Treating water can be broken down into two general areas: Water purification (which usually involves some type of water filtration device) and Water conditioning (which has to do with chemical changes in compounds of the water itself).


In this attempt to imitate nature, water is evaporated from one container into another container. In nature this occurs constantly, primarily from the earth (seas, lakes, rivers, etc.) to the sky. In distillation, this process usually is accelerated by heat. There are many types of distillation units which the consumer can buy, from simple 2 gallon a day units to whole house applications. The cost is typically quite a bit more than the other filtration devices, but the quality of water is also better and more certain.


Deionization is complicated. The long and the short of it is that most deionization units have two different chambers. The first one removes all positive metallic ions and replaces them with hydrogen ions. The second one absorbs the remaining negative ions and gives off negative hydroxyl ions. Through the magic of chemistry, the resulting positive hydrogen ions and the negative hydroxyl ions form to produce water molecules. Did you understand that? Didn’t think so. It is a pretty amazing process but this technology is complicated and if something goes wrong, it can produce some pretty dangerous water because of its use of acid to purify.


In olden times, farmers used to throw silver coins in water buckets to kill bacteria and other forms of organic pollutants. Silver was and is effective in killing certain types of bacteria. Today silver is still used to some extent to kill bacteria (primarily as part of a filtration device) but we have grown immensely in our ability to achieve direct organic destruction with better and lower cost technologies.

The main organic destruction technologies today involve chlorinating the water or ultraviolet light bombardment. These technologies are low cost and simple to install and are usually used in addition to filtration devices which cannot filter organics.


The vast majority of purification systems involve filtration of some sort. All filtration works on the same principle, only the sizes of the pores in the filters are different. The best filtration that is commercially available is filtration by Reverse Osmosis. Pore sizes here are .0006 microns. Going to larger filtration pores you have nano-filtration .006 microns, ultra-filtration .06 microns, and micro-filtration .6 microns. After this you have various other filtration media which range from 1 micron to 100 commonly known as sediment filters. For size comparisons, a human hair is about 100 microns.

Carbon filters are filtration devices which use carbon to attract undesirables out of the water and onto the carbon.

A common technique in filtration is attaching a chemical feeder before the filtering media to inject chemicals in water to change the chemical properties of the undesirables in water so it can be filtered out by the media.


The most popular water conditioners use salt to exchange sodium ions with calcium ions in the bicarbonate molecule. The positives of water conditioners is their ability to almost completely remove calcium, the main hardness culprit. The negatives involve their installation and the necessity to use salt in the conditioning process.