What Do Activated Carbon Filter Remove From Water?

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    Welcome to the world of water filtration, a subject that has become increasingly important in today’s environment. Whether you’re a homeowner concerned about the quality of your tap water or a business owner looking to product, understanding your filtration options is crucial.

    One of the most effective and popular methods of water filtration is through activated carbon filters. But what exactly are these filters, and more importantly, what does a carbon filter remove from water?

    In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the science and benefits of activated carbon filters, helping you make an informed decision for your water filtration needs. From residential to commercial applications, activated carbon filters offer a versatile solution for removing a wide range of contaminants.

    What are activated carbon for water filters?

    According to a study by the Water Quality Association, activated carbon filters are highly effective in removing contaminants like chlorine, volatile organic compounds, and even certain parasites. So, if you’ve ever wondered, “Does carbon filter remove chlorine?” or “What do carbon filters remove from water?”, you’re in the right place.

    Stay tuned as we explore everything you need to know about activated carbon filters, from the science behind them to real-world applications and frequently asked questions.

    What Are Activated Carbon Filters?

    Activated carbon filters are a cornerstone in the water filtration industry, offering a versatile and effective solution for contaminant removal. But what exactly are these filters, and how do they differ from traditional filtration systems?

    Definition and Types

    Activated carbon filters are made from organic materials with high carbon content, such as wood, coconut shells, or peat. The material is “activated” through a controlled process involving high temperatures and oxygen, which opens up millions of tiny pores on the surface of the carbon. This increases the surface area dramatically, allowing for maximum adsorption of contaminants.

    How They Work

    The primary mechanism behind activated carbon filtration is adsorption, not to be confused with absorption. Adsorption refers to the adhesion of atoms, ions, or molecules from a gas, liquid, or dissolved solid to a surface. This is what enables activated carbon filters to trap a wide variety of contaminants effectively.

    What does a carbon filter remove from water?

    Commercial and Residential Applications

    Activated carbon filters are not just for home use; they are also widely employed in commercial settings. From treating wastewater in industrial plants to purifying drinking water in offices, these filters offer a range of applications that meet various needs.

    Carbon in Water Filters: A Closer Look

    One of the standout features of activated carbon filters is their large surface area, which can be as much as 1,000 square meters per gram1. This large surface area allows for the effective removal of a wide range of contaminants, answering the question, “What do carbon filters remove from water?”

    Comparing with Traditional Filters

    While traditional filters like sediment filters or UV filters target specific types of contaminants, activated carbon filters offer a broader range of contaminant removal. So, if you’ve been pondering, “Does a carbon filter remove chlorine?” or “What do charcoal filters remove?”, rest assured that activated carbon filters are more versatile in their capabilities.

    Coconut shell activated carbon

    The Science Behind Activated Carbon Filtration

    When it comes to water filtration, understanding the science behind your chosen method is not just enlightening but also essential for making informed decisions. Activated carbon filtration stands out as a highly effective method, but what makes it so efficient?

    Adsorption vs. Absorption: The Fundamental Principle

    The key to activated carbon’s effectiveness lies in the principle of adsorption. Unlike absorption, where substances are taken into the bulk of a material, adsorption involves the adhesion of atoms, ions, or molecules to the surface. This surface interaction is what enables activated carbon to trap a multitude of contaminants, from organic compounds to heavy metals.

    Types of Activated Carbon: Material Matters

    Activated carbon can be derived from various raw materials, including coal, wood, and coconut shells. Each type has its own set of characteristics that make it more or less suitable for specific applications. For instance, coconut shell carbon, the iodine value between 1000-1200, is known for its long adsorption time and high effectiveness. It’s the preferred choice for high-end water purifiers, and it’s the only type of activated carbon used in our products.

    Carbon in water filters

    The Role of Pore Structure

    The effectiveness of activated carbon also depends on its pore structure. The activation process creates a vast internal network of microscopic pores, increasing the surface area to as much as 1,000 square meters per gram. This large surface area enhances the adsorption capacity, making it highly efficient in contaminant removal.

