Given how water plays a huge and vital role in our bodily functions, it is only necessary for our drinking water to be clean in all aspects and come without any unpleasant odours or colours. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to this essential resource, so science has come up with the best methods to obtain safe drinking water free of particulates and contaminants that could endanger our health. Today, many people use water filtration or purification for their drinking water, but what exactly sets these two methods apart?
What is Filtration?
The idea of filtration, derived from the word filter, can be commonly found in how it is used in certain activities in daily life. Filtration is the physical process of using a filtering material like a screen to capture solid particles while allowing liquids to pass through unimpeded. The best example of this would be to use a strainer when preparing food.
Two of the most common water filtration systems are membrane filters and sediment filters, both of which are often combined to create a stronger filtration effect. Sediment filters can typically retail particulates around 1 to 100 microns in size. In contrast, membrane filters can capture bacteria, viruses, unwanted minerals, and many other microscopic contaminants smaller than 1 micron.
What is Purification?
In contrast to filtration, purification is a little less straightforward. The word purify means to remove all undesirable elements. Therefore, a product like a water purifier in Singapore serves to make water cleaner in a microscopic level. In other words, it works to remove elements such as metals, minerals, organic matter, and more that could pose a health risk. Water purification systems typically use activated carbon to adsorb said contaminants in the water. Other types also use technologies like ultraviolet (UV) sterilisation by UV lamps to eliminate microorganisms.
What Sets Purification and Filtration Apart?
The main difference between purification and filtration is that the former removes nearly all unwanted impurities from drinking water through distillation, adsorption, ion exchange, or UV radiation. Meanwhile, the latter only retains solid particles from a filter device and nothing more. However, extremely fine membrane filters do a much better job since they can also capture bacteria, viruses, minerals, and salts.
In summary, purification is ideal for eliminating microscopic or dissolved contaminants (regardless of whether they are natural or added elements) in the water. Otherwise, when there are solid impurities or sediments, filtration is used.
Although both works to make water safer to drink, filtration and purification are distinct processes with varying effectiveness. However, when it comes to water purification systems, these two methods are typically combined to produce the best drinking water quality, with filters serving as the first barrier, followed by a purification system in subsequent steps.
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