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There are several popular modes of water treatment and purifcation currently
available. In fact, the market has become so overwhelmed with water treatment
products that it can be difcult for a consumer to know which option best suits his
or her needs. Each mode of water treatment has its strengths and weaknesses,
and each has particular situations for which it is ideal.
In the following paragraphs, you can read a brief overview of three common
methods of water purifcation: reverse osmosis, distillation, and water
Reverse Osmosis
Pros and Cons:
Reverse osmosis is a valuable water purifcation process when mineral-free water
is the desired end product. Most mineral constituents of water are physically
larger than water molecules. Thus, they are trapped by the semi-permeable
membrane and removed from drinking water when fltered through a reverse
osmosis system. Such minerals include salt, lead, manganese, iron, and calcium.
Reverse osmosis will also remove some chemical components of drinking water,
including the dangerous municipal additive fuoride.
Although reverse osmosis does extract several contaminants from drinking water,
its removal capabilities are not ideally suited to the challenges of the municipally
treated water that the overwhelming majority of people receive. Municipal water
contains such contaminants as chlorine and volatile organic chemicals (VOCs).
Because these contaminants are physically smaller in size than water, the semi-
permeable membrane cannot prohibit them from passing through with the water.
Thus, they remain in drinking water.
Reverse osmosis, also, by removing alkaline mineral constituents of water,
produces acidic water. Acidic water can be dangerous to the body system,
causing calcium and other essential minerals to be stripped from bones and teeth
in order to neutralize its acidity. Trace elements of minerals were intended to be
in water; their removal leaves tasteless, unhealthy drinking water.
Reverse osmosis, although it is less wasteful than distillation, is still an incredibly
inefcient process. On average, the reverse osmosis process wastes three
gallons of water for every one gallon of purifed water it produces.
Pros and Cons:
Distillation, similarly to reverse osmosis, provides mineral-free water to be used in
science laboratories or for printing purposes, as both functions require mineral-
free water. It removes heavy metal materials like lead, arsenic, and mercury from
water and hardening agents like calcium and phosphorous. Distillation is often
used as the preferred water purifcation method in developing nations, or areas
where the risk of waterborne disease is high, due to its unique capabilities to
remove bacteria and viruses from drinking water.
Distillation has several qualities that make it undesirable for the purifcation of
municipally treated water, especially when compared to the decontamination
capacities of water flters. Although distillation processes remove mineral and
bacterial drinking water contaminants, they do not remove chlorine, chlorine
byproducts, or VOCs. These chemicals, which have a lower boiling point than
water, are the major contaminants of municipally treated water. Most dangerous
metals and bacteria are removed from water prior to its arrival at a homes
plumbing system. Thus, a distillation system, targeted at the removal of these
contaminants, is unnecessary and irrelevant for most people.
Distillation, like reverse osmosis, provides mineral-free water that can be quite
dangerous to the bodys system when ingested, due to its acidity. Acidic drinking
water strips bones and teeth of valuable and essential mineral constituents.
Furthermore, distillation is an incredibly wasteful process. Typically, 80% of the
water is discarded with the contaminants, leaving only one gallon of purifed
water for every fve gallons treated.
Pros and Cons:
Unlike reverse osmosis and distillation process, water flters are not limited in the
type or size of contaminants they can remove. Thus, water flters are able to
remove far more contaminants than any other purifcation method. Also, because
they use the chemical adsorption process, water flters can selectively retain
healthy trace minerals in drinking water.
Filtration is the only one of the three water purifcation methods that is capable of
removing chlorine, chlorine byproducts, and VOCs from drinking water. Chlorine
and VOCs are the most dangerous and threatening contaminants of municipally
treated drinking water. Besides the removal of these dangerous chemicals, water
flters also extract from drinking water the chlorine-resistant
protozoa giardia andcryptosporidium. These protozoa have plagued the water
treatment industry for several decades and have caused a number of epidemics
of severe gastrointestinal disease, contracted through drinking contaminated
Water flters, because they do not require the costly energy sources of reverse
osmosis and distillation, provide a source of relatively inexpensive, purifed water.
Also, water flters waste very little water, as compared to reverse osmosis and
distillation systems.
Depending upon the type of flter used, water fltration may be a less than ideal
form of water purifcation. For example, granular flters do not utilize the chemical
adsorption process, allowing several contaminants to pass through the flter
media. Likewise, rapid water flters allot water inadequate contact time with the
flter media, limiting the number of contaminants that may be removed. Solid
block carbon flters solve both of these problems by using both adsorptive and
slow fltration processes. Solid block carbon flters are absolutely the best and
most efective water flters available.