5 Different Home Water Filtration System Types

Many people can’t stand drinking tap water. Some people drink nothing but bottled water, but that can end up being rather costly in the long run. But what options does anyone really have?

There are actually a multitude of water filtration options available on the market today. They can make tap water taste better, without the without concerning contaminants. But what is the best option to choose from? Below are five popular types of household water filtration systems to consider:

Activated Carbon Filtration Systems

These water filtration systems are excellent for removing organic substances, chlorine, magnesium, chloroform, agricultural chemicals, and another sediment from water.

This is done by the activated carbon working to adsorb these chemicals and particles. This is not to be confused with absorption. When something is absorbed, it is taken into another material of some kind. When it is adsorbed, however, the material sticks to another material, rather than being pulled into it. This is the basis of how activated carbon filtration systems work.

Activated carbon charcoal is created when high carbon content materials are heated in a way that they aren’t burned but are still charred. This char is then treated in a way to create a porous material that binds with certain toxins and impurities.

This kind of filtration system is the most common type used, and it is often used in conjunction with the other filtration systems on this list. Using these filtration systems together results in much cleaner and healthier water.


  • Cheap
  • Easy-to-use


  • Requires frequent filter changes

Ion Exchange Filtration Systems

These filtration systems are used to help remove hard water and radioactive material from water.

As the name implies, ion exchanger filters are made with a substance used to swap ions in the water as it flows through. For example, calcium or magnesium ions (substances known for making hard water) can be replaced with sodium ions. This, in effect, “softens” the water. A quick way to check for hard water is to see if the water leaves stains on dishes after washing them. Hard water also has a tendency to build up in pipes, which effectively shortens the life of some kitchen appliances.

Now, it is important to know that even though this filtration system can remove hard water and radioactive material from water, it does not remove other organic materials, bacteria, or other particulates. For that reason, this filtration system should always be used with another that can remove what this one misses.


  • Softens hard water


  • Should be used with other filtration systems

Reverse Osmosis Filtration Systems

Those wanting a system that is capable at effectively removing very high percentages of toxins—such as fluoride, arsenic, copper, hexavalent chromium, nitrates and nitrites, salt, radium, and much more—should consider utilizing a reverse osmosis filtration system.

These filtration systems are very popular, and for good reason. These filters work by pushing water through a reverse osmosis membrane via the use of water pressure. The contaminants stay on one side of the membrane while the clean water is pushed through. This is one of the only filtration system types that are able to remove water-soluble contaminants, such as fluoride or chromium 6. If a home already has a water softening or ion exchanging filtration system, then adding a reverse osmosis filtration system can help remove that excess sodium from drinking water.

Now, there are some things to consider when looking at this type of filtration system. First, even though these are very popular, they do use quite a bit more water than other system types, all the way up to four times as much. Also, this is not a rapid process and the filter can decrease water pressure by a noticeable amount. This is why these systems do not typically service the entire home. Also, this high level of filtration isn’t typically necessary for day-to-day activities and is typically only used for drinking water.


  • Improves water taste
  • Improves drinking water quality


  • Uses lots of water
  • Can decrease water pressure if used for the whole house

Mechanical Filtration Systems

These filtration systems are excellent for removing particles and waste materials from water. This is most often used as a “pre-filtration” method. The waste material gets stuck between the filter as the water flows through the system. The filter is often made of nylon floss, pads, or synthetic foams. A fish tank is a great example of this type of filtration system. The filter traps plant matter, fish waste, and excess fish food without trapping the bacteria that is healthy for the fish.


  • Highly effective at removing contaminants


  • High replacement costs

Ultra Violet Filtration Systems

These filtration systems are used to help remove bacteria and viruses from water. Not only that, this is one of the more environmentally-friendly options. This system utilizes different filters and different frequencies of ultraviolet light to clean water.

This works because the DNA in different microbial cells actually absorb this UV light. This essentially can kill all of the viruses and bacteria in your water, sanitizing the drinking water.


  • Environmentally-friendly


  • A bit more expensive

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