Different Types of Water Filters

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Clean and safe drinking water is essential for our health, and one of the best ways to achieve this is through a water filter. But with many different types of water filters available, choosing one can be a challenge. In this case, you must consider your household needs and your budget.

There are different types of water filters designed to remove specific contaminants. From basic pitcher filters to complex reverse osmosis systems, you can pick the right unit depending on the quality of water from your source.

However, while they provide several advantages, keep in mind that not all of them are made equal. One may be more effective than others, while some may be more costly to run and need more upkeep.

Below, we’ll look at the many types of water filters, whether you’re looking to improve the taste of your tap water or remove harmful pollutants. We’ll also explore the common types of drinking water filters for home use.

What Is a Water Filter?

It’s a device that extracts contaminants from water, making it safe to drink or use for other purposes. Depending on the type of filter, it can remove a range of impurities present in the water such as sediments, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), minerals, chlorine, and more. It improves the overall quality of the water.

Most water filters include a filtering media that removes impurities from water. This could be in the form of carbon blocks, ion exchange resins or permeable membranes, and activated charcoal.

There are also different ways in which these devices remove impurities from water. Some filters work using gravity, while others purify forcing water onto granular activated carbon, or eliminating dissolved substances using membrane processes like reverse osmosis.

Types of Water Filtrations

Water filters come in different types. Each has its unique approach to eliminating contaminants from water. Some common types of water filters include:

Activated Alumina

Used for filtering fluoride or arsenic out of the water, activated alumina works by adsorbing contaminants onto its surface as water flows through the filter. It has aluminum oxide, a very porous compound that works well in absorbing impurities.

This filtration system attracts chemicals into its activated porous sphere. And once it has absorbed the chemicals, they stay inside the pores and are bonded together.

One of the advantages of incorporating activated alumina into your water filtration system is that it can remove harmful toxins the longer it’s in contact with water. Plus, it’s a cost-effective solution for purifying drinking water. It’s the maximum filtration for a range of applications.


Typically used as the second phase after the activated carbon filter, ionization modifies the chemical structures of pollutants using electrical charges. This water filtration technique converts filtered water into alkaline water. It dumps acid water and leaves the alkaline water for consumption.

Alkaline or ionized water is regarded as one of the healthiest. Several studies claim it improves bone and digestive health and lowers cancer risks and heart disease. However, there’s currently no certainty that electrolysis-ionized alkaline water has any effect on human health.

In addition, alkaline ionizers aren’t powerful enough to purify water. They work better in conjunction with traditional water purification units. As a result, this filtration method can be expensive.

Activated Carbon

AC filtration is great for removing chlorine and odors from water. It also works well at eliminating heavy metals such as lead and arsenic, herbicides, pesticides, and VOCs.

Also referred to as a carbon block, these filters are porous so they are highly effective in attracting and adsorbing impurities from the water. It’s used in many households for filtering water in faucets, under sinks, and pitchers.

Another form of a carbon filter is granular activated carbon (GAC). These are carbon powders that are loosely bonded and remove pollutants from drinking water. However, GAC has a smaller surface area to catch tiny particles. This makes it a less effective alternative to carbon blocks.

Ceramic Filters

A ceramic filter works with gravity. These gravity filters allow tap water to pass through its porous surface and then catch sediments and kill bacteria and sediments. It’s one of the cheapest filtration methods and easiest to install. And best of all, it doesn’t consume electricity.

This type of filter can also be treated with silver, which helps kill germs and prevent mold growth in your drinking water. It’s not as effective at eliminating viruses as other filtration methods, though. You can use it along with carbon filters to improve its purifying power.


This method is also one of the most common techniques in making sure that you have clean, drinking water. It’s an effective approach to purifying water using heat. This process involves heating water into steam and then cooling it down to restore it back to its liquid form.

Distillation systems, however, require electricity or a heat source. And it’s going to be a slow process so if you don’t have the resources and time to invest, this may not be an option.

But if you do, distillation is an excellent filtration technique. In fact, it’s the only method that completely gets rid of microorganisms and chemicals like lead, arsenic, herbicides, or pesticides.

Ion Exchange

This method often involves an ion exchange resin, typically in the form of beads. Ion exchange filters exchange the water’s magnesium and calcium content for sodium or hydrogen ions, softening hard water. It’s a great approach to removing minerals and reducing limescale buildup.

Ion exchange filters also remove some radioactive materials. However, it’s not as effective at removing organic contaminants, sediments, or bacteria.

