What Do Carbon Filters Remove from Water?

What Do Carbon Filters Remove from Water?

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When it comes to water filtration systems, it is not uncommon to stumble upon the topic of carbon filters. After all, carbon filtering is one of the most popular methods of clearing water from impurities. But what are carbon filters and what do carbon filters remove from water?

If you have wondered the same things, then you are in the right place. Today, we are going to talk all about carbon filters, how they work in a water filtration system, and of course, what kinds of substances and impurities do they remove from water.

Let’s get started!

A Look Inside Your Water Filter System

There are a lot of different water filter systems out there, and the most common way to categorise them is through their positioning. Is your water filter system required to be installed under the sink, or is it a countertop water filtration system?

Regardless of how it is installed, there’s only one thing for sure: no two water filter systems are exactly alike. Each system has its own way of cleansing your water. This is the reason why different water filter systems also have different filter layers.

Here are the basic layers you’ll find inside most water filter systems:

  • A layer of activated carbon
  • A layer of mineralization balls (also known as “medical stones”)
  • A layer of calcium sulfite
  • A layer of alkaline energy balls
  • And finally, various filters and strainers

Some water filter systems definitely have more layers than the ones we have mentioned above. Hence, we really recommend for you to research about the water system you’re thinking of purchasing if you have specific needs, features, or layers in mind.

Charcoal, Carbon, Activated Carbon?

We can talk about each of these different layers all day. However, for the specific purposes of this article, we are only going to focus on the carbon filters. What is a carbon filter? Is it the same as charcoal? And what is activated carbon? Let’s dig into this topic a little bit deeper.

First of all, in the world of water filters, charcoal is carbon. The two terms are commonly used interchangeably. In this article, though, let’s stick to calling it carbon. Now, think of carbon as a magnet. It is a magnet of harmful substances. This is the reason why it is often used as a cleansing agent. But did you know that this magnetic power can still be increased?

This is achieved through the process of activation, which is done by opening up the pores in between carbon atoms. The result is called activated carbon.

Different Activated Carbon Filters

Once the carbon has successfully been activated, it can now be broken down into two sizes of particles. These sizes determine what type of carbon filter it is:

  • Granular Activated Carbon or GAC; and the
  • Powdered Activated Carbon or PAC

PAC, as the name suggests, contain smaller particles than GAC. But what if the carbon has not been broken down?

If the carbon has not been broken down into smaller particles, but instead it remains to be a slab of compressed carbon, then it will be referred to as a carbon block (sometimes, block carbon) filter. Each type of activated carbon can now be included as layers to a water filtration system. They will now be referred to as “carbon filters”.

The size of the particles actually plays a big role in their performance. PACs, given their size, can magnetize smaller impurities. In fact, it is said that PACs are more effective in cleansing impurities out of water compared to GACs.

The only problem is, they have a slower flow rate. GACs, on the other hand, have a faster flow rate, but its absorption and cleansing efficiency is much lower than PACs. As for carbon blocks, they are very effective as well. Due to their structure, they allow water to be in contact with them longer as compared to both PACs and GACs. This gives them enough time to absorb more impurities.

But what are these impurities?

What Do Carbon Filters Remove from Water?

If you stop and take a look at your unfiltered tap water through a microscope, we’re sure you won’t be able to sleep for days. The unseen terrors you’ll witness there are definitely scarier compared to any horror film. That’s because they can literally enter your body and make you sick.

Some of these terrors are:

  • Chlorine
  • Radon
  • Benzene
  • Pesticides
  • Herbicides
  • Man-made Chemicals
  • And more!

Fortunately for those who have a water filtration system in their home, they can sleep comfortably at night knowing that these particles are being cleansed by the carbon layers of their systems.

Are Carbon Filters Enough to Thoroughly Cleanse Water?

However, it is important to remember that the magic word here is “system”. This means that your water filtration setup is composed of layers other than just carbon filters. That’s because carbon filters can’t strain everything out.

So, aside from answering the question, “What do carbon filters remove from water?”, it’s also important to know what it doesn’t. One cluster of significantly harmful substances that carbon filters can’t remove are heavy metals, such as:

  • Arsenic
  • Chromium
  • Copper
  • Fluoride
  • Mercury
  • Lead

These heavy metals are commonly found in municipal water. The bad news is, consuming these heavy metals regularly can literally poison you.

The different heavy metals found in water can be truly worrying, but don’t be distressed. If your carbon filters can’t remove them, there are other layers in your water filtration system that can do it such as the Kinetic Degradation Fluxion (or KDF) filters and Ion Exchange Resins.

Our favourite

Brita Ultra Max Filtering Dispenser

Final Thoughts

Carbon filters are very efficient and helpful in removing harmful substances from your drinking water. They can also remove weird tastes and odors, making your tap water potable and more delicious.

However, having a carbon filter is not enough to ensure you and your family’s safety. Getting a complete water filtration system with various filters is important to effectively remove all impurities—including those that your carbon filter can’t cleanse.

Getting a water filtration system is truly an investment that every home should make. Doing so will not only help you save from buying bottled water, but it will also help you save from the medical expenses caused by drinking unsafe water.

Clean Water

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