the presence of organic matter.

3.  Chloramine-treated water doesn't have as strong of a taste as chlorine-treated water

While these are all great reasons to use chloramine, most cities that use chloramine undergo a more aggressive disinfection cycle for a few weeks each year (aka Spring Cleaning).  

What Are The Impacts of Switching to Chlorine?

During this time, some people find that the water tastes and smells tastes bad, and the bathroom smells a bit like a swimming pool's locker room after showering.  If you want to fix this problem... you have a couple of options that don't involve bottled water (horrible for the environment).

1.  Filter your water

2.  If you let chlorinated tap water sit in a pitcher overnight, a good amount of the chlorine taste will go away.

When Will Washington, DC's Water Switch Back Over to Chloramine?

May 7 is the day that DC Water plans to switch back over to chloramine.  Until then... non-Hydroviv users will just have to hold their noses!


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How Do I Fix Rotten Egg Smell In Well Water?

Eric Roy, Ph.D.  |  Scientific Founder

If your home draws water from a well, you may have experienced rotten egg smells coming from your water.  While not typically harmful, offensive odors are nuisances, and can usually be fixed.   In this article, we talk about common causes of tap water odors, how we troubleshoot odor problems, and talk a bit about how the problem can be fixed with a filter.

Update:  August 8, 2017: After over a year of R&D, we are happy to announce that we have launched a whole house water purifier that is purpose-built to eliminate the rotten egg smell from all of the water that enters your home!

The Likely Culprit:  Hydrogen Sulfide!

Rotten egg smells in water are usually caused by volatile sulfur-based chemicals (e.g. hydrogen sulfide), which are produced by naturally-occurring bacteria as part of their metabolism.  (For those who just Googled “Hydrogen Sulfide” and saw hazard warnings… keep in mind that while hydrogen sulfide is harmful at very high concentrations… it’s highly unlikely that your water could generate high enough levels in your home to cause health problems).  With that said, no one wants their home to smell like rotten eggs, so it’s a problem worth fixing!

Hydroviv’s “Toilet Tank Test” For Rotten Egg Smell

The first thing we do when a customer comes to us with a smelly water problem, is have them take the lid off their toilet’s tank and take a few pictures that can be sent to us (I’m not kidding!).  The toilet tank is a great observation point for us because it’s typically the most accessible place in the home where water is constantly resupplied from the source and is rarely cleaned out (though many start cleaning the tank after taking the lid off for the first time).

We examine the pictures to look for clues for what’s going on in the water.  For example, if the tank has slimy, rusty deposits, there’s a good chance that the smell is being generated by iron bacteria.  If there are brownish/black deposits visible, the water probably has high levels or iron and/or manganese.  Based on what’s in the pictures, we can usually custom-blend filtration media to fix the problem!

Case Study: 

A family came to us last fall because their water “smelled like farts” and they were sick of replacing inexpensive carbon filters ever week or two.  While carbon filtration is a great base technology to use in a wide range of applications, inexpensive cartridges use low quality filtration media with very low capacities for hydrogen sulfide.  Unfortunately, (or fortunately… depending on how you look at it), it’s obvious when a filter becomes saturated with hydrogen sulfide… because the rotten egg smell comes back…immediately… in full force.

We ended up formulating a custom water filter for this customer with an extra high capacity for hydrogen sulfide, and the difference was dramatic.  Instead of switching out cheap carbon filters every 10-14 days, the customer was able to use the same Hydroviv filter for 6 months, which saved them a great deal of money in replacement filter costs, not to mention the added convenience of not having to change out a filter every 10 days!   It was great to get the excited monthly email updates from the user, letting us know that the filters were still going strong!  Once they were confident that we could solve their problem, the customer also purchased some shower head water filters to fix rotten egg smells in the bathroom!

Update:  August 8, 2017:  After over a year of R&D, we are thrilled to announce that we have launched a whole house water filter that is purpose-built to eliminate the rotten egg smell from all of the water that enters your home!  

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What You Need To Know About Hard Water

What You Need To Know About Hard Water

By Julie Bray  

Hard water can create problems around the house. Mineral buildup is a nuisance especially in areas most affected by hard water. In this article, we answer questions about what is hard water and offer some practical tips on how to remove buildup without buying an expensive water softener. 

