Water filtration and distillation are necessary for the health of people around the world, but you might not think about it when turning on your sink. If water isn’t properly filtered, it could contain any number of chemicals, bacteria, and contaminants that, if consumed long-term, might lead to certain health issues.1 The good news is, there are many types of water filtration and water purification methods available that may help limit the number of harmful bacteria commonly found in tap water.
The most common type of water filtration system is often an activated carbon charcoal-based filter that’s either designed within a store-bought pitcher (also known as countertop water filters) or included as part of a faucet mount or tap-installed filter.
Other common filtration and distillation systems include ultraviolet (UV) light units, reverse osmosis, water distillers (both whole or portable countertop systems), as well as other forms of water treatment processes.2,3
The term “water filtration system” incorporates the carbon charcoal-based home filters, as well as larger-scale municipal or public water treatment plants. These days, some appliances are even designed with filtration features already installed to rid water of contaminants, such as refrigerators with onboard filtered water/ice or freestanding water coolers/dispensers.4
Why Is Understanding The Different Filtration Systems So Important?
Understanding the distinctions between the different types of water filtration can seem overwhelming, so here are a few things about water filtration that can help make understanding them a little easier.
First, it’s important to understand the goal of using a water filter: water purification. Just as your tap water is usually filtered through a carbon filter, your city’s water supply is cycled through local pipes, and naturally gathers various contaminants (think: fluoride, chlorine, etc.). The distillation process ensures your water is safe enough to drink.
Industrial filtration requires complex purification techniques, so it’s also important to remember that when it comes to creating purified water, the things that are filtered out depend on the type of filtration (or filtration process) that the water source is most suited for.5
For example, the process of ion exchange is used to remove various metals and chemical particles that have entered the stream. This is similar to what a carbon filter does, just on a much larger scale.
Ionic Exchange Is Essential For Healthy Water Filtration
What is ion exchange? It’s the process of chemically switching out unwanted (or “bad”) ions from the water and replacing them with different ones.6
Unwanted ions are formed as a result of specific chemicals, metals, and other contaminants entering the water.7 To counteract this, a system known as water softening is used to create a more alkaline water.8
A water softener system is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a system designed to remove the accumulation of calcium, magnesium, and other chemicals or volatile organic compounds from the water that can make the water hard. Hard water, as opposed to soft water, means that the water contains a high mineral content, including calcium, chlorine, magnesium, limestone, or even chalk particles.9
The ion exchange gathers ions that have formed from the rising mineral content and replaces them with sodium and potassium ions to combat water hardness. This is important for safe water consumption, making the ionic exchange an essential role in the water filtration process.10
How Does Reverse Osmosis Filtration Work?
Another filtration method that’s considered important is reverse osmosis. Water naturally collects many contaminants (like chlorine and fluoride), pollutants, and bacteria before it can be filtered. Various types of metals can certainly show up (luckily, there’s the ion exchange to help with that), but another issue that arises is bacteria and microorganisms.
Now, there are different types of bacteria: good bacteria, that helps the body carry on and stay healthy, and bad bacteria, which can cause health issues.11,12
Feeling The Pressure: Reverse Osmosis Systems Are Believed To Be The Superior Water Filter System
Reverse osmosis uses pressure to purify water. It begins by cycling water through a carbon-based cartridge in order to remove various contaminants like chlorine and sediment. (It’s important to note that most filter systems use a carbon-based filter, although the sediment pre-filter technique is also used).13
Next, the water is pressed through an incredibly thin filter layer, called a membrane filter. This helps to ensure the removal of all contaminants, like fluoride particles, which can cause severe medical issues if consumed in large amounts.14
Once this is done, the reverse osmosis water filter system officially starts to remove chlorine and other viruses, bacteria, and parasites. Where other methods remove heavy metals and assorted impurities within the water, reverse osmosis will take it one step further and ensure the removal of harmful bacteria with the membrane filter.15
Carbon Charcoal-Based Home Water Filter Systems Now Found In Many Households
Every day, water plants help filter multiple gallons of water that cycle through homes across the country through a household water heater or supply system. While their water purification systems keep the water clean and free of contaminants, some people might not enjoy the taste of their tap water. So, they might opt to buy their own home water filter systems to ensure that safe, clean water is as easy as turning on the sink faucet.
Activated carbon charcoal-based filters (a type of micron filter) are a safe way to filter sediment and other contaminants out of our water. These are typically designed within a countertop water pitcher or included as part of a faucet mount or tap-installed filter.16 Micron water filters have also been created for water and ice dispensers to help purify the water that’s produced inside various refrigerators.17
A UV Filter May Make All The Difference When Searching For Purified Water
When it comes to filtering water, ultraviolet (UV) filters are typically the most cost-efficient purification technique. Not only do these filters help get rid of bacteria, molds, water-borne viruses, and pathogenic, disease-causing microorganisms such as Giardia (which causes serious discomfort), the ultraviolet light is invisible and typically emitted from different light sources, including the sun.18
The UV lights cause a purification process that kills the DNA in bacteria and virus membranes, producing radiation that is significantly more powerful than the sun and creating clean water that’s safe to drink.19
Consuming Filtered Water Is Part Of Being Healthy And Happy
There are many ways to filter contaminants out of your water, and each technique helps improve the quality of life for those who would otherwise be living without water filters. Although you cannot see the bacteria and other pollutants in the water that comes through the sink, carbon charcoal-based and other, more complex, filtration systems are able to make drinking water safe and enjoyable for citizens everywhere.21