Water filters are systems designed to remove foreign agents from drinking water. Foreign agents can range from bacteria to chemicals like chlorine present in drinking water. For example, tap water is vulnerable to multiple contaminants like agriculture peptides and industrial pollutants, including urban runoff chemicals like car emissions and pharmaceuticals.
These agents often change how water tastes and smells. Therefore, water filters help retain the normal state of water. Research also links most of these agents to cancer and liver and kidney problems. Drinking filtered water prevents contracting such diseases and generally boosts your health.
This guide covers everything you need to know about the best water filters.
Types of Water Filters
Depending on your application, water filters come in various types. That includes ion exchange, activated carbon, reverse osmosis filters, and mechanical filters.
The ion exchange filters help remove ions like magnesium and calcium often found in hard water. The filter replaces these ions with harmless ones like sodium or hydrogen ions. That way, the limescale is considerably reduced, making water more digestible. An example of a prominent application is a commercial coffee machine that requires water at constantly high temperatures. Once the magnesium and calcium ions are absent, your drinking water will tend to have a more pleasant taste, let alone tasting softer.
The activated carbon filters are commonly found in households. As the name suggests, these filters contain activated carbon granules that absorb chemical impurities by attracting and trapping them. The filter uses charcoal, a form of carbon with huge internal spaces with crannies and nooks that helps absorb these contaminants. Like ion exchange filters, activated carbon helps improve water taste by removing odor. Also, other versions of activated carbon remove contaminants like lead, asbestos, mercury, and volatile organic compounds. However, contaminants like fluoride and arsenic are often not absorbed by this type of filter.
Reverse Osmosis Filters
The reverse osmosis filters use a semi-permeable membrane to trap contaminants. Contaminated water is forced through the membrane, which selectively allows water through but traps the contaminants. However, the filter uses water pressure instead of electricity to push water through the membrane. Once the filtration is complete, wastewaters are drained off while purified water is collected. Also, the reverse osmosis filters can be incorporated into other systems such as the activated carbon or mechanical filters to further reduce contaminants. This aspect is increasingly becoming crucial for coffee makers, where 99.9% pure water is needed. Additionally, you can use these filters to purify cooking and drinking water.
Mechanical filters physically block contaminants like particles using a barrier. They range from ultra-fine filters like ceramic filters that can remove microorganisms to basic mesh filters suited for large foreign particles. Manufacturers often include a micron rating to know the exact size of particles a mechanical filter can remove. For example, if a mechanical filter is rated 5 microns, it can remove visible particles. On the other hand, a 0.5-micron filter can remove microscopic particles like cysts.
Selecting the Right Water Filter
Water filters have varying points of strength and weaknesses. For example, while carbon filters efficiently remove chlorine and relative chemicals, they often fail to remove fluoride from water. Others like UV filters can destroy bad bugs but are not suited for heavy metals.
As you can see, it’s hard to find one-size-fits-all when shopping for water filters. But different manufacturers have advanced their water-filtration systems by blending various technologies into comprehensive systems. Such systems can remove heavy metals and visible particles and get rid of microscopic contaminants like bacteria and algae.
Here is an example of comprehensive water-filtering systems.
Whole-House Water Filtration
As the name suggests, a whole-house water filter purifies water for the entire household use. It’s a high-end, full-house setup that encompasses all the water points in your home. That means water to your bathrooms, garden, kitchen, or drinking faucets is first filtered before tapping. The system uses filters like UV purifiers and carbon filters to remove contaminants. Additionally, the system is often plumbed in at the main entry points of your home. Water softeners can also be installed alongside to soften hard water.
With the whole-house water filter set up, you not only get to purify drinking or cooking water. You are also able to remove chemicals like chlorine from shower water that can harm your skin. Nevertheless, other contaminants like Giardia could get into the body via toothbrush if you only purify water for drinking purposes.