16 Types of Water Filters to Fight Harmful Contaminants

From compact domestic to whole house and commercial - we explain all types of water filters
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Last updated: August 30, 2023
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We have increasingly become aware of the need to drink clean and safe water. Bottled water seemed to solve the issue, but studies have shown that bottled water is not the cleanest either for our bodies or the environment. This is why more and more people from all over the world are investing more in water filters.

The numerous types of available water filters have been proven to make water safer for our bodies. These filters have further been shown to be more environmentally friendly because you won’t end up with plastic bottles lying around and destroying the environment. Water filters ensure that the water you drink and use in your home or office tastes better and is free of odors. Here, we will look into the different water filtration system options that you should consider, whether you are a domestic or commercial user. Depending on the water pollutants you wish to remove from the water, there is always an ideal filter that will perfectly do the job.

How water filtration systems work

16 Types of Water Filters to Fight Harmful ContaminantsThere are several water filtration systems that one can choose from. Almost every other function we humans undertake requires water. Our bodies need around eight glasses of water every day. Don’t forget that house chores demand the use of clean water. That being the case, you will find a need to invest in a sound water filtration system.

How a water filtration system works depends a lot on the impurities you wish to extract and water quantity. Such a system should capture all the contaminants or pollutants that you don’t want from the water. Whether commercial or at home, a water filtration system should use any of the following ways;

  • Absorption
  • Mechanical
  • Sequestration
  • Reverse osmosis and
  • Ion exchange

Ideally, a water filtration system removes all the contaminants such that the water you draw from the output end is free of those impurities. These filters can be attached to the mains, making the water coming out of the kitchen tap free of impurities. Though providers of water to the general public invest heavily in different types of water filtration systems, you can further install the inline, fridge, or drop-in filters.

Types of harmful water contaminants

Many elements are soluble in water. As water runs from mountain tops through valleys, rivers, and municipal pipes, it collects all manner of elements. Some of these elements are harmful, while others are vital in making the water nourishing and healthy. Some of the elements you will find in ‘raw’ water include vital minerals, dirt, pollen, pesticides, and microorganisms. A deeper look will help us understand the harmful water contaminants Trusted Source Types of Drinking Water Contaminants | US EPA Description and examples of categories of drinking water contaminant. www.epa.gov you are supposed to remove from your water;

  1. Physical contaminants: The physical appearance of the water gets affected by the physical pollutants present. These will include sediments and dirt. Many of the physical contaminants can be extracted using a sieve.
  2. Biological contaminants: These will include organisms, which are also called microbiological contaminants. They include viruses, bacteria, and protozoan and tend to cause acute ailments. The diseases you might catch after consuming water contaminated by these elements are typhoid, diarrhea, cholera, and schistosomiasis.
  3. Chemical contaminants: These can either be human-made or naturally occurring. Some of these compounds include salts, bleach, pesticides, and metals, among others. These contaminants cause a wide range of dreadful ailments ranging from diarrhea to chronic diseases to death.
  4. Radiological contaminants: They are chemical compounds that possess unstable numbers of neutrons and protons, giving rise to unstable atoms. These atoms emit harmful ionizing radiation. These compounds are known to cause some chronic diseases and even death.

Types of water filtration systems

Even though the water boards and municipal leaders assure us that the water running from our kitchen faucets has been treated, many people have found this not to be enough, and with good reason. So the main question then is whether you should install a filtration system for the entire house or just the kitchen faucet.

The type of water filtration system picked is determined by several factors. You will find that the water’s biochemical properties, budget, water pressure, and water’s intended use are some of the things to consider. Below, we will look into eight filtration systems to go for, whether you are a domestic user or a commercial one.

Activated carbon filters

16 Types of Water Filters to Fight Harmful ContaminantsIt is a filtration system where particles found in the water get extracted by making them stick to the surface of a material in the activated carbon filter. This physical process is also called adsorption and will normally use carbon-made filters which are usually powdered or granulated. They are more common today and will include faucet-mounted systems and pitchers. According to many user reviewers, the iSpring WGB32B is a great carbon filter option to consider.

The activated carbon filters are ideal in extracting all manner of compounds from the municipal water. They’re also effective when it comes to eliminating bad water tastes and odors.

With this system, more minerals are retained, bacteria growth is inhibited, and more contaminants are removed. It’s durable and it embraces green technology. Among the things that won’t leave you happy though, is the system’s failure to remove dissolved solids.  It is incapable of eliminating viruses and can’t achieve a high water flow rate.

Reverse osmosis systems

16 Types of Water Filters to Fight Harmful ContaminantsReverse osmosis involves forcing water through a membrane. This membrane filters out molecules larger than those of water. If you are looking to eliminate minerals from your water, you can’t go wrong with some of the best reverse osmosis systems. However, it is not an ideal system when you want to eliminate VOCs and chlorine.

To make the reverse osmosis an effective system that can be used even on municipal water which contains chlorine, carbon filters and pre-filters are often used alongside it.

With this system, you will get the purest water possible. You don’t have to worry about pesticides, and the lifespan is at least two years. On the downside, this system is costly, not to mention quite inefficient. It will require about three gallons of water to give you one.

