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Part 4: Odor and Taste Reduction When Choosing a Water Filter


In this series on How to Choose a Water Filter, we’ve covered sediment filters and are moving on to the next category, taste, and odor. So, what exactly is a T & O filter designed to do? The T & O category implies that the water problem is unrelated to “high-level” contaminants such as heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, etc. (the high-level pollutants will be addressed when the T & O category is resolved). To sum up, you’re asking for an improvement in water’s flavor and aroma.

Water is the universal solvent; hence tasteless and odorless water is unusual. Almost everything that comes into contact with water will dissolve on the microscopic scale. Many chemicals that affect T and O are absorbed as a result. The good news is that an activated carbon filter can fix most T & O issues. Charcoal, carbon, and activated charcoal all refer to the same fantastic substance: activated carbon. Because of its large surface area, it can trap dirt and grime effectively. Bituminous coal (usually from the ground from dead plants and trees) and burned coconut shells (no, your water will not taste like coconut) are the two primary sources of carbon used in water filtering. Bamboo carbon is another option, and it’s gaining in popularity as a more sustainable option thanks to bamboo’s rapid growth rate. Unfortunately, it’s not widely available, but you might want to watch for it. When we get to this series’s High-Level Contaminants section, we’ll discuss the distinct performance characteristics of different carbon forms (granular, catalyzed, block, etc.).

Let’s get to the meat of the matter. Your T & O problem can be addressed on a whole-house scale or at the point of use. The nature of the issue at hand should inform your choice. Even though shower filters are widely accessible, a whole-house system may be necessary to address odor concerns that make bathing and showering unpleasant. On the other hand, some T & O issues only arise while drinking the water, in which case a point-of-use system would be sufficient. In either case, you’ll probably have to use a charcoal filter. Ensure the whole-house water filter system you buy is designed to handle a household of that size. For information on measurements, please see section 2. Remember that your issue is only taste and odor, so you don’t need to worry about removing NSF standard 53 fancy lists of contaminants; all you need is a carbon filter. There are automatic, low-maintenance, whole-house carbon filters and filter cartridge systems for both whole-house and point-of-use. When I say that just about any carbon filter will do the trick regarding T & O enhancement, I’m not trying to oversimplify things.

Some of you will, unfortunately, suffer from both silt and T & O problems. If that’s the case, those concerns require individual attention. Use a pre-filter for the sediment before installing the carbon filter. You might wonder why a simple five or 1-micron carbon filter isn’t sufficient. While carbon filters are effective at removing residue, they are often three to five times more expensive than sediment filters and clog up considerably more quickly. Buying a sediment filter separately will save you money in the long run by extending the life of your carbon filters. Carbon filters effectively remove various impurities but are not built to deal with moderate to severe sediment issues. Installing a filter system properly will save you time and money in the long run.

Hydrogen sulfide (H2S), sometimes known as the “rotten egg” smell, is one of the most common causes of T & O problems. Carbon water filters can reduce H2S concentrations, but only for a finite period before they become ineffective. Many people are relieved to have found what seems to be a solution to this foul odor issue, only to be let down by a filter that exhausts itself exceptionally rapidly. Carbon, however, was not conceptualized with H2S removal in mind. The following post will reveal why KDF (Kinetic Degradation Fluxion) is the best solution for H2S issues.

Tony Lillie, aka Aquaman, is a Marketing and Technical Support Specialist for WaterFilters.NET and a Certified Water Specialist with the Water Quality Association.

The water filtration devices offered by WaterFilters.NET, an Inc. 500 company with rapid expansion, are used in homes and businesses.

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