The first step in addressing any water quality problem is to determine
what contaminants need to be removed from the water.
Removing Chemical & Biological Contaminants
We generally recommend a focus on removing chemical and biological contaminants while leaving the dissolved salts and minerals in the water. That's because many minerals found in water are essential to good health. So, as a general rule, unless you have a known problem with a particular mineral, it's best not to filter out the minerals in your water. If you do want to remove certain minerals, several methods are available, including ion exchange, reverse osmosis, and distillation. We don't sell equipment to filter minerals, but we can refer you to good resources for that process.
Filtering Biological Contaminants
Biological contaminants can range down to tenths of a micron in size. A micron is 1 millionth of a meter. (The smallest thing visible to the naked eye is about 10 microns.) With a good micro-filter, it is relatively easy to remove contaminants in the micron range. To consistently remove biological contaminants, it is necessary to have high quality filters with pore sizes in the sub-micron range.
Filtering Chemical Contaminants & Minerals
Chemical contaminants and minerals can range down to the Angstrom size (10,000 times smaller than a micron). These contaminants are so small that it can be very difficult to filter them out of your water. If they are organic chemicals with active “ends” on the chemical chains, or if they are metals with high charges, they can be removed quite effectively with good absorbers. But if the contaminants are balanced salts or minerals, or if there are lots of competing minerals in the water, the absorbers can be much less effective. The good news is that, as a general rule, it is the organic chemicals with active “ends” and the metals with the high charges, both of which are easier to filter, that are contaminants which should be removed from the water to promote better health.
What Should, and Should Not, be Filtered
Most water used in the typical house goes out through sinks, toilets, and washing machines, or onto the lawn, which are all non-critical uses as far a general good health are concerned. Therefore, since the expense of treating water can be significant, we recommend bypassing these systems to filter the minimum amount of water. That will extend the life of your filters, thereby saving substantial sums over time.
Pre-treatment for Minerals
Water that contains significant amounts of iron, manganese, or hydrogen sulfide should be pre-treated before passing through any carbon-based treatment system. Otherwise, the purifier will also capture these contaminants, leading to more frequent replacement of the filter cartridge. A separate, pre-filter designed to remove minerals will do so at significantly reduced expense. (We do not sell mineral filtering systems, but can advise on how best to do this and where to purchase appropriate solutions.)
Temperature Affects Filtering Efficiency
Any time that absorption is used for water treatment, it is good to remember that the efficiency of absorption decreases as the temperature of the water increases. Shower head filters may be convenient, but they are much less efficient than whole house units which more completely remove the chemicals from the cold water before it enters the hot water heater. The basic mechanism in the unit is activated charcoal (carbon). Works better on cold water, so better to filter prior to heating the water. That’s the benefit of a whole-house system.