The Water Post

Help! I’m Reacting to Water???!

This is a message I’ve gotten a few times, and I haven’t had a very complete response to it to date because I haven’t been able to solve the problem for myself. And now that I have it mostly solved, I still don’t have any clear explanation for the phenomenon or any guaranteed solutions for anyone. Just some suggestions.  But here is literally everything I know about and have tried re: finding safe water to drink when you have corn allergy, chemical sensitivity, or a mast cell disorder.

I am making many claims below that need elaboration or references. I will come back and add details and links as I have time, but I thought it was important to just do a brain dump ASAP because there are people who need this info that currently don’t have safe water.

tl;dr – The Short Version

If you are allergic to corn and are reacting to your water,  DO NOT DRINK Dasani or Aquafina. These are KNOWN to contain corn derivatives in the form of “added minerals” and/or the bottles are made from corn plastic.

Try  buying Crystal Geyser Alpine Spring brand  (owned by CG Roxane) bottled water before you try anything else. It is cheap and easily attainable in many areas at drugstores, grocery stores, dollar stores, liquidation stores, etc.  There are several spring sources and not all of them work for everyone, and also there are still people who cannot tolerate this water.  If that doesn’t work, begin trialing: Fiji, Starbucks Ethos brand, Voss in glass bottles, Poland Springs. Also join the Facebook Corn Allergy and Intolerance group, because you are going to need some real-time group support getting this figured out.

Where’s the Corn  (or other allergens) in Water?

Quite honestly, I do not know why precisely water is such a problem for corn allergy folks.  It definitely is but I really can’t provide a lot of clear physiological explanation for why that would be. It is true that some corn derivatives may be used in water treatment, and that mineral fortification treatments may have corn-based excipients in them. However the degree to which we see water issues really outpaces what could be explained by that,  in my observation.
I think it is likely an issue with multiple sensitivities and the intersection of mast cell activation disorders that causes the issue. And the result of that is that there is no universally tolerated water, and there are several folks  within my online social circles at any given point in time who are not completely tolerating *any* water.

Here are the things that I have observed can be problems for myself and others with corn allergy and/or mast cell activation disorders:

Bottles: Glass Sanitizers

Antimicrobials seem to be a huge trigger for corn allergy folks as well as MCAD folks. No-rinse bottle sanitizer products can contain corn derivatives and even corn starch when they are the drop-in tablet form.

Bottles: Glass Mold Release/Coatings

I don’t know how many other folks have this issue, but I frequently have a problem with borosilicate glass causing water that was safe to become unsafe after it sits in the glass for a few hours. All soda-lime glass (such as mason jars and modern Pyrex) are fine. Some borosilicate is okay, but not most.  I am not 100% sure what the issue is, but I think it is some kind of coating on the glass, maybe what the mold that forms the shape is dusted with.

Bottles, Pipes, Faucets, and Containers: Metal Coatings

 This is a similar issue to the borosilicate glass mentioned above. At least a few people have problems with metal besides me, but many of them have a nickel sensitivity. I almost definitely DO NOT as I frequently wear metals containing nickel, and have several safe water bottles that are made from 304 grade stainless steel, which is the same % nickel as the 304 steel bottles that I do not tolerate.  I am positive it is some kind of coating on the metal, and am fairly sure that that the coating is water soluble, however I have not yet sucessfully run enough water through a metal item I reacted to to make it safe when it was not previously.  Note: because I am so sensitive to something about how metals are made, I was unable to tolerate any gravity-style water filters such as Berkey or Propur because the metal tanks themselves added something to the water that I reacted to.

Bottles, Pipes, Faucets, Tubing and Containers: Plastic

The plastic itself could be made from corn or a corn derivative, or one could have a non-corn sensitivity to the plastic itself. (I think my problems are both corn and non-corn, making most plastic unsafe for me.)  Many people can use HDPE or Polypropylene.. I can not use any Polypropylene so far and HDPE I can use some and not others. So weird. I also have some PVC tubing that was bad for me for a while and then became better after I ran enough water through it. So in my case it is a combo of the plastic itself and some coating on the plastic. 