    Acid-Washed vs. Non-Acid-Washed Carbon

    Activated carbon can undergo additional processing like acid washing to remove impurities and heavy metals. Acid-washed activated carbon is more expensive but offers the advantage of fewer impurities and a more neutral pH level, making it ideal for sensitive applications.

    Silver-Impregnated Carbon: An Added Layer of Protection

    Some activated carbon filters are impregnated with silver to offer antibacterial properties. Known as silver-impregnated activated carbon, these filters are especially effective in removing bacteria and improving the taste and odor of water.

    Activated carbon for water filter

    Quality Indicators: How to Choose the Best

    When selecting activated carbon, key indicators like iodine adsorption value, CTC adsorption value, and methylene blue adsorption value can provide insights into its quality. Higher values in these indicators signify stronger adsorption capabilities.

    What Contaminants Can Activated Carbon Filters Remove?

    Activated carbon filters are renowned for their versatility in removing a wide array of contaminants from water. But what exactly can they filter out? Below is a comprehensive list of contaminants that activated carbon filters are effective against, backed by scientific evidence.

    Contaminant TypeEffectiveness
    Chlorine and ChloramineHighly Effective
    Volatile Organic CompoundsHighly Effective
    Heavy MetalsEffective
    Pesticides and HerbicidesEffective
    Sediments and ParticulatesModerately Effective
    Microbial ContaminantsVaries
    Pharmaceutical ResiduesEffective
    Bad Tastes and OdorsHighly Effective

    Chlorine and Chloramine

    • The Prevalence of Chlorine in Water Treatment Systems

    Chlorine is the primary disinfectant employed by a vast majority of water treatment facilities worldwide. While it excels in neutralizing harmful microorganisms and pathogens, its residual presence in tap water can lead to a multitude of issues:

    Health Risks: Research corroborates that individuals who regularly consume water containing chlorine are 93% more susceptible to various health ailments compared to those who don’t.

    Taste and Odor: Chlorine can significantly compromise the taste and aroma of your water, making it less enjoyable to consume.

    Do carbon filters remove chlorine?
    • The Unmatched Adsorption Capabilities of Activated Carbon Filters

    Activated carbon filters stand out as a specialized, targeted solution for contaminant removal. These filters are particularly adept at adsorbing chlorine molecules, owing to their large surface area and the principle of adsorption.

    • Credible Endorsements for Effectiveness

    Both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and NSF International confirm that activated carbon filters are extraordinarily effective in eliminating chlorine from water. Read more from the EPA.

    How to remove VOCs from water?

    Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

    • These are organic chemicals that have a high vapor pressure at room temperature. Activated carbon filters can remove a variety of VOCs, enhancing both the taste and smell of water.

    Heavy Metals

    • The Prevalence of Heavy Metals in Water Supplies

    Heavy metals such as lead, mercury, and arsenic are often found in water supplies due to industrial runoff, natural deposits, and aging infrastructure. These metals pose significant health risks when ingested, making their removal a top priority.

    Heavy metals in water
    • The Unparalleled Efficacy of Activated Carbon Filters

    Activated carbon filters are engineered to effectively remove a wide range of heavy metals from your water supply. The expansive surface area and adsorption capabilities of these filters make them particularly adept at trapping heavy metal ions.

    Health Risks Associated with Heavy Metals

    Exposure to heavy metals can lead to severe health issues, including neurological disorders, developmental delays in children, and increased risk of chronic diseases.


    • The Ubiquity of Pesticides in Water Systems

    Pesticides, including Chlordecone/CLD/Kepone, Chlordane, and Heptachlor, are commonly found in water supplies due to their widespread use in agriculture. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences categorizes pesticides as substances designed to kill, repel, or control plant or animal life considered as pests.

    Pesticides in water
    • The Science Behind Activated Carbon Filters

    Activated carbon filters have been rigorously tested and designed to remove up to 14 of the most prevalent pesticides from water. These filters are particularly effective due to their large surface area and the principle of adsorption.

