Home Water Treatment: Water Filters

Your drinking supply, whether it comes from the city or your own well, may contain chemicals which make it unfit for human consumption unless you run it through a home water treatment system.


| March/April 1980



062 water filters - three units2

LEFT: American Water Purification's UTS Silverator filter. CENTER: BestWater from L.T. Marketing Inc. RIGHT: Sears Roebuck's Taste and Odor filter. 


MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

Our evaluation of home water treatment devices began with an examination of distillers. All three of the units that we discussed qualified as water purifiers (that is, the devices removed or killed all bacterial impurities), yet they crossed an impressively broad range of capability and cost. Similarly, the pieces of filtration equipment we're reviewing in this installment vary considerably in both capacity and price.

However, the seven filters we've had a chance to appraise do have one thing in common: They all employ activated carbon to filter out chemical impurities such as carcinogenic trihalomethanes. (Note: Although they, too, use charcoal, the General Ecology units rely on an even more effective microstraining system for their primary impurity removal.) Activated carbon — which is also called charcoal — has been used for cleansing for over 100 years . . . functioning, for example, as the stripping agent in World War I gas masks and as the medium used for decolorizing sugar. It's only recently, however, that the versatile material has come to be used in water filtration.

Because activated carbon's "cleaning" ability depends entirely on the amount of surface area contact between the cleanser and the water that's available, a filter's performance is largely determined by the volume of carbon inside it and the length of time the water remains in contact with the carbon ... a consideration which is called "residence time." Unfortunately, extensive residence time can result in the growth of bacteria on the charcoal . . . and each of the manufacturers included in our study has dealt with that problem in a different fashion. 

American Water Purification

Both of the California-based American Water Purification Company's filters have silver infused into their charcoal to inhibit any bacterial growth. In addition, the smaller of the two units — the Water Washer — has built-in flow control to prevent the operator from inadvertently reducing residence time below a safe level. Another useful feature of the limited-capacity model is a viewing port to give the owner a visual warning when the filter element is dirty.

The UTS Silverator is an under-sink model which can be used either to filter all the cold water at that location, or to deliver the cleansed liquid to its own faucet to be used for drinking and cooking only. In the latter application, the Silverator's 5,000-gallon-life filter should last for a very long time.  

Bestwater Filter

The Louisville, Kentucky manufacturer's product is by far the most ambitious filtration setup of those we sampled. Its capacity as well as its size is several times that of any of the other devices . . . great enough, in fact, to process all the water entering a household. Furthermore, even at its maximum flow rate of two gallons per minute, the BestWater retains water for a full two minutes and provides about one year of filter life. Since the unit is almost constantly in use on a residence's main water line, bacterial build-up isn't a problem.   





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