3 Types of Water Purifiers

If you’re looking to get water that’s healthier and better tasting, here’s what you need to know about water purifiers.

By: Maggie Pace

Clean water is essential for healthy living, and water purifiers are a great way to remove contaminants to improve the quality of your tap water. However, not all water purifiers are the same. There are several different types of water purification methods, and there’s also filtration which is entirely different.

To help you determine if you should purchase a water purifier and which type to choose, we’ve created this guide explaining their differences along with some other helpful information.

What is a water purifier?

Water purification is the process of removing undesirable chemicals, organic and inorganic materials, and biological contaminants from water so it is safe for use. A water purifier treats water using one or more purification methods to make it safe.

Water purifiers vs water filters

It’s important to note that purification and filtration are not the same thing

A water filter will attract contaminants through a process known as adsorption to catch them and prevent them from continuing into the water you’d drink and use. Water purifiers catch contaminants much like a filter, but they also destroy the contaminants as well. While purifiers are superior in contaminant removal, a downside is that they often remove everything from the water including beneficial minerals that are good for your health including calcium, magnesium, and potassium. A lack of minerals can affect the taste of your water, and many people think purified, and therefore demineralized, water tastes “flat” by comparison.

If your goal is to make water safe to drink, you’ll likely find that a water filter is more than capable of removing contaminants without the consequence of taking away healthy minerals. However, if you’re set on a water purifier for maximum contaminant removal — read on to learn about your options.

Types of water purifiers

There are three methods of water purification: reverse osmosis (RO), distillation, and ultraviolet (UV). Here’s a breakdown of how these methods work to purify water.

Reverse Osmosis (RO)

Reverse osmosis is the most commonly known method of water purification. Reverse osmosis systems work by pushing highly pressurized water through a semi-permeable membrane. The semi-permeable membrane acts like a screen, as harmful contaminants are left behind while clean water passes through. This process is highly effective at contaminant removal, but also tends to remove the healthy minerals from your water as well. As such, it’s a good idea to use a system that features remineralization technology to re-add the healthy minerals back into your water, like our OptimH2O® Reverse Osmosis + Claryum® system.


OptimH2O® Reverse Osmosis + Claryum®

Combines Claryum® and reverse osmosis technology to remove 88 contaminants including fluoride and arsenic.


Distillation is a type of water purification that separates contaminants from the water through boiling. When water is boiled, clean water evaporates into steam while the contaminant particles are left behind. Water purifiers that use distillation collect the clean steam, which is later condensed back into liquid water for drinking and other purposes. While distillation removes minerals, microorganisms, and chemicals with a high boiling point, they do not remove volatile organic compounds. As such, distillation systems may require additional filtration before use.

Ultraviolet (UV)

Ultraviolet water purifiers use UV light to kill microorganisms in water including bacteria, viruses, parasites, and cysts. UV light pierces the cell walls of microorganisms, either killing them or damaging their DNA so they can’t reproduce (known as inactivation). The dead microorganisms remain in the water, but are rendered completely harmless. However, much like distillation doesn’t remove VOCs, ultraviolet water purifiers are limited as well. Ultraviolet purifiers can only kill microorganisms, they won’t help with other contaminants such as chlorine, fluoride, or inorganic materials like metals including lead. To remove those contaminants, you’d need to pair a UV water purifier with another system.

Which type of water purifier should you choose?

Each different type of water purifier has their own pros and cons. Overall, reverse osmosis is your best choice for maximum contaminant removal, just make sure to get a system with remineralization technology. If you opt for a water purifier that relies on distillation or ultraviolet light treatment, make sure to supplement it with another system to address the gaps in contaminant removal associated with each of these purification methods.

Choosing the right system to remove contaminants is an important decision, so beyond water purifiers, we’d also recommend examining water filters. You’ll likely find that water filters are more than capable of removing the contaminants you’re concerned about, and you have more options to choose from. To learn more about water filters, check out our guide “How To Choose A Water Filter.”