Everything You Need to Know About Alternative Water Filtration Systems

Alternative Water Filtration Systems

We all want to have good quality clean water and there are many different ways we can filter our water.

Every water filtration system has different capabilities of what contaminants they can filter out better, or worse, than other water filter systems.

That’s why we made this infographic to show everything you need to know about alternative water filtration systems.

Hopefully it helps if you ever consider an alternative water filter to get rid of certain contaminants that you may have found are in your water after doing a water quality test.

Get Rid of the Gross: Learn How to Filter Water, Why You Should Make the Change, and What Filtration Method Will Work Best for You

Everyone wants to be healthy, right?

At the very least, no one wants to be poisoned.

Especially by their water.

Luckily, there is an easy way to avoid drinking bad water or putting bad water into your industrial complex, and it doesn’t involve getting your water delivered in giant blue bottles like your office does.

And actually, installing a water filtration system isn’t just good for you. Learning how to filter water, installing a filtration system that works for you and your family, and drinking that delicious filtered nectar is good for the environment, too

Break out of your boring bottled water and get into the filtered water game. The options are endless, the benefits wide-reaching, and the process has never been easier.

So get to it. The earth (and your body) will thank you.

​Why Learn How to Filter Water in the First Place?

You’re pretty happy with your bottled water, huh?

Think it tastes delicious and cold?

Think you’re doing okay because you recycle all of the empties?

Sorry, man, but you can do better.

Even if you have recycled every single water bottle you’ve ever used (which, let’s be honest, is pretty unlikely), the energy and oil used to make those bottles is pretty astronomical. Instead of using oil to make a year’s worth of plastic water bottles, one million cars could be filled with that oil.

That’s a lot of cars.

And even if you’re doing your best to recycle, the sad truth is that most of those plastic bottles are going to end up in a landfill (and take up to 500 years to decompose). Recycling is great, but what’s stopping you from taking the next step and eliminating your need for those plastic bottles overall?

Ah, the taste.

Deciding to filter and learning how to filter water can actually improve the taste of your water too. No more plastic-y flavor, that’s for sure. And if that’s strangely your favorite part of the water drinking experience, there’s probably a way to infuse it into your filtered water.

But what it definitely does is reduce the amount of contamination in your water. Even if you’re already pretty exclusively drinking tap water with a heavy-duty water bottle of your very own, your water might not be as safe as it could be. Installing a water filtration system prevents the need for constant water quality testing and makes sure that the bad stuff stays out.

Take the next step. Get your water game on.

​What Type of Water Filtration is For You

There are four primary types of water filtration; your choice should be based on the types of contaminants your water encounters and the type of filter setup you’re into.

The biggest difference between filtration options is pore size.

Pour size?

Pore size. Like the filter.

The bigger the pore size, the more stuff that’s going to be able to get through and stay in your water all throughout the filtration process.

The less contamination, the better, sure, but some of those super-tiny pore filters are not especially fun to install or easy to maintain.

Pretty much, you have some choices to make.

And some shopping to do.

​Ultra Effective, Ultra Easy, Ultra Exciting

Ultrafiltration even sounds cool.

And it is pretty ultra.

This method of filtering water is pretty simple, really. The setup uses a semipermeable membrane (so some stuff gets through, some stuff doesn’t) and your standard home water pressure to remove any contaminants (bad stuff) from your water while keeping the healthy helpful minerals inside.

Neat, right?

The pore size of the membrane is around .01 micron (about 5,000 times smaller than a human hair), so not very much is going to get through it. Right?

Sort of. An ultrafiltration system will remove microorganisms from your water, but not viruses (which are smaller). It also won’t be able to get rid of materials that have dissolved into your water — not on its own, anyway.

Ultrafiltration systems are easy to install (even on your own) and can fit right underneath your kitchen sink. The membrane (the working, important part) should last for a couple of years, too, so you won’t need to be replacing it all the time, either.

Pros: easy installation, perfect for at-home use, filters out all the big stuff (mineral-ly speaking).

Cons: won’t get rid of all the bad stuff.

How to filter water isn’t looking so hard, right?

But wait, there’s more.

​Start on the Small Side

Nanofiltration… it’s small?

Well, yes and no.

The pore size sure is. At 0.0001 microns, this filtration type will get rid of just about anything and everything lurking in your water.

Organic molecules? Check.

Viruses? Check.

Salts? Check.

Nanofiltration, however, is not an easy process to describe. The process uses pressure to separate pollutants and bad stuff from the water, but it’s not quite as simple as the ultrafiltration membrane pass-through method.

Because of the filtration complications and the intense pressure required to make nanofiltration work, it’s not the easy under the kitchen sink strategy that ultrafiltration is. Nanofiltration is primarily used to soften hard water, remove pesticides from groundwater and heavy metals from wastewater, and to prepare water for recycling.

