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Water Filtration vs. Purification: What’s the Difference?

In these modern times, we do not often give much thought to the water around us. It is a simple convenience to turn on the tap or place a glass in the refrigerator door and serve ourselves a glass of refreshing water. But that modern convenience may not be an option for those of us trying to live on our own sustainability. We may not have access to water directly from a tap or a cold refrigerator. Instead, we choose to rely on the water from the world around us to nourish and sustain our bodies. However, even water gathered and stored from the rain may not be safe for us to drink. Knowing the difference between a water purification system and a water filtration system can have a significant impact on your own health and ability to safely live off the grid.

Water Sources and Storage

At one time or another, each of us has taken a sip of water from a water hose or a nearby stream for a temporary pick-me-up. These cool refreshing breaks are not the same as having a significant and safe water source to sustain a family. When living off the grid, it is paramount to have a safe source of water. One of the simplest and plentiful sources of water is rainwater. This source can be collected easily from your own home. Simply using rain gutters directed to water barrels or other collection devices you have chosen can increase your source dramatically. Another source similar to this, for those in any areas with access to it, is snowmelt. As the weather warms after the winter, plentiful snow begins to melt. This can also be collected as a source of water for your family. Again, collect the snowmelt in any water barrel or other collection device. If you have access to a stream, lake, or pond on your property, you may have an even more plentiful source of water. However, you will need to check with your local regulatory agency to determine what, if any, limits there are to the amount of water you can pump and use from that source.

When considering a water storage system, you also have several options. As mentioned above, water can be collected in barrels or other devices. Ensure easy access to the water you have collected by adding a tap to the bottom of the storage container. In addition to these smaller devices, you may need to think of storing larger amounts of water. For this, consider using a cistern to store your water. Of course, if you want an even larger amount, you may consider building your own storage well.

 

Once you have collected and stored your water, you still have to consider the best way for that water to be used by your family. Of course, if you are using the water as a means to water your plants or clean a load of laundry, you may not be as concerned about the quality. If you are using the water to sustain your family’s drinking supply though, the quality of the water can mean the difference between life and death.

 

Water Filtration

At its most basic, water filtration is the process of ridding water of any impurities through a physical barrier, chemicals, or a biological process. An easy example of water filtration is boiling water or cleansing impurities with carbon filters. These systems are often small in nature and are sometimes thought to improve the taste of water. The key element to remember in terms of a water filtration system is that they focus largely on impurities. These systems can be used to remove even the tiniest of particles, often including bacteria and microbial cysts. Filtration systems can be permanent or portable, and the size you need will entirely depend upon the amount of water you want to filter. However, it is important to note that water filtration systems do not treat viruses in any way. While these systems may make water appear to be clean, they cannot be relied upon as a sole means to ensure safe drinking water for you or your family.

Water Purification

Similar to water filtration, the process of water purification works to remove impurities from water. However, the impurities focused on in the purification process are those that relate to the overall safety of the water: biological contaminants, viruses, chemicals, and other materials. Water purification works as a chemical process usually using either iodine or chlorine. Although iodine is the preferred chemical, chlorine is often used in its place to make sure those with an iodine allergy are still able to consume the cleansed water. It is important to remember though that simply purifying water cannot always remove other impurities found in the water.

Samples

Because the need for a water filtration and purification system is so great when living off the grid, there is a large amount of information available. Often times, this amount information can be overwhelming. Below are links to a few key locations of information on getting started with your water system.

Berkey Water Systems seem to be one of the most popular systems available, particularly the stainless steel product. Although pricey, these systems meet all the requirements you would need to have a safe water source.

Creating a do-it-yourself water filtration and purification system is another direction you could go. Many have a secondary system like this in addition to their primary one.

Understanding the various ways to establish an off-the-grid water system is crucial to creating and maintaining the safest water supply for your family.

