Charcoal carbon filters are considered as the most practical and cost-efficient way to purify water, even if they are a basic type of water filtration system. They are also called activated carbon filters. They can remove certain types of contaminants in our water, improving the water taste and the clarity of our drinking water. Similar to sponge, their special structure inside can absorb pollutants and sediment, removing odors, heavy metals, chlorine and other pollutants.
Carbon filters are very economical and many household water filters or water treatment devices use them to purify water. For example, you can find carbon filters in refrigerators, water filter pitchers, water distillers, ice and coffee makers, etc. Even in some advanced water purification systems, carbon filters are an indispensable part. This is because under certain conditions, carbon filters offer a very good performance.
How does it work?
Carbon filters contain activated carbon in the form of porous, trapping certain particles. When water go through the water filter, contaminants in the water will be absorbed by the porous and trapping structure. However, not all the particles will be absorbed, because this depends on the size of the micron rating and pores. Once the pores are full, the filter will lose its abilities to capture other contaminants in the water. Then, it is time to replace a new one. And if the contaminants are too small in size, they will pass through the filter easily. This means carbon filters are not effective to very small pollutants.
Coal is the most common material used to make carbon filters. In order to make carbon filters more powerful, manufactures also use other materials to enhance their abilities. They use other layers or elements and they also blends of materials in their filters. For example, spun fibers are widely used in their designs. Such layered carbon filters are more effective, because they can remove much smaller particles in our water.
Well, the water pressure is also a factor when designing a carbon filter. And the prices of carbon filters vary, because of their differences in sizes, functions, intensity, designs, efficiency and lifecycle.
How to measure the effectiveness of a carbon filter
The effectiveness is measured by the size of particles carbon filters can absorb.
The size is referred to as microns. The smaller the size is, the better the effectiveness is. A high micron number is not good, because it means it can only filter out larger particles. Of course, if the size is very small, the cost will be higher. Some carbon filters can remove 0.05 microns minute particles, which are most effective.
The Differences between carbon filters and sand or sediment filters
Carbon filters are not sand or sediment filters. In some water filtration systems, sediment or sand filters are used to remove soil, sand, silt and other sediments. This can also help to protect the core water filter of a multi-stage water filtration system. They are filters, but can only remove larger sediments. And they cannot reduce the hardness of the water. And they are not effective to bacteria and microbes in our water.
However, on the other hand, carbon filters also cannot remove bacteria and other microorganisms which are very small, but carbon can inhibit their growth. Therefore, as mentioned above, carbon filters are often included in a multi-stage water filtration system, reducing the filtering pressure in the following stages.
If you buy a reverse osmosis system, it contains carbon filters. If you don’t plan to invest in such an expensive system, at least, you can buy a water filter pitcher which uses carbon filter to purify water. For example, you can choose Brita water filter pitcher to improve the taste of your water and it can remove chlorine in our water, too. For the best water filter pitcher, we have some recommendations.
The Drawbacks and Alternatives
Well, carbon filters have their drawbacks. If you find carbon filters cannot remove most contaminants in your water, you may consider other options, like a reverse osmosis system. A RO system is designed to remove much smaller particles in water. And it works differently. It has a semi-membrane that only allows water to pass through. Other contaminants are left in other side of the membrane. Of course, investing in such a RO system costs you more. If you only need to kill microorganisms in water, you can use an Ultraviolet to do the job. Anyway, such an investment on water purification is worth.
Hi, I’m a young mom and has a 3-year old boy. As a healthy living blogger, I am happy to help people who care about the quality of water, air and life make wise buying decisions and save some money. Read more