The most practical, cost efficient and basic type of water filtration is a charcoal carbon filter. As an active carbon filter, it has been proven to be very efficient for removing certain impurities and improving the taste and clarity of drinking water. It absorbs sediment and pollutants, plus removes chlorine, heavy metals, and odors.
Economical carbon filters are used in many household items including filtered water pitchers, refrigerator water, and ice and in coffee maker (water) filters.
Because these filters offer good performance under certain conditions and are have the simplest installation, they have a multitude of home applications including keeping a fish aquarium's water from getting murky.
With a carbon filter process, water passes through activated carbon which is porous, trapping certain particles. The size of particles absorbed depends on the size of the pores or micron rating. However, not all particles are absorbed by the active carbon filter and at some point, it loses its ability to attract particulates and must be either replaced or cleaned (if so designed) in order to be effective. This is essential to maintain its filtration efficiency.
Coal is the most common element used to activate carbon filters, but manufacturers will often enhance the carbon by using other elements or layers and blends of materials in their designs, including spun fibers. Such layered filters are considered more effective since they have the ability to filter smaller particles from the water.
It really depends on what the filter is designed to achieve in filtering out waterborne particles.
Each activated carbon filter is designed to allow a certain flow of water through the filtering process. Costs of carbon filters will vary, as do size, design, intensity, function, efficiency and lifecycle.
Filter effectiveness is measured in terms of the size of particles they can attract.
This is referred to as microns, with the higher number being the worst or least effective and the smallest number being the best. A higher micron number means it can only remove large particles, but one with a rating of 0.05 microns will filter out minute particles - being most effective.
Carbon filters should not be confused with sediment or sand filters usually installed at the home's main water intake. These are effective in removing sand, soil, silt and other sediment. I should also add that filters, in general, are not helpful in reducing hard water. As effective as carbon filters are, they are limited by design and cannot reduce the amount of bacteria and microbes in water.
Because carbon alone only inhibits the growth of bacteria and does not remove existing micro organisms, it is often combined with other components in more extensive filtration systems, as an added layer to further purify drinking water.
The water pitcher featured is the popular Invigorated Living Premium Alkaline Water Pitcher and Ionizer. The carbon filter designed for use in this pitcher offers better water purification than the average model, with multiple filtration layers, to remove impurities and improve the taste of the water.
For example, as a minimum, you can use a carbon-filtered pitcher like a Brita© to remove chlorine and improve the taste of your water or select one with multiple filtration layers to further improve (water) quality, such as with the Invigorated Living Premium Filter featured.
In circumstances when you suspect that there may be more impurities in your water or you merely want to get the best protection available, you should look at installing either an Ultraviolet or a Reverse Osmosis water filtration system. Though you will be paying more for this optimum water filtration, it does offer peace of mind and you'll find it well worth the price.
For a better understanding of water, filtration read the North Dakota State University's resource on Filtration
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