Monday, January 19th, 2015

Water filters/filtration systems – There’s one for everyone

It’s mid-January and cabin fever is setting in.  Just for kicks, we’ve been researching water filters – everything from household tap water dechlorination to personal, pocket-sized devices for life on the road, path, or trail.

Home Filtration Systems
Cincinnati is famed for having clean drinking water. From the river to the tap, our water treatment is among the best in the country.  Going from the tap-to-the-glass, however, there’s one element we would like to remove: chlorine.  It’s a miracle chemical for killing wigglies in our water, but do we want to drink it? No.

In looking at water filtration systems for the home, our focus is on removing the chlorine and chloramine from the water before it comes out of the tap or shower. In order of ease-of-use/affordability, here are a few approaches:

Time – The simple act of filling a pitcher with tap water and letting it set 24 hours will allow the chlorine to dissipate.

Japanese Bincho-tan Charcoal
 – Looking for something a cut above the ubiquitous Brita pitcher?  Try Bincho-tan, a specialty hard charcoal that’s a favorite of Japanese chefs and has many uses – one of which is purifying water.  Artful in appearance and intriguing in its history, a single stick of Bincho-tan can de-chlorinate a pitcher of water for up to 90 days. Then, simply boil the charcoal stick for 10 minutes and it’s good for another 90 days.   Repeat as needed.

Countertop/Under the Sink Filters
 – For removing chlorine and chloramine, a block carbon filter may be a good choice.  They are efficient, but in most cases the filter must be replaced every 2-6 months, which can be costly.  Typically, these filters are only installed on the cold water line, as that’s the one used for drinking water.

Campden tablets (potassium metabisulfite) – These inexpensive tablets, commonly used by winemakers, will remove both chlorine and chloramine from up to 20 gallons of tap water (per tablet).

Reverse-Osmosis Filtration – The “Big Daddy” of filtration approaches, a reverse-osmosis system is costly to install and to maintain.  But, for some homes it’s the best approach.  Such filters force water through a thin membrane, leaving nearly pure water behind. Homeowners determine how many gallons-per-day they will need, and the system is designed accordingly.

Personal/Portable Filtration Systems
If you’re seeking to remove more than just chlorine from your drinking water while traveling, hiking, or in an emergency situation, below are a few of the most popular emergency filter options on the market today.

Katadyn Pocket Water Microfilter – Designed for travelers world-wide, this filter features a silver-impregnated anti-bacterial (and anti-protozoa) element that filters micro-organisms larger than 0.2 microns. Easy to use, Katadyn filters are military-grade and consistently ranked ‘best of class’ among soldiers and outdoor enthusiasts.

LifeStraw® Personal Water Filter – Named one of Time Magazine’s 2005 “Inventions of the Year”, this lightweight, inexpensive, and thoughtfully designed filter fits nicely in a backpack or glove compartment.  Filters up to 1,000 liters of contaminated water through a 7-layer filter system and without any chemicals.  As with the Katadyne filter above, the LifeStraw filters to 0.2 microns. It surpasses EPA standards and removes 99.9999% of bacteria and 99.9% of protozoa.

Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System – Similar in price to the LifeStraw, the Sawyer Mini weights in at 2 ounces. Despite it’s small size, this filter is high-performance – it tested to 10 million parts of bacteria and one million parts of protozoa without a single breakthrough, the highest testing level for filtration. The Sawyer Mini can  filter up to 100,000 gallons of water. It removes 99.99999% of all bacteria and 99.9999% of all protozoa (yes, that’s the correct number of 9’s after the decimal point). Amazingly, Sawyer’s filter system removes bacteria and protozoa larger than 0.1 microns.

Caught Flat-Footed? Unscented Chlorine Bleach Works, Too.
We’ve all heard about ‘boil water advisories’ on the evening news.  Sometimes the advisories are issued in flood zones, other times because of a water main break or toxic spill into the river.  According to, regular, unscented chlorine bleach is a perfectly sound approach for decontaminating water until local authorities declare it safe for cooking, bathing/brushing teeth, or drinking.

Below is the recipe for clean water.
• Filter cloudy water through clean cloths or coffee filters.
• Let water sit for an hour or two after filtering to allow any sediment to settle. Pour the clear water off the top into another container. Be careful not to dump the sediment into the new container.
• Use non-scented chlorine bleach and determine the percentage of chlorine by looking at the label. Use a dropper to add the chlorine to the water:
• 1%: 10 drops per quart/liter – 40 drops per gallon
• 4-6%: 2 drops per quart/liter – 8 drops per gallon (8 drops is about 1/8 teaspoon)
• 7-10%: 1 drops per quart/liter – 4 dropsper gallon Double the amount of chlorine for murky water, cloudy water, or extremely cold water.
• Stir the water thoroughly and let it stand.
• Check the water after 30 minutes. The water should have a slight chlorine smell. If it doesn’t, repeat steps 3 and 4 again and let it sit for 15 more minutes. For water that has too strong of a chlorine taste, let it stand open for a few hours (without a lid) or pour it back and forth between two clean containers.
• Put the treated water into clean containers with lids. Tips:
• If bleach label contains directions for disinfecting water, follow the manufacturer’s directions.
• Chemical treatment works better in warm water.
• Never use non-chlorine bleach or scented bleach to treat water.
• If the strength of the bleach is unknown, use 10 drops per quart.
• To remove the chlorine taste, filter the water through a portable charcoal water pitcher, such as the kind commonly found in grocery stores.

Water You Waiting For?  If you’re interested in installing water filtration system in your home or business, the professionals atAllied Reddi-Rooter can help you determine which approach is best for your home, business, and budget. Call Ray today for a free estimate. 513-396-5300.