Added Minerals

The minerals can be either chelated with a corn derivative, or can be added along with a corn-derived excipient, or could be cross-contaminated with corn before addition. I have never tolerated anything with “added” minerals even when I can consume the minerals themselves in other forms such as supplements or found in whole food.

Water Treatment

There are a number of possible water treatment chemicals that can cause either corn allergy or chemical sensitivity reactions.  The safest is UV light. Chloramines are the worst for the most people. Chlorine is a problem for many, as is fluoride. I am fine with chlorine and fluoride but can’t handle “something else” about most water. No, I have no idea what the something else is.

Groundwater: Pollution Runoff

Groundwater can be contaminated at its source with agricultural or industrial runoff. This could be both a corn and a chemical sensitivity issue.

Filters: Filter Plastic, Housing, and Impregnated Antimicrobials

This is really covered in other sections above, but I wanted to explicitly point out that water filters are made from either plastic or ceramic housing and impregnated with something to keep it from growing mold or mildew. Further for gravity filters the tanks will be made out of plastic or stainless steel which can be issues for some people, and for faucet-style or under sink filters there will be some kind of plumbing tubing and connectors the water passes through to go into and out of the filter.  All of these things can be issues, depending on you and your sensitivities.  Water distillers will also have plumbing, tubing, condensation plates, and collection tanks that the water comes into contact with after distillation that can re-contaminate the water on its way out.

Filters: Filter Media

Most water filters are made from activated carbon, aka charcoal. That charcoal can be from many things including bone char, but is very, very commonly coconut, so not appropriate for a coconut allergy.  Activated carbon can also be activated using an inorganic acid (phosphoric is a common one) that seems to cause a chemical sensitivity reaction even though it “shouldn’t”  remain in the carbon.  I react to some coconut carbon and not others, and I am not sure why precisely.  There is another kind of carbon called “granular activated carbon” that is made granular by mixing the carbon with plastic which causes it to form into beads. Needless to say, one can react to the plastic in it.

Okay, So What Should I Do?

There is unfortunately no one-size-fits-all solution here.

wateroptions
Bottled Water

Most tolerate Crystal Geyser, although some specific spring sources from them have more reported reactions than others. Many need to use other types of bottled water, and honestly there is such a variety of what is tolerated that it doesn’t seem worth listing.

Definitely AVOID Dasani and Aquafina, both of which have TONS of bad reactions reported, some anaphylactic. We think it’s due to corn plastic and “added minerals” that are either corn derived or mixed with some corn-derived excipient.

Filtration

Obviously buying bottled water can get expensive, and the manufacturers could change something. Filtration is a good option to replace bottled.  Here are a few options:

Berkey Gravity Filters

https://www.berkeywater.com/
Many use the British Berkey ceramic filters, with the Fluoride post-filter. The black berkey filters have multiple reported reactions from the corn community. The ceramic filters are “supposed” to be latex free and free of coconut, but you should really do some work to contact them on your own if those are concerns.  Note: I have read some reports that while many companies including Berkey and Propur claim that they remove flouride, this has not been proven by a third party in a lab setting. Supposedly only RO or distillation can truly remove fluoride.

 

Here is a demo of the Berkey fluoride filter priming & installation. This is using the Berkey Black filters and a clear plastic tank, but the principle is the same as the ceramic & steel setup.


Sensitivity concerns

The gaskets are supposed to be silicone, but there is also a gasket you use when “priming” the filter using the faucet that could be latex rubber. The carbon inside the ceramic filter is said to be corn and coconut free. The antimicrobial used in the ceramic filter is silver. The fluoride filter is secondary and is in a plastic housing. I react to water run through this filter, but most are okay with it.  The tank for the filter is made from 304 stainless steel. I react to some coating on it. Others are fine with it. The steel does contain some nickel.

