Water Filters: Everything You Need to Know
Water is an essential element for our survival. On average, roughly 95% of Americans only drink about 4 cups of water a day, even though they need to drink between 8 to 12 cups.
We’d all prefer to drink more water, but it’s not always convenient to carry around a water bottle with you everywhere you go.
And tap water isn’t necessarily the best choice in many places. In fact, in some places drinking tap water is downright dangerous.
In this article, we will explain the reasons why everyone should be using a water filter.
Many of us already have them, but some of us are unfortunately using the wrong type. Others do not have one at all.
Our guide will explain the different technologies available to provide a better understanding. We’ll also help you discover the perfect model for your home.
Do You Really Need a Water Filter?
In many cases, a water purification facility will filter the tap water that you drink. This is obviously a good thing. But is it good enough?
Unfortunately, this water purification doesn’t necessarily make the water clean. And it doesn’t matter what city you live in because this is true for everyone.
When the water is tested by the authorities in your community, they only test it immediately after it’s filtered. These results seem satisfying on the surface, but the length and age of the feed lines corrode and corrupt this freshly purified water.
Most cities and towns will have their water treatment station located on the outskirts to avoid clutter or having a major eyesore in the community.
Guess what? This set up forces the water to travel along distance through pipes in order to get to your sink, shower, and other faucets.
The pipes are decades-old to say the least unless they’ve been recently replaced, which is highly unlikely. Since the water has to travel such a long distance through them, the water is no longer fresh because it becomes polluted with debris, dust, and rust along the way. But that’s only one aspect of the pollution.
Also, old pipes contain viruses, bacteria, and other unhealthy microorganisms. Oftentimes the water coming out of your faucet tastes bad and has a funky looking color. When this unthinkable scenario happens, it usually does so because of biological contamination.
The treatment of water by municipal authorities is another reason why you should consider using a water filter. Chlorinated water is an old and outdated way of treating it.
Regrettably, while it will kill certain microorganisms, it doesn’t kill all of them, it could potentially form compounds that are dangerously carcinogenic, and occasionally it will create a funky taste.
But that’s not all. Keeping your water clean is absolutely necessary if you’re looking to avoid having harmful microorganisms, bacteria, and parasites in your drinking water. As far as contamination is concerned, Cryptosporidium is one of the worst parasites ever to contaminate water. It’s resistant to chlorine, which means that it needs to be mechanically removed from water. If it gets into the water supply it can cause weight loss, dehydration, and extreme diarrhea. Also, if you are contaminated with this parasite, the symptoms of the sickness can last for as many as six weeks.
Lastly, the water supply can also experience contamination from heavy metals, pesticides, and chemicals as well. The pesticides being used in the 1940s and 50s were made up of heavy metals with a half-life that lasts a long time. Because of this long half-life, these contaminants can remain in the soil around water pipes which means it can also leak into the water supply.
In plumbing, lead was used regularly in solder and pipes, so some of the older pipes and solder could still contain lead leaching into the water. Plus there are other harmful chemicals that you may also find in water.
Four different filters are most presently used in households across the United States today. They all have their own different features and they use different materials to make them too. We will now look at each of the four popular types.
The Mechanics of the Most Popular Water Filtration Systems
Out of the four systems mentioned above, they all have their own specific mechanics and ways they work. These water filtration systems work in the following ways:
Choosing The Ideal Solution for Your Situation
It’s plain to see that there are numerous options. All of the best potential options have the ability to clear water of contaminants, but some work better than others and certain filters are only capable of clearing certain contaminants.
To determine the ideal water filtration system for your home, commercial property, or office, you need to test the quality of the water first. We will now provide a simple water testing guide below.
Using a Water Testing Kit
Determining Water Quality Using Your Senses
Your senses can teach you a lot about the quality of your water. Professional water experts will visually examine water, plus taste and smell it to determine the quality. Although not quite as accurate as testing the water with a kit, it certainly provides valuable information all the same. You can test water using your senses in a number of different ways that include the following:
Acquiring a Report for Water Quality
You could also check the water quality in your home by contacting the water company in your hometown to find out if they can give you a copy of the water quality report. They will have one since they have to test the water regularly.
This isn’t the best method to test your water, believe it or not, because it doesn’t take into account the passage of water through the pipes before it reaches your home.
Determining Your Next Steps
After thoroughly testing your water and determining its level of contamination, it’s time to figure out where to go next. This may seem silly on the surface, but you shouldn’t overlook this part of the process.
What’s the main reason you need a water filter? You obviously had something in mind when you began this process. What about your water bothered you? Did it have a bad taste? Or were there limescale deposits on your appliances or faucets?
After determining the results from your water quality tests, did your original assumptions pan out or has something changed? Are you still looking to only soften your water or do you need to improve the level of the waters’ taste too?
Choosing the Right Model
As we’ve already shared, some filtration systems were designed to remove specific contaminants, while others would be inefficient depending on the particular type of problem or debris. Based on water test results, your budget, and your desired achievement, you will definitely have some options to choose from below.
Below we have the best filtration options based on your needs:
Filtering for Odor/Bad Tasting Water
If you’re looking to remove odors and bad tastes from your water, there are a few different solutions available to try. You can check out the following systems and pick based on your budget:
Too Much Bacteria
Have you determined to have high levels of bacteria in your water through testing? If so, installing a filter that can kill them would be a bright idea. A few solutions to consider are as follows:
At this stage of the game, you understand the contamination in your water, you understand the reason why you need a water filter, and you’ve discovered the best ones for the job. The only thing remaining is to discover how large or small it should be, as well as the place you need to install it. Sizes include the following:
At this point, you now know a wide range of information about water filters. In fact, you have enough info to make a buying decision. But we still have more that we’d like to teach you about this topic.
For the most part, when people do complain about their water their complaint is typically kept to one category. That’s why it’s definitely necessary to learn the basics and how they work. Now you can determine if a particular water filtration system is good for your home or not because of this knowledge and valuable information.
Don’t be afraid that this content is about to take a drastic technical turn because nothing could be further from the truth. We will explain everything you’d ever want to know about filters without going into technical detail.
Some dealers will go heavy with the technical talk even though they hardly comprehend what they are saying. We aren’t going to do that here. This section will briefly tell you about different types, share the pros and cons, and give you the ability to make your purchasing decision because you’ll have enough information to better understand these products.
Most Common Varities
As far as filtration methods go, this is one of the oldest options. Ancient Egyptians began using activated carbon to filter their water millennia ago. The porous structure of carbon allows it to trap debris and other impurities.
These are quite effective because they remove strange tastes, funny smells, chlorine, sediment, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). On the flip side, they aren’t very good at removing dissolved inorganic compounds, salts, or minerals.
Two popular types of carbon water filters include granulated activated and powdered block. The powdered block is more effective and has a larger surface for better absorption. It typically has additional layers between the carbons as well, which makes filtration even better.
GAC (granulated activated carbon) filters are available in a number of sizes. The finer charcoal used in this filter has a smaller surface area when compared to carbon block.
These filters have some commonalities. First,their efficacy diminishes over time, so changing the filter regularly is important. If you fail to use it for a while, you also need to change it because it loses effectiveness.
The positives of activated carbon filters include the ability to remove sediment, smells, chlorine, and weird tastes. Another positive is that they are inexpensive.
The negatives are that bacteria can grow within the filter. It also doesn’t have the ability to soften water.
Distillation is a simple form for filtering water. The water is boiled, turned into steam, and captured separately in a different container.
The original container holds the contaminants and the second container has clean water. Some contaminants boil before the water turns to steam, so not all impurities are removed.
On the plus side, these filters are small and cheap.
On the minus side, not all of the contaminants get filtered during the distillation process, and distillation loses many of the valuable minerals.
This water filter is quite efficient at removing high levels of bacteria.
It can kill a wide range of the most common forms of bacteria as well as microorganisms and viruses.
It doesn’t filter anything else though.
Speaking positively, the pros are that the filter is small and it kills a wide array of viruses and bacteria.
The cons include the need for electricity to run the device and its inability to filter chemicals or have an effect on minerals.
This filtration method requires multiple filters to alleviate contaminants. The first filter has mechanical properties, the next two are carbon-based filters, the fourth consists of a semipermeable membrane, and the fifth is used to remove chemicals. Occasionally additional filters are added for re-mineralization and ultraviolet filtering.
On the plus side, a reverse osmosis filter is excellent for producing clean water on a daily basis. It also removes 95% to 99% of the contaminants found in water.
On the downside, this filter does waste some water. If the water purified is improperly re-mineralized, it can also taste bland.
Ion exchange filters aren’t as commonly known as water softening filters or deionization filters. Commonly speaking, these filtration types are used most typically during the ion exchange process. So we will look closer at both of these processes.
Filters focused on deionization use beads that are charged with hydroxyl ions and hydrogen ions.
When you filter water using metallic ions, it replaces unwanted metals with hydrogen. It also replaces anions in the water with hydroxyl ions. The combination of hydrogen and hydroxyl create mineral free water.
Water softening filtration systems work similarly by exchanging calcium and magnesium ions with salt trapped in water. The salt is released and the minerals are trapped, which cause the water to become softer.
Ion exchange filter pros include removing metals from the water and water softening. Cons include salty tasting water and these filters are typically very large.
Now that you better understand different types of water filters, installing them will be your next challenge. Some options include:
Now that you own a water filter, it’s time to learn how to take care of it. Some important things to know include:
10 Benefits of Water Filter Usage
Water Purification vs. Water Filtration
As we have learned, water filter systems pull contaminants from the water supply and reduce or eliminate them. But note that some contaminants will still remain even after the filtration process. The water is not completely pure unfortunately.
On the other hand, water purification will completely remove from 90% to 99% of the pollutants contaminating the water. This method does make water pure, but it also removes all of the minerals which poses its own set of problems.
Are Important Minerals Removed during Water Filtration?
While some water filters do remove minerals from the water, this isn’t going to happen in every situation. Reverse osmosis filters remove as much as 99% of the pollutants in drinking water. But they also remove many healthy minerals. On the other hand, UV filters leave the majority of the water intact including the minerals and kill only the bacteria. As you can see, some filtration systems have disadvantages as well as advantages.
In our chemical and debris filled world, water filters are definitely in need. And it doesn’t matter what type of water source you drink from, be it from a municipal water feed or well, because you can improve on the health of your water.
At first glance, using a water filter possibly seems like an expensive proposition. But when you think about it, you’ll save money over the long-term by eliminating your bottled water purchases. Since you only need to change your filters every so often, this is the cheaper option once your system is up and running.
Some people believe that water filters are only needed for drinking water. But that’s far from the truth. In fact, if you take a shower in filtered water you’ll have healthier looking skin and you’ll have cleaner hair that will stay that way much longer.
So, if you haven’t done so already, consider installing a whole house filtration system. If that’s too far out of reach, at least begin filtering your drinking and cooking water to improve the overall health and well-being of you and your family.