How To Pick The Right Water Filter

How To Pick The Right Water Filter

How To Pick The Right Water Filter

Why Treat Water?
Access to clean water is an absolute necessity in life. It’s common knowledge that still water should be avoided when it comes to a drinking water source, but the old adage that “flowing water” is safe to drink can come with heavy consequences if taken literally. While immaculate water sources may appear clean at one juncture – it may be a completely different story somewhere upstream. Because of the sheer uncertainty involved with water sources of all kinds, it’s vital to treat water to ensure that it’s clean and free of harmful microorganisms and pathogens. These Microorganisms stem from human and animal waste and are most commonly spread by rain and run-off into natural water sources.

Harmful microorganisms reproduce at astronomical rates within your body and attack your immune system with a force that only nature can produce. There is no concrete way to know if water is clean by just looking… In the case of treating water, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Common Pathogens Encountered In The Wild:

Bacteria – Bacteria are microscopic living organisms, usually one-celled, that can be found everywhere.
Cholera – An acute intestinal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae.
Cryptosporidium – One of the most widespread intestinal parasites and a common cause of severe diarrhea. Often found in surface and groundwater sources susceptible to flooding or faecal contamination.
Escherichia coli – Also known as E. coli. It is transmitted to humans primarily through consumption of contaminated foods, such as raw or undercooked ground meat products and raw milk. Sometimes present in water contaminated by fecal matter.
Giardia – Has an outer shell allowing it to survive outside the body for long periods of time and making it tolerant to chlorine disinfection. The parasite is most commonly transmitted by water. It is the most common cause of non-bacterial diarrhea in North America.
Protozoan parasite – Protozoan parasites live in the cells and tissues of other living creatures. Protozoans can cause problems, from targeting the central nervous system to diarrhea.
Salmonella – Salmonella bacterium can live in water for several months. Most persons infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps.
Shigella – Shigella is one of the leading bacterial causes of diarrhea worldwide. Estimates suggest that Shigella causes approximately 90 million cases of severe dysentery with at least 100,000 of these resulting in death each year.
Viruses – A virus is a small infectious agent that replicates only inside the living cells of other organisms.

Purifiers vs Filters: What’s The Difference?

At their core, water purifiers and water purifiers are very similar in nature in that they both rid water of impurities through a physical barrier, chemicals or some kind of biological process. However, there are small nuances to each that should directly influence someone who is looking to purchase either a filter or a purifier.

Water Filters:
Water filters generally do not utilize chemicals as a cleansing agent and rely more heavily on physical barriers that filter out harmful bacteria and protozoa. If the water you are treating resides within the United States, water filters are generally enough to rid all bacterial agents and harmful substances that could cause health complications or problems. See the full list of types of water filters below and when they are appropriate for any situation.

Types of Water Filters:

Gravity Water Filters: This filter uses the basic concept of gravity as a way to push water from one reservoir to the other. Simply hang the dirty water container above the clean container and let gravity do the rest. It is best suited for larger groups as it designed to produce a large amount of water.

Mediums Used: The majority of these filters use a Ceramic medium, Products like the Katadyn Base Camp filter utilizes Glass Fiber Pleated Membrane (for outdoor backpacking).

Pros: No pumping, High capacity (produces a large quantity of water), very geasy to use and manageable for people who don’t have a lot of time to wait for filtering process or might be physically impaired.

Cons: Large, not very portable.

Pump Water Filters: Simple and easy to use, this water filter is powered by a pump mechanism. You simply pump in order to transfer water from the water source directly through the filtering device. The results are instantaneous and there is zero wait time with this method of water filtering. If you’re on the go and time is not on your side, this is an extremely wise choice.

Mediums Used: Ceramic (lasts longer and filters up to 13k gallons. The ceramic medium is also easy to clean), Glass Fiber (Flow rate is much higher, however, harder to push through than ceramic. This filters Life cycle is much shorter than the ceramic medium as it only produces 200 gallons of clean water).

Pros: Small, Portable, No Wait Time (Instant Treated Water), Filters out all sediment, Super Clean/Clear Water. Quantity only limited by medium.

Cons: Must be filtered manually, for those with a physical impairment, this may not be the best option.

