Making water safe to drink involves the use of at least one of a number of types of filters. In practice, more than one type of water filter is used in most water filter systems as each filtration process excels at neutralising different types of contaminants.
Types of water contaminants include but are not limited to different types of toxins, dissolved minerals, bacteria, fungal spores, and viruses. A filter that removes or treats one type of contaminant might not be suited for removing others. This means that in most cases, you’ll find multiple water filter types in drinking water filter systems.
Here, we’ll lay out the top 5 types of drinking water filters being used today, according to their material makeup and the mechanism they use in order to remove the contaminants. We’ll also briefly discuss the pros and cons of each system. Hopefully, this will help you choose the water filtration system that best suits your home or workplace.
This is the most basic kind of filter, suited for removing larger particles such as small rocks, sand, algae, and debris, from your water source. If you know how to brew coffee, you will be familiar with how these types of filters work. The filters are a barrier made of a suitable material such as nylon, cloth, or metal with openings that blocks particles larger than the opening.
Generally speaking, mechanical filters are best suited as the first stage of a bigger filtration system, as they are simple to use and allow water to be effectively cleared for the subsequent stages. They are generally not used by themselves for drinking water, as they allow bacteria as well as smaller fungal spores and viruses to pass through. They are also ineffective for neutralising chemical contaminants that might be in the water.
Reverse osmosis filters are, by far, the most popular type of drinking water filters for commercial use today. These water filter systems are highly effective at removing a wide range of chemical contaminants, as well as virtually all known harmful waterborne bacterial contaminants.
Unlike many other types of filters that are unable to handle chemical contaminants, reverse osmosis filters work by forcing water through a specially-constructed membrane that effectively removes a large percentage of a wide range of toxins, leaving you water that is far safer to drink.
Some of the contaminants reverse osmosis filters remove include salt, nitrates, nitrites, arsenic, fluoride, hexavalent chromium, and radium, to name a few. Virtually all bacteria, fungal spores, and viruses are removed through reverse osmosis.
These filters do come with a number of major downsides. Reverse osmosis machines are large and expensive — which is why you rarely see them in homes. They also use up a lot of water compared to other filter types, with estimates stating about four litres of water wasted for every litre produced, to as low as two litres wasted for every litre produced. They also tend to require a lot of energy to run, which makes them impractical for most single homes to operate.
This means that while reverse osmosis machines by themselves are excellent for drinking water, they may not be the most economical choice for water used for flushing toilets, doing the laundry, and watering the lawn.
UV or ultraviolet filters are a simple, elegant, environmentally sound option for destroying bacteria, mould spores, and viruses in your drinking water. They work by shining different frequencies of concentrated UV light into the water, which destroys the DNA in bacteria, fungus spores, and viruses. They usually have no extra moving parts, and modern UV lights only consume a very small amount of power.
The drawback of UV filters, however, is that they can only destroy microbial contaminants. Chemical and particulate contaminants are mostly unaffected, which means you generally need to use a UV filter in combination with other types of filtration systems. They can be a good option by themselves for home use if your water supply already has other types of filters in place.
Also known as charcoal filters, these types of water filters work through adsorption, binding a wide number of chemical contaminants to activated charcoal contained within filter canisters. As contaminated water passes through these canisters, they are pulled off of the water, leaving water that is free of these contaminants. These canisters can be replaced at regular intervals and are very affordable and compact compared to most other filtration systems.
They’re also highly effective at removing chemical contaminants while consuming very little water and energy. This makes them a great choice for home use.
On the other hand, these filters are not effective enough at removing microbial contaminants by themselves. They are often used in aquariums precisely because they don’t kill beneficial bacteria or mess with the salinity. This means combining activated carbon filters with other types of filters and treatments may be necessary if you intended to use the water for drinking.
Ion exchange filters are excellent for reducing the TDS (total dissolved solids) in your drinking water, leaving it softer and virtually mineral-free. These filters work by using a substance that can remove certain mineral ions, usually from calcium, magnesium, and bicarbonate from the water.
Without getting overly technical, this process traps the minerals in the filter, which then passes on the water without the minerals that can build up in your pipes and other appliances. One great side effect of ion exchange filters is that they can be used for removing radioactivity from the water, which, while usually isn’t a concern, is nonetheless great information to know about.
These types of filters, on the other hand, don’t remove pathogenic organisms from the water. They are usually used in combination with other filter types early on in the path of the water to prevent the rest of the system from being damaged by mineral buildup.
It helps to know what kind of water filters your local water supplier uses for treating your drinking water as well as the potential problems in the supply chain leading to your home or workplace. This can help you better choose a specific type or a combination of water filters to install in your property.
If you’re ready to choose water filters Perth property owners trust, be sure give our team here at Aussie Natural Filtration a call.