Ion filtrating systems

16 Types of Water Filters to Fight Harmful ContaminantsThis system involves a process called ion exchange, which helps in eliminating hard metals from the water. It is a system often used in water softening processes. To get the ideal results, water is made to pass through an ion exchange unit. Here, hard metal ions are replaced with sodium ones leaving the water softer but also saltier. One of the leading options available in the market is the Bawell Platinum Alkaline Water Ionizer Machine.

Because this process has its disadvantages, it is often used together with reverse osmosis filters. When watering plants, it is better to use potassium chloride instead of sodium chloride because there will be lower salt levels.

With the leading water ionizers in the market, removing organic contaminants is easy and very effective. You also remove hard metal ions and all the negatively charged contaminants. However, you might not overly fall for this system because it comes with high operating costs, and it’s incapable of removing organic contaminants.


Distillation is a water purification process where water distillers heat water in order to turn it into steam. This steam is collected in a clean container and returned into liquid. By doing this, contaminants are left behind when all the water evaporates.

The system’s efficiency is high as clean water is guaranteed at the end. It is a practical process that can be used on a small scale. It can be used in households, often on countertop distillers.

This is one of the most reliable purification processes today and will eliminate most of the water contaminants. It also captures solids. On the downside though, the process is time-consuming, and the operating costs are quite high. Something else to note about distillation is that the water has a bland taste.

Distillation knowledge can help you in outdoorsy emergencies in case you’ll need clean water source:

Sediment filtration

16 Types of Water Filters to Fight Harmful ContaminantsThis is a pretty common type of water filtration. It is one of the oldest water filtration systems globally and can be found in homes, businesses and industries. With this system, ideally, you can eliminate heavy metals, sand, and dirt.

Generally, this filter is made from pleated polyester or blown polypropylene. The filter will generally have a micron rating of anything between 1 and 100 microns. Larger micron reading in a filter means faster water flow rate. However, contaminants captured will be few. Fewer micron rating means a filtration will be slower, but you will get cleaner water.

With this filtration system, you will save money and will have an easy time removing contaminants in your water. However, you need to look for a filter that will eliminate chemical contaminants of less than 1 micron.

UF technology

16 Types of Water Filters to Fight Harmful ContaminantsThis is a technology that involves the use of hydrostatic pressure. The pressure is applied to force water flow through a submicron semipermeable UF membrane. The fibre rating found in this UF membrane can have a micron rating of between 0.01 and no more than 0.5. This rating ensures that most of the water contaminants are eliminated.

You can get a special UF membrane that has a micron rating of between 0.01 and 0.02. These small pores guarantee that your filter captures even microscopic contaminants like viruses.

This system is environmentally friendly and will afford you a fast water flow rate. While almost all contaminants are captured, you can rest easy knowing that essential minerals are retained. The one thing that will not amuse you about this technology is the failure to capture dissolved elements, chlorine taste and smell.

Activated alumina

16 Types of Water Filters to Fight Harmful ContaminantsThis system comes in handy because it captures thallium, fluoride, selenium, and arsenic. The system involves using a highly adsorptive and porous aluminum oxide. Because of its design, it is mostly applied in home-based fluoride treatment of water.

Aluminum oxide whose chemical formula is AI203 has been used to make this filter. It very many pores on its surface and this makes it possible to capture up to 99% of the fluoride in the water.

This filtration system is preferred by many because it is cost effective and also because it helps in capturing almost all fluoride that is contained in water. The only annoying thing about it is that it leaches aluminum into the water.

UV technology

16 Types of Water Filters to Fight Harmful ContaminantsAccording to some studies, the UV water filtration system effectively eliminates all bacteria from the water. The UV rays will penetrate all harmful pathogens killing them instantly. This makes the technology ideal for home purification systems.

When using this technology, pass water through a UV lamp. The energy from the UV lamp will destroy the microorganisms. Note that the microorganisms with thick skin will require that you use extra UV power.

With this system, you get to enjoy relatively lower operating costs. The technology doesn’t demand high maintenance and is environmentally friendly. While it has a chance of killing up to 99.99% of microorganisms, this becomes very difficult if there are sediments in the water.

Types of water filters for home

The water we use in our homes contains impurities. Even though the said water is treated and distributed by reliable municipal authorities, more often than not, you will notice the water has excess chlorine and other contaminants.

There are several types of water purification options that you can opt for and which will give you the exact results you are looking for. You can choose between a point of entry or a point of use system. Here are the six different types of water filters that you should shop for when you want to make the water being used in your home safe and clean.

Faucet and shower filters

16 Types of Water Filters to Fight Harmful ContaminantsA faucet filter is designed in such a way that the water coming out of the faucet is filtered. This is an especially ideal type of filter in every home, especially where there are children. It doesn’t matter whether you have forgotten to buy your bottled water or are extremely thirsty; the faucet will always have clean water whenever you need some.

The faucet-mounted filtration systems, together with shower systems, are usually standard. You should be able to easily be able to make the faucet alternate between giving you unfiltered water and filtered.

