What Kind of Water Filter System Is Best For You and Your Water? Part II

by wfnblog on September 20, 2007

The simplest water filtering system, and the one most people turn to as a first resort, is the drinking water pitcher that holds a carbon filter cartridge. These have become familiar presences in countless households. The carbon filter handles the removal of chlorine, chloroform, pesticides (and other organic chemical elements that have seeped into your water). For most people, the biggest problem with their water is that it tastes like chlorine, and these water filter pitchers take care of that easily. However, carbon filters aren’t particularly good at removing heavy metals, fluoride (which some people wish to remove from their water even though it is added to the supply intentionally), chloroform, or bacterial contaminants. For these problems a little more muscle is needed.

A reverse-osmosis water filtration system will solve these more advanced problems. Reverse osmosis water filtration is a multi-step water filtering process which works slowly but is extremely effective. It’s often used in industry but can also work in the home. Reverse osmosis uses the principles of osmosis (in which material passes slowly through a membrane and is concentrated and purified in the process) to produce very clean water.

The first step is that a simple sediment filter is installed and all water to be used passes through it; the filter catches large particles of materials such as rust or calcium carbonate (a compound which is not at all harmful but which isn’t desirable in your drinking and cooking water – it’s commonly used as an antacid). Sometimes a second filter of a similar design, but more fine, is used after the initial filtering. An activated carbon filter traps organic chemicals, and then the RO filter, which is a very fine membrane, is used. It may be helpful to think of all these filters as being similar to sieves with differently-sized holes. Basically, the process of reverse osmosis water filtration would be akin to draining cooked food through a series of increasingly-fine sieves, rather than just emptying the pot into a basic perforated colander. Reverse osmosis water filtration systems, being more complex and increasingly sensitive, can trap far more contaminants than just one simple carbon filter. Some RO systems will, even after the water has passed through the RO membrane, use yet another carbon filter or, alternatively, an ultra-violet lamp, to purify the water even further. The result of all of this filtering is extremely high quality water. However, the system is not the most efficient of all water filtration systems, and some have expressed concern about the fact that it takes approximately four gallons of processed water to result in one gallon of clear water.

The fact remains that reverse osmosis water purification systems remove an astounding range of contaminants from your water. Arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium (hexavalent), chromium (trivalent), copper, lead, nitrate, nitrite, radium 226/228, selenium, and TDS are all removed from your water with an RO system.

A reverse osmosis water filtering system is obviously more complicated than a simple carbon-filter water pitcher, but the benefits of its complex design are also obvious. For those who are concerned not merely with the aesthetics of their water – taste – but have more concrete problems with water quality, an RO water filter may be the best solution to your problem.

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