You are interested in drinking healthier water, or you wouldn’t be here. My guess is that you are a little confused by what you have been reading about water filters and ionizers. There are so many sites on the web and they all claim to be the best. You know that can’t possibly be true.
This article is my attempt to help you understand what is real and what is simply sales pitch when it comes to water filters. I’m not here to point fingers at offenders….even a millipede doesn’t have that many fingers….I just want you to be aware of the multitude of false claims on the internet. I will focus on a few of what I consider to be the most harmful decptions when it comes to water filters. I use the word harmful because consumers buy products that they believe are performing that is not in fact being performed.
The main thing to know about most filters is that their primary use is to take out chlorine, taste and odor. After all, that is what most people care about. Municipalities do a great job of removing the dangerous stuff from our tap water for the most part. It is the stuff that municipalities put into the water that we need to be concerned about. The two primary additions to the water supply are fluoride and chlorine/chloramines.
Fluoride is a poison that should not be added to drinking water. The propaganda supporting the addition of fluoride to 2/3 of the tap water in America is an insult to our intelligence. Canada is almost as bad as 40% of Canadians receive fluoride in their source water. Europe and Asia don’t fluoridate their water supplies and North America should pay attention.
All kinds of companies claim that their filters remove fluoride, but they rarely do. Until recently (June 2016), the only way to effectively remove fluoride was with a Reverse Osmosis “RO” system unless you were willing to deal with a cumbersome and expensive distillation system. H2FX (see http://h2fx.com/#oid=22092_2007) will begin offering a fluoride filter in its Xcell Hydrogen Infusion Machine (HIM) which consists of two types of activated carbon and Zeolite minerals bound with polymers to form a carbon block. H2FX’s fluoride filter is capable of removing up to 85% of the fluoride from the source water when tested at a flow rate of 2 liters per minute. The fact that the Xcell runs at approximately 1 liter per minute allows the filter to reduce fluoride at a higher rate due to greater contact time which may allow for fluoride removal capability equal to RO systems. I don’t have the fluoride removal rate statistics for 1 liter per minute for the filter in hand, but I will ask.
The upside to the H2FX fluoride filter is that it is compact (fits inside their hydrogen water ionizer housing), low cost, doesn’t restrict flow rate, and the most important factor is that it actually works. At the moment, H2FX’s fluoride removal filter is only available as part of their Xcell machine, but I hope that the filter becomes widely available as the news of the new breakthrough technology.
The downside to RO systems is that they take everything out of the water which is very unhealthy. Clean water doesn’t mean healthy water. The good news is that natural water ionizers or more specifically the remineralizing media in natural water ionizers allow you to put all the good stuff (primarily calcium and magnesium) back into the drinking water.
Stay away from companies that offer an Activated Alumina “AA” solution to removing fluoride from water. While the manufacturers of AA certified tests that prove they remove some fluoride, but what they don’t tell you is that they rarely work in most situations. You will read claims and see statistics verifying the fluoride absorption capabilities of AA. What you won’t read is that AA works well when water is very acidic (in the pH range of 5.0 to 6.0), but it rapidly decreases in effectiveness above those levels. In fact, AA has zero effectiveness in water with a pH of 8.0 or above.
The Safe Drinking Water Act mandates that municipalities provide water with a pH level that falls within a range of 6.5 and 8.5. That means that unless you are drinking water from a well that happens to be acidic, AA isn’t going to be very effective at all. It gets worse. Almost every municipality provides tap water that has a pH in the range of 7.4 and 8.0. The reason municipalities raise the pH of the water they supply to customers is to protect their systems from corrosion that is caused by the presence of acidic water. They create the elevated pH levels by adding lye to the water before it leaves the treatment plant.
The bottom line is that an AA filter can work under very specific commercial applications, but it almost certainly won’t work for residential applications. If you are concerned about fluoride, get an RO system with a proper remineralizinaton flter or check out the Xcell mentioned above.
