What Is A Water Filter?
Water filters come in many different shapes and sizes, depending on your needs. In fact, if you do some research you’ll find that the term water filter can be used to describe any kind of physical or chemical water purification system from small portable devices used on camping trips to huge industrial sites which clean the mains water for the entire area. But in terms of home use, they are most commonly on the counter or under-sink units with ceramic and/or carbon filters which are able to remove up to 99.99% of pollutants.
Why Do I Need One?
Water is vitally important to living creatures – our bodies are made up of two thirds water, making hydration a matter of life or death, especially when the weather heats up. We also lose water all the time through sweating, and this water needs to be constantly replaced – so it makes sense that the water which keeps us alive should be the best quality. In the UK, the water which comes from our kitchen taps is some of the cleanest in the world, thanks to stringent laws dictating the required treatment for mains water. It doesn’t, however, eradicate all issues present in drinking water.
You may be thinking, why not drink bottled water? Well not only is bottled water virtually the same as tap water in terms of purity, but chemicals can seep from the plastic bottle into the water, it costs considerably more, and empty plastic bottles are a huge source of unrecyclable waste worldwide. The cheaper, healthier and more environmentally friendly option is certainly to go with a home water filter.
There are a number of reasons why a person may want to use a water filter, the most common of which is for taste. Wherever water flows through rocks it picks up their minerals, leading to quite a variety in types of tap water throughout the country. Usually it isn’t noticeable unless you move to an area with different water, and most of the time people are happiest to drink the type of water they had as a child. This also means that it isn’t possible to change your water supplier, so modifying how you treat it at home is the only way to affect the taste – unless you want to move.
One of the most common issues of taste is from the chlorine which is used in water treatment plants. This is good for the water, but traces of chlorine are frequently left in the water supply to ensure it isn’t contaminated as it makes its way through the pipe system. Although many people aren’t able to notice this, some have higher sensitivity to chlorine than others, and for these people a water filter is incredibly important.
Water may also come into the home with a number of other issues such as heavy metals like lead and mercury – highly common industrial contaminants which can damage your health over years of consumption – and endocrine disrupting chemicals which can interfere with hormones or even stop them from working altogether. Microbial cysts and parasites are far less likely in the UK, although cryptosporidium has a high tolerance to disinfectants.
Finally, some allergies and insensitivities can be brought on by the minerals and chemicals in some drinking water.
Planning to buy a water filter can be intimidating. The first thing you want to do is consider what you want to use it for. If this is an issue of taste and odour alone, an activated carbon filter (often known as Granulated Activated Charcoal) will absorb contaminants, whereas those fighting allergies will find that a reverse osmosis filter works better. Activated charcoal removes or reduces contaminants and chlorine, but not more severe issues like heavy metals, endocrine disruptors and fluoride.
Solid block carbon filters are very efficient at removing chemicals, metals, nitrate, parasites as well as herbicides and pesticides, but remarkably do not remove the naturally occurring minerals in water which are good for you. Filtering with reverse osmosis tends to take away these good minerals – hence why they are good for allergy sufferers. They are also more likely to cause a reduction in flow rate however, leading to higher water bills.
The cheapest and most frequently-seen kitchen filter is the pitcher filter, which uses gravity to pass water through a filter which needs to be replaced every six months (or to the manufacturer’s specifications). In-fridge water filters are also seeing increasing popularity, for example the Samsung DA29 which fits with Samsung fridges and uses a high grade carbon block to reduce chlorine, bad taste and odours but not the beneficial minerals. Filters for these need to be changed every four to six months, or even sooner if a chlorine taste develops or the water changes colour. The length of time that the filter will last also depends on the hardness of your water supply.
Other types of filter tend to be fitted to the plumbing, either on the outside of the tap or under the sink to filter before water before it passes through the tap. Usually under-sink models are plumbed into the cold water tap, such as in the case of the Franke water filter which uses a combination of ceramic and carbon blocks combined with a self-sterilising filter. The Franke model removes chlorine, sediment and organic matter from the water. On the other hand, the Insinkerator water filters can be fitted to either hot taps or both hot and cold. They usually have a significantly longer life-span and can filter sediment up to a 5 micron level, reducing scale and removing soluble impurities. These are important if your concern is taste, as it can ensure that no metallic tastes make it through the hot water supply and taint hot drinks.
How Else Can Water Filters Help?
Although most concerns are based on taste and odour and therefore largely apply to drinking water, filters have benefits all throughout the house. They can be fitted to shower heads to reduce the amount of chlorine coming through which can cause skin and hair to become dry, and they can also be added to hot drink machines and water coolers to keep the supply tasting fresh. You can continue to install the filter earlier in the plumbing system as well, by having a boiler filter or even a whole-house filter. This all depends on the quality of water in your area, as well as your own personal preferences.
Make sure to do your research into water filters before investing, or you could find yourself with a filter which doesn’t work effectively for your purposes. Here at Finerfilters Limited we are happy to answer all of your questions that you may have.
Please call us on 01704 807600 or use our contact form.