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How Do Filter Water Bottles Work?

Do you want to make your drinking water taste even better while on the go? Filtered water bottles can transform the water you get from the tap into something far more flavorful and healthy. Yet, how do filter water bottles work? Why are they such a great choice to have? Many models are extremely good at what they were designed to do—removing harmful materials—but most people don’t know how the purification happens. 


Time to shed some light on how filter water bottles work, so you can decide if a filtered water bottle is what you need. 

What is a Water Filter Bottle?

A filtered water bottle is designed to contain a filtration system that removes contaminants from the water before you drink it. You can visualize these water bottles as the miniature version of those much larger water treatment facilities or those that produce bottled water. There are various kinds of filtered water bottles available today, but they all have the same goal: to make your water safer and tastier to drink. 


Stylistically speaking, filter water bottles look and weigh nearly the same as a regular reusable water bottle. They may be made of glass, BPA-free plastic, stainless steel, or something else. The only difference is that the water bottle also has a small filter that works to remove impurities from the water within the bottle. 

What is The Difference Between Bottled and Filtered Water?

Bottled water is often marketed as a clean, better tasting choice than tap water. Yet, because you can buy bottled water anywhere and under a ton of different brand names, the quality of it is questionable at best. 

Bottled water is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US. This means that the bottles have to be honestly labeled. However, when you see the words “spring” or “glacial” or “mountain,” those claims are hardly true. In fact, many popular bottled waters out there, such as Dasani and Aquafina, are simply filtered tap water. 


Studies have found that bottled water is pricey, terrible for the environment, and that the bottles themselves can leech harmful chemicals into the water. The only advantage of bottled water is that it is filtered, meaning it is safer than unfiltered tap water. 


So how is filtered water any different? First of all, you control the quality of the filtered water. There are both one- and two-step filters for both your home and water bottle that remove chlorine, fluoride, and chloramine, as well as heavy metals. This can lead to filtered water being far more tasty and healthy than bottled water. Plus, reusing a bottle is more environmentally friendly. 

Why Do You Need a Water Filter Bottle?

At some point, you have to wonder just how safe drinking water is around the world. You may not be aware of this, but the quality of water isn’t always safe. There are some places in the world where clean drinking water is hard to come by, which is why having a filter water bottle is one of the best investments you could make for yourself. 


There are several reasons why you may wish to invest in a filter water bottle


  • You are unsure of the quality of the tap water
  • You go on outdoor adventures often (including long backcountry hikes)
  • You like the taste of bottled water but want to reduce your environmental impact
  • You travel to countries where the water quality is not great or could be contaminated

But how important is it to have access to clean drinking water? Well, according to National Geographic, about 2.5% of the global water is safe for human consumption. Only 1% of that water is accessible to humans immediately. Most of it is trapped in snowfields or glaciers. 


That is just scratching the surface of how unsafe water can be. Even with the Safe Drinking Water Act, research has found that tap water contains all kinds of dissolved metals and contaminants, including arsenic and pesticides. Water from the municipal treatment facility may have lead in it, according to research. 


Water is essential to life, so don’t risk drinking unclean water. Try out a filtered water bottle. 

What Kind of Pollutants Are In Water?

Why should you purchase a filtered water bottle? There are many pollutants in water, even after it has been treated and cleaned. Some of the contaminants dissolve into the water as it travels through the pipes to your home. Common pollutants in water include: 


  • Sediment and dirt
  • Chlorine
  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Herbicides 
  • Pesticides 

Here is a video explaining the kinds of pollutants found in water: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yEci6iDkXYw

Chlorine is the only one that is added to help with killing bacteria. The others stem directly from the path of the water before it comes through your faucet. Mercury soaks through soil and remains in water, for example. The same is true for herbicides running off of crops. Through the years, pipes have deteriorated, diffusing lead into your drinking water. 


Fortunately, most filter water bottles do a tremendous job at removing both chlorine and dirt from your water. Other models may go a step further and draw out any harmful heavy metals, bacteria, and protozoa. Water purifiers are even better, as they remove viruses, too. 

How Do Filter Water Bottles Work?

There are two kinds of filter systems you will often find in a water bottle: 


  • Filters that remove contaminants as you drink from the bottle
  • Filters that work as you fill up the bottle with water

Both systems are similar and work to remove impurities as water flows through the filter. Regardless of how the water moves, it is being cleaned because the filter is catching and removing the contaminants. 

Activated Carbon 

One of the ingredients you will see in filtration systems is activated carbon. This comes in many forms. Why is activated carbon used in filter water bottles, you ask? Because it is open to attach to contaminants—thanks to it being carbon. In order to activate the carbon, it undergoes a process called oxidation, where the bonding sites on the carbon open to attract the molecules found in the impurities. 


The bigger the surface area, the more work the activated carbon filter can do. You will have to change activated carbon filters often. Otherwise, your filter water bottle won’t be as effective. 

Other Materials Used in Filters

While there are a variety of filters out there, it is best to look for ones that have stages to remove impurities along the way. For example, Invigorated Water pH ON-THE-GO filtration system is simple in design but has multiple stages. There are alkaline calcium balls to add calcium to the water and increase the pH for flavor. ORP balls are placed in their filter for antioxidants, while maifan, zeolite, and activated alumina work to draw out heavy metals and replace those with more beneficial minerals. 


You may find other models of water filter bottles that use suction to actively draw water through membranes designed to trap contaminants and bacteria. Be sure to read the information on the filter carefully, so you understand the process involved. 

The Filter In Action

Activated carbon is spread across the filter so that molecules can bind to it effectively. As water passes through the filter, the contaminants are sucked up and get trapped. There may be other layers or stages present, such as hollow fiber membranes and foam membranes, to trap bacteria, chemicals, pesticides, and more. 


Meanwhile, the cleaned water flows into the bottle, where you can drink it. This is why you may sometimes see black specks on the filter when you change it. That is the bits of carbon that have attached to impurities. 

Is a Water Filter The Same as a