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Garden Hoses: What To Know Before You Buy
    Hose for

gardening don't last forever. When you're in the market for a new one, these

tips will help you make an informed purchase.
    Your garden hose is probably working overtime this summer as you water plants, irrigate

a vegetable garden or wash the car. According to hose manufacturer Teknor Apex, a good

garden hose will last five to 10 years if properly maintained. A bad garden hose, as most

of us have already found out, will waste water, function poorly and cause bouts of

frustration.
    So to keep the kinks out of your relationship with your PVC

garden hose, let’s take a look at what to consider before you buy a new one.
    Garden hoses are used for transporting water over short or long distances. They can be

used for watering a plant, washing a car or every other activity where water is needed.

Because garden hoses are very widely used, they need to be able to do many different

things. Firstly, they of course have to deliver water at your chosen location. But that’s

where the simplicity stops, while not all water or application is the same. Are you working

with super clean water and want to be 100% sure there is no contamination with the

materials of the hose? Then a garden hose with a pvc-free inner layer specially made for

this situation will fit your needs. Is storage space limited? Then a spiral hose, reel

garden hose or expandable garden hose will come in handy. Are you looking for a drip

irrigation system? Then soaker hoses might be the solution. For every application there are

different products available specialized for that situation. Read this article to make a

jump start into the world of garden hoses.
    Diameters and lengths
    When selecting a garden hose there are multiple parameters that will guide you in the

right direction. The diameter of the hose is a good starting point. Typical internal sizes

are 13mm (1/2"), 19mm (3/4") and 25mm (1"). It’s important to know that a

garden hose has an internal and external diameter. If you want to connect the hose to male

coupling, the internal diameter is most relevant to you. Also important is the total length

of the garden hose, because a too short hose won’t reach to your destination and a too

large hose will take up unnecessary space and cause extra pressure drop, which is often not

desirable.
    Materials
    Mostly, garden hoses are made from multiple materials. Some garden hoses are even made

from up to 8 different layers. All these layers are made from a different material. The

outer layer has to be strong because it’ll be dragged along concrete and stones. Often PVC

is used for this outer layer. The inner layer can be made from many different materials. If

the expandable garden hose is suitable for drinking water purposes, often PU

food-safe materials are used for the inner layer. All materials used together determine the

temperature range, which is often between -20°C and +60°C. Garden hoses can often

withstand pressures up to 30/50 bars (435/725 psi). A pressure gauge is placed to monitor

the pressure in the system, to learn more about this read our article on pressure gauges

for water applications.
    Reinforcement
    A garden hose with only an outer layer would twist and distort very easily. With some

exceptions, garden hoses have been strengthened. Between the inner and outer layer, a

reinforcement is added made of metal, plastic or another type of strong material. This

reinforcement ensures the hose is pressure-resistant, well protected against damage, wears

less quickly and it will buckle less quickly. Especially for garden hoses, that are used in

harsh situations, this is a very important feature.
    Couplings
    To connect a garden hose to a spigot, sprinkler or valve you will need couplings. In

most cases a garden hose is connected via Gardena-like couplings. These snap-fit couplings

exist of two parts. The first part is a threaded fitting (with 3/4" and 1/2"

being the standard) and is mounted on the part that you want to connect to the garden hose.

The second part is a quick connector, which is mounted to the garden hose. With this snap-

fit coupling it is now possible to easily connect the hose to all the parts that are fitted

with the hose fitting like spigots, valves, spray nozzles and sprinklers.
    We’re all working hard to be conscious consumers. At the grocery store, we read labels

and say “no” to plastic packaging whenever we can. We choose safe wooden toys for our

kids, avoid poisonous cleaning products, and even grow our own organic vegetables. But

wait! After all that effort, are we unknowingly spraying that lovely healthful produce with

phthalates, BPA, lead and more?
    A garden products study completed by The Ecology Center looked at 90 different PVC garden water hose and discovered disturbing levels of

each of those chemicals. Some of the toxin levels exceeded safe drinking water standards by

20 times or more.
    We’ve all had to face some hard facts in recent years: it turns out there is no

pristine environment anymore, and even those living in isolated wild places face

contamination of the air, soil, and groundwater. But we can take steps to stop contributing

to the problem in our own backyards with unsafe hoses. Rather than throw up our hands in

despair, we can spread awareness about this lesser-known home health hazard. Not all hoses

are created equal, and you can change your watering practices to help your hose do its job

without spraying neurotoxins and endocrine disruptors. Because let’s face it: our bodies

have enough to deal with in our modern environment without adding to their burden.
    Choose your hose with care
    If your hose was purchased before 2007, it’s likely to contain lead.
    The brass fittings can contain up to 8% lead, and lead may be used in pigments and

stabilizers. Green and yellow hoses are particularly likely culprits. Hoses bought after

2007 are governed by a labeling law resulting from a California lawsuit, though product

testing still found lead in newer hoses. Choose a new hose labeled as “lead-free”. Tip:

check marine or RV stores for lead-free hoses marketed for use in boats or motor homes.