Municipalities need to make the water they supply to constituents safe…or at least safe against things that can make you sick in a hurry such as bacteria. Chlorine has been used effectively for centuries to control bacteria and carbon has been used to remove the taste and smell of chlorine. DeIonizing resin will also remove the taste and odor of chlorine which is what Brita filters use. What Brita doesn’t tell you (for good reason because if they did tell you, they would never sell any filters) is that if you fill a pitcher of chlorinated tap water and let is sit on the counter for a few minutes, the chlorine will burn off.
One problem that municipalities face in using chlorine to kill off bacteria is that when chlorine interacts with organic matter (molecules containing carbon atoms) a nasty cancer causing result is the formation of Tri Halo Methanes (THM’s). Municipalites must use ozonation to kill of the THM’s which can be expensive to implement.
Larger municipalities are converting to the use of chloramines which are formed when ammonia gas is bubbled into chlorine. The chloramines are don’t form THM’s and chloramines last longer than chlorine. Chlorine is also cost effetive, so you can be assured that chloramines are coming your way in the future unless you live in a small community that doesn’t have the funds to upgrade their system.
Chloramines sound great but there always seems to be a catch. Chloramines are much more difficult to remove from water than chlorine, and simply airing out your tap water doesn’t work as well. When chloramines are present, Catalytic carbon is recommended as it has up to 8 times more surface area than basic activated carbon. While activated carbon is only slightly effective at removing chloramines, catalytic carbon is very effective.
If you are thinking about buying or replacing a carbon filter, make sure you find out if your tap water contains chlorine or chloramines by going online or calling the local municipality and asking. If you own a Reverse Osmosis “RO” system, it is very important to find out if your water has chloramine in it because the chloramine will dramatically shorten the life of the membrane in your system unless you have a catalytic carbon filter. At the current time, many companies charge a lot more for catalytic carbon filters “because they can”. Shop around because it doesn’t cost much more to produce a catalyic carbon filter.
One last tip about carbon filters. Carbon block filters are much mure reliable and effective than granulated carbon filters because they provide a consistent contact surface area whereas granulated carbon tends to developing channels (like a river) that water follows. Carbon block filters also last much longer than granulated carbon filters which makes them more cost effective.
False claims about the filtration capabilities of filters in terms of micron size are everywhere. In fact, you rarely see websites that reflect the truth.
You word MICRON is used by the industry to describe the size of particles that a filter will elimante from water. There are two words to describe the fitration capability of a filter…one is ABSOLUTE….the other is NOMINAL. Absolute is a definition that means a filter will remove absolutely every particle above the stated micron size. In other words, an Absolute filter does what you assume it will do. For example, a 1 micron filter will remove anything larger than 1 micron. A nominal designation means that a filter will nominally remove particulate down to the stated size. What that means is that a 1 micron filter can remove particulate as small as 1 micron, but it is just as likely to allow particles that are 2-3 microns or even 5 microns pass through.
Unless you read the word ABSOLUTE when it comes to micron capability, assume the filter is referring to NOMINAL.
Who cares? You should care. If your source water has bacteria in it, whether it be from a well or surface water that isn’t treated with chlorine, or even if your municipally treated water fails (which sometimes, but rarely happens), any filter that doesn’t provide a 0.5 micron ABSOLUTE filter will allow the bacteria through, which could have devastating health consequences.
The water ionizer companies are really bad when it comes to making false claims about the contaminant removal capabilities of their filters. I visited a factory where a prominant water ionizer company has its famous 0.1 micron filters made. The reality is that the filter has a 1.0 Nominal filter, which means that it won’t protect you from the “bad stuff” that could be present in your source water.
If a filter company makes a CLAIM about ANY capability of a filter that has not been certified and itemized on the NSF or the WQA websites, ignore the claim. Due to the high cost and time consuming aspect of getting claims certified, companies may say that all or certain aspects of the media and hardware that they use in their products have been certified by the WQA or NSF. If that is the case and you are concerned about the ingredients, you can press the company to list the ingredients to see if they are in fact listed on the NSF or WQA websites.
The bottom line is that if you are concerned about removing contaminants from your water, get a RO system (with a proper remineralization filter).