Reverse Osmosis (RO)

Just like ion exchange filters, RO also eliminates dissolved inorganic particles like magnesium and calcium ions from water. It does this by forcing water through its semipermeable membrane. As the water flows through, most of the pollutants get trapped in the membrane.

This is an effective way of removing a large percentage of pollutants in your water, such as fluoride, hexavalent chromium, arsenic, salt, radium, and nitrates/nitrites, which are harmful chemicals that can pose potential health risks.

You can use an RO system in combination with sediment filters and activated carbon filters. It also works with water softener though this can add to the overall cost of running one. But if you want the highest grade of clean water, reverse osmosis will give you the best bang for your buck.

On the downside, the process takes time, which can reduce water pressure. Plus, most RO systems consume an excessively large volume of water. This may be unnecessary if you’re a business and only need water for laundry machines. But for coffee shops, reverse osmosis filtration systems would be a good investment.


Also known as sediment filters, mechanical filtration is designed to remove larger debris and dust particles including silt, sand, silt, and corrosion. They can come as simple mesh for larger particles or a ceramic filter with very intricate pores for filtering microbes.

In many households, it serves as a primary treatment method that protects the next filtration stage. They also come in ratings to tell the size of particles a mechanical filter can remove.

UV Light Filters

An ultraviolet light water filter kills viruses and removes microorganisms from drinking water. However, it may not be able to penetrate certain types of microorganisms. In addition, UV light only works well if the water is clear since it doesn’t change the taste or smell of the water. But, it’s still a good, less expensive option. 

Common Types of Water Filters for Home Use

Common Types of Water Filters for Home Use

Now that you have an idea of how each filtration method works, let’s talk about the different types of filters for residential use.

Inline Water Filters

This type of water filter is commonly used in many households. If you have a dishwasher, you can have this installed directly on the appliance. An in-line water filter often serves as a secondary filter, but in refrigerators, it’s used to purify the cold water line. It can also be installed under the sink. 

Whole House Filters

Also known as point-of-entry (POE) filters, whole-house water treatment systems filter water throughout your household. They purify water right at the source and are often installed in the basement. However, installing one is usually expensive. They may need plumbing upgrades and upkeep should be done by a professional. Learn all about how a whole house filter works.

Under Sink Water Filters

These are similar to in-line filters, typically installed in the kitchen. When it comes to installation, they are easier to set up the whole-house systems. But, it’s still relatively pricey and may require plumbing upgrades as well. 

Countertop Water Filters

Installed on kitchen counters, a countertop water filter is a type of POE system that filters water used by the entire household for drinking water, cooking, and other purposes. They can come in ceramic, carbon blocks, reverse osmosis filters, or a combination of either of the three.

Water Filter Pitchers

These pitchers are another form of point-of-use system that are filled from the top with water and they contain built-in filters (usually carbon) through which water must pass before it’s poured out. They are effective in removing fluoride and are typically inexpensive, requiring no installation and guesswork.

Depending on the model and particle size, the filters should be replaced on a regular basis. The filtration process also takes time.


What Type of Filter Is Best for Drinking Water?

The best filter depends on the specific contaminants in your water source. You can use activated carbon filters for chlorine and VOCs. For bacteria, heavy metals, and fluoride, reverse osmosis may be a good water treatment method. 

UV filters also help filter microorganisms in the water. For dissolved minerals like calcium, ion exchange filters are great.

What Is the Most Common Type of Water Filter?

Carbon filters and sediment filters are the most common types of filters. A carbon filter absorbs water contaminants and helps remove the chemical taste from water. Sediment filters, on the other hand, filter out large particles and dissolved solids larger than 10 microns.

Which Type of Water Filter Is Best for Home?

Reverse osmosis (RO) is deemed to be the best type of filter for home use. This type of filtration removes pollutants by forcing water across a semipermeable membrane. It’s also easy to install and maintain, making it a low-cost option for better-quality drinking water.

Which Filter Is Right for You?

Water filtration has become a necessity in many homes. It not only removes impurities from your water, but it also improves its flavor and odor, making it suitable for general use.

When it comes to choosing the right filtration for your home, consider your budget and your needs. Different types of filters are designed to remove specific contaminants. It also won’t hurt to consult a professional to have your system tailored to your household needs.

But, in the meantime, we hope that you found this post helpful in learning about the various types of filters and how they function. If you have any more questions about the topic, feel free to contact us and we will gladly help you.

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