As industry grows, it is almost inevitable that pollution will follow. This means that we will experience more instances of contaminated water. So can the basic filtration methods we used in the past still produce clean, safe drinking water or do we need the more intense purification systems and methods to address the modern contaminants appearing in our water supply? 


Historically, if you wanted to ensure that your water was free of microorganisms, you would use the boiling method. When done correctly, boiling can kill most of the bacteria in the water. Unfortunately, not all bacteria will be eliminated. While protozoa and bacteria are typically killed when the water starts to bubble, it takes a minimum of three minutes to kill the remainder.  This method does have some drawbacks; it requires cooking equipment and fuel, the water needs to cool down so it cannot be used immediately and the water can still contain particles and chemical pollutants. While boiling may be the only method if you are camping or in the wilderness, in a home, there are more efficient and effective methods available.  

More effective methods include the use of chemicals. Chlorine and iodine are both low cost, easy to use and lightweight methods of purifying water. Iodine is effective at killing bacteria, protozoa, and viruses, but the colder the water temperature, the more time needed for purification. Additionally, iodine absorbs into the dirt in the water, which can affect the dosage needed. Iodine also leaves an unpleasant taste and should not be used by those with thyroid conditions or who are pregnant. 

Chlorine is a very common purifier and is used in many municipal water treatment facilities. While chlorination does allow debris and dirt to settle at the bottom of your water container, it is an effective disinfectant. Unfortunately, chlorine does leave an unpleasant taste and odor and has been linked to adverse health effects.  

Advanced Water Purification: 

Fortunately, technological advancements have also moved along with industrial development. There are now some highly effective water purification techniques and systems that can be used to create pure, clean and great tasting water. The most effective of these advanced purification systems are activated carbon media and reverse osmosis.  

Activated carbon reduces poor taste, odors, chemicals and many pollutants from the water. While carbon only provides mildly effective filtration for microorganisms and particulates, it is an effective option for second stage filtering in domestic systems and portable water use.  

Reverse Osmosis or RO systems use a membrane to filter contaminants from the water. The membrane is semi permeable, and water is forced through, leaving behind up to 99% of contaminants. RO is highly effective for removing asbestos, turbidity, lead, total dissolved solids, and radium. It can also remove other toxic heavy metals and many dissolved organic particles. RO systems can also remove traces of chlorine and nuclear radiation including radioactive plutonium from your drinking water.

The combination of RO with an activated carbon filtration stage offers a far more effective water treatment option compared to the basic filtration methods of the past. 

If you are interested in improving your water quality, you should contact a water treatment technician. A fully WQA and experienced professional can assess the contaminant levels in your water supply and recommend treatment options offered by systems and devices that meet or even possibly exceed the industry standards.  

With more than 25 years experience in the residential and commercial water treatment space, Terry is a WQA (Water Quality Association) certified water specialist, LEVEL 3, as well as a WQA certified sales representative. Terry currently sits on EcoWater Systems (a Berkshire Hathaway Company) national Peers committee, as a water treatment expert advising other water professionals with less experience on best trade and technology practices. EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is one of the biggest water treatment and water delivery businesses in the state.