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Whole House Filtration Systems - Part 2 - Selective Filtration Vs Distillation

David Eastham

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Looking at getting a whole house filtration system for your home? They are the most convenient way to provide your family good, clean water throughout the house. In this article, we take a look at the newer technology of selective filtration and compare that to filtering by distillation. Along the way, we will discuss some pluses and minuses of the two systems, see what to watch for when you are shopping, and learn which is the better buy.

First, a couple of general things about whole house systems, one is a plus, the other a minus.

  1. The plus. . . either system is a good investment in your family's health because they both will remove harmful chemicals from your water system. And, these chemicals are not only harmful to drink, but, if your water comes from a chlorinated water supply, according to the EPA, you will have elevated levels of chloroform gas in your home from showering, washing dishes, washing clothes and flushing toilets. It has been proven that 50 to 70 percent of the chemicals entering our bodies come from breathing in or absorbing such gases while showering.
  2. The minus. . . lead is the second most common contaminant of our water after chlorine, and the EPA says any level of lead in drinking water is unacceptable. A whole house filter unit is installed on the incoming cold water line right after the water enters the home. Filtered water then travels from that point to the water taps through pipes contaminated with lead, lead from the solder joints, or lead from the copper pipes (copper is 15% lead). So, even with a whole house unit, you must realize you still may want a filter on the kitchen tap.

Okay, first, the older technology, distillation.

The distillation process sends water over a heated coil, causing the water to turn into steam. The steam goes into a cooling chamber and condenses back into water, leaving the inorganic compounds such as lead, calcium, magnesium, etc. , behind.

Without minerals, the water becomes slightly acidic and flat tasting. If ingested, this water will attempt to balance itself by stripping calcium from cells, bones or teeth.

Bacteria are also destroyed during distillation; however, organic chemicals, such as chlorine, are not. The reason is due to the fact they vaporize faster than water and, so, they go right along with the steam to the condensing tank, liquefy, and return to the water.

Because of this, carbon filters must always be used in combination with distillation.

Distillation units operate very slowly, and at a high energy cost.

Now, let's compare distillation with the newer technology, selective, or multi-stage filtration.

These systems use a special form of activated carbon, carbon that has been blended with a chemically charged filter resin and extruded, or compressed, into a solid block composed of very tiny, submicron pores.

Carbon is recognized by the EPA as the best technology for removing chemicals from water, and it has an almost miraculous filtering capacity. Scientists claim a one foot square block of activated carbon has the adsorption area of five square miles!

So, in either system, old or modern, activated carbon is the correct filter medium for removing toxic chemicals from the water. Also, the submicron pores in the carbon block structure filter out any remaining contaminants, including chlorine-resistant cysts, like Cryptosporidium and Giardia.

But, what about the filter resin covering the adsorption area's surface, what does it do?

When water passes over this chemically charged resin, the positively charged heavy metal ions in the water, like lead, or mercury, are forced to give up their bonds with water and attach, like little magnets, to the resin. However, lighter minerals like calcium, or potassium, are not affected.

After that it's simple. The incoming cold water line hooks to one end of the selective filtration system and the other end of the system hooks to the outgoing water line and, away it goes. It works, without electricity and virtually maintenance free, giving you good, clean, healthy water.

When shopping, make sure the product you are considering has been certified by Underwriters Laboratories to do what they claim it does. Also, you want a product that is certified, not just the components! Some makers will say “certified components" instead of “certified product".

As far as cost is concerned, the selective filtration technology makes it easy, not only does it produce the best water, it is the cheapest too! See below for details.

David Eastham is a passionate advocate of good, safe water and a researcher of home water filters. Visit his site now at to discover which brand of drinking water filters David recommends after extensive comparison.


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