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January 21st, 2023

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Water Filtration vs Purification: What’s the difference?

In the established world of water treatment, producing ‘microbiologically safe’ water is considered to be of primary importance.

‘Microbiologically safe’ means water with no harmful bacteria, viruses or parasitic organisms like Cryptosporidium and Giardia.

For community water supplies this is usually achieved by the use of chlorine, sometimes in combination with ozone and ultraviolet light.

For smaller, residential treatment, it can be accomplished by distilling water, by reverse osmosis (a process that forces water through a membrane) or by using new breakthrough filtration technology that efficiently removes bacteria and viruses from the water supply.

The water that results (containing no harmful bacteria, viruses or microorganisms) is referred to as ‘purified water’, and the process that achieves this state is called ‘water purification’.

Purification doesn’t mean perfect.

The trouble is that, although the term ‘purification’ implies perfect water, in fact these ‘purifying’ techniques may do nothing to remove a host of other harmful substances including chlorine itself.

In Canada, regulations insist that a community’s water disinfection process (usually involving chlorine) must take precedence over concerns about other harmful chemicals.

The prevention of outbreaks of waterborne disease like cholera and typhoid are considered of primary importance, overriding concerns about exposure to toxic disinfectant by-products.

‘Microbiologically safe’ water may not be safe to drink!

There is growing evidence , however, that there are very serious, long term health and environmental consequences to the use of chlorinated water.

As a result, if your water is municipally treated, you don’t usually need protection from bacteria but from chlorine and its by-products, among other health hazards.

Therefore, you may need an appropriately configured water filter, not a water purifier.

Unlike water purifiers, most ‘water filters’ do not deliver ‘microbiologically safe’ water. They are designed to be used with water that is already ‘microbiologically safe’, usually chlorinated water delivered by the community water supply.

Multiple stages of filtration target different contaminants.

Water filters range in capability from merely making water taste and smell better to much more sophisticated and thorough filtration of specific contaminants.

A properly configured water filter can reduce harmful chemicals that typical disinfection and ‘purification’ processes may either introduce or leave in your water. Learn more about filters for Vancouver .

For this reason, good water filtration usually involves multiple stages targeting different contaminants with specialized filtration media.

New breakthrough filter technology offers bacteriological barrier.

People who have weakened immune systems (such as the elderly, cancer and HIV patients) may want the added security of a bacteriological barrier included in their water treatment system.

Exciting new filter technology now makes this possible, right at your tap, without using chemicals or electricity, and without the traditional problems of premature clogging.

This is an important breakthrough in residential water treatment. It gives you the option to effectively filter bacteria and viruses and to ‘purify’ your water without having to resort to wasteful, mineral-stripping and energy consuming processes like reverse osmosis and water distillation.

This same technology is also now available in a portable form for traveling and emergency purposes. Learn more.

If you choose a system that removes bacteria and viruses, just be sure it is also protecting you from all of the other contaminants in your water supply.