Water is a basic need in everybody’s lives. It is required in plenty in our day to day living for washing, laundry, cooking and drinking among many other various uses. Our bodies also need a lot of water for uses such as detoxification, provision of energy, maintenance of skin health and operation of normal metabolic processes. We should, therefore, take enough water on a daily basis.
However, water can sometimes have problems. It can be contaminated and contain unwanted materials like sediment and disease causing micro- organisms like bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. It can also be very hard and cause problems like making soap and detergent not to lather easily, blocking water pipes and discoloring utensils as well as causing problems to water appliances like water heaters and coffee makers.
This is where water filters come in. Water filters are found in many shapes and sizes and are meant for varying uses. A filter can be specialized infiltration of a certain unneeded material, or it can be generalized to filter out many contaminants. Some of the most common contaminants filtered by modern filters include Sediment, Chlorine, Fluorine, heavy metals and unrequired minerals.
Filters are therefore chosen in accordance with the type of contaminant that needs to be filtered. The type of installation required is also considered. Another consideration is the initial and maintenance costs. In this article, we shall look at different technologies used in water filters in the specification to how they are used and what they filter.
Activated Carbon Filters
These filters are just known as Carbon Filters or Pre-filters. They are found in most complex systems such as reverse osmosis systems or even on their own as a complete/ stand- alone filtration unit e.g. in fridges and household pitchers.
They are made up of carbon. However the carbon found here is a bit unique. It’s carbon that has been activated to attract a large number of impurities found in water. It has also been manufactured in a unique technique that makes sure that it has quite a significant amount of bonding sites for organic impurities.
The impurities that are found in the water bond to the activated carbon through a process known as adsorption, which is different from absorption. Adsorption is when these impurities form a chemical bond with the activated carbon.
After the water has entered the filter, the impurities seek to attach themselves to the activated carbon.
This will depend on a few factors;
- How fast the water is flowing through the filter.
If the water is flowing at a high speed/ with much pressure, the impurities will not have enough time to bond with the activated carbon, and therefore, the water produced will still have many impurities.
- How depleted the Carbon is
The amount of impurities removed will also depend on how concentrated the carbon is. If the filter has been used for a long time or to filter large amounts of water, the available bonds will significantly reduce. This will leave the impurities with no choice but to remain in the water. It is at this stage that the carbon filter will need to be replaced.
Reverse Osmosis (Osmotic Membrane Technology)
Reverse Osmosis is one of the most efficient filter technologies in use today. It filters almost all the contaminants that can be found in your water. These includes sediment, heavy metals, chlorine, fluorine and excessive/ unrequired minerals.
Reverse Osmosis uses a semi- permeable membrane with tiny pores that can only allow water molecules to pass through. After the water that has been fed to the system reaches the osmotic membrane chamber, a pressure of around 35- 40 psi is applied. This pressure forces water molecules to pass through the membrane and to the collection unit. Only water molecules are tiny enough to pass through the membrane and therefore all the other molecules are left behind. They are then washed and piped out to the main drain.
However, this membrane is not used as a stand-alone filter. It comes along with other filters in a system called the Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System. A typical example is the 5 stage Reverse Osmosis System that uses five filters to ensure production of highly purified water.
It is commonly combined with a sediment pre-filter, a carbon pre- filter and a carbon post- filter. The pre- filters are mostly meant to protect the primary membrane, which is the osmotic membrane. The post filter is used to polish the water produced and ensure it’s of the highest quality possible.
A water ionizer/ alkaline ionizer is a water filtration technology that raises the PH of your water. This is through a process known as electrolysis. During this process, water is passed over electrically charged plates, separating it into two streams. One has acidic while the other has alkaline components.
The positive ions come together at the negatively charged electrodes to create reduced water. The negatively charged ions go to the positively charged electrodes, creating oxidized water.
The reduced water is safe for drinking and cooking. The oxidized water is ideal for cleaning food/ kitchen utensils, washing hands and cleaning minor wounds. This is because it’s a good sterilizing agent.
These filters utilize some of the latest technology available today. They make use of ultraviolet radiation.
It is a very useful and practical technology in getting rid of pathogens that may be contained in your water.
Water is usually exposed to UV rays. The DNA of the microorganisms contained in the water then absorbs the rays which only destroy them through altering their DNA, and they die. This is a method known as inactivation.
It eliminates the threat of water-borne diseases and provides you with safe water for drinking purposes.
Just like alkaline filters, infrared filters are mostly used for water softening. They use heat and light to charge water negatively, giving it a softer feel.
Water filters offer very many benefits. Having a water filter in your home is important. Purchasing a water filter should, however, depend on the type of water available in your area. The different water problems can be solved using certain filters not just any filter. A water softening filter will not kill the microorganisms that can affect your good health.
However, some filters are available that combine different filtration technologies. This is in a bid to help solve all your water problems at once. It is advisable to consult a water expert before purchasing a filter to get a guarantee that it will solve your specific water problems.