What is Hard Water?

Water is a great solvent for many of the earth’s minerals, including calcium and magnesium. Unfortunately this useful property has a downside- as groundwater moves through the earth it dissolves minerals, resulting in these minerals being delivered to you via your household water supply. When the dissolved minerals in the water reaches a relative high level, which is fairly common, your water is referred to as hard water.

Water is considered hard when it exceeds 3 grains per gallon or 17.1 Parts per million. Water hardness varies throughout the United States. The map below shows areas that are most affected by hard water.

Map Of Hard Water In US

What Are Signs That You Have Hard Water?

Hard water contains high amount of calcium and magnesium. When these two chemicals bond together, they create mineral deposits or scale.

In the industrial setting, hard water can create buildups in machinery, such as boilers and cooling towers, leading to either the use of expensive mineral removal systems or expensive maintenance.

In the domestic setting, hard water makes household cleaning tasks more difficult and can cause serious problems.


Hard water prevents soap from lathering by causing insoluble participates in the water creating problems around the house. Calcium and magnesium from hard water react with soap to produce soap scum. This forces homeowners to use more water for showering and washing dishes, which could increase monthly water bills.

Clothes may appear grey and dingy and feel rougher. Detergent is less effective when used with hard water as soap scum may lodge in the fabric during washing. This may shorten the life of clothes.

Dishes and glasses often look murky or foggy due to the presence of soap scum after being washed in hard water.

Hard Water Scale on Glasses

Soap scum can also make the hair feel slick and dull. Washing the body with soap and hard water may leave a film of sticky soap curd on the skin.  This can create irritation and possibly hinder cleaning.


Hard water can create a film on showers, tubs, sinks, faucets, and other fixtures. Once the scale deposits itself on a surface, getting it off can be very difficult. These deposits can make the kitchen and the bathroom look dirty and dingy after being cleaned.


Minerals in hard water deposit in pipes over time, which gradually slows the water pressure in a house. Complete blockage of pipes is unlikely. Pipes may become clogged with scale overtime, creating less movement through pipes. This is similar to cholesterol buildup, creating less movement through blood vessels.


Mineral deposits from hard water can interfere with appliances such as dishwashers, water heaters, and washing machines. Loose minerals may cling to appliances and cause them to break.

Is Hard Water Bad For You?

Hard water is not a health hazard. The National Research Council states that hard drinking water contributes a small amount to the calcium and magnesium necessary for the human diet.

Additionally, many experts even believe that drinking hard water can decrease the risk of heart attacks (“The high heart health value of drinking-water magnesium” by Andrea Rosanoff). This speculation is currently under further investigation by World Health Organization (WHO) and other groups.

How to Fix Hard Water

Public water system operators are required to provide annual water quality reports. These tests sometimes include water hardness information. Water hardness tests are also available through your city or state health department upon request for a small fee and many companies that sell softeners offer testing material.

If you find that you need to soften your water, there are some expensive hard water solutions such as Ion Exchange (magnesium and calcium bond with sodium in the water) or Reverse Osmosis. Typically these treat the whole house and can be thousands of dollars.

Water softener systems can be an okay hard water solution but also expensive. If you don't have the money or motivation to buy/maintain an expensive water softener, here are some practical tips:

How To Remove Scale From Your Showerhead:

1) take an old toothbrush and remove any surface deposits visible on the showerhead. 2) Take a bag of distilled white vinegar and submerge your showerhead in the bag. 3) Use a rubber band or twist tie to tie off the bag and secure the vinegar. 4) After 12 hours remove the bag and turn on the showerhead to flush the deposits.

How To remove hard water scale from shower head
    Because calcium is an alkaline earth metal, it is highly reactive with acids, like vinegar and lemon juice. Also, if you heat up the vinegar, it will help facilitate the reaction as reactions require energy.