Conclusion

One of the most important elements of successfully living off the grid is having the ability to create and maintain a safe water supply. Simply understanding the differences between a water filtration system and a water purification system will help you go a long way in finding your own safe water source. It is important to also know that the best overall water system will be one that includes both a filtration element for large-scale impurities and heavy metals and a purification element to ensure the overall safety and taste.

©2011 Off the Grid News

© 2008-2014 Off The Grid News

10 comments

  1. What does it cost? As a 83 yr. old concerned about good health, I have limited funds. I’m very concerned with my drinking water. I came to the city from a farm and miss the good water back there.

    • I have a Berkey water filtration system . It includes 2 of there self sterilizing black carbon filters, and I have added the flouride filters because I am purifying a city water supply. The systems for 1 person seem to be in the 120.00 to 150.00 range. I spent 270.00 for the entire system as stated above , and the unit purifies about 4 gallons / hour for a family of three. We use it for drinking and cooking, I also have stored the purified water in safe BPA free 7 gallon containers for future needs. The two companies that are best for gravity flow( meaning they sit on the counter you fill them up, and the water flows down through the elements ) instead of whole house or under sink units. BERKEY and PRO PUR appear to have excellent filtration elements and take the majority of the contaminants, and chemicals out.

  2. Aqua Rain is a natural water filter that is stainless steel, works on gravity, and uses a ceramic filter system. Plus it is made in the USA. It is a great product and the water tastes wonderful.

  3. Jessie,

    You might look at something like this from Cheaper than Dirt.

    http://www.cheaperthandirt.com/CAMP352-1.html

    You have to purchase the buckets separately….

  4. Soon I will be moving to Alaska. Where I will be living the water source is a well. I am looking for a purification system that removes iron (staining), sulfer (smell and taste), and mag… I’m not sure what but it causes the water to have a grey tint to it. I would like it to remove everything else that I don’t want in my body. Does anyone know of a system that will do this? The system can be at the well or at the house so all water that comes into the house is purified. I would appreciate any help you can give me!

  5. I don’t recall if Off The Grid ever mentioned this product but believe that readers should be aware of concerns.
    Adya Clarity is promoted for water treatment and ‘super shots’ for health benefits.
    First – I have no idea if NaturalNews.com is a valuable source of info. I was referred to this alert regarding high levels of aluminum and iron: http://www.naturalnews.com/034005_Adya_Clarity_consumer_alert.html
    Glad I had not purchased at their high pricing – sounded too good to be true. Would it still be good to use for removal of contaminants in your water storage, ie as a step prior to Berkey Filter or other purification system? Or does the Berkey already do a better job of removal?
    NaturalNews does suggest that extreme coution be used for injestion of the product or the resultant coagulants, but if used solely for coagulation might be OK.
    “But as a side note, you can purchase aluminum sulfate from Amazon.com for just a few dollars a pound. Iron sulfate and magnesium sulfate are similarly inexpensive. If you’re only looking to treat dirty water with coagulation minerals, you can do it for a whole lot less money by simply purchasing bulk minerals on the internet.”

  6. There is to filtration available that beats that of the Doulton Filter, produced for over 150 years and sold in 140 countries, the very first ceramic filter and still the best, often copied but never equalled.
    Doulton is also filled with carbon block not the cheaper and less lasting Granular activated Carbon.

    No, I dont work for or own the company.

  7. The article is misleading and inaccurate. For excellent information consider looking at the California website http://www.cdph.ca.gov/certlic/device/pages/watertreatmentdevices.aspx which provides information on systems that are tested and demonstrated to meet California’s more strict requirements. As a second choice the NSF International website http://www.nsf.org/certified/dwtu/ can help you identify water treatment devices that have met minimal drinking water standards. The off-brand, uncertified products are notorious for adding additonal contaminants to the treated water with arsenic being the most common contaminant added. Some of the filters hyped in this article are known to contribute arsenic to the treated water as well. Since arsenates are proven cancer causers I would recommend researching this issue before purchasing a water filtration unit. Taste is not always a good indicator.

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  9. I have to write a paper about the difference between the two but I’m confused can someone like, make it more clear.

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