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Complete Overview of Whole Home Water Filter Systems: Part 2

Copper-Zinc and Mineral Stone Filter and Activated Carbon Filter

Since no single piece of water treatment equipment can manage all contaminants, multiple treatment filters are used within a whole house water filtration system. A combination of several specialized filters is the most effective way to keep the water you use and drink contaminant free. During Part 1 of this series, we looked at how the Sediment Pre-Filter removes sediment and debris from your water. After water goes through the Sediment Pre-Filter, it then moves on to the next stages of filtration: Copper-Zinc and Mineral Stone Filter and Activated Carbon Filter. Each of these filters utilizes a different process to treat your water. The combination of these two filters helps further safeguard your family from unwanted contaminants and impurities.

Let’s break down the filtration process for both the Copper-Zinc and Mineral Stone Filter and Activated Carbon Filter so you can learn why each is important.

Copper-Zinc and Mineral Stone Filter

Immediately after passing through the Sediment Pre-Filter and right before passing through the Activated Carbon Filter, water goes through what is called the Copper-Zinc and Mineral Stone Filter. This treatment filter is known best for diminishing the buildup of scale in the water, breaking down water soluble heavy metals like lead, and removing chlorine while preventing the development of algae and bacteria. The chemical properties of the copper, zinc and the mineral stones helps to remove many impurities from the water before it is passed on to the Activated Carbon Filter where additional chemicals are bonded to the carbon membrane.

The Science Behind Copper-Zinc Filtration

One of the most important chemicals that is filtered out of water is chlorine. Chlorine is added to our water at the treatment plant because it is an effective microbe killer and disinfectant. While it does have its need and is beneficial to some degree once water reaches your home there is simply no need for it to be in the water any further.

Let us take take you back to science class for a moment. The two metals in the copper-zinc treatment process are very dissimilar. Copper is soft and highly conductive whereas zinc is hard and has more insulating properties. As it turns out, there is a beneficial scientific process that occurs when chlorine passes through the combination of these two alloys – an electrochemical reaction where electrons are transferred between molecules, breaking the bonds of chlorine, creating an entirely new compound (zinc and cupric chloride) that is harmless to the body.

In short, when chlorinated water passes through the copper-zinc filter it becomes neutralized, making your water healthy for drinking and bathing.  Copper-Zinc Filtration uses a chemical process that is known as oxidation-reduction or redox, for short. In addition to removing chlorine, it is also effective at removing lead, mercury, iron and hydrogen sulfide from water. It also contains some anti-bacterial, fungicidic, algaecidic and lime reduction properties and when combined with other water filtration technologies – such as Sediment Pre-Filters and Activated Carbon Filtration –provides ideal filtration results.

What Does the Copper-Zinc Filter Remove?

The Copper-Zinc Filtration component is effective at reducing or removing the following:

  • Chlorine
  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Magnesium
  • Chromium
  • Copper
  • Nickel
  • Iron
  • Hydrogen sulfide

And helps to inhibit the growth of:

  • Bacteria
  • Fungi
  • Algae

Copper-Zinc and Mineral Stone Filter Overview

This process of water treatment helps to remove scale as well as prevent the development of bacteria and algae.

The chemical process in which Copper-Zinc Filters work, known as redox, is effective in eliminating and/or reducing undesirables such as chlorine and other heavy metals. By adding or taking electrons from contaminants, the alloy combination physically changes the properties of some elements, rendering them harmless or completely eliminating them.

The Mineral Stone Filter prevents the chemical compound (KDF) used in the Copper-Zinc Filter from clumping, which can cause water pressure loss. It also keeps additional sediment from going through the filter.

Combining Copper-Zinc with Activated Carbon Filters

For the most effective water filtration it is recommended that Copper-Zinc Filters are used in conjunction with Activated Carbon Filters. Copper-Zinc Filters enhance the life of Carbon Activated Filters and help by removing numerous heavy metals, an area Activated Carbon Filters are not designed for. The Filter Butler Whole House Water Filter comes standard with both of these filters, providing homeowners with added piece of mind and one less thing to consider when selecting a home filtration option.

Activated Carbon Filter

To understand the Activated Carbon Filter, it’s helpful to compare it to the Sediment Pre-Filter (the water filtration process preceding Copper-Zinc and Mineral Stone Filtration). The Sediment Pre-Filter filters out particles by size whereas the Activated Carbon Filter, or AC Filter, uses a process called adsorption. Adsorption, not to be confused with absorption, is defined as the adhesion of atoms, ions or molecules from a gas, liquid, or dissolved solid to a surface. Adsorptive filters attract contaminants and hold them onto the surface of the carbon.

There are two variations of Active Carbon but the one that is most commonly used in water treatment is called Granular Activated Carbon (GAC). GAC is effective at adsorbing the following substances:

  • Benzene– associated with a range of acute and long-term adverse health effects
  • Chlorobenzenes– a known cause of eye, nasal and skin irritation
  • Trichloroethylene– short and long-term exposure is shown to effect the central nervous system
  • Carbon tetrachloride– long-term exposure has been shown to impact the liver and kidneys
  • Methylene chloride
  • Vinyl chloride
  • Pesticides
  • Solvents
  • Industrial wastes

As we mentioned above, water is disinfected at the municipal water treatment facility with chlorine or chloramines. When chlorine comes into contact with certain organic matter it can produce compounds such as trihalomethanes (THMs) as byproducts. Your Activated Carbon Filter can help to remove some of these disinfection byproducts as well as chlorine and chloramines. AC Filters can also help to reduce lead in your drinking water, although the Copper-Zinc and Mineral Stone Filter is more commonly cited for this purpose.

What is Activated Carbon?

Activated Carbon is actually charcoal treated with oxygen. This type of material is produced so that it opens up millions of tiny pores between the carbon atoms, aiding in the chemical process through which adsorption occurs. Activated Carbon has a huge surface area that provides bonding sites in which to attract and prevent impurities from passing through your filter and into your home.

Carbon Filtration Limitations

We mentioned that Carbon Filtration is a chemical process where certain chemicals – such as chlorine, pesticides and solvents – will bond to its surface. However, chemicals that are not attracted to carbon – such as sodium and nitrates – will pass right through this filtration process. Activated Carbon Filters will also not remove microbial contaminants like bacteria and viruses,  nitrates, and minerals like calcium and magnesium. Bacteria and viruses can be removed by using a UV Filter, effects of high mineral content like scaling can be neutralized through the Salt-Free Water Softener. Many of these filtration options are add-ons which is why it is important to know what’s in your water and to determine what you need to safeguard your family from.

Activated Carbon Filtration Overview

The Activated Carbon Filter is the third stage of the water filtration process. AC filtration is a chemical process (although no chemicals are added) in which certain organic compounds, solvents, pesticides and industrial wastes are bonded to the carbon, preventing them from passing through to your home’s water supply. The Coper-Zinc Filter complements the Activated Carbon by helping to capture heavy metals, reduce impurities, and extend the life of the carbon bed.

The Sediment Pre-Filter, Copper-Zinc and Mineral Stone Filter, and Activated Carbon Filter do not capture minerals and microbial contaminants. This is why add-ons such as the UV Filter and Salt-Free Water Softener and De-scaler may be desired depending on your water test and individual filtration needs. In Part 3, we will look at how the Salt-Free Water Softener and De-scaler change the structure of minerals to eliminate the effects of hard water and prevent scaling.

View our water filter selection to learn more about filtration and compare products.

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Filter Butler offers whole Home Filters, Whole home Salt Free Softeners, and other drinking water solutions for residential and commercial customers.
Categories: Filters