    • Health Implications

    Exposure to pesticides can lead to both short-term and long-term health effects, ranging from immediate poisoning to chronic illnesses that can last for years.


    Herbicides have been used for centuries to control unwanted weeds and boost agricultural production. However, these chemicals can often leach into water supplies, affecting both aquatic life and humans.

    • The Efficacy of Activated Carbon Filters

    Activated carbon filters have been scientifically proven to remove up to 12 common herbicides, including 2,4-D weedkiller and atrazine, from water supplies.

    Herbicides in water
    • Health Risks Associated with Herbicides

    Some herbicides have been linked to cancer and other long-term health issues, making their removal from water supplies crucial for public health.

    Sediments and Particulates

    • The Commonality of Sediments and Particulates in Water

    Sediments and particulates are frequently found in water supplies due to natural erosion, industrial activities, and agricultural runoff. While they may not pose direct health risks, their presence can affect water clarity and taste.

    • The Relative Efficacy of Activated Carbon Filters

    Though not as specialized as sediment filters, activated carbon filters are still capable of trapping various forms of sediment and particulate matter. Their porous structure and large surface area make them a suitable secondary option for sediment removal.

    • Considerations for Choosing a Filter

    When it comes to sediment and particulate removal, it’s essential to consider the type and quality of the activated carbon filter you choose. Some are more effective than others in this regard.

    Microbial Contaminants

    What do charcoal filters remove? Some activated carbon filters are impregnated with silver to kill bacteria and inhibit the growth of microbes.

    Pharmaceutical Residues

    Activated carbon filters can remove traces of pharmaceuticals that often end up in water supplies.

    Bad Tastes and Odors

    One of the most common uses of activated carbon filters is to improve the taste and odor of water by removing contaminants that cause these issues.

    Bad taste and odor in water
    1. CDC – Chlorine and Chloramine Removal
    2. Pharmaceuticals in Drinking Water

    Are All Carbon Filters Created Equal?

    The short answer is no. The effectiveness of a carbon filter largely depends on the type and quality of activated carbon used, as well as the design of the filter itself. Let’s explore these factors in detail.

    Types of Activated Carbon: Not All Are the Same

    • Coconut Shell Carbon: This type of activated carbon is known for its long adsorption time and high effectiveness. It’s generally more expensive but is the preferred choice for high-end water purifiers.
    • Coal-Based Carbon: Generally used in low-end purifiers, this type of carbon is less effective and has a shorter adsorption time. It’s also heavier compared to coconut shell carbon.
    • Wood-Based Carbon: Mainly used for air purification, this type is not commonly used in water filters due to its short adsorption time.

    Quality Indicators: What to Look For

    • Iodine Number: This measures the carbon’s ability to adsorb small molecules. A higher iodine number indicates better quality.
    • CTC Value: This measures the carbon’s ability to adsorb chloroform, giving an indication of its effectiveness against VOCs.
    • Methylene Blue Adsorption: This measures the carbon’s ability to remove color, which can be an indicator of its overall adsorptive capacity.

    Importance of Choosing the Right Filter

    Choosing the right activated carbon filter is crucial for effective water purification. Whether you’re wondering “What does a carbon filter remove from water?” or “Does a carbon filter remove chlorine?”, the type and quality of activated carbon used will provide the answer.

    What are carbon filters?

    For businesses, especially those in the water industry, selecting the right type of activated carbon can make a significant difference in the quality of the end product. It’s not just about meeting regulatory standards but also about exceeding customer expectations for water purity and taste.


    In today’s competitive market, water quality isn’t just a regulatory requirement; it’s a business imperative. Activated carbon filters offer a versatile and effective solution for a wide range of water purification needs. From removing chlorine and VOCs to improving taste and odor, these filters are an indispensable tool in any comprehensive water treatment strategy.

    Key Takeaways for Businesses:

    ODM water filter

    Upgrade Your Filtration System Today for a More Efficient and Profitable Business

    Don’t settle for subpar water quality. Elevate your business to new heights by investing in a state-of-the-art activated carbon filtration system. Contact us today to find out how we can customize a solution that’s just right for you.

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