the Mooresburg water saga...and update
For a person who moves through life with a camera attached to herself at all times, I just realized how odd it is that I have no photo of the lime in our river...
We have a little river access on our property here in Mooresburg; the area is snaked through with many little squiggling rivers. I spend as much time as I can at the river, watching the plants and animals, the water, the sky, everything. As the unofficial guardian of my little patch of river, I also notice the debris and mysterious objects that drift past. Last summer, we pulled out a ratty old baseball cap that was crusted (almost beyond recognition) with lime scale. I can't believe I don't have a photo to show you!
It's not just the baseball cap, any bits of leaves or dead wood emerge from the river with a good 1/2 inch of calcium crust on them. So it's no wonder that I've noticed a difference in my dyeing process, right?
When I was planning the studio construction, I focused all of my water energies on ensuring that my waste water would be safe to put into our septic tank, and back into the ecosystem. Happily, I can say that it is. However, I completely overlooked the effects of mineral heavy water on my dyeing process.
As soon as I began working in my new space, I realized that the water was different. My results were different. It was easy enough to deduce that the water was the source of them problem. The situation became more confusing when I decided to run some comparison tests; my kind father brought me gallons and gallons of the Toronto water I used for dyeing in the past. Dyeing with Mooresburg and Toronto water right next to each other, the results were sometimes exactly the same and other times drastically different. I'm no scientist, I was confused!
It took far longer than it should have to realize that the mineral content of our Mooresburg water changed drastically and rapidly with water levels. Wow - well water is really something to get used to for a city girl (I hate to admit it, but when it comes to stuff like this - I AM a city girl). In addition to this discovery, I observed throughout my many months of battling with this water, that the dyes clung to little particles in the dyebath...instead of attaching themselves to the yarn, my dyes were seeking out other little proteins that were living in my water. Aha!
Although some days were better than others, dyeing over the winter became more and more of a challenge. It reached a point where almost no colour would stick on yarn because it was already attached to sediments in the water. Crazy, huh? Colours that would have taken me 30 minutes to dye back in Toronto sometimes took 6 hours! It was not a very productive time, as you can imagine.
Trucking in water has been suggested a number of times, but seemed like quite the extravagance to me. I wanted to find a way to use the abundant water source that is already here...and to avoid plastic containers wherever possible.
At last, the solution that should have been painfully obvious already came to me. Neighbours of ours have just opened up a lovely little plant based cafe in Owen Sound (called Sprout...check them out if you're in the area) and these brilliant folks got themselves a reverse osmosis filter. To be honest, the name sounds so fancy that my initial reaction was to stay away...I'm only dyeing yarn...this isn't NASA after all. Turns out that this fancy pants filter is EXACTLY what I need to remove all those minerals. I've run a few tests with filtered water and the results were so much better; the difference in quality and time was so drastic it was almost difficult to compare.
My very own fancy pants reverse osmosis filter will be installed next Friday, and I am counting down the minutes! I hope that it will allow me to dye larger volumes of yarn, and will at last end the frustration of the gazillion inconsistencies and unknowns that seem to be living at the bottom of our well. Stay tuned!