    Other Easy Fixes For Hard Water Nuisances

    • Run white vinegar in dishwasher: Add two cups of white vinegar to the dishwasher can reduce buildup. Running the dishwasher with dishes that have been stained by scale can help remove some of the foggy/ murkiness.
    • Use lemon juice to spray and soak fixtures: Using a spray bottle with lemon juice can help remove some of the buildup and make sinks, faucets, and other fixtures that have mineral deposits shiny and new.
    • Clean glass windows and shower doors: Spray white vinegar on windows and shower doors to remove buildup.
    • Use cleaning products designed to limit hard water impact: hard water treatment shampoo and detergents solve hard water problems safely and effectively. These products are formulated to to remove buildup.
    • Reduce the temperature of your boiler: As the temperature increases, the more mineral deposits will appear in your dishwasher, water tank, and pipes.

    The mineral deposits left behind by hard water are a great nuisance, but these solutions can help. These hard water cleansing solutions can be effective and inexpensive.


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    Should I Use A Shower Filter?

    Eric Roy, Ph.D.  |  Scientific Founder
    Until recently, I lived in Maine.  Born, raised, educated, job, house, dogs… all of the things…  but not in a large city.  After graduate school, I became involved with projects for work that brought me to chemical and biological weapon facilities in the DC area. After spending my first day in one of these labs, I took a shower in the hotel and found that I had a bright red irritating rash.  Given the types of chemicals I had played with that day, it was pretty terrifying. Long story short… the doctors figured out that my skin irritation was caused by being hypersensitive to chloramine in DC's tap water... not exposure to something much worse. This was an annoyance, but not something that I needed to address at the time, because my trips to the area were relatively infrequent.

    About a year ago, I moved to Washington, DC, and learned that a number of my friends (also transplants) used shower water filters because they had similar issues with city water. I also learned from them that the products they used were not living up to claimed longevity and performance.  Because Hydroviv was determining our product roadmap at the time, a heavy-duty shower water filter was added to the planned product line, and we ended up finishing it first.

    Best Shower Filter For ChlorineBest Shower Filter For Chloramine
    As I write this, Hydroviv is in the midst of a soft launch while our core drinking water product is being buttoned up, tested, and patented, but we have some early adopters who have chosen to purchase a Hydroviv Shower Filter for a number of reasons.  Here are some of their stories, in no particular order :

    • A Creative Director for a salon in Arizona wants to avoid detrimental effects of chlorinated water on hair and to increase the effectiveness of styling products
    • A model in NYC has noticed that her hair and skin have suffered since moving to NYC, and wanted to improve both
    • A family in Maine wants to remove offensive odors from their well water 
    • Numerous people with sensitive skin (like myself) want to reduce skin irritation that occurs during showering

    As always, if you have any questions, send them to info@hydroviv.com or leave a comment below.
    Tech Talk:  Water Filter Stages

    Tech Talk: Water Filter Stages

    When people do their research on water filters, the topic of "stages" often comes up.  Water filter manufacturers try to use this spec to convince you to buy their product, but do you really know what  it means?

    Simply put:  The number of “stages” refers to the number of things done to purify water within a filtration system.  Some examples of “stages” include size exclusion filters, granulated activated carbon, ion exchange … things like that.   In theory, each stage is present to improve the water’s quality.

    With that said, It makes some sense that you would want the maximum number of stages to really clean up your water, right?

    Sometimes Yes.  Sometimes No.  

    If all stages are doing something useful… then “the more, the better”... but unnecessary or ineffective stages just slow down your filter's flow rate and drive up the price of the system!

    Because Hydroviv's Shower Filters are designed to handle "tough tap water"  we use 4 stages of filtration.  We use graduated size exclusion stages, and multiple stages that use advanced sorbent materials.

    clogged faucet aerator

    If your water filter doesn't catch the particles, your faucet's aerator certainly will!

    The purpose of  size exclusion is to catch tiny particles that would otherwise "gum up" or interfere with the sorbent materials, or could clog up your shower head or sink's aerator (see picture).  The sorbent materials are responsible for removing impurities from the water.   The end result is a highly advanced shower purification system that purifies the toughest tap water, and doesn't slow down your shower's flow rate!  

    A lot of people are asking "stage-related" questions about our upcoming drinking water purification system.  Let's just say... that we can't talk about it until the patent is filed... (Can you tell that we are excited?)

    If you have any questions about water filtration stages (or anything else), feel free to leave a comment or email info@hydroviv.com.