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Water Filters and How They Operate

I can bet at any one time we have all assumed that water is safe to drink just by looking at it. Notably, even the clearest water (at least to the naked eye) contains particles and impurities that can prove to be very harmful to your health. These impurities usually referred to as contaminants include parasites, microscopic bacteria, and protozoa which if ingested can be fatal to your body. Research shows that water-borne diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and dysentery are responsible for 2 million deaths per year.  Due to the high level of contamination of water sources, a solution to address this problem is absolutely necessary. This is where water filters come to the rescue.

So what exactly is a water filter?

A water filter is a device used to remove or reduce impurities in the water such as chlorine, lead, magnesium, bacteria, parasites and many more. They also prevent further accumulation of bacteria, algae, and fungi. The concept is quite simple. The filter traps all undesirable elements and lets clean water pass through. This is achieved through the use of a material which has microscopic pores or holes. These pores which are usually less than 1/1000th of a millimeter (diameter) which allow water molecules to pass through, but are too small for bacteria and viruses to fit.

Water filters vary in size, depending on the intended use. The larger majority use home filters, which use activated carbon to treat the water. Activated carbon is preferred because a small amount has a very large surface area. Imagine this; just a single gram of activated carbon has the surface area of four tennis courts! This means that a large surface area in a compact volume has very small pores which can absorb a lot of organic compounds and pollutants.

How does activated carbon work?

Activated carbon is essentially oxygen-treated charcoal. The oxygen “activates” the carbon and opens the tiny pores between the carbon atoms which then absorb the harmful substances. So when contaminants in tap water try to flow past the carbon filter, the pores immediately trap the harmful substances at the carbon’s surface. As a result, you are assured of clean, odorless water.

The process is in two main steps;

  • Water filtration

Once you install a water filter, the water flows through two carbon water filters which will prevent contaminants and other unwanted and harmful substances such as dirt, chlorine, sediments and heavy metals from passing through.

  • Water disinfection

After the carbon filtration process, the next step is the disinfection process, which goes through another filter. This filter may have a purifier installed, which eliminates substances such as E-coli and coliform bacteria that are most harmful especially to children. Water disinfection is a very important step because it is the final step to ward off infections caused by drinking untreated tap water.

Final thoughts

The consequences of drinking untreated water can be very severe, if not fatal. Water filters are the biggest assurance that you are drinking clean, safe water. Most of them, especially for domestic use are quite affordable and easy to install and operate. They also come in a variety of ways, such as a flask or decanter that can sit on your countertop or on your refrigerator, or a faucet that can be mounted directly on your tap. My parting shot? Filter your water. It is beneficial to your health, your wallet and to the environment!