How Do Water Filters Work To Protect Your Health?

It’s easy to learn how a water purifier works when you are talking about home filtration systems. Most home systems are really quite simple in principle and work very well. The water purifier is becoming standard fare in homes as public water supplies become less and less efficient.

Technology Rules

Water treatment technology is not that complicated, but it is important as quality degrades due to contamination. Some of the process you read about when you are learning how a filter works have been used for quite a while. For example, one of the most common water treatment technologies is to use to carbon filter inside a housing unit that water is run through to trap contaminants.

Other types of water treatment techniques include reverse osmosis and distillation. In the reverse osmosis process two filters are used and water is pressure flowed through solutions. In the distillation water purification process, the water is heated to boiling, and the vapor is collected leaving the contaminants behind.

One of the most technological water purification processes used ultraviolet light. There are two different types of UV light water purification systems which either disinfect water or simply reduce the levels of bacteria. Water softeners are also considered to be water purifiers because they remove minerals in the water to turn hard water into soft.

There is no perfect water purification system which is why so many different ones have been invented. But the most common systems which use the charcoal filters are the ones which are used in the home the most frequently and they do an excellent job of filtering up to 99% of the most harmful contaminants.

More Than One Place

When you begin to read about how a filtration system works, you discover it can be installed in several different ways. Many of the systems are used in-line, meaning they are attached right to the water line. For example, a refrigerator water purifier filter is often in-line.

Some water purifiers are mounted on the faucet or are actually installed as part of the permanent plumbing. Another way water purifiers are installed involves creating separate taps so when you want clean drinking water, you can run just that amount through the filtration system.

When you are deciding which system will work best for your needs, it’s important to understand how a water filter works. The carbon filters are probably the simplest on the market. Most systems using these types of filters require minimal maintenance. The filters come in cartridges you can easily replace every six months.

In the carbon filter systems, water runs through the filter and the filtering material catches and holds the contaminants. Different filters have different ratings and you need to make sure the filter you purchase meets your needs in terms of local contaminants typically found in the water.

Learning how a water filter works may not be difficult, but it is important in order to insure the right filtering system is chosen for your home water needs.

Water Filters – Three Main Methods Of Filtering Water For Your Home

Congratulations! By even considering installing a water filter system in your home you are already one step closer to the wonderful health benefits filtered water can provide. But choosing a water filter can be a difficult decision. There are so many different models available on the market that it can confusing to know which is best for you. Here are the three main methods of water filtration available for your home:

1. Reverse Osmosis Water Filter

Reverse osmosis water filters are very popular and readily available. They can be installed as under-counter models, or even as a whole house water filter. Originally invented to clean salt water, reverse osmosis works by using water pressure to force water through a membrane, allowing only molecules that are small enough to pass through, thus blocking contaminants. Sediments such as iron, lead, mercury and copper are easily blocked, as are bacteria and viruses. Chlorine molecules also cannot pass through the membrane.

There are two main drawbacks to the reverse osmosis system. First, the process wastes a lot of water by needing a higher ratio of unfiltered to filtered water in order to ‘push’ the molecules through the membrane. The general ratio is 4:1. That means a lot of water is simply going down the drain.

Second, the reverse osmosis process strips the water of important minerals. Drinking ‘soft’ water that is free of minerals is not considered a good health practice. If you are taking a lot of extra vitamin and mineral supplements, however, this may not be of much concern.

The real advantage to a reverse osmosis water filter is that it requires very little maintenance, with only the occasional cleaning of the membrane.

2. Activated Carbon Water Filter

Activated Carbon, also known as activated charcoal, is a very common filtering system. Active carbon works by binding contaminants to its surface. The surface area in active carbon is massive for its small size, since it contains millions of tiny nooks and crannies. However, the binding process does eventually ‘fill’ the surface, and the filters will require changing.

The main advantage of activated carbon is that it is readily available, can be held in a small cartridge, wastes no water, and is relatively inexpensive.

The main disadvantages are that the filters need to be changed regularly, and if improperly maintained, can become moldy. Shower filters, in particular, which are exposed to a lot of hot water, can break down the active carbon filter, and become useless at filtration, or worse, a breeding ground for mold. Proper use and regular replacement of filters will prevent this problem from occurring.

3. Ceramic Water Filter

Ceramic filters are made of the fossilized remains of ancient sea life. They are an excellent filter of larger sediments, and of most bacteria and viruses, while still allowing minerals to pass through. Ceramic filters are often used in outdoor filter systems, where the main concern is filtering out pathogens, and not chemicals. Ceramic filters do not filter out chlorine, and when used in a home filter system, are usually combined with another form of filter to achieve that result.

Other Water Filter Systems

Beyond the main three there are several other types of filters that the researching homeowner may come across:

Ultraviolet water filters bombard the water that passes through with ultraviolet rays, killing all pathogens. Excellent at disinfecting water, Ultraviolet does not filter out sediments or chemicals.

Ionizing water filters separate alkaline from acid in the water, and provide both. Many people report health benefits of drinking alkaline water, and ionizer filters are used frequently in hospitals and health clinics.

KDF water filters use a brass alloy that creates a galvanic action which breaks down chlorine. These are very useful in shower heads, since the copper and zinc in the alloy actually works better at higher temperatures.

