How Do Water Filters Work
How Do Water Filters Work

How Do Water Filters Work?

Water treatment plants clean the water for entire cities with chemicals and filters that work hard to make it safe for our homes. But while most of us expect our tap water to be 100% safe, the truth is aging water infrastructures and countless other factors can contribute to the presence of many unwanted contaminants.

Does water need to be filtered?

Home filters are our last line of protection from viruses, bacteria, chemicals and metals like lead. While tap water often meets minimal water quality standards from EPA, the reality is many experts agree these standards are too lenient. But with so many types of filters promising to be the best water purifiers out there, most of us are left with these questions:

How do water filters work?

While water filters come in countless shapes and sizes, most of which use both physical and chemical filtration to remove particles and microscopic contaminants from our water. Physical filtration provides a physical barrier that removes larger particles from your water. Chemical filtration uses simple chemical reactions on water passing through an activated material (like carbon) to remove smaller impurities that physical filters can’t catch.

What are the different types of water filters?

There are four primary methods used to filter water: reverse osmosis, ion exchange, steam distillation, and the most common and popular method – activated carbon filters.

Primary Methods used to Filter Water

Reverse Osmosis filters remove contaminants by using water pressure to force tap water through a semipermeable membrane. As the water passes through, contaminants like Lead, Mercury and Iron are left behind and flushed away. However, reverse osmosis will not remove some pesticides, solvents and metals such as Chlorine and Radon.

Ion Exchange filters are particularly useful for softening hard water. It’s a chemical process that essentially releases ions like sodium and exchanges them for unwanted ions (like heavy metals) in your water. The result is softer water with a more pleasant taste, however Ion exchange is not a great choice for people with low sodium diets since it raises the sodium content of your water.

Steam Distillation is a natural process that involves heating water and cooling steam to remove contaminates. Most contaminants have a boiling point higher than water, so they’re left behind after the water turns to steam. The steam is then collected and condensed back into water. One drawback to distillation is that it also removes beneficial natural minerals from water in the process.

Activated Carbon Filters

Activated carbon filters are the most widely used household water filters. Charcoal is a very porous form of Carbon, so it has a large internal surface area that traps contaminants. Larger particles are stuck on the outside surface, removing sediment from the water. Carbon also acts like a magnet for compounds like lead and VOCs, trapping contaminants internally as the water passes through the filter. Finally, chemicals like Chlorine are reduced through a chemical reaction when water first contacts Carbon.

The Bottom Line

Home filtration with an NSF certified filter is the only way to know that the water and ice you are using in your home are cleared of as many potentially harmful contaminants as possible. Installation is easy, and maintaining a water filter is crucial to the health and well-being of everyone in your home.

See our individual water specification sheets:
PureSource Ultra® II EPTWFU01
PureSource Ultra® ULTRAWF
PureSource® 3 WF3CB
PureSource 2® WF2CB
PureSource® Plus WFCB

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