Water Filter Types: Choose The Right One

After reading Water Filtration: What You Should Know and with your water quality test results in hand, you are in a position to choose what type of water filter system would be best suited for your needs.

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Here is a brief summary of some of the types of water filtration systems/methods that are available:


Being among the least expensive methods of water filtration, these replaceable filter cartridges are used in pitchers, refrigerator doors and sink-mount/counter-top filter systems.  They remove unpleasant tastes and odours as well as a variety of contaminants, depending on their specifications.  A disadvantage is that they become less effective with time and must be changed frequently.  Many carbon filtration systems also use KDF (Kinetic Degradation Fluxion) techbology, in which copper and zinc neutralise chlorine and its by-products, as well as removing heavy metals.  KDF also helps to extend a carbon filter’s life and may reduce mineral deposit build-up.

Water Softener/Exchange System

These are usually whole-house water filter systems best suited for people whose water stains laundry or creates mineral build-up in the plumbing.  These systems can replace calcium and magnesium ins with sodium or potassium, which may not be healthy for those on diets with such restrictions.

Reverse Osmosis (RO)

In Reverse Osmosis water filtration systems, water is forced through semi-permeable membranes that block certain contaminants (particle size dependent on RO membrane specifications).  This process removes dissolved metals and ions that are not removed by carbon-type filters.  The disadvantage, apart from being relatively slow, is that the process consumes several times as much water as it filters.

Utraviolet (UV)

UV light disinfects, removing micro-organisms such as bacteria, viruses and protozoa.  Most home UV water filter systems are point-of-entry, meaning they treat all water coming into the home, although there are some models that are point-of-use at the sink or refrigerator.  The drawback of these systems is that they are costly and continuously consume electricity at a rate similar to that of a refrigerator.

Ozone or Ozonation

Ozone filters use O3 or ozone which is a natural disinfector, to remove contaminants from the water.  The third oxygen molecule is unstable so it binds with other chemicals making these easier to filter out of the water.  These systems can sometimes produce unwanted by-products, such as bromates and therefore should be used in conjunction with an additional filter to purify the oxidised product.


Although not strictly a filtration method, boiling is probably still the best way to kill most micro-organisms.  However, boiling water is energy-intensive and obviously not practical on a day-to-day basis.

The above water filtration types can also be used in combination, depending on the water quality issues and, of course, your budget.

Source: Simply Green November/December 2010

Many towns in the Mpumalanga Lowveld experience variable municipal water quality standards- from barely acceptable to downright atrocious!  Residents using White River municipality water know that the water coming out of the taps can be brown due to sediment or over-chlorinated to the extent that it is hardly drinkable.  The best solution is a combination of various filters in a point-of-entry, whole-house system (the chlorine can still be absorbed through the skin while showering and the sediments can damage geysers and other appliances).  These whole-house systems can be very expensive so the next best solution is to install point-of-use countertop or undercounter system to filter the water that you drink.  A double or even triple cartridge system is recommended- a pre-filter cartridge to filter out sediments and large particles followed by a KDF-Carbon filter to remove the smaller particles and chemicals such as chlorine.  Nelspruit residents can get away with a single cartridge system (either KDF or one of the carbon-type filter cartridges).

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