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Water Purifiers vs. Water Filters: Is There a Difference?

by Jennifer Bellini

Marketing expert, Business guru

> 2 min read

Is There a Difference Between Water Purifiers and Water Filters

Everyone wants the drinking water in their home to be as safe as possible, and depending on the circumstance; there are varying degrees of water treatment that must occur. Factors influencing the level of attention your tap water requires include the water source and the region you reside.  

Homes on a city grid are already receiving treated water to their homes, but if you live in a rural area and use well water, it’s up to you to install a filtration system to ensure the water is clean. But at what point do you need to bring in a purifier? Is there a difference between filtering and purifying water?


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water filter sytem

Water Purifiers vs. Water Filters

Despite their similarity in cleaning contaminated water, there is a distinct difference between water purifiers vs. water filters, both in how they operate and when you should use each one. A water filter is the most common of the two. A filter is a porous substance that removes chlorine, metals, and other sediments from your water. 

Water purifiers are much more effective at filtering harmful substances out of your water supply. In addition to removing bacteria, purifiers remove viruses, toxins, and volatile organic chemicals. Water purifiers also remove all minerals from the water, making it completely pure.

Benefits Of a Water Filter 

Water filters are ideal for screening the water that enters your home for undesirable contaminants and ensuring they don’t make it to the tap. Filters come in many varieties and can remove harmful substances from your water using a physical barrier, a biological, or a chemical process. 

Each filter on the market has its unique parameters, and you should never assume that a water filter removes everything from your water. Your filter should list the specific substances it’s designed to filter out. A few of the many benefits of filtered water include:

Safe Drinking Water

The primary reason for filtering water is usually to make it safer to drink. Filters can remove sediments and metals like copper, zinc, or mercury. 

Environmental Sustainability 

A water filter in your home eliminates the need to buy bottled water, reducing your single use plastics consumption significantly. 

Improves The Taste and Smell

Filtering your water helps remove certain minerals and metals that can cause a metallic or tangy taste in your water. If you’re on a city water supply, you may also notice a strong chlorine scent or taste in your tap water, which filtration can resolve. 

Healthier Hair and Skin 

Chlorine in your water can cause damage to your hair and skin, drying it out by stripping it of the natural oils that lock in moisture. With a filter to remove chlorine, you can avoid itchy, scaly skin and crunchy locks. 

Reduce Your Expenses 

By introducing a filtration system to your home, you can eliminate the need to purchase bottled water each week, saving your money in the long-term

"Chlorine in your water can cause damage to your hair and skin, drying it out by stripping it of the natural oils that lock in moisture." 

Types of Water Filters

There are plenty of options for water filters you can implement in your home at an affordable price. Two popular methods of filtration are carbon-activated filters and ion exchange units with activated alumina. Forms available include:

Drinking Filters 

Drinking filters are a popular, low-budget way to filter only the water you plan to consume. These filters come in many forms, including under the sink filters, countertop filters, and pitcher filters which you fill up and store in the fridge. 

Shower Filters

A shower filter attaches to the shower spigot, removing substances like chlorine from the water you bathe your body in. This is the ideal choice if your primary concern is dry skin and damaged hair. 

Whole House Water Filtrations Systems

A whole house filtration system connects directly to your home’s main water line and filters all the water used in the house. For homes using well water, a whole house filtration system is a worthwhile investment to ensure water is safe for drinking and free of harsh minerals that may alter clothing colors in the wash.

When to Get a Water Purifier

When considering the benefits of water purifiers vs. water filters, think about what substances you are at risk of consuming in your water supply. Water filters have limitations and do not remove nitrates, bacteria, or dissolved minerals. 

Water purifiers can extract even the smallest particles from your water, ensuring what you drink is completely clean. There are two types of purification to consider for your home. Reverse osmosis purifiers use a semipermeable membrane to allow water to pass through while trapping contaminants. RO’s can remove nitrates, sodium, pesticides, and chloroform from your water. They cannot extract all organic and inorganic contaminants. 

The alternative is to distill water, which removes all contaminants by converting contaminated water to steam. The particles in the water do not evaporate with it, and when the steam condenses, you’re left with clean, purified water. A distillation unit may not remove some pesticides, VOCs, or volatile solvents from your water

If you are concerned about pesticides, bacteria, or viruses in your water, it’s worth considering a purifier rather than a filter.

Problems With Purified Water

A water purifier sounds like the superior option, especially since it will remove everything that your water filter can’t. But when you purify water, you’re stripping the water of all its minerals, many of which are beneficial for your health. 

If you are primarily drinking demineralized water, you may experience adverse health effects. Demineralized water is extremely acidic, which can harm your teeth and bones. The body produces free radicals at a higher rate when the acidity levels in your body fluid outweigh alkaline levels. Free radicals are associated with the growth of cancer cells.  

For those who feel a water purifier is necessary for their home, ensure you purchase one that comes with a re-mineralizer so that the water you’re regularly consuming still contains all the healthy minerals your body needs.

pitcher and a glass

The Bottom Line

Choosing between water filters and purifiers for your house can be confusing, but a water filter is sufficient for providing safe, clean drinking water for most people. It’s also the best choice if your primary concern is not the quality of drinking water but irritation when showering or the damage your water is doing to your clothes. 

If you’re worried about smaller particles in your water supply like microplastics, viruses, or other harmful bacteria, then considering a water purifier, like an RO or distiller, is a smart idea. 

Be mindful of minerals in your drinking water by opting for a purifier that will re-mineralize your water since purification removes many beneficial nutrients that your body needs.

Jennifer Bellini

About the Author

Jennifer Bellini is a business guru who’s spent most of her life working in her home state of Wisconsin where she still lives with her family. Her experience lends itself best to sussing out the unique problems a business may face with their water quality. She is also our lead market analyst and is the driving force behind site growth.