Water Quality and Plant Health

I know that we all learn sometime in our elementary school years that water consists of a couple of parts H plus a dash of O, but there’s a little bit more than that coming out of your faucet. And some of the extra parts are parts that your plants may not appreciate.

An analysis of the public water in the City of St. Louis shows the chemicals or compounds of: antimony, barium, chromium, selenium, fluoride, nickel, nitrate, nitrite, copper, atrazine, and a slew of other add-ons to the H2O that we, and our plants, drink. The study is linked below.

This seemingly endless list of chemicals and compounds is usually measured in parts per million or parts per billion (ppm, ppb) so it's not exactly as frightening as it sounds. The dissolved solids (the cumulative measurement of all these compounds together) that I’ve personally measured in our City water weighs in at around 250-300 ppm. Not astronomically high. But if rainwater is used as the standard to shoot for (rainwater has something closer to 10-15 ppm dissolved solids), you can see that there is a massive difference in the purity of water coming from our faucets and the purity of the water falling from the sky.

But what does this mean for the health of my plants?

It means that the water your plants would receive in nature – rainfall – is purer.

I’m not a chemist, and I’m not degreed with whatever degree teaches what effect chromium, for example, may have on the health of your plants. What I can say, however, is that the encyclopedia of chemicals and compounds listed in the study are not chemicals and compounds that your plants would receive in their native habitats as they drink the rain. I can also say that switching from tap water to distilled water (which has zero ppm dissolved solids) for plant watering has made notable improvements to the plant’s health for many who have made the switch.

What about leaving the tap water in an open container for a day to let the chemicals evaporate? Something I discovered while looking into the city’s water analysis is that St. Louis is one of the few cities that doesn’t use chlorine (one of the chemicals which can be harmful to plants, but will evaporate) as a water cleaning agent. St. Louis uses a different chemical which will not evaporate. Well, what about all of the other chemicals and compounds? Will they evaporate? It’s a good question to look into – I don’t have all of the answers – but atrazine (an herbicide that is found in our water at the maximum allowable percentage) does not evaporate well, according to the World Health Organization. It’s an herbicide. It is created to kill plants. It’s in the water you use to water your plants.

Can switching from tap water to a healthier source improve the health and quality of your plants? I’ll leave you to consider this question for yourself.

What are the alternatives to tap water? 1) Distilled water. 2) Reverse Osmosis filtration systems. 3) Rainwater. 4) “Zero Water” filtration system (found on Amazon).

These will all have zero or near-zero ppm of anything in them, apart from a couple parts H and a dash of O.


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