Water is life. Everyone uses water daily, not just in the UK but around the world. But even though water is available for most homes, it's not always 100% free of impurities. Water filtration is, therefore, essential for you to have clean and safe water at your home.
Some of the most common impurities in the water systems include fluoride (which occurs naturally), bacteria (E-coli), limescale, or chlorine (usually added to clean the water). While it's tempting to opt for bottled water, it's costly and environmentally unfriendly. Still, you can go for filtration jugs – but they cost-ineffective and do not remove all the impurities in the water.
It is for this reason that investing in a water filter system is advisable. Water filters improve your drinking water quality by removing unpleasant odours and tastes from your water. And, you'll enjoy your cuppa so much more! And your trusty kettle will thank you as well (no more limescale). Win, win, win!
Top 5 Best Water Filtration Methods Available In The UK
Water filter systems are applicable to both domestic and commercial users. You can either choose a home water filter system or a drinking water system. A home water filter system cleans and purifies all the incoming water. A drinking water system, on the other hand, filters only drinking water. There are different types of water filter systems that you can choose from, as shown below.
1. Reverse Osmosis
Reverse osmosis is one of the most efficient water filtration techniques. It’s very effective in removing dissolved impurities like calcium and magnesium ions. This method achieves water purity of up to 99.9%. It's advantageous for drinking and use in coffee machines.
In Reverse osmosis, water is forcefully pushed through a semipermeable membrane in a reverse natural osmosis motion. When pressure is applied, water is squeezed through a very tiny gap, allowing small particles to be trapped.
RO systems do not consume electricity which helps to save on costs. On the bottom side, it produces some wastewater, unlike other water filtration techniques.
To achieve more refined results, RO is used in conjunction with other filtration techniques, making it highly effective but at an extra cost. The recent surge in demand for the RO system to filter water for coffee explains its prowess.
When combined, a mechanical filter (takes care of sediments) and an absorption filter (absorbs impurities) are introduced to increase its efficiency. These extra filters ensure that the return water has minimal contaminants.
- Highly effective
- Produces the purest water
- Multiple filters
- Doesn’t use electricity
- Improves the appearance of the water
- Combined with other filtration techniques to yield best results
- Removal of useful minerals
- Produces a substantive amount of waste
2. Ion Exchange
Ion exchange is a technique of softening hard water by altering the chemical compounds present in hard water. Calcium and magnesium are the leading chemical compounds that cause corrosion on pipes and limescale on appliances.
This technique exchanges harmful ions with friendly ions such as hydrogen or sodium. Ion exchange removes the chemical compounds present in the hard water. Once the toxic compounds have been removed, the water will perform excellently under high temperatures and ideal for coffee machines.
Ion exchange is primarily performed using an ion exchange resin. This resin resembles tiny beads such as those used in some water softeners. Resins that use sodium ions are not advisable because they may push the salt levels to more than 200mg/litre, which is more than the recommended amount.
An akin resin is used in some water softeners. Such water softeners make use of sodium ions which require periodic recharging to stop them from turning ineffective. On the other hand, water filters are typically sealed, and you replace them with new ones while Calcium Treatment Units are taken back to the supplier for regeneration.
- Effective on removing minerals
- Produces perfect water for commercial coffee machines
- Not fit for drinking water
- Sodium ions have to be periodically recharged
3. Mechanical Filters
This process is as technical as separating grains from sand. You can handpick or sieve. It is the exact process that happens when water is being filtered via a mechanical filter. Foreign materials such as particles, dirt, and sediments are physically removed using a barrier.
Type of filter used in this mechanical filtration technic range from simple mesh (filters large debris) to sophisticated ceramic filter, which utilises a composite pore structure for extreme filtration of organisms. These complex filters are capable of trapping pathogenic microorganisms.
A micron rating to show the effectiveness is given to a filter that uses mechanical filtration. Effectiveness, in this case, is about the size of particles that a specific filter can remove.
Remove particles visible with the eye
Remove microscopic particles
Remove cysts like giardia and cryptosporidium
- Successfully removes harmful particles.
- Water is not fit for commercial activities.
4. Sequestration Filters
Sequestration functions through inhibition with a chemical reaction. This technique entails chemically reducing one compound using another element. It counteracts the existence of the target compounds such as magnesium and calcium.
Even though it does not soften the water, it successfully averts the formation of limescale or corrosion of pipes and other home appliances that regularly come into contact with the water.
Food grade polyphosphate is majorly introduced in scale inhibiting filters. Polyphosphate is, however, introduced in very few proportions. Since the hard minerals still exist in the water, it's not fit for all applications, for instance, applications such as coffee machines where water temperatures are maintained at constant temperatures of at least 950 C.
- Less complex
- Inhibits formation of limescale
- Prevents corrosion
- It doesn't soften water.
- Water is not fit for all applications
5. Absorption Filters
In the case of poison ingestion, the first aid recommended is to give the victim a charcoal solution. The charcoal absorbs the harmful poison before you reach the hospital. Charcoal is used because it contains carbon compounds.
Similarly, absorption filters use carbon, a chemical element, to absorb toxins. Additionally, carbon gives the water a pleasant taste and odour. Absorption filters are best for getting rid of unwanted chemical compounds like chlorine. These filters also have a micron rating which indicates the size of particles absorbable.
Carbon performs this absorption task perfectly because of its large internal surface full of nooks and crannies that can grasp chemical impurities. The majority of the domestic filters have granular activated carbon (GAC), minimising undesired tastes and odour by active absorption.
Although various absorption filters vary in price, different carbon block elements are used. Expensive filters use carbon block elements which are more effective in absorption. Various materials such as coconut shells and wood are used to make carbon for filters. Carbon from coconut shells is more effective and also expensive.
- Some filters are expensive.
- Removes both bad taste and odour
- Improves the quality of water
- Differs in the price range
Walter Filtration: Summing up
I admit it! We are biased towards filtered water. This post explains why.
All types of water filtration have both benefits and limitations. With this in mind, most manufacturers strive to put together the best combination of filtration techniques to guarantee a high water purity degree. For example, an inline filter uses absorption, mechanical, and sequestration (if it inhibits scale). Similarly, Reverse Osmosis (RO) systems use absorption, reverse osmosis, and mechanical filters.
When choosing a water filtration system for your home, it's always best to consult with your local supplier first or test your water supply to ascertain the requirements. Once you test the water from your local supplier, you are able to identify the contaminants present in your water, such as chlorine, soil particles, pesticides, bacteria, and so on.
Lastly, you should counter-check your requirements against each type of water filter's strengths and weaknesses. This way, you'll be sure to make the right decision by choosing a water filter based on those factors and your specific requirements. For instance, if you identify a high level of toxicity (lead, bacteria, or mercury), you should choose a more robust system than you would if only soil particles and odour were the issue.