With the faucet and shower filters, you’ll have an easy time installing them. Moreover, they are quite affordable. One thing to keep in mind before installing the system is that it can slow down the water flow. Since faucets are different, some will be incompatible with some faucet filters.

Water pitchers

16 Types of Water Filters to Fight Harmful ContaminantsWhen it comes to water filter pitchers, you can never go wrong when you invest in one. This filter is installed in pitchers and this means that water must pass through it. When water is poured inside the pitcher, the filter captures the contaminants, making the water coming out clean for drinking and safe for other household chores.

An activated carbon filter or some media filter will be used in making a sediment filter for the pitcher. Normally, the filter is very light, and this makes it easy to carry the pitcher around. Something to note about these filters is that they’re slow in filtering and should be replaced on a regular basis.

Countertop filters

16 Types of Water Filters to Fight Harmful ContaminantsThis filter is unique in that it comes as a whole integrated system. They usually are faucets that incorporate a filter rather than coming with an attached one. They are often ideal for those people that aren’t ready for the frequent changing of filters.

It is also possible to come across filters that filter two or three types of contaminants. This is because a single type of filter cannot filter heavy metals, sediments, chlorine, and microorganisms. That being the case, you can buy a countertop filtering system that incorporates two filters.

While we totally agree with the practicability of having a countertop filter in your home, we notice that the price can be quite high. Moreover, installing such a filter requires an expert. In the case of multiple filters being fixed, ensure the space below the sink is adequate.

Under-sink filters

16 Types of Water Filters to Fight Harmful ContaminantsThe under-sink filters are quite popular. They involve installing a filter under the sink which then gets attached to a pipe that leads to a faucet. In many instances, this faucet is different from the ordinary water faucet.

Many people are embracing this technology because it saves on space and money. Because of the specially installed faucet, the kitchen’s aesthetics improve drastically. Under-sink filters are preferred by many because they filter a lot of water and don’t occupy precious space on the countertop. However, they require professional plumber to install and they can be quite expensive

Inline water filters

16 Types of Water Filters to Fight Harmful ContaminantsAre you thinking of installing a filtration system that doesn’t require frequent changing and allows you to always enjoy clean water? With the best inline water filters installed under the sink and on the main cold supply tap, your household water will always be clean.

Once the water enters the filter, it passes through a media where it is filtered before it can reenter the tap for use in the house. The one benefit of installing this filter is that it is kept out of sight and is quite effective when it comes to killing contaminants. However, they require the expertise of a plumber to install and maintain.

Refrigerator water filters

16 Types of Water Filters to Fight Harmful ContaminantsA lot of modern refrigerators come with a pre-equipped filter on the door. This filter facilitates with the provision of clean water through the fridge door and the making of ice cubes in the icemaker. This is a simple yet unique filter that will enhance your drinking water taste while also making clean ice. The only downside to these filters is that you have to change them regularly.

Whole house water filters

16 Types of Water Filters to Fight Harmful ContaminantsThis category of filters is designed to treat all the water before it enters the house. This filter is attached to the main tap that enters the house. This then means that water to the bathroom, kitchen, and balcony and so on is filtered. In most cases, these filters are installed in houses that aren’t connected to the mains water supply system.

The best of these best whole house water filter will eradicate VOCs from the water and if the water is hard. The main disadvantage that rides on this filter is the high price tag. You also require to do some professional plumbing and modification to the house and water pipes.

Types of commercial water filters

16 Types of Water Filters to Fight Harmful ContaminantsUnlike residential filtration, commercial filtration deals with a lot more water and contaminants. This being the case, the filters and the equipment used for commercial filtration need to be efficient much as they are supposed to be larger. When doing commercial filtration, some of the techniques used in domestic setup such as distillation might not be practical. Here are some of the main filters that are used for commercial purposes.

Reverse osmosis filters – You will find this system in medical and dental establishments where commercial water treatment is required. You can also sight the system in alcohol distillation and food and beverage establishments. Some of the components the system incorporates include atmospheric pressure tank and backwashing micron fibre.

Deionization system – As stated earlier, deionization involved replacing all negatively charged atoms and positively charged ones of the contaminants. The replacing atoms are hydrogen atoms which are positive and hydroxyl which are negative. This concept makes deionization a preferred way of purifying water in industries and commercial establishments.

Final thoughts

Water is the central component of everything we see on our planet. People are required to drink at least two liters of water daily. On the one hand, while you must drink enough water to keep your body healthy, there is a need to take clean water not to jeopardize your health. People are increasingly abandoning the bottled water crusade and embracing the now popular water filter movement.

To get the best water filtration solution requires first establishing the contaminants you desire to eliminate. When your municipal authority sometimes messes things up and your tastes and smells like chlorine, buy a filter that will remove such contaminants. If using water from a well, invest in a whole-house filtering system which will remove hard metals and other pollutants. After reading this article on the different types of water filters, it becomes easy picking yours.


Types of Drinking Water Contaminants | US EPA
Description and examples of categories of drinking water contaminant.

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