Which Water Filter Removes the Most Contaminants?
If you’re someone who is concerned about the quality of your water but you’re not exactly sure what water filter you need, ask yourself one question:
Which water filter removes the most contaminants?
Consistently drinking water and not knowing what's in it and what’s going into your body is definitely something you should be concerned about.
In fact, contaminated water makes up to 900,000 people sick and is the cause of 900 US deaths per year.
So without a water filter, there’s a chance that some of this contamination may be floating around in your water.
Think about how many times a day we actually use water.
We use it to cook, clean, bathe ourselves and quench our thirst.
Exposure to contaminated water can cause:
- Developmental problems
- Stomach pain
- DiarrheaThyroid disease (over time)
- Cancer (over time)
If you want truly clean water, a water filter is a must.
So let’s get into which water filter removes the most contaminants and exactly how they can help you ensure that you have a fresh and contaminated free source of water.
How Exactly Does A Water Filtration System Work?
The water that we use on a daily basis goes through a water cycle. This means that it’s constantly moving and circulating through the environment. One minute it can be flowing through a river and in the next be flushing down your toilet.
There are more than 80 contaminants that can be found in drinking water according to the Water Quality Association.
This is because water has an amazing ability to attract and dissolve dirt and many other compounds, while this may be good when you’re tossing your clothes in the washing machine for a quick wash, it can be a serious danger when it’s running through your faucet for you to drink.
Mainly because you have no idea what contaminants your water has attracted through the atmosphere, to your sink.
A water filter helps to decontaminate water either through a biological process, chemical process or by using a physical barrier.
Filters assist with removing harmful pathogens, chlorine and many other chemical compounds that may be dissolved in your water. This ensures that your water smells and tastes better. They also remove lead. Speaking of lead, did you know that EPA estimated that water can make up to 20% or more of a person's complete exposure to lead?
To better understand how filters remove contaminants from your water, just remember the two main ways a filter does this:
- Physical filtration
- Chemical filtration
Physical filtration removes solid material through straining the water. The filter may have a solid carbon block media or fine textile membrane that helps remove the particles.Think about how an air purifier would work when trapping dust and allergens.
Chemical filtration removes dissolved particles by passing the water through an active material that helps to improve water quality as it passes through.
The way to know if your water is clean is going to be by data. If you are using water provided by the city or county you live in, there is information available on the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website.
If you happen to be using private water from a well or another source where you are not totally sure about the quality, you can order a home water quality test kit online. Look for a test that is made in the U.S. They’ll be able to identify:
These tests usually include strips that’ll change colors based on the contaminant that's in your water. This will let you know exactly what pathogens are in your water.
The downside to the home tests are that they are not the most accurate and may not include every possible substance that can be found.
If you are serious about knowing exactly what is in your water, the most reliable method is to reach out to a state-certified lab for a water examination. The labs recommended by the EPA will meet the proficiency testing.
With so many options of water filters to choose from, it can be difficult to figure out which one may be best for you and your particular situation, but regardless, there are a few key aspects that you should keep an eye out for no matter the circumstances.
The Filter’s Lifespan
No matter what type of filter you use, it’s going to need a filter replacement every once in a while depending on how many contaminants you water is carrying, how hard your water is, and quite a few other factors.
In general, a water filter should last around 6-12 months before needing a replacement cartridge element. When purchasing a filter it should come with instructions on when it should be replaced and how you should go about doing it.
Different filters will remove different contaminants. While some just filter out basic impurities that can give your water a better overall taste and safety, others go a step further and are able to filter out bacteria and other dangerous pathogens that are more difficult to remove.
Pitcher, Faucet Mount vs. Permanent
Pitcher filters usually sit on your counter and are used for what you need them for specifically. So you may use one of these when you’re cooking, drinking or making some coffee.Permanent filters attach under your sink, so you don’t have to remember to refill a pitcher whenever you need some fresh water. This also means that you’ll be using filtered water for most everything, often with a separate faucet.
All Filters Are Not Created The Same
Different water filters will have different functions and are able to serve multiple purposes. Some will improve the taste of your drinking water while others completely filter out contaminants that are harder to detect.
Tap water will naturally contain small quantities of different substances, some being beneficial. Dissolved minerals are needed by your body for optimum health.
Check The NSF Rating
To see exactly what a water filter does you can check the NSF certification label. NSF International is an independent organization that creates the public health standards for products.
Checking the NSF database will allow you to quickly see what bacteria a specific filter will protect you from.
There is more than one type of filter and they all act different in decontaminating your water.
Activated Carbon Filter
The activated carbon filter uses activated carbon granules that captures the chemical impurities via adsorption. The small pieces of carbon have been treated to be very ”sticky”. The massive surface area enables effective adsorption of substances and contaminants.
Once water begins to flow through the carbon filter the chemicals in the water are attracted to the filter and stick there which results in purer water.
Activated Carbon filters are great for removing chlorine-based chemicals but do not do as well for heavy metals like fluorine, nitrates and sodium.
Ion Exchange Filter
Ion-exchange filters work by splitting apart atoms of a contaminating substance to make ions. They are most known for reducing water hardness. If you’ve ever made coffee that has tasted chalky, heavy or dull, it was probably because of the hardness of the water.
Hard water contains large amounts of magnesium and calcium which creates temporary hardness may add to the water’s alkalinity.
When hard water is run through an ion-exchange filter the compounds are split apart and form calcium and magnesium ions. The beads that are in the filter attract magnesium and calcium rather than sodium.
After the filter traps incoming magnesium and calcium ions, they release their own sodium ions as a replacement which then makes the water feel softer.
This process may strip too much of the “good” minerals from the water and replace them with sodium, which may lead to high levels of sodium in the body. .
When purifying your water through distillation, it does not require any devices because the process is done through boiling your water. Or you may purchase a water distiller for the purpose. Boiling does not remove chemicals and many other types of contaminants.
Boiling your water until it steams, then capturing the steam and condensing it into a separate container removes contaminants.
Water boils at a lower temperature than some contaminants, which means they remain behind while the steam boils off. However, organic compounds and VOCs boil at a lower temperature than water which means they are not removed during distillation.
When contaminated water is forced through an ultra fine filter at pressure, it removes the contaminants from the water.
The semipermeable membrane has extremely fine pores built-in that block the contaminants while at the same time allowing the water to pass through. Water is more concentrated while passing through the membrane in an effort to obtain equilibrium on both sides.
Reverse osmosis actually blocks contaminants from entering the less concentrated side of the membrane.
The Facts Are All Laid Out In Knowing Which Water Filter Removes The Most Contaminants
Now that you know some basics on how water filters work and how they can help you, it’s time to move forward in selecting a filter that’ll serve you and your family best.
The best way to choose the type of filter you need is to take note of what you’re most concerned about being in your water and use that as a guideline.