Water filters have become essential items in many homes. For people who live in areas with hard water, water filters are necessary to prevent their water from tasting chalky and dull. These filters use ion exchange to filter out undesirable minerals that alter the taste of freshwater.
Our Picks for the Best Ionizer Water Filters
4 ionized alkaline continuously variable; 1 non-ionized purified; 2 ionized acidic presets.
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Long-life, hi-tech filter purifies over 1,585 gal. of water and last up to a year
Unit cleans itself by reversing polarity after each use and auto-plate washing itself every 10.5 gal
Requires additional filter for chlorine
Easiest to install on the market
High capactiy with forever manufacturer warranty
The Internal 2 Stage Water Filter System gives you cleaner more purified drinking water
Reduces flow slightly but still acceptable
Requires minimum water pressure of 20lbs Per Square Inch of Constant water pressure (20psi) supplied by tap or well water pressureBudget Pick
Infuses additional hydrogen molecules into your drinking water, for spectacular effects.
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10 minutes of hydrogen inhalation is equal to drinking 2 liters of hydrogen rich water
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Does not remove as many contaminants as more expensive units
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Humans have used various water filtration methods throughout history, many of which relied on sieve-like designs that removed particles from water. Some of these were devised using cylinders filled with coarse gravel and fine sand, while others used cloth to filter out physical impurities.
These filtration methods were considered revolutionary for their time, but are mostly obsolete compared to the ion exchange filtration methods we have access to in the 21st century.
The modern ion exchange water filters we see today were first introduced in the early 1900s. They were created to help comply with the water quality standards that had been adopted by a number of countries at the time.
Ion exchange filters have made the water purification process incredibly easy, and can improve the taste of water immensely. Let’s look at how the ion exchange process works.
Minerals in water
Most freshwater found around the planet contains some minerals. Some of these minerals may not necessarily be harmful to consume, however, they can alter the taste of water if their concentration is high enough.
Freshwater found in areas with lots of limestone tends to be “hard”. This means it has a high concentration of calcium and magnesium. Hard water tastes chalky and “chemically”, and isn’t well suited for cooking or being used in beverages.
Other kinds of freshwater may have high concentrations of sulfate, nitrate, and arsenic. These can be hazardous to your health, and should definitely be removed before consuming such water.
What hard water filters do
A hard water filter removes calcium and magnesium ions from water that is filtered through it. This reduces the hardness of the water and gives it a more neutral taste.
Such filters contain ion exchange resins that the water passes through the during the filtration process. These resins are made from polymers that bind to positively charged ions such as calcium and magnesium and remove them from water.
However, removing positively charged ions from water can give it a net negative charge. So these ions need to be replaced with other positively charged ions from minerals that don’t alter the taste of water.
The resin water filter system on a calcium water filter is usually coated in sodium ions which are positively charged. These sodium ions replace the calcium and magnesium ions that were removed, in order to balance the concentration of positive and negative ions in the water.
This is considered a desirable exchange as the sodium ions replacing the calcium and magnesium ions do not alter the taste of water noticeably. This reduction in water “hardness” has led to some of these filters being referred to as “ionic water softeners”
What anion filters do
Anion filters are similar to hard water filters in that they replace certain ions in water with other less-harmful or less taste-altering ones. However, the key difference between the two is that anion filters filter out the negatively charged ions from water, while hard filters filter out positively charged ions.
These negatively charged ions include sulfates, nitrates, and arsenic which are hazardous to your health. Anion exchange has been used to make drinking water safe in many countries. Access to quality filtration can be a life and death matter for many people across the globe, so it’s great that affordable anion filters are widely available.
Ionizer water machines
Ion exchange filters are far more popular than their alternative – ionizer water machines or water ionizers. Water ionizers can be prohibitively expensive compared to ion exchange filters, and they may not be of use to most people.
The goal of water ionizers isn’t to purify water, but to split it into acidic and alkaline components. It does this through the process of electrolysis.
A typical water ionizer contains a water filter that is connected to your household’s water tap. This filter removes physical particles from the water before it is sent through the ionizer. This water then passes over “plates” in the ionizer that are electrically charged.
The positively charged plate attracts the negatively charged alkaline ions such as hydroxide (OH-), while the negatively charged plate attracts the positively charged acidic ions such as hydrogen (H+).
This process separates the water into an acidic stream and an alkaline stream that can be collected individually. It is believed that drinking the alkaline water provides health benefits, while the acidic water can be used for a variety of external applications.
However, the benefits of this alkaline water have been disputed, and are not backed up by scientific studies.
Acidic water can be used as an antibacterial cleaner, hand-sanitizer, make-up remover, cleanser and exfoliator.
Filters vs ionizers
Filters are better at accomplishing the task of removing particular ions from your drinking water. They are cheap, widely available, and can be replaced easily. Industrial anion exchange resins last between 4 and 8 years, while cation exchange resins last between 10 and 15 years.
Water ionizers don’t have a given lifespan, however, they may be more expensive to repair compared to ion filters which are relatively cheap.
Which is right for me?
If you live in an area where the groundwater is in contact with limestone, your water is likely to be hard. You can easily soften this water using a hard water or a calcium filter.
If you live in an area where the groundwater contains a lot of negatively charged ions such as sulphates and nitrates, you should opt to use an anion filter.
Everyone should have access to quality drinking water in the modern era, and ion exchange filters have helped provide this access to billions of people across the globe.