An Essential Guide to Understanding Water Purification Terms

If you drink water from a public source, it almost certainly fulfills national safety regulations. However, homeowners using a private water supply are in charge of monitoring the quality of their drinking water. Water treatment systems can help enhance water quality by lowering health risks, such as bacteria, chemical pollutants, other hazardous compounds, smells, and hardness. You can usually rectify any unpleasant qualities in the water by repairing or replacing the existing water system or treating the residential water supply.

However, before you buy a system, you should understand the main terms used in the water purification business to help ensure you address every concern you may have with your water. Here is our essential guide to understanding water purification terms!


Chlorination is the most prevalent, oldest, and least expensive way to disinfect water. Treatment plants regularly dispense chlorine chemicals into the water supply via a chemical feed pump. The oxidizing agent chlorine kills most bacteria and viruses. Chlorine is a great disinfectant when used in the right amounts and for the right amount of time.

However, it’s important to make sure that you use only pure, clear water. Chlorine interacts with some metals and organic substances in water. The main issue with chlorination is the possible creation of dangerous chlorinated organic compounds (trihalomethanes) when chlorine reacts with organic molecules in the water supply. After chlorination, use an activated carbon filter to remove excess chlorine and small amounts of chlorinated compounds. Some color and odor-causing chemicals, such as iron and hydrogen sulfide, may become oxidized and removed by chlorination.


Pasteurization is the process of heating water to destroy bacteria, viruses, cysts, and worms. This process is costly due to the heat exchange’s low efficiency. However, pasteurization doesn’t leave a residue product that continues to disinfect after the treatment period has ended. You best need pasteurization in areas that will require a lot of disinfected water at one time, such as in industrial processes or factory food production.

UV Disinfection

Ultraviolet light produced by low-pressure mercury arc lamps has germicidal effects. The radiation kills or renders pathogens inactive. While a modest dose of radiation can kill bacteria, viruses are more resistant, and cysts and worms are unaffected. The lamp’s efficiency degrades over time, needing replacement yearly. Color, turbidity, and organic impurities in the water can also obstruct ultraviolet radiation transmission, lowering efficiency to dangerous levels. Furthermore, radiation doesn’t leave any residual product that continues to disinfect after the treatment period has ended.


Boiling water kills germs in three minutes, including disease-causing organisms and giardia cysts. On the other hand, it concentrates inorganic contaminants like nitrate and sulfates. Because boiling water eliminates carbon dioxide, it has a flat taste.


Water is heated until it vaporizes as steam during distillation. When steam condenses into relatively clean water, minerals, bacteria, and other things are left behind. Distillers remove bacteria, minerals, trace amounts of metals, numerous organic compounds, and nitrate. Some stills allow pollutants with lower boiling points (such as insecticides and volatile solvents) to evaporate with the water and condense with the distilled water. However, using a vented distiller avoids this difficulty. Distillers also remove essential minerals from water, resulting in a flat or bland flavor.


Filter systems are a cost-effective and straightforward solution to regulate many pollutants. Some examples of these include mechanical filters, activated carbon filters, oxidizing filters, and neutralizing filters. However, you should only use filtration systems on potable water. This means that your water supply should be clean, uncontaminated, and safe to drink.

Mechanical Filters

Mechanical filters remove sand, silt, clay, and organic matter from water. Many frequently use them in conjunction with other treatment equipment since they don’t remove dissolved or very small particles. These filters extensively use fabric, fiber, ceramic, and other screening materials. Cartridge filters, used in a single waterline or on a tap, and tank filters, which treat the entire household water supply, are two types of mechanical filters. You must have these filters serviced regularly.

Activated Carbon Filter

As contaminants pass through a carbon cartridge, activated carbon filters absorb them. These filters remove bad odors, bad tastes, organic chemicals, and residual chlorine. However, the filters don’t remove most inorganic contaminants, metals, microbes, or nitrates. Carbon filters also remove some potentially harmful contaminants, such as radon gas, numerous dissolved organic compounds, and trihalomethanes. You can use a whole-house unit if the contamination levels are low.

On the other hand, these filters don’t remove pollutants at consistently high levels. When you can’t eradicate contamination, switching to a different water source may be the safest option. As the carbon filter becomes saturated with impurities, it loses its efficiency and needs regular replacement. You may find contaminants discharged into the drinking water if you use the filter for longer than its rated lifetime.

Reverse Osmosis

Reverse osmosis (RO) water filtration is one of the most popular and cost-effective water filtration systems available if you’re seeking great-tasting, fresh drinking water for your house or company. In simple terms, a reverse osmosis water filter works by forcing water through a semi-permeable membrane and flushing impurities down the drain. Then, a holding tank collects the clean drinking water. RO filters improve many different characteristics of water, some of which include better taste, smell, and even texture!

To supply top-quality drinking water, you can install a modest RO filtering system for the kitchen tap. This is a “point of use” (POU) water filtration system, and it can also connect to your refrigerator and ice maker. Water pressure is an issue with some refrigerators, so consult the owner’s manual for your RO system. In fact, the pressure from the reverse osmosis unit is about two-thirds of the incoming line pressure.

This essential guide to understanding water purification terms has hopefully helped you learn water purification terminology. If you are looking to purchase a residential UV water treatment system, reverse osmosis system, or any other type of purification system, be sure to refer to Premier H2O. We have an amazing selection of all things water purification to ensure that you can leave our store satisfied.

An Essential Guide to Understanding Water Purification Terms