Buying a water filter is a good investment for your health and that of your family, but which one is the right one? There are so many different types to choose from that picking the right one for you is like trying to find the best financial product.
Drinking Water Chemicals
Chlorine is the world’s most common water treatment chemical it is widely used throughout Australia and New Zealand.
While it is considered relatively harmless itself, when it reacts with organic matter in the water it can create a range of disinfection byproducts, including the suspected carcinogens trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids.The most controversial chemical added to 9o% of Australia’s drinking water is fluoride. It is added as a tool to inhibit tooth decay, it is a toxic substance frequently collected as a by product of fertiliser manufacturing.
Other additives in lower levels are heavy metals such as lead, copper, mercury and arsenic – pesticides can also be present.
Although we are told that the water companies have a responsibility to provide safe and very low concentrations of water additives, there is a growing number of people that believe that these levels can have a serious health implications when used consumed daily over an extended period of time.
With this in mind, it has become evident that there was a market for the in-home water filter for those who are not happy with quality of our tap water today.
1. Activated Carbon and Charcoal
These systems are easy to install, relatively inexpensive, and cover the basic functions of filtration. Water filter charcoal medium carbon is derived from coconut husk. This absorbs impurities as the water passes through. This form of filter comprises possibly 95% of those in use domestically. They are simple to install, relatively economical, and depending on micron level, will filter out the most deadly of contaminants, Cryptosporidium and Guardia.
An average charcoal filter could last a small family 6-9 months. Some charcoal filters are enhanced by the use of activated nano-silver, which provides extra antibacterial protection, killing around 650 known types of organisms. Minerals in solution can still permeate a charcoal filter. These minerals are essential to health.
In situations where sediment is a problem it is worthwhile to add a second separate in-line sediment pre filter. Otherwise the more expensive charcoal filter will become clogged up long before its normal lifespan. . (See separate section below on sediment filters)
Charcoal water filters come in various forms:
Carbon Block is a solidified form of honeycombed carbon. It is the best form of filter but flow rate is significantly slower than with loose charcoal.
Activated Silver Impregnated Charcoal. Sometimes called Chlorgon, this adds chloramine exclusion and bacteria killing ability to the basic carbon.
Anything 1 micron rating or below will inhibit Cryptosporidium and Guardia as the cysts are larger than this in size. Viruses cannot be inhibited by a filter with a micron rating of more than 0.01 microns.
Carbon filters cannot change the pH balance of the water. If you have acidic water, you will still have acidic water, as the minerals causing the acidity will be dissolved and therefore will pass through the carbon filter.
Carbon filters may be susceptible to mould attack if left unused over extended periods. It is important to realize that a filter gathers the ‘garbage’ in your tap water and the organic component of this garbage is quite capable of rotting. Add a little summer humidity to the already damp internals of a carbon filter and you may have a mould attack. Taste will always be the deciding factor, and if the taste of the water suddenly changes after an extended period of non-use, such as your annual vacation, change the filter.
Note also that carbon filters decrease in efficiency the longer they are in use. For this reason regular filter replacement is essential.
2. Ceramic Water Filter
Ceramic water filters are in the form of a cartridge that fits a normal bench top filter. At the core of the ceramic filter element is Diatomaceous Earth, a fossil substance, made up of tiny silicon shells left by trillions of microscopic, one celled algae called diatoms that have inhabited the waters of the earth for the last 150 million years.
Some ceramic filters incorporate nano-silver impregnated into a porous ceramic outer shell that can trap bacteria down to as low as .22 of a micron in particle size [1/100,000 of an inch].
Laboratories consider a filtering medium with an effective pore size of .01 micron to .45 micron to be bacteriologically sterile and .45 micron to 1.0 micron to be bacteriologically safe. Re growth of bacteria that becomes trapped either on the outside of the element or in the ceramic’s pores is controlled by the silver which, on contact with water, releases small quantities of positively charged metals ions.
These ions are taken into the enzyme system of the bacteria’s cell and thereby neutralize it. The flow rate of the ceramic filter can be renewed by brushing its outer surface under running water. As the top layer of ceramic and contaminants are brushed off and flushed away, a new layer becomes available.
Flow rates of ceramic water filters are slow.
3. Reverse Osmosis Systems
Originally developed to process water in submarines, the reverse osmosis process basically draws water through an extremely fine membrane. The membrane act like an extremely fine filter to create drinkable water from salty (or otherwise contaminated) water. The contaminated water is put on one side of the membrane and pressure is applied to stop, and then reverse, the osmotic process. It generally takes a lot of pressure and is fairly slow, but it works. The result is extremely finely filtered water.
There are many other options for water filters on the market but these ones seem to be the most popular and most effective, and best of all they can be easily installed into your home to give you year round safe drinking water.