My experience

I isolated the stainless steel tank concerns from the filter concerns by making my own glass gravity filter with help from a friend (involves drilling holes in glass which can be tricky.) I found that the ceramic filters did not add anything allergenic to the water for me, but did not take out almost any allergens from water that was allergenic in the first place. If I added the fluoride filter, it would remove more allergens from unsafe water, but also added something unsafe back in- safe water run through the ceramic + fluoride filter became slightly unsafe, just enough I wouldn’t want to drink it every day.

Propur Gravity Filters

https://w.propurusa.com/

The Propur G2.0 filters are supposed to get out similar contaminants to the ceramic berkey, plus the berkey fluoride filter, but in one stage. These filters also do not require priming.

Here is a demo of a Propur Scout filter. This is a much smaller system that what I would use- the more filter elements in a tank the faster it will work.

Sensitivity concerns

The inventor of Propur has guaranteed that the activated carbon in these filters does not come from coconut or corn and is not activated using a corn-derived acid. The gaskets are silicone and therefore latex free. The plastic stems are made from ABS. The tanks are made from 304 stainless. IMPORTANT for those with a chemical sensitivity or latex allergy, the filter tanks ship with a small non-slip mat that is made from latex rubber and stinks VERY badly to me, which means it is a chemical sensitivity issue as well.

My experience

I react to the stainless tank. When I put the filters in my glass gravity filter housing, it does not contaminate safe water, but doesn’t make unsafe water 100% safe. Only like 95% safe. Still not drinkable for me on a regular basis- my throat becomes swollen and I begin having joint pain, dizziness, hives, etc after a few glasses.

Multipure Aquaversa- faucet filter/inline sink filter

http://www.multipure.com/aquaversa.html

This is the filter I am using.  It is a carbon block filter. I found via the EWG water filter guide. After so many water filter fails costing me a ton of money, the main reason that I was willing to give this a shot is that they have an unconditional 90 day money back guarantee.

The particular model I have is the “countertop” model which works on the same principle as say, a Brita or Pur faucet filter, except that the filter portion sits on the counter instead of attaching to your faucet because it weighs 5 lbs. Then a hose runs from the faucet to the filter and from the filter back to the faucet. You press a button on the faucet diverter and it reroutes the water from the faucet to the filter and then back out of the filter to a smaller spigot on the end of your faucet- so essentially the clean water is coming from your faucet.

Here’s a demo of the several different Aquaversa models:

Sensitivity concerns

The carbon block filter does contain coconut carbon. The hoses are made from PVC and are latex free but could be a plastic/chemical sensitivity concern. . The connectors and dome are made from stainless steel. There are gaskets inside the dome that I believe I was told are silicone, but should be double-checked. The  hoses and connectors are standard 3/8″ internal diameter and 1/4″ internal diameter so one should be able to order third party tubing and plumbing connectors if the hoses or connectors were a sensitivity issue.

My Experience
I seem to react to the PVC hoses that come with it. After the PVC has been flushed for a while I do better with it but still not perfectly. I  found this out by accident when I gota brand new version of the same hose and put it on my old filter and began reacting. I have not been able to isolate the hose issue from the connector issue well enough to know if the stainless steel connectors bother me or it’s just the hoses. What is working for me for right now is to take the inflow hose and only use that one, then basically have the water come straight out of the filter without running it through a hose. Below is a playlist two videos I shot for a friend who is severely latex and chemically sensitive to demo what I had to do.

Note: This playlist is unlisted because I don’t really want it coming up on youtube searches so you’ll have to come back to my blog to find it. Also note- most of the products visible in my kitchen in this demo are NOT safe for me. And also my kitchen is a complete disaster. I’ll probably shoot a nicer video someday.

Since this demo I have gotten an over-the-sink shelf that works much better for me than the plant-stand setup in the video. Having it just run back to the faucet would be so much better. I have some silicone hose to try out that I hope will work for me.

This filter takes my unsafe tap water and makes it safe. However it does not take out whatever is in certain plastic hoses like an “emergency pump” hose for pushing water through the filter while the water is shut off, so I think that means I can’t just pick up this filter and take it with me traveling. So far it only definitely gets MY tap water from MY HOUSE safe. Other houses w/other pipes, other water districts, may not be made safe by this filter.  I have to work on it more and will update with what I learn.

