Water Filters

DBM COMMENT

These articles are provided for educational purposes only and some of the contents thereof are not fully supported by DBM.

Our programs recommend clean spring or tested borehole water, as our primary source of water.

Even though it’s best for your body to drink spring water, it is not always practical. Installation of a home water filter system is wise for drinking, cooking, washing vegetables, and even showering. One of your best bets for clean, pure water is to simply install a high-quality water filter for your entire home.

A whole house carbon filter will remove contaminants from steamy chemical-laden vapours you and your family inhale while showering and washing dishes. It’s wise to install a house filter because the body absorbs a substantial amount of toxins, including fluoride and chlorine, through the skin during showers and baths.

  1. Consider the style of water filter that will best fit your needs.  Household water filters generally fall into two categories:
    • Point-of-Entry units, which treat water before it gets distributed throughout the house and
    • Point-of-Use units which include counter-top filters, faucet/tap filters and under-the-sink units
  2. Determine what contaminants you need to remove.  You may already know what chemical pollutants you want to be sure your water filter removes.  If you dont, a good place to start is to look at what kinds of contaminants are showing up in your community's drinking water.

Choose the type of filter that best fits your needs.

Carbon / Activated Carbon:

Activated carbon chemically bonds with and removes some contaminants in water filtered through it. Carbon filters vary greatly in effectiveness: some just remove chlorine and improve taste and odour, while others remove a wide range of contaminants including asbestos, lead, mercury, and VOCs.  However, activated carbon cannot effectively remove other common “inorganic” pollutants such as arsenic, fluoride, hexavalent chromium, nitrate, and perchlorate. These filters come in two forms, carbon block and granulated activated carbon.

Carbon Block:

Carbon block filters contain pulverized activated carbon shaped into blocks under high pressure.

Granulated Activated Carbon:

These filters contain fine grains of activated carbon. They are typically less effective than carbon block filters because of their smaller surface area.

Reverse Osmosis:

This process relies on a semi-permeable membrane that retains particles larger than water molecules. Reverse osmosis can remove many contaminants not removed by carbon, including arsenic, fluoride, hexavalent chromium, nitrates, and perchlorate.  RO water is a great filtering system but it is almost too good. 

During the process of Reverse Osmosis, or RO for short, larger particles (like viruses and other impurities) are filtered out from the water, leaving pure water molecules to pass through your faucet. While there are many benefits to this process, the filter is so efficient that it also removes beneficial minerals like calcium, potassium, and magnesium.

This can lead to two main problems. The first is the obvious demineralization of the water. While it has been hotly debated, the World Health Organization has completed two studies that indicate drinking demineralised water can compromise your health. Although the minerals in water are not a substitution for the minerals we should be getting from our diet (and shouldn’t be treated that way!), they can be an important supplement.

Removing these minerals can also leave the water tasteless. Many of us are used to the taste of minerals in our water, and therefore can find this bland taste unappealing. Demineralised water will quickly become your least favourite kind.

The second main problem is that removing the minerals from the water leads to high acidity levels. Our bodies are made up of mostly water, and our blood should be slightly alkaline. Demineralised water can be one of the causes of acidosis, which is thought to be an underlying cause to degenerative diseases. All liquids have a measure of acidity, determined by the pH scale. The scale is from 0-14. Anything under seven is acidic, like your morning orange juice or coffee. Seven is considered neutral, and anything above seven is alkaline. Our bodies do their best work when they are in a slightly alkaline state. Demineralised water is often at a 7.0 pH level or lower, which means it is not doing our body any favours.

Ceramic:

Ceramic filters have with very small holes throughout the material that block solid contaminants such as cysts and sediments from passing through. They do not remove chemical contaminants.

Deionization:

An ion exchange process removes mineral salts and other electrically charged molecules from water. The process cannot remove non-ionic contaminants (including disinfection by-products and other common volatile organic compounds) or microorganisms. This filtration method makes the water alkaline.

Ion Exchange:

This technology passes water over a resin that replaces undesirable ions (charged particles) with others that are more desirable. One common application is water softening, replacing calcium and magnesium with sodium.

Ozone:

Ozone kills bacteria and other microorganisms and is often used in conjunction with other filtering technologies. It is not effective in reducing levels of chemical contaminants.

UV (ultraviolet):

These systems use ultraviolet light to kill bacteria and other microorganisms. They cannot remove chemical contaminants.

Water Softeners:

These devices use ion exchange to lower levels of calcium and magnesium (which can build up in plumbing and fixtures) as well barium and certain forms of radium. They do not remove most other contaminants.  No filter will give you good performance over the long-term unless it receives regular maintenance. As contaminants build up, a filter cannot only become less effective, but also make your water worse by releasing harmful bacteria or chemicals back into your filtered water.

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