You might not use it in your own home or daily life, but it’s important that someone knows how to filter water in this way.

Pros: everything is filtered out, leaving you and yours with pure, simple water– especially beneficial if your household needs to move from hard water to soft water.

Cons: not super necessary in most households, difficult to understand and set up solo.

​Middle Man?

Microfiltration doesn’t sound as interesting as ultrafiltration and doesn’t sound as small as nanofiltration.

But don’t discount it just yet.

Microfiltration is actually pretty similar to ultrafiltration, its pores are just a little bit bigger. It also features a semipermeable membrane and requires low pressure water for it to be effective.

There are a number of different configurations for ultrafiltration and microfiltration systems, too. There’s the basic under-the-sink setup from before, but in industrial settings, microfiltration can be employed in a water supply itself, in a cartridge filter, in a pressure pump, or in a holding tank.

Broad strokes, microfiltration removes the big stuff. Colloids, particulates, bacteria, fat: all taken care of with a microfiltration system.

It’s pretty good at getting water ready for drinking or making wastewater usable again, for refining petroleum, processing dairy products, or even making drinks or pharmaceutical products safer without getting rid of the benefits or flavors.

Pros: gets most of the bad stuff out of the water without removing every single everything, low pressure gets the job done.

Cons: only removes bigger particles and contaminants, not a lot of options for household use.

​Welcome to the Future

Reverse osmosis water: the final frontier.

If you need to get rid of all of the things, reverse osmosis is the answer.

Pressure forces the water through a semipermeable membrane (yep, again) and forces out all manner of stuff. With pores at a size of 0.0001 micron, viruses, most minerals, and all organic minerals are going to get out of that water.

While reverse osmosis water filtration systems aren’t going to get rid of all of the pesticides or herbicides in your water, it will take care of any lead, copper, sodium, viruses, bacteria, chloride, chromium… you get the point.

Reverse osmosis water has been touted as a great way to make previously undrinkable water potable and has even started to make its presence known in other industries (like maple syrup, for example).

The super committed reverse osmosis aficionado can totally update and revolutionize their own household water system. But this isn’t the only way to get yourself some delicious reverse osmosis water.

Much like ultrafiltration, there are under the sink options for reverse osmosis, too. Connect it to your water system, install a new faucet, and voila! You’ve done it. Your water will flow through a series of 3-5 filters, making it delicious and pure, and it will probably only cost you a couple of hundred dollars and a weekend or so of handyperson work.

Not ready to invest in that?

That’s okay. Reverse osmosis, cool as it is, is also available in a super handy little countertop setup. With an easy connection and an affordable price, a countertop filtration system is a simple way to learn how to filter water in the comfort of your own home, no plumber needed.

​So Now What?

You know the basics: how to filter water, what options are out there, why it’s important.

But how do you do it yourself?

You don’t have to build your own thing or even be particularly handy to make homemade filtered water your new normal (though you sure can if you want to — see below).

One of the most popular home filtration options doesn’t even fall into any of the previous categories.

Your quality water filter pitcher actually has Granulated Activated Coal in the little filter insert. They can get a little expensive in the long run, depending on how much water you go through and how often you have to replace the filter, but they’re sure simple.

And for home use, they’re sort of effective, too. It’ll get rid of excess chlorine, but not fluoride or heavy metals. So if you think your home is piping in lead-filled water, investigate another option (and call your water provider ASAP. Lead-filled water is a big bad deal).

Reverse osmosis water filtration, as seen previously, gets rid of a ton of stuff, some of it good and some of it bad. If you decide that this is the method for you, make sure you do your research: some reverse osmosis systems waste a bunch of water as they purify, and others are just super slow.

Carbon filters have been recognized by the EPA as the best way to get herbicides and pesticides out of your water, so if you’re thinking you need to deal with that, go with one of these. Many carbon filter models will fit on the countertop (or you can get smaller camping versions), and while it might take a minute to figure out, it’ll probably be worth it.

If you’re feeling DIY-y and wild, check out this video to get some ideas for your next big and affordable project:

​​Go With the Filtered Flow

The time has come.

You know how to filter water, why to filter water, and every single water filter detail.

Okay, so maybe not every single water filter detail.

You sure know enough to make the change, for real this time.

Make yourself, your family, your world happier, healthier, and safer.

Filter on, baby. Filter on.

Alternative Water Filtration System
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Hi I'm Jamie, teacher and owner/chief contributor at waterfilteranswers.com. We strive to bring you the most informative water filter reviews in the most intuitive and user friendly way. Besides offering advice on the water filter to suit your needs, we also post topical articles on water pollution and the environment. Stay connected and follow us on, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and more!

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