What is the Difference Between a Water Filter and a Water Purifier?

Understanding the difference between a water filter vs. a water purifier.

By: Alyssa Scavetta

Giving your dog a bath in the tub, washing the dishes after dinner, refreshing a glass of water for your brunch guest — you use water for everything. And having clean, healthy water to deal with all of life’s little messes? That makes all those moments a little sweeter — figuratively, of course.

But as you start to look for ways to contend with the contaminants in your water, you might find yourself getting tangled in the industry jargon. Lucky for you, we’re here to help. After all, what is the difference between a water filter vs. a water purifier and what does it mean to have demineralized water? Let’s take a look.

Water Filter

Using a water filter is like using honey to attract bees. Water filters use a blend of different kinds of media to attract the contaminants and prevent them from following your water to places like your kitchen sink.

Whole House Filters

Exactly as it sounds, whole house filters connect to your main water line to reduce contaminants across your whole house.body-wholeHouse

Most whole house filters — like Aquasana’s RHINO® Systems — work by starting with a sediment pre-filter that catches rust, sediment and silt. Then, the water moves to your copper-zinc & mineral stone to filter out chlorine, water-soluble heavy metals, and scale and inhibit bacteria and algae growth. From there, the water moves to your activated carbon filter. This filter works to reduce herbicides, pesticides and other chemical compounds that may be present.

Some whole house filters — like the Aquasana OptimH2O® Whole House Filter — works by using a giant, ultra-dense carbon block which offers superior filtration compared to granular media. Catalytic and activated carbon are combined to perform ion-exchange and sub-micron filtration — down to 0.5 microns. This works to reduces contaminants like lead, cysts, PFOA/PFOS, chlorine, chloramines and much more for amazing water throughout your entire house.

Whole house filters are also highly-configurable depending on your water needs; a water conditioner to reduce scale buildup in your pipes salt-free; a sub-micron post-filter to reduce any remaining sediment and organic particles in your water, as small as microscopic; a UV filter so you never have to worry about bacteria and viruses present during a boil warning again.

Shower Filtersbody-shower

Shower filters attach to the shower spigot and can come in a variety of color options and showerhead options. If you have your own showerhead, you can get an option that simply attaches to it, or you can get a shower filter that comes with a showerhead in the color of your choice.

Shower filters promote healthier skin and hair by reducing chlorine and synthetic chemicals that can cause damage and excessive drying. Natural coconut shell carbon that is the filtration media in Aquasana’s shower filters enhances water pH and removes over 90% of chlorine and other harsh chemicals, while copper/zinc media further reduces chlorine and enhances water pH balance.

Drinking Filters

Drinking filters can come in a few varieties, from options that sit on your countertop to a pitcher that fits snugly in your fridge, to an under sink option.body-drinking

Many use a combination of activated carbon/catalytic carbon plus ion exchange to capture and prevent those pesky contaminants from entering your water, like chlorine, chloramines, heavy metals, chlorine-resistant cysts like giardia and cryptosporidium, pharmaceuticals and more.

Unfortunately, unless your drinking filter uses certified Claryum® filtration technology like Aquasana’s 3-Stage Max, your filter will also remove all of the good minerals your body craves, like calcium, magnesium and potassium.

Water Purifier

Water purifiers come in many shapes and sizes. They not only remove what filters remove, but they also remove all minerals from the water. This is done via two methods of purification:

Reverse osmosis works much like a filter, but instead of using contaminant-grabbing media, it forces all water particles through a very small semi-permeable membrane. By forcing the water through this semi-permeable membrane (think of the whites of an egg), it screens out all particles that were too big to follow the pathway of the water.

Distillation, on the other hand, is when water is boiled and the steam is captured. The steam gets collected and purified.

Unfortunately, for both of these processes, unless your RO system includes a remineralizer, you’re drinking demineralized water. Here’s why this could be detrimental to your health.

Demineralized Water

While at first glance it sounds like a purification system is a superior option, it actually strips the water of the healthy minerals that your body needs, like calcium, magnesium and potassium.

So, what do we mean by healthy minerals?

The World Health Organization has reported that “drinking water should contain minimum levels of certain essential minerals”. They’ve identified those minerals as, “Calcium, Na, K, Cl, Mg, Fe, Zn, Cu, Cr, I, Co, Mo and Se [which] are unequivocally essential for human health; although not commonly realized drinking water provides some of these elements.”

Now, what will happen if you drink demineralized water? First, demineralized water is more acidic. When you consume an acidic substance, your body is forced to pull minerals you carry in your bones and teeth to allow the formation of bicarbonates that will neutralize the acid. Second, when the fluids in your body contain more acid than alkaline, more free radicals are produced and the risk of cancer increases, as cancer cells have been shown to be more productive in more acidic environments.

Demineralized water is more acidic. When you consume an acidic substance, your body is forced to pull minerals you carry in your bones and teeth to allow the formation of bicarbonates that will neutralize the acid.

Water Filter vs. Water Purifier vs. Demineralized Water

At the end of the day, purification as it currently functions is a process best left to the science lab. But if you’re still set on water purification, find a reverse osmosis system that purifies your water and also comes with a remineralizer.

For those looking to filter or purify your water, Aquasana has many great, affordable options to protect you and your family from contaminants in your home. Our multi-process filtration systems remove the negative contaminants you do not want while leaving the healthy minerals that you do want, and our reverse osmosis system uses NSF certified Claryum® filtration technology, as well as a remineralizer, so you can drink with peace of mind. Looking for a filtration method? Aquasana offers a line of whole house, drinking filters and shower filters that also reduce all of the bad and leave in all of the good minerals your body craves. Because drinking clean, healthy water means finally drinking with confidence.