 

Distillation

Distillation isn’t just for making booze. Distillation is when you heat a liquid to catch and condense the evaporated substance. In the case of an alcoholic liquid, since alcohol boils at a higher temp than water, you are catching the alcohol and leaving the water in the boiling tank. With water you are heating up to the boiling point of water in order to collect the and condense the water, leaving any impurities (that presumably have a lower boiling point than water) in the catch tank.

Distillation SHOULD make the purest possible water. In theory. It also is devoid of any minerals which can make people feel even more thirsty when they drink the water. I have met several people who really can only drink distilled water, so if you turn out to be one of those folks, you need to be careful to find a source of trace minerals to add back to your diet since you won’t be getting it through water.

Distillation is also very expensive and inefficient. It takes a pretty big amount of energy to boil off that much water on a daily basis, and the units themselves are quite expensive. The more expensive the unit the faster it can create water, however it also uses more energy.

I don’t have a recommended brand of distiller since I haven’t used one that I didn’t react to. However I do have one brand that has a 100 day money back guarantee, which I think is a good reason to try that one first if you’re going to try distillation. And that is Waterwise Water Distillers.
Sensitivity Concerns
Even though distillation should make the purest possible water, it isn’t for sure that you won’t react to it. I did. I think this is because the condensation plate that collects the evaporated water and the tube it drips down into the collection carafe. For the larger distillers that have an internal collection tank, that tank is made out of stainless steel and  I believe I would react to that stainless tank.

Below is the letter I wrote to waterwise to ask them and their response.

Me:

Hi there!

I need a little info to decide which distiller to try.  I seem to have some kind of mineral or nickel sensitivity issue with a lot of stainless steel if it isn’t rated for high temps and sometimes even if it is, and then am also trying to vet these systems for my friend who has a severe latex allergy.  Can you help me out with the following questions for the 4000 and 7000 distillers respectively?
For the 4000

1) What are any gaskets or seals made from? Silicone, synthetic rubber, natural rubber, a combination?

2) What is the condensation plate & drip tubing made from?

3) What is the final filtration stage after distillation- granular activated carbon? If so, what is the source material, how is the carbon activated, and is the carbon mixed with a plastic to make it granular? Is the carbon replaceable with anything I choose, and is it possible to skip it and do final filtration in a carbon gravity filter instead?

4) The product page says it can do 6 gallons in 24 hours. I assume this means one pne-gallon boiler tank full in 4 hours, is that about right?

 

For the 7000

1) What are any gaskets or seals made from? Silicone, synthetic rubber, natural rubber, a combination?

2) What is the condensation plate & drip tubing made from?

3) What is the final filtration stage after distillation- granular activated carbon? If so, what is the source material, how is the carbon activated, and is the carbon mixed with a plastic to make it granular? Is the carbon replaceable with anything I choose, and is it possible to skip it and do final filtration in a carbon gravity filter instead?

4) What is the collection/reservoir tank  that holds the filtered/distilled water made from. How possible would it be to ‘catch” the filtered water in another container if the collection tank caused me some kind of chemical or nickel sensitivity issue?

For Both:

What are the conditions with the 100-day guarantee, if for some reason all the questions above sound good but I still can’t drink the water, will I be able to return the unit?

 

The Response:

