Mud pie ice-cream cones are what you’d get if you put a water table 10 feet from a sand box. Just so you know.

This post is about dirty water. And clean water. And how to tell the difference.

Growing up in Australia, I never knew how lucky I was that the water from the tap was not only clean for drinking, but also tasted good. After drinking my mum’s tap water my whole life, even some bottled water tasted like plastic to me.

When I moved to California, the house we lived in had an in-sink water filter and the water still tasted a bit gross. In Massachusetts we drink the tap water. It’s filtered through our refrigerator, but even straight out of the tap it’s pretty good.

But thanks to the Flint MI water crisis, we now know that it’s not good enough to go by taste when you’re thinking about whether or not your water is safe to drink.

The brother of a friend in Cali runs a company called Tap Water Watch. We recently tested the water out of our taps through them and I’m feeling really good about the results. I wanted to share our experience so you know how easy it is to get your water tested professionally without wondering if you or your family are being exposed to lead.

The levels of lead and other toxins vary from state to state, city to city and even house to house. It’s all to do with the pipes. Lead in water is measured in parts per billion (ppb), and while there is no “safe level” of lead, (only acceptable levels), the EPA has deemed lead levels higher than 15 ppb as needing interventions, like replacing lead service lines.

It was super easy to get my water tested through Tap Water Watch. The water test kit is $49.95 and you just fill in this form and wait for your kit in the mail. They sent me a sample collection bottle and we sent it back to them filled with water that we took from our tap. The instructions were simple and the return envelope had a pre-paid label on it so all I had to do was leave it in the mailbox for USPS to pick up. We got the results back and our reading was .000619 mg/L or 0.619 parts per billion.

Even though our levels are well below the action level recommended by the EPA, many pediatricians recommend filtering anything above 0. So we’ll keep filtering our water but it’s reassuring to know that our levels are low enough that we can occasionally drink it straight from the tap.

If you want to learn more about testing the water in your home or workplace, visit Tap Water Watch and click on the “School” tab. You can order a water test kit right here.