How Do Water Filters Work

A water filter is nice to have if your city supplied water smells or is cloudy. In some parts of the world, however, a water filter can mean the difference between life and death. In either case, knowing haw a water filter works can be important.

Understanding Your Water Filter
A water filter works by forcing water through a filtering agent. Water can be forced by pressure, but most filters use gravity to force water through the filtering agent. The filtering agent is typically made of small inert particles that trap unwanted materials either by blocking larger particles or absorbing unwanted particles.

Types Of Water Filters

  • Activated Charcoal - The most common type of water filter, activated charcoal uses heat-treated charcoal (which is mostly carbon) to absorb impurities from water. In an activated charcoal filter, the large, porous surface of charcoal molecules grabs chemical and metal atoms as they pass. Because activated charcoal filters hold impurities, the charcoal itself needs to be discarded and replaced over time.
  • Ion Exchange - Primarily designed to remove mineral salts from water, ion exchange filters help to remove minerals like calcium from "hard" water. Water softened by an ion exchange filter is less likely to stain or create scale build up. Ion exchange filters are often paired with charcoal filters for home water filter use.
  • Reverse Osmosis - By forcing water through an ultra fine membrane, a reverse osmosis filter separates clean water and concentrates impurities in"brine" that is separated and disposed of. While reverse osmosis filter are very effective at removing a wide range of impurities, they are very inefficient. A reverse osmosis filter creates two gallons of brine for every one gallon of filtered water.
  • Distillation - A distillation filter heats water into steam that is condensed into coils and collected. The condensed water is over 99% pure. Although distillation filters are very effective, they also consume quite a bit of energy to heat water to the boiling point.
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