Navigating the confusing world of water filter options can seem quite daunting to the homeowner. But armed with this basic understanding of the different filtering methods available, you are now two steps closer to choosing the right filter for your home and beginning to enjoy the many health benefits a home water filter brings.

Reverse Osmosis Water Filters

The tap water that comes out of your faucet is perfect. Get a filter or be a filter. Which of these two sentences are more true? Both are partially true.

In many places, tap water does not taste good. In other places, tap water has tiny amounts of substances you would not want to drink – and over a lifetime might have an affect on you.

There are many kinds of potential problems in tap water. Even if your city provides good water, it has to travel a long way through old pipes on the way to your house.

I use a whole-house ten micron sediment filter to filter all water going into my house. I change the filters every five months, and they are filthy and red-colored, because of the rust and dirt in the water. When you use a whole-house filter, shower heads and faucet screens don’t clog. Whole-house filters are separate from drinking water filters.

All reverse osmosis water systems require both sediment and carbon pre-filters. All filters need to be changed. Plan on changing sediment and carbon filters every six months or sooner, and reverse osmosis membranes every 2-3 years.

It’s best to buy a dissolved solids meter, and test your water every month to make sure the system is working right. Pure water will measure zero parts per million of dissolved solids. Tap water will usually measure at least 200 parts per million.

Don’t get a liquid chemical test set, get a $25-$50 portable battery-operated tester with a LCD readout. These cheap meters only show the total dissolved solids in water – they do not tell you what is in the water.

Water filter systems and replacement filters are available on eBay and Amazon, and many other places – even retail stores.

The hardest parts of installing water filters are connecting to the supply side of the water into your house, connecting to a drain line for the waste water, and installing a clean water faucet onto your sink. The rest of a water filter installation is easy.

You may need a plumber, or to buy a system where they will install it for you. The best systems have clear plastic casings, so you can see how dirty the filters get. The best systems also use standard-sized replacement filters, so you don’t have to buy tiny, expensive, and proprietary filters.

Reverse osmosis water filters require both a sediment and a carbon filter in front of them, to screen out the dirt and most of the junk, before the water enters the reverse osmosis filter.

A sediment filter blocks particles larger than five or ten microns. That’s an improvement over tap water, but it does not help the taste, or filter out tiny or dissolved nasty stuff in the water. The next step is a carbon block filter.

Almost all carbon block filters are activated. Activation is a process where high pressure steam is passed through coal to purify it so that it becomes almost pure carbon. Carbon is the fourth most common element in the universe, and is needed for life. Carbon makes an excellent filter, especially when extruded into a solid block.

Activated carbon block filters strain water to trap much more particles than a sediment filter can. Activated carbon filters have a positive charge to attract chemicals and impurities. As the water passes through the positively-charged carbon, the negatively-charged contaminants are attracted and bound to the carbon.

Activated carbon block filters strain out sediment, dirt, bacteria, algae, chlorine, some pesticides, asbestos, and much more. They filter sub-micron size particles, making quality water that tastes good.

The water passing through activated carbon blocks still has some particles, chlorine, nitrates, fluoride, and other dissolved junk. The next step for the best quality water is a reverse osmosis filter.

Reverse osmosis filters force water through 0.0001 micron-wide holes, through semi-permeable membranes. Long sheets of membranes are sandwiched together and rolled up around a hollow central tube in a spiral.

The reverse osmosis filter removes 99% of the remaining junk in the water. It takes almost everything out, even the calcium and magnesium in the water. Most often a small carbon filter is used after the reverse osmosis filter, to improve the taste and catch a bit more of that 1% of junk the reverse osmosis filter lets go though.

Even after sediment, carbon block, and reverse osmosis filters, water is still not perfect. Chloramines and metal ions, while reduced, may still be in the water. For this reason, some systems include a final deionizing (DI) filter.

DI filters are usually cartridges filled with plastic-like resin crystals that grab the remaining ions in the water. After the DI filter, the water is very pure.

Reverse osmosis water filters generate waste water, and they produce only a few drops of clean water per minute. For this reason, most reverse osmosis systems have a storage tank to accumulate water. All reverse osmosis systems have a drain line for waste water, that is “wasted”. The waste water can be used for plants, dumped down the drain, etc.

Ultra-pure water can grow algae very easily. When you take chlorine and other nasty stuff out of water, tiny microbes and sunlight can combine to make a perfect environment to grow harmless algae.

The quality of water filtered this way is cleaner than even distilled water. Some people think pure water tastes flat. Some people add a tiny amount of sea salt to pure water. For me, no salt is needed, pure water tastes like water should.

The Internet has baseless scare stories about how ultra pure water is dangerous. Hogwash. If you inject pure water, it may hurt you. Drinking pure water does not hurt anyone unless they are fasting.

The instant that pure water hits your mouth it’s no longer pure. Nothing is better for making coffee, cooking, and ice cubes, than using pure water.

My observations over 20 years show that pets, plants, and people really like it. When growing sprouts – with pure water, I found they grew twice as fast as with tap water.

The truth is that ultra-pure water is missing minerals. If you get calcium and magnesium in your diet, you are more than ok. Ultra pure water has no lead, copper, barium, or other garbage.

For me the trade-off is clear. What I want from water is water. As long as you get calcium and other minerals from food or supplements you should be fine. Also, too much copper is not good for you, so why get it in your water?