The Lazy Man’s Guide to Water Filtration vs. Water Purification

By Dr. Jonathan Doyle

Do you know that an average home uses about 80-100 gallons of water per day to accomplish indoor tasks, such as taking showers and flushing the toilet? However, 29% of the world’s population lives off contaminated water. Such water causes more deaths in a year than wars and violent crimes combined. Every two minutes, a child dies of a disease caused by ingesting unclean water. 

What the numbers above show is that freshwater is vital for the health and wellbeing of humans. Thus, homeowners who get their water from different sources often choose a water filtration or purification system. Even though these two systems may seem interchangeable, they are different in several fundamental ways.

This article will show the difference between water filtration and purification. It looks at different water purification methods, such as boiling, distillation, chlorination, and filtration. We also present various filtration methods, such as sediment filtration, reverse osmosis, and ultrafiltration. 

Importance of Water Purification and Filtration 

Without water, there would be no life. For instance, our bodies are 60% water. Water is involved in several vital body functions like transmitting essential nutrients and vitamins, flushing out toxins, regulating temperature, and lubricating the joints. It also ensures that organs of the body, such as the skin, retain their shape. 

Vital as it is for humans, some of the available water is not safe for human consumption. It comes with contaminants.

These are foreign elements present in water that adversely impact its viability for human and animal consumption. Water contaminants may be naturally-occurring or human-made – these include chemicals, debris, bacteria, viruses, radioactive substances, and so on. 

Defining Water Purification and Water Filtration 

With the contaminants in the water, it becomes crucial to either purify or filter the water. Before we go deeper into water purification and filtration, we need to start by defining the two processes to clear the difference between them. Even though the two processes may be different, they serve the same purpose: to make water clean and safe to consume. 

Water Filtration 

The process of reducing or getting rid of solid contaminants in the water is known as filtration. The idea behind the filtration process is that the particles of some of the contaminants are bigger than those of water. Therefore, creating a semipermeable membrane would allow the desirable water particles to pass while preventing the larger undesirable particles. 

It is important to note that the dissolved particles in the water, which are smaller or the same size as the water particles, will pass through the semipermeable membrane.

This implies that the filtration process alone may not be able to get rid of all the impurities. This is why modern water filtration systems have been made sophisticated enough to ensure that as few impurities as possible can pass through the semipermeable membrane. 

Water Purification 

For water to be safe to drink and meet other standards imposed by authorities, the concentration of suspended matter and impurities must be reduced. These impurities include parasites, fungi, bacteria, viruses, algae, and other unwanted biological or chemical contaminants. Water purification seeks to remove undesired chemical compounds, biological contaminants, and organic and inorganic materials using various methods. Water filtration is one of these methods.

Water Purification vs. Filtration: What’s the Difference? 

From the definitions above, we can note that even though people use water filtration and water purification interchangeably, the two processes are different.

Water filtration uses different methods to separate impurities from the water so that the water you eventually use does not have contaminants.

It is a method of cleaning water by separating the impurities from the water using a filter. 

On the other hand, water purification attempts to remove all the impurities removed by the filtration process while eliminating undesirable minerals from the water. This method is not restricted to using a filter to separate the impurities. It may also involve the use of chemicals or separating water particles from the impurities through chemical reactions. 

Purification removes more impurities than filtration so that the water meets a given standard. However, advances in technology are making water filters more sophisticated. They are now able to clean the water to the standard achieved by purification. 

The differences between filtration and purification can mainly be seen in the techniques that each uses. However, even though we refer to differences between water filtration and water purification, the technics are not mutually exclusive. This means that a purification method can also use some filtration techniques and vice-versa. 

Over time, water filtration methods have been getting more accessible, sophisticated, and easier to use from anywhere. Below, we look at some of the standard methods of cleaning water through the process of filtration. 

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