Water Purification v. Water Filtration – What’s the Difference?

We use water for everything, from drinking to bathing, washing dishes, and doing laundry! You may hear the terms water filtration and water purification are used interchangeably, but these are two different things.

Water Filtration

Water filtration uses either biological processes, chemicals, or a physical barrier to remove contaminants from the water. This improves the taste, color, and purity of the water. Water filtration focuses on impurities such as bacteria or larger particles. Unfortunately, filtration methods don’t always remove other contaminants, such as chemicals or viruses, that may be present in water.

Water Purification

Water purification works to purify water from contaminants further that filtration methods can’t address. It removes the chemicals, viruses, and biological contaminants that filters don’t and uses a chemical process rather than the typical barrier or boiling methods used for water filtration. Water purification removes the minerals in the water also, which filtration doesn’t typically do.

Whole-house water filters

A whole-house water filter connects to your main water line to reduce contaminants across your entire house.

Most whole-house water filters 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 and water-soluble heavy metals, 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 water filters use an ultra-dense carbon block that 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 reduces contaminants like lead, cysts, PFOA/PFOS, chlorine, chloramines, etc.

An excellent and unique feature of whole-house water filters is that they are highly customizable based on your needs. To enhance their functionality, you can:

  1. Add a water softener to reduce scale buildup in your pipes salt-free;
  2. Install a UV filter to destroy bacteria and viruses lurking in your water;
  3. Add a sub-micron post-filter to minimize any remaining sediment and organic particles in the water.

There are also other types of filters for different situations. Shower filters are perfect for treating water coming out of your showerhead. There are even drinking water filters that can sit on your countertop, in your fridge, and under your sink.

Under-sink water filters

Under-sink water filters are installed below the sink, so they’re out of sight, helping you gain more countertop space.

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.

How does water purification work?

Water purifiers function similarly to water filters, as both remove impurities. However, water purifiers go further by killing biological contaminants and removing minerals from water. This is done via two methods of water purification:

  • Reverse osmosis (RO)
  • Distillation
  • UV Treatment

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

Distillation is when water is boiled, and the steam is captured. The steam then gets collected and purified. Finally, UV treatment is when water is subjected to ultraviolet light that kills living organisms, including viruses.

While water purification offers the most contaminant removal, you may have better options. A UV purifier will remove microorganisms. However, you need to use it with a traditional water filter to remove sediments. 

Torres Water offers affordable options to protect you and your family from contaminants in your home. 

Our multi-process water filtration systems remove harmful contaminants, and our reverse osmosis system filtration technology helps you drink water with peace of mind. We also offer whole house and under-sink water filters that reduce contaminants while leaving in the good minerals.