These hoses, often white or beige with a thin blue stripe, work well as safe garden hoses.

Look for the claim: “drinking water safe”.
    Most vinyl hoses are made from PVC ominously nicknamed “poison plastic”.
    PVC relies on phthalates to provide flexibility and elasticity, but these chemicals

have received lots of bad press. They are endocrine disruptors, causing problems to human

reproductive development, and have been linked to liver cancer. Choose natural rubber hoses

instead. Food-grade polyurethane is another good option.
    Choose non-brass fittings, made of stainless steel, nickel, or aluminum.
    These metals are more likely to be lead-free, and meet drinking water standards. These

soaker hoses made from old rubber tires have nickel plating over the brass fittings to

reduce the possibility of leaching lead.
    Read labels carefully, even the small print.
    Watch out for hoses containing a warning citing California Prop 65, stating “this

product contains a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth

defects and other reproductive harm.” It’s worth a few extra dollars to invest in a hose

that will help you enjoy years of watering with your mind at ease.
    Ask the FDA to regulate hose safety.
    The Safe Chemicals Act and Safe Drinking Water Act<, which attempt to protect

Americans from known health hazards in our food and household products, does not cover

garden hoses or other gardening products.
    Always store your hose in the shade.
    Even a few hours of sun will heat the water in the hose, greatly increasing chemical

leaching. Even if you have a natural rubber hose, shade storage will prolong its life by

decreasing photodegradation.
    Let it run.
    Unless you’re fully confident in your hose’s safety, spray the stored water somewhere

other than on your food garden. The alarming levels of chemicals found in the study came

from water that sat in the hose for a few days. Don’t let children play in water that has

been stored in any kind of non-food-safe plastic. Lead, BPA, and phthalates are all

especially dangerous to young developing bodies and brains.
    Never drink from your hose.
    Remember, even if your hose is new, there is no regulatory oversight of its

manufacturing. Product testing showed all kinds of unexpected chemicals, including flame

retardants and heavy metals like cadmium, in hoses made from recycled materials. The

recycled plastic may have been originally used for a variety of purposes requiring such

additives. Until your hose is required to conform to drinking water standards, what comes

out of it should not be considered drinking water, even for pets.
    Eartheasy is now stocking 100% drinking water safe hoses. ‘Click here’ to buy.
    Test your soil.
    Find out if your yard or garden contains elevated levels of lead resulting from old

lead paint, environmental factors, or unhealthy hoses. If you have children playing in your

yard even occasionally, this is a must. While you’re at it, it can be very informative to

get an overall soil profile, including basic nutrients and pH for maximizing your gardens

potential.
    Test your hose water.
    Use a simple drinking water test to find out what your hose is leaching. To get the

full picture, test the water in your hose after it has sat in the sun for three days.
    If you do discover lead in your soil from an old hose, old paint, or industrial

pollution, the good news is that lead is not readily taken up by fruiting plants such as

tomatoes and squash. Leafy greens like lettuce are more likely to absorb a little lead, so

if you grow lots of greens, you might want to import some clean topsoil and put it in a

raised bed. If your garden does have some lead, make sure you scrub or peel your root

vegetables well to avoid eating the contaminated soil. Though less thoroughly researched,

it appears that BPA and phthalates may act similarly to lead: they concentrate in leafy

greens more than fruiting vegetables or seeds.
    The Ecology Center’s study found the same worrying toxins in garden gloves, kneepads,

and tools. These chemicals can be absorbed through the skin, and some of us spend a lot of

time in our gardens.
    If you’re reading this, you’ve probably already taken steps to detoxify your home

environment and grocery list. Many of us never questioned the innocent-looking hoses and

garden implements we grew up with, though they have changed subtly over the years, as

“advances” in technology allowed phthalates to improve the products’ plasticity.
    Summer in America means kids laughing and leaping through the hose’s spray. Peaceful

mornings in the garden, watching the tomatoes redden while we shower the squash and bean

plants. Luckily, a bad hose doesn’t have to poison these pleasures; there are enough other

reasons to lose sleep. Buy a new hose, made of natural rubber or polyurethane, and store it

in the shade. As chemical hazards go, a toxic garden hose with

fitting is an easy fix.

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