Water Filter Bottles: This water filtration option is highly portable, light weight and designed for those who are on the go. This style of water filtration unit does not produce a large quantity of clean drinking water. Of all the water filtration devices, this one is the easiest to use and is easy as filling up the water bottle with untreated water to produce clean, drinkable water.

Mediums Used: Glass Fiber Membranes.

Pros: Small and convenient. Easy to use and carry, Does not require physical exertion whatsoever.

Cons: This device is mostly made for personal use as there is only one straw per unit. Compared to other filters, it’s more expensive per gallon to produce clean water and has a limited filtering capacity (up to 26 gallons). Water bottle filters are not made for long term use or large quantities.

Straw Filters: These are the most highly portable water filters out on the market today. On top of only weighing two oz., it’s extremely easy to use. One must simply suck the untreated water in via a straw and then push it back out into a water reservoir using the same straw. This is the ultimate on-the-go personal water filter.

Mediums: Glass Fiber Membranes (Hollow Fiber technology).

Pros: Low Cost, small, light, filters bacteria and protozoa, no chemicals or iodine, only weighs 2 oz.

Cons: Personal use, for smaller groups.

Water Purifiers:
Water filters also rid the water of harmful bacteria, protozoa and pathogens however they generally use a chemical process such as UV light treatment, iodine and chlorine. One thing that water purifiers can do that filters cannot is completely rid water of viruses. This end result is obtained by removing all minerals from the water. One downside to this process of removing all minerals is that it strips essential minerals that your body needs to function properly. Water purifiers should be used when traveling outside of the United States as many common pathogens, bacterial agents and diseases can be found overseas that filters cannot properly treat.
Types of Water Purifiers:

Ultraviolet Water Purifiers: Bacteria cannot live in the presence of ultra violet light. This concept was originally used in large scale water treatment facilities and can now be found in purifiers that fit inside of your pocket. The process itself is chemical but doesn’t use harsh chemicals like chlorine dioxide or iodine. Simply stir the UV pen in a container for 60 seconds in order to treat your drinking water.

Medium: UV Light

Pros: Kills all viruses, small, quick, easy to use, very lightweight and can be used in large groups.

Cons: Uses batteries, electronic (could drop it and break the bulb), doesn’t remove any dirt and sediment (can buy a pre-filter to filter out large items), can only purify one quart at a time (more for personal use or small groups).

Pump Water Purifiers: Pump water purifiers are extremely similar in nature to pump water filters. The only key difference is that the purifier version uses chemicals to rid the treated water of viruses. While iodine is still used, the most common chemical in water purifiers today is Chlorine Dioxide.

Mediums Used: Ceramic (lasts longer and filters up to 13k gallons. The ceramic medium is also easy to clean), Glass Fiber (Flow rate is much higher, however, harder to push through than ceramic. This filters Life cycle is much shorter than the ceramic medium as it only produces 200 gallons of clean water). Uses chemicals… generally Iodine or Chlorine Dioxide.

Pros: Small, Portable, No Wait Time (Instant Treated Water), Filters out all sediment, Super Clean/Clear Water. Quantity only limited by medium.

Cons: Must be filtered manually, for those with a physical impairment, this may not be the best option. Some people don’t like the taste of chemically treated water.

Water Bottle Purifiers: Exactly similar to the water bottle filters, this method of purifying uses the exact same process as filtering, however, it uses chemicals in order to completely rid the treated water of viruses.
Mediums Used: Glass Fiber Membranes and virus killing chemicals (Iodine and Chlorine Dioxide).

Pros: Small and convenient. Easy to use and carry, Does not require physical exertion whatsoever.

Cons: This device is mostly made for personal use as there is only one straw per unit. Compared to other filters, it’s more expensive per gallon to produce clean water and has a limited filtering capacity (up to 26 gallons). Water bottle purifiers are not made for long term use or large quantities.

Chemicals: While many water purifier devices use chemicals as an additional process. Iodine and Chlorine Dioxide can be used in tablet form and dropped into untreated water. It’s a slow process but is guaranteed to rid untreated water of parasites and viruses.

Pros: Very lightweight and small, Carry in pocket or 72 hour kit.

Cons: Doesn’t filter out sediments, Not ready to drink immediately (long wait time), you will need to plan ahead and wont have instant access to clean water. Each chemical has a noticeable different in taste: Iodine you can taste (many companies provide a neutralizer to mask taste), Chlorine you can not taste which is why it is the most common water purifying chemical to date.

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