Hello,

Thank you for you inquiry. The Model 4000 Waterwise Boiler is made from Type 409 Stainless Steel, and All Waterwise use a high temperature food grade silicone for boiler gaskets. No latex is used in gaskets. All Condenser coils are made from Type 304 Stainless Steel. On the Model 4000, the final condensate (purified water) from the condenser drips into the Organic Coconut Shell Activated Carbon Post Filter Cup then into the glass collector. During manufacturing the Virgin Organic Coconut Husk in the cup is charred and then pressurized with steam to open the small pores of the carbon to activate it. No plastic is mixed in with the carbon in the process; the carbon is screened to get the various granular sizes needed for each particular application. All Waterwise Steam Distiller/purifiers utilize Volatile Organic Gaseous venting; the same off gassing which occurs when you turn on a hot water tap or boil a pot of water on the stove. They do not concentrate any gasses and the small amount off gassed is negligible in the air. So Post Carbon filtering is optional, is used to ensure the freshest tasting, purest water is produced, and really probably only necessary in cases where large amounts of gasses are present (like when you live next to the treatment plant) so the carbon is a secondary method to insure nothing changes the taste  of the distilled water. Since distilled water is so pure the least contaminant may give it an off taste, but some customers are quite satisfied with out using the optional post filters. The Model 4000 does make 1 gallon in 4 hours then shuts off automatically.

The Model 7000 uses the same material in the gasket, condenser coil and post filters, however the boiler is made from Type 316 Stainless Steel due to manufacturing considerations. The reservoir is made from Type 304 Stainless Steel. Changing the reservoir on the 7000 would be difficult due to the float system which turns the distiller on and off as needed to keep the reservoir full but could possibly be done, but we would not recommend it. The Model 7000 does 9 gallons in a 24 hour period and stops distilling when the float reaches the top of the reservoir.

We have had questions and concerns mentioned but no particular notifications of any adverse nickel or chemical reactions to our products that I am aware of in my 10 years here, but our 100 day money back guarantee does cover return shipping if you notify us within the 100 days that you wish to return it and we send a pre-paid label for return shipping and we do refund 100% of your money on any product returned. Simply call us and we send the label and refund your money if you’re not satisfied. For the last 40 years as a family owned and operated USA Company that does business worldwide, we do stand behind our products. If we can be of further service, please call our toll-free number below or email.

 

7 thoughts on “The Water Post

  1. I seriously use only but Poland Springs and I’m ok with it not everyone is trying them all out is how you’ll find out what works for you good luck hope you find something you can handle I know it’s hard I’ve been working on myself for 5 years and still working It’s always something never a dull moment i wish it would all go away though.

    • Hi Frances,

      Unfortunately yeah, just trying until something works is the only way to do it. Definitely avoiding the ones that are a known fail for everyone with corn allergy helps.

      Just a heads up, this post seems to have posted before it was 100% complete so please reload and check to see if there is more than what you read previously. I do have a solution that is working for me at home, just not 100% on all water everywhere, which is obviously the ideal state. Thanks so much for the good wishes. Hope one of these solutions is helpful to you as well. I have also been working on this issue for 5 years, sigh. 😦

  2. Excellent post Corn Allergy Girl– very informative, complete and useful information for those of us who deal with this terrible water sensitivity. Your work is so very valuable & greatly appreciated!

  3. Thank you for this amazing amount of information and detail!! The coating on the glass is supposed to be removable with scrubbing, I asked a friend who works with manufacturing for defense related issues. But I am not sensitive to it, so I can’t tell for sure, though I now scrub my glass jars.

    • Thanks for the info Kim! I have tried scrubbing before to some degree although maybe not hard enough. It will probably be a while before I try any borosilicate glass again.. I’ve gotten a little tired of reacting to containers for not. If I do manage to make an unsafe container safe with scrubbing I will definitely update!!!

  4. Thanks so very much for sharing this very important info. So much time and effort goes into researching for safe options available, and we’re so appreciative that you share these vital resources! You change lives, girl 🙂

  5. Thank you for the good information and the time you take to put together the information on this very helpful website.. I haven’t had any problems with Berkey so far. Actually, it is the only filter I’ve been able to use so far. I can’t use the ceramic filters though as I react to the silver. We do use the fluoride filters. I don’t know for certain if it takes the fluoride out or not, but it does improve the taste, and the fluoride filters do fill up in about a year, so they are taking out something. I do react to various types of bottled water. What do you know about Deer Park in the clear bottles? So far Deer Park spring water and Aldi’s own brand of spring water in the smaller bottles are the only bottled waters I can tolerate on a regular basis.

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