If you have a filter water pitcher at home, or a refrigerator that provides filtered water, most likely you have been using an activated carbon filter. Activated carbon filters are a common tool for removing harmful contaminants from water. So, how does an activated carbon water filter work? What do they remove or not remove? Is an activated carbon filter all I need to know my drinking water is safe?

Good questions. This comprehensive guide will show you the pro and con of activated carbon filter technology.

How Activated Carbon Filters Function

First, let’s dive right into how these filters work. It’s essential to break down how carbon filters function to understand what kind of water filter is right for you. Activated carbon filters act through a process called adsorption. As water flows through the filter contaminants bind to the carbon, pulling the contaminants from the water. The filter acts like a tractor beam or a fly trap, grabbing onto contaminants as they pass by.

One Piece of a Powerful System

Although activated carbon filters eliminate various contaminants, they can’t remove everything on their own. For this reason, it always helps to remember why you’re looking for safer drinking water solutions. Do you want to eliminate any and all contaminants, or is there something specific you’re trying to combat in your area? When it comes to the widest coverage, you can rely on purifiers that team carbon-activated filters with additional purification systems to remove a large swatch of contaminants.

For example, our filter water bottle available at Water-to-Go uses a carbon-activated filter in tandem with mechanical and electrical purification methods to create a method for dealing with water contaminants. Whereas mechanical filtration acts like a net to catch contaminants, the electrical and activated carbon methods have a more magnet-like effect, attracting the unseemly materials in your water so you can drink it without worry.

What Carbon Filters Remove

Now, it’s time to get more specific with the contaminants you can avoid with activated carbon filters

Organic Chemicals. Most people use carbon filters because their water smells or tastes bad. That is due to organic chemicals in their drinking water. Carbon filters do a good job of pulling those chemicals out of water. 

Chlorine. Municipal water treatment system commonly add chlorine to improve the safety of drinking water. However some people prefer to keep chlorinated water in their pool and not in their body.

Lead. Sadly, lead is a common contaminant in US drinking water. An analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council found that between 2018-2020, 56 percent of Americans drank from water systems with detectable levels of lead.

Pesticides and Herbicides. People in more rural areas, especially those who rely on well water, often have pesticides and herbicides in their water supply.

What Carbon Filters Do Not Remove

Bacteria and Viruses. Microbes can be a problem, particularly for those on well water, or who live in areas where heavy rains or hurricanes can cause sewerage to compromise the water supply. If have ever seen a “boil water notice,” that is because the drinking water supply has likely been contaminated with bacteria and viruses.

Fluoride. People with certain health conditions prefer to avoid fluoride. 

Filtered Does Not Always Mean Safe

It is important to know that while carbon filters are good, they may not be good enough for you.  As you have seen above, carbon filters do a good job of improving the safety, taste and smell of drinking water.   But the quality of filtration from carbon filters varies by product.  Always remember that filtration capabilities will vary by brand and product, so choose quality products that meet your needs.

The best filters combine activated carbon with other filtration methods. This combination of filter technologies can remove anything unsafe in your drinking water.  For example, Water-to-Go filters combine three different filter technologies: physical filtration, activated carbon filtration and electropostive filtration. Physical filtration means a very small pore size that contaminants cannot get through. Activated carbon filtration, as we have seen, uses adsorption to capture contaminants.  Electropositive filtration uses a positive charge to capture contaminants, most of which naturally have a negative charge.  Combined, these filter technologies have been proven to remove up to 99.9999% of water contaminants, including viruses.  The ability to remove viruses is what separates water filter bottles from water purifier bottles, which provide maximum protection.   An added advantage of a water purifier bottle is the assurance that wherever you roam, at home, on a camping weekend, or on vacation in Mexico, the water you drink will be safe and pure.

Why It’s a Helpful Tool

With a stronger understanding of how activated carbon filtration works, you can now sift through the filter options available and decide which best fits your lifestyle.

Special promotion for our readers: use discount code CARBON when shopping at watertogousa.com to get 15% off all water purifier bottles.

Written by Rashidul Islam

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