Water is the essence of life on our planet. It is an irreplaceable fundamental to life. Fortunately, many of us have access to pre-treated tap water right in our homes which meets certain hygienic quality requirements.
Still, no doubt you are well aware that water can be both friend and foe. Why is that?
Why Water Purification is a Necessity
The problem is that as the water flows from the treatment plants to our homes, it passes through worn-out pipes and gets saturated with all sorts of contaminants. These contaminants pose a threat to our wellbeing, affecting our health in the long run.
Bad water could bring harmful bacteria to our body, spreading faster than the immune system could react. Plus the contaminants damage our plumbing and household appliances.
To help you get an idea check out this infographic on water contaminants…
The 5 Different Types of Water Purification Methods
Boiling is the simplest of all water purification methods. It is effective because it kills 99.9% of all living things and vaporizes most chemicals. It’s a good method to use for water contaminated by living micro-organisms.
How Boiling Works
The micro-organisms are eliminated by heating the water to its boiling point.
Because some bacteria can resist high temperatures, you need to ensure the water boils for 3-7 minutes, depending on your altitude. For people living in high altitude areas, it is recommended to boil your water for longer than water boiled at lower altitudes. This is because water boils at lower temperatures in higher altitudes.
After adequate boiling, let the water cool down. This is important to allow any solid matter in it to settle at the bottom. After cooling, the water is safe for human consumption.
Should You Go for Boiling?
One of the advantages is that no chemicals are added to your water. However, you need to be sure that your water source is not contaminated by heavy metals, nitrates, pesticides, or solvents because boiling will not remove them.
Boiling removes all oxygen from water, and the result is that it may taste flat. However, this is a minor negative as it can be solved by simply shaking the purified water in its container. Also, to improve the taste of the water, a pinch of salt may be added.
Chlorination is one of the most common water purification techniques that has been in use for many years. Likely, it is because it is easily available, cheap, and effective. Chlorine is a heavy-duty oxidant that swiftly kills many germs, parasites, and other disease-causing organisms found in ground or tap water.
How Chlorination Works
It is important to carefully follow the instruction on the chlorine packaging to ensure proper safety and successful water treatment.
Carefully mix the bleach with contaminated water according to the prescribed ratio and permit to stand for at least 30 minutes. If the water is chalky, allow at least an hour. After that, you can enjoy a rather strange-tasting, yet purified, delight.
When using chlorine tablets, if possible, apply them in heated water, as they dissolve better in water that is at least 21 degrees Celsius.
Should You Go for Chlorination?
As stated earlier, chlorination is indisputably effective. Nonetheless, if chlorine is added in large quantities, it becomes toxic and poisonous. Therefore, this purification method needs to be deployed sparingly and carefully. Pregnant women are advised NOT to drink chlorinated water.
Noteworthy, chlorination does not decrease physical or chemical contamination in water. Instead, it does increase cholesterol formations, it is carcinogenic, and causes heart disease.
3. Reverse Osmosis (RO)
Reverse Osmosis, commonly referred to as RO, is the perfect solution if you’re looking to improve the taste, odor, and appearance of your water. Reverse Osmosis is a method universally known for its effective purification of seawater. It is a process in which dissolved inorganic solids, such as fluoride, chlorine, lead, and pesticides are removed from water by applying pressure more than the osmotic pressure and pushing the water through a semi-permeable membrane.
How RO Works
An RO membrane is a semi-permeable membrane or special filter that allows the passage of water molecules but not the majority of dissolved salts, organics, and bacteria.
RO works by using a high-pressure pump to increase the pressure of the contaminated water pushing it across the semi-permeable RO membrane. To successfully remove these impurities, the pressure used has to be greater than the naturally occurring osmotic pressure.
This pressured filtration ensures almost 99% of dissolved salts are sieved out. The amount of pressure required depends on the concentration of contamination in the feed water. The higher the concentration, the more the pressure required to overcome the osmotic pressure.
Should You Go for RO?
Drinking water purified with the RO method truly is the purest choice for any home. It’s water the way nature intended us to drink it. RO water tastes better and is odorless.
Dissolved impurities which cannot be removed by other filtration methods are captured and eliminated by Reverse Osmosis. However, Reverse Osmosis is fairly wasteful because it purifies only a fraction of the water that passes through the RO system.
Distillation is one of the simplest water purification processes. A water distillation system is simply designed to purify your water in an inexpensive, quick, and effective way. This process has only two operations, namely evaporation, and condensation. You only need two things to set up simple distillation: a heat source and a condenser. It provides water with a clarity that is up to 98% free of impurities.
How Distillation Works
The concept behind purifying water through distillation is pretty simple. Distillation heats the contaminated water until it reaches its relatively low boiling point and begins to vaporize.
Keep in mind that water has a lower boiling point than the contaminants and minerals within it. Therefore, the heat of the water is kept at this temperature to maintain the vaporization process while stopping other elements from vaporizing as well. That vapor is then funneled into a condenser in a separate area from where the process started, where it cools and reverts to its liquid form.
Should You Go For Distillation?
Water distillation reliably removes biological contaminants, heavy metals, and minerals that cause hardness. Conversely, apart from being quite slow, distillation does not remove chlorine and may strip the water of vital minerals. Please check out this article What Is The Best Water Distiller? to identify 7 of the best you can choose from.
Filtration is a method of physical or mechanical separation of one substance to another in a liquid through a suitable media. Traditionally, this media comprised of sand and granules but modern filtration systems use carbon as the main constituent material of the filter. Many commercial filters use multiple filtration measures to work together, the most common being the activated carbon filter (ACF).
How Filtration Works
Most ACFs are made from raw materials such as nutshells, wood, coal, and petroleum. One principal mechanism by which it works is adsorption.
When the contaminated water flows through ACF, the chemicals stick to the carbon resulting in purer water output. The filters effectiveness depends on the flow and temperature of the water. Thus, smaller active carbon filters, such as pitchers and water ionizers, should be used with low pressure and cold water.
Should You Go For Water Filters?
Water filters come in different types and range in size, shape, and cost. It could be a simple water pitcher, a faucet mounted water filter or a countertop water distiller. All these containing ACF are effective in removing at least 81 chemicals, including microbiological organisms and heavy metals.
The most common drawback to this method is the filters can become clogged quickly over time. While some may be cleaned, most require you to buy a replacement filter.
To Wrap it Up
Those are just a few of the many different types of water purification methods you can deploy in your home. With so many choices available on the market, it is normal to feel overwhelmed.
However, understanding how the different methods work and keeping your needs in mind, you will surely find the right one. And you will have an unending supply of clean, pure and safe water for your home.
I hope you enjoyed this article and please leave a comment if you have any questions about the different types of water purification methods mentioned above or if you know of any more.