Only a small percentage of the population is aware of the benefits of drinking ionized/energized water. An even smaller segment of the population knows that natural water ionizers are not only a lot cheaper but are also more effective than the more costly electric water ionizers. But all that is going to change. It is just a matter of time until the celebrities start endorsing ionized water. There are already rumors of Mark Wahlberg starting up a bottled water company which is based upon remineralized water.
In the meantime, the people who sell RO systems are starting to feel the heat from customers who are telling them that the acidic water that they are selling is bad for them. The RO guys should be thinking about the fact that their water depletes the human body of calcium and magnesium, but they don’t seem to care because consumers haven’t picked up on that yet. What the RO guys do care about is making money, so they are panicking about losing buisiness.
The RO dealers have found a cheap and easy solution to turn their acidic water into alkaline water. Their solution is to add Calcite or Corosex filters. The filters can be added to a RO system in about one minute and all you need is a pair of scissors. The filters turn acidic water into alkaline water and they only cost about $6 (the dealers sell them for $39 to $69). Perfect….right? Oops! The filters were never designed to be used with acidic water. The filters will raise the pH of alkaline water by about 0.5 to 1.0 pH and last about 6 months. However, when they are used with acidic water, the pH can rise as much as by 3 to 4 which is 1,000 to 10,000 times more alkaline. That may seem like good news, but the media gets ravaged by the acidic water and gets used up much faster than 6 months. The worst part is that too much calcium and or magnesium enters the water which can lead to the formation of kidney stones.
After conducting a lot of testing on different types of remineralizing filter prototypes, I have found that the various kinds of media within a remineralizing filter interact with each other. That means the one media that pasts certification testing on its own may react very differently when it is in the presence of other media. As you combine more types of media, the reactions can easily change.
Fortunately for RO users, there are bioceramic remineralization filters that effectively “time release” the rate of introduction of calcium and magnesium into the water. The filters cost about $250 which is expensive, but they last for 2 years, which makes the cost about $10 per month. The bioceramic filter that I have been testing has been in use for about 8 years and the company has sold tens of thousands of their remineralization filters without one complaint about the formation of kidney stones.
If you are interested in drinking clean and healthy water as opposed to simply clean water (what you get from a RO system or most brands of bottled water) make sure that you get water that has been remineralized in the proper way.
Test Results….Or….Figures Don’t Lie, But Liars Do Figure
I learned the hard way a couple of years ago that test results can be misleading. In reality, the test results themselves aren’t misleading because the results are the results. The problem is that it is fairly simple to get test results that will help the marketing guys if you set the tests up the right way.
I helped a company a few years ago based upon the fact that they had an affordable water ionizer that had awesome test results. As time went on, I was able to do my own independent testing and the results didn’t jive with the results the company provided. As I began to dig deeper, I learned that the great results from the company testing were a result of completely flawed test design. The company claimed ingnorance at the time, but I now see that they are up to their old tricks again. Live and learn
I only wrote about the above example begins it still stings. I have come across all kinds of test results that seemed great on the surface, but once I dug a little deeper, I came to realize that the tests were desinged to produce the results.
If you are “into” test results and comparison testing, be very careful about what you read. It takes a lot of work to dig through the methodology and to check all the scienctific facts to confirm for sure that what you think you know is actually true. Remember that a company isn’t going to publish anything that could make it look bad. Nobody gets punished for not telling the whole story, but in my mind, telling only part of the story can be just as bad as lying.
Be careful about what you read or hear when it comes to claims made by filter companies. If the specific claim doesn’t show up on the NSF or WQA website, treat the claim with a grain of salt (maybe a boulder of salt). Even if a company shows the manufacturer’s NSF claim, make sure that it is applicable. This might be depressing news for you but don’t let it get you down as there are good solutions.
If you are concerned about what is in your source water, just get a RO system with a proper remineralization filter.
If you have great source water and want to add energy to your water, get a water ionizer. If you want to add calcium and magnesium (as recommended by the World Health Organization) to your energized water, get a natural water ionizer.