Here in South Africa, we’ve been fortunate that our municipal water has been of a drinkable quality for many decades. Unfortunately, as infrastructure ages and demands increase, the quality of water may not be as crystalline as you once enjoyed. 

It’s a very good reason to ask the question: how do water filters work? 

  1. Absorption

Possibly the simplest method of water filtration, absorption involves the process of one or more active carbon filters. Active carbon has sponge-like qualities, drawing in impurities while allowing water to pass through. It’s effective in some areas, but where water purity is a serious issue, some nasty microbes or parasites may slip by. 

  1. Reverse Osmosis

We love how smart we sound when we start talking scientifically. Reverse osmosis uses a partially permeable membrane to remove large particles, potentially harmful molecules, and even ions. 

Reverse Osmosis produces ‘dead water’, completely void of healthy minerals, and so many of these systems will have a re-mineralization process to replace the healthy elements back into the water. 

  1. Ion Exchange

Ok, so ion exchange systems don’t purify contaminated water, but rather soften hard water. Hard water can damage various elements of your plumbing, but also affects hair, skin and nails.

An ion exchange system uses zeolite beads full of sodium ions. When hard water passes, its magnesium and calcium attract the ions, which results in the release of sodium into the water. Voila!

  1. UV Water Filters

Didn’t your mother ever teach you to hang your towels in the sun to sterilize them? Well, the smart old goose was onto something! Essentially, UV water filters use ultraviolet light to kill almost all bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms. 

They’re usually used as accessories to other filtration systems, and are especially useful in regions with heavily contaminated water. 

  1. Distillation

This is the oldest form of water filtration, and somewhat archaic – in distillation, the water is brought to the boiling point, killing microorganisms and removing other contaminants quite effectively. 

Far from perfect, distillation also removes healthy minerals and offers no re-mineralization to make up for it. 

You Need a Water Filter If…
  • Your water tastes like chemicals
  • Your area receives hard water
  • Your water tastes and smells “off”


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