How Do Water Filters Work?

Published: 10th April 2009
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Our water supply system is seriously overloaded with chlorine, bacteria, fluoride, pharmaceuticals and other toxic substances. It is in fact a hazard to our health. Most of us are aware of this now whether it is from advertising, word of mouth or simply by the fact that our water tastes, looks and smells bad. Water filters have become a necessity in our homes. Have you ever wondered though how a water filter works?

There are actually several ways that water filters work. Some filters will combine different technologies while others will rely solely on one key technology. The more technologies used, the cleaner the water will be and the safer it will be to drink. Below is a list and an explanation of the different types of water filtration and how they work.

Carbon Filtration

This is when water passes through an activated carbon filter cartridge. The carbon will absorb bad odors and flavors. It will also safely absorb chlorine, sulfide, radon, hydrogen, volatile organic compounds, pesticides, benzene. Unfortunately though it will not remove heavy metals. For this reason it works great when used in combination with another filtration method.

Ion Exchange

With ion exchange water passes through a layer of resin beads that have sodium exchange coating. Ions in the water are then exchanged for ions on the beads. This method is used to soften the water by removing metals and minerals. It will remove nitrate, fluoride, sulfate, iron, calcium, magnesium and manganese. It does not however effectively remove bacteria.

Micro Filtration

This type of filtration passes water through a porous filtering material. It will remove sediments and suspended materials but it does not remove fine particles or dissolved substances.

Ultra Micro Filtration

Works the same way as micro filtration which removes sediments and extremely fine particles and microorganisms.

Reverse Osmosis

Reverse osmosis is a very popular type of water filtration because it is very successful in removing nearly all contaminants of some sort and is very easy to maintain. It does require a lot of water for reverse osmosis to be successful. Put very simply, most reverse osmosis water filter units will have a prefilter that the water goes through first which strains out sediment. From there the water goes through a cellophane like membrane that filters out even smaller pollutants. Before the water comes out of the special faucet mounted on your sink, the water goes through one last carbon filter that removes any chemicals picked up along the way. It will successfully remove lead, sulfate, sodium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, potassium, manganese, aluminum, nitrate, fluoride, most microorganisms and organic chemicals. It works great as a whole house filtration system when combined with other filtration technologies.

Ultraviolet Radiation

This type of water filtration will remove bacteria and viruses and sanitize your water. It does not however remove suspended particles or ions and is therefore very useful when combined with another technology. It works by using a low level ultraviolet light that kills the bacterial and viral pathogens.

Hopefully these explanations will help to clear up any confusion about how water filters work. The main point to take away from here is that each water filtration technology works well on their own to clean certain pollutants out of our water. However they are best used in combination with one or more technologies to really ensure that our water is clean and safe for drinking, cooking and/or bathing.

To learn much more about how water filters work as well as to learn about the different types of water filtration visit where you'll find this and much more, including great information on drinking water filters.

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