Our team of water and environmental engineers are continually developing innovative technological solutions to purify mikva water in the healthiest and most efficient way possible. Our company provides water technology solutions for a variety of applications and our clients include municipalities, hotel resorts, businesses and residential clients. The same professionalism and service which we provide to our large clients such as the most prestigious infinity swimming pool in the world, the Marina Bay Sands Singapore Skypark pool, is what we aim to provide to the holiest industry in the world – mikvaot. As orthodox Jews, it is a zechus and responsibility for us to assist in enhancing the mitzva of purity in Klal Yisrael.
While chlorine is crucial as a residual water disinfectant, chlorine alone does not guarantee that the water is pathogen-free. Chlorine’s efficacy is dependent on other parameters in the water. In other words, you can have a proper level of residual chlorine in the water and at the same time the water will still be bacteriologically contaminated. Water maintenance can be challenging and is dependent on various parameters and not just on the chlorine level. Let’s explore this in more depth.
The closest water treatment application to mikvaot is swimming pools and jacuzzis. Of course, a very important difference between swimming pools and mikvaot is the “bather load per gallon” of water which is usually considerably higher in men mikvaot than can be found in any swimming pool. The Israeli Ministry of Health actually categorizes swimming pools and mikvaot under the same regulatory category of “recreational water”. Just as there are Israeli Ministry of Health regulatory guidelines for operating and maintaining swimming pools, there are also regulatory guidelines for operating and maintaining mikvaot. It is noteworthy that the regulation regarding mikvaot is considerably more lenient than the regulation for maintaining swimming pools. There are two basic and important regulations that are required for swimming pools which are not enforced in mikvaot. As we will explain, these two regulations are especially fundamental for maintaining healthy water. The lack of these two regulations in mikvaot causes considerable health concerns in mikva water.
- All public swimming pools in Israel are required by law to have on the premises a certified pool operator at all times the pool is operational. A certified pool operator is someone who has received formal training for operating and maintaining swimming pool water and has successfully passed the regulatory exams to receive accreditation. For various bureaucratic reasons, currently there is no accredited mikva operator course.
- The Israeli law requires that every public swimming pool has an automatic continual chemical monitoring and dosing system. This is a system which tests the chemical levels in the swimming pool water and doses the chlorine and acid (for pH levels) automatically. (Note: this regulation varies between countries but as the Pool Water Treatment Advisory Group advises, manual dosing is rarely justified in non-domestic pools and automatic dosing systems is essential for public pools). As of now there are no halachicly approved systems for automatic dosing of chemicals in mikvaot.
To summarize, in public swimming pools in Israel the dosing of chemicals is done automatically under the supervision of a licensed swimming pool operator who has undergone extensive training on water maintenance.
In mikvaot on the other hand, the dosing of chemicals is done manually by someone who usually has not undergone any training whatsoever in water maintenance.
Possibly because of these reasons, according to a study published by the Hadassah Hebrew University Medical Center, women who immerse in a mikva are 60% more likely to be carriers of GBS (Group B Streptococcus) than women who do not immerse in a mikva.
Additionally, it is imperative to understand that the efficacy of chlorine is dependent on other parameters in the water. For example, when the pH level of the water rises to above 9.5, the efficacy of the chlorine drops by 95%!
MikvaTech’s system eliminates many pathogens and acts as an important supplementary disinfectant. The technology also assists with the quality and clarity of the water by breaking down organic matter and combined chlorine as extensively explained in the following questions.
When chlorine is added to the mikva, before it reacts with the contaminants in the water, the chlorine is ‘Free Chlorine’ which is free and able to disinfect the water. After the free chlorine reacts with the contaminants, and is “used up” it is called ‘combined chlorine’. This combined chlorine is not a good disinfectant and is even a health concern. Combined chlorine is what causes the majority of the unpleasant “chloring odor” in a swimming pool and mikva. It is also the primary cause of eye, skin and respiratory irritation in tovlim and balaniyot due to chlorine. These symptoms can be even more problematic for children or elderly balaniyot who suffer from asthma and can include coughing, discomfort in the chest, throat irritation, shortness of breath and other dangerous symptoms.
The MikvaTech system breaks down the combined chlorine and thus reduces the eye, skin and respiratory irritation and lessens the unpleasant chlorine odor.
Another important function of the MikvaTech system is that it acts as a powerful oxidizer.
In swimming pools, the term ‘Disinfection’ is the killing of living microorganisms and contaminates, and the term ‘Oxidation’ is used to refer to the removal of non-living contaminants such as bather waste, metals and nitrogen compounds such as ammonia and urea. Even though the primary reason we maintain a chlorine residual in the water is to disinfect the water so that it is free from dangerous pathogens, the vast majority of the contaminants in swimming pool are non-living oxidants. The majority of the ‘chlorine demand’ is from these non-living contaminants that need to be oxidized.
According to the Israeli Ministry of Health Mikva Regulations, at all times a mikva is required to maintain between 1.5 and 3 ppm of free chlorine in the water as a residual disinfectant.
Although chlorine is a phenomenal disinfectant, it is not the most amazing oxidizer with an oxidation potential of just ~1.36V. So, when someone adds chlorine to the water, a signification portion of the chlorine goes to oxidizing contaminants and does not remain available to act as the required residual disinfectant.
The radicals generated by the MikvaTech system not only aid with the disinfection but are also a very powerful oxidizer and assist with the oxidation of non-living contaminates. By breaking down bather waste and other organics, the MikvaTech system does the “heavy-lifting” of oxidation freeing up the chlorine to act as a residual disinfectant.
It is extremely important to verify that every system that is used for maintaining healthy water is approved by the appropriate regulatory bodies. MikvaTech’s technology is the only oxidation technology approved by the Israeli Ministry of Health for use in Mikvaot. It is also approved by the Israeli Standards Institute by both the Chemistry, Health & Environment laboratory and the laboratory of Electricity and Electronics.
It is important to note that the safety requirements required to treat mikva water are considerably more stringent and complicated that the safety requirements required to treat swimming pool water.
In swimming pools, the treatment of the water is done in a separate machine room. Filters, chlorinators etc. treat the water when it is in the machine room. Swimming pools do not generally treat the water while it is in the swimming pool as it can be dangerous to swimmers.
The water in many mikvaot never leaves the bor tevila and so the water needs to be treated directly in the bor tevila. This is considerably more challenging.
Because you need to treat the body of water directly, often while bathers are in the water as the water treatment is happening, the treatment process has to be significantly safer to use than in standard water treatment processes.
The MikvaTech technology has been been comprehensively verified by numerous third-party laboratories and leading research centers in Israel including Tel-Aviv University, Kinneret Limnological Laboratory, Azrieli college of Engineering, Aminolab laboratories and Smart Assays Biotechnologies laboratories.
The system for women’s mikvaot consists of two separate machines which operate in conjunction:
1) Advanced Oxidation Process (AOP) machine – Developed with the Israeli Innovation Authority, this machine kills bacteria, viruses (including COVID) and other pathogens while destroying the toxic by-products of chlorine/bromine. Our patent-pending technology generates oxygen radicals which are diffused into the water. These radicals oxidize and disinfect the water.
The AOP machine operates on a built-in timer and is operated throughout the night when the mikva is not in use. The AOP machine itself is installed in a machine/otzar room outside of the water. A 0.32” air pipe exits from the machine and is placed in the water. The radicals are diffused into the water through this small pipe and destroy the pathogens and organic matter in the water. The contaminants are oxidized and float to the water’s surface. When there is a filter in the mikva, these floating contaminants are collected by the filter. When there is no filter in the mikva, as in most women’s mikvaot, the AOP is used together with the MikvaClean Skimmer.
2) MikvaClean Mehudar Skimmer –Developed specifically for use in women mikvaot where there is no filter. This is a portable skimmer which is used primarily to collect the organic matter and contaminants that are destroyed by the AOP and that float to the water’s surface.
The MikvaClean Skimmer is portable (weighing 9 lbs) and is placed in the water for an hour daily. It also has a built-in timer which can be set in advance in order to operate at a desired time. The MikvaClean is removed from the Bor Tevila before using the mikva.
In practice, the system usually works as follows: before going home at night, the balanit places the MikvaClean Skimmer in the bor tevila. Throughout the night the AOP and the MikvaClean operate on built-in timers and purify the water. When the balanit comes the next day, she removes the MikvaClean from the water and cleans its cartridge in the sink. At the end of the night, after the mikva has been used, the balanit places the MikvaClean in the water which will operate on the timer throughout the night with the AOP.
Although many rabbinical authorities allow the machines to operate while the mikva is in use, we recommend you consult your local rabbi regarding your mikva. All machines have a built-in timer which allows easy setting of hour of operation.
In women’s mikvaot, there is actually no need to have the system operating more than 8 hours per day. Therefore, in women’s mikvaot, at the time of tevila, the AOP does not operate and the MikvaClean skimmer is removed entirely from the water.