How to Filter Water at Home

How to Filter Water at Home

Thanks to modern water treatment methods, most of us can turn on the faucet, start a load of laundry, or jump in the shower without worrying about where our water comes from. But the water that come to our home isn’t as clean as it could be – there are still chemicals that modern water treatment methods leave behind. Fortunately, there are a number of easy-to-use filtration systems that can keep your home water supply safe and clean. Below is a guide to the most common types of home water filters to help you decide which is the right fit for your needs.

Water Filter - Reverse Osmosis

Water Filter - Reverse Osmosis

Reverse Osmosis: Reverse osmosis filters rely on pressure to push water through a filtering membrane. Any particles larger than water, including salt and elements like lead and fluoride, will be left behind. Reverse osmosis filters will not remove radon or some organic compounds like VOCs. A few more things to know about reverse osmosis systems:

• Most reverse osmosis systems use either a thin film composite membrane (TFC) or a cellulose triacetate membrane (CTA). TFC filters are more effective than CTA filters but can also be more expensive.

• TFC membranes are easily damaged by chlorine, so it’s important for any reverse osmosis system to include a carbon filter that removes chlorine before it reaches the membrane.

• Depending on use, filters will need to be replaced every few years.

• Reverse osmosis systems will usually require changes to plumbing to be installed.

Carbon Filters: Activated carbon is treated to create millions of tiny pores on its surface that act like chemical magnets for contaminants like pesticides, chlorine, radon, and organic molecules like VOCs. These types of filters will not remove elements like fluoride or lead.

• Carbon filters come in two flavors: granular activated charcoal (GAC) and powdered block carbon. We recommend a system with a block filter because they are more effective at removing contaminates.

• Carbon filters need time to work, so the longer you leave water in contact with the filter the cleaner your water will be.

• Once a carbon filter has absorbed all it can hold it will need be replaced. The life of your filter will depend on the size and amount of use, but it’s important to follow the follow the replacement schedule promptly to avoid leaching contaminants back into your water.

Distillation: Distillation systems work by boiling water then capturing the evaporated steam. Anything with a lower boiling point than water will be left behind so that when the steam is cooled back into water it is free of elements like lead and mercury. The high temperature will also kill bacteria and viruses, but distillation will not remove chlorine or organic molecules like VOCs.

• Most distillation systems are not integrated into home plumbing and are instead designed to stand alone on countertops.

• Heating water requires quiet a bit of energy, and distillations systems also create more waste water than other filtration systems.

Kinetic Degradation Fluxion (KDF-55): KDF-55 is a substance that chemically reacts with contaminants in water to render them harmless. For example, heavy metals like lead, iron, and mercury bond to it and are kept out of the water supply while free chlorine is changed into a harmless chlorine salt. KDF-55 is most commonly found in dechlorinating showerheads and garden water filters.

UV Lights: UV lights can be added to water filtration systems to kill bacteria, viruses, and any other biological contaminants.

It’s common for home water filtration systems to combine several of these technologies to ensure the removal of as many contaminants as possible. We recommend a reverse osmosis unit that also uses a carbon block filter. Or, if you’re looking for something that’s easier to install, try an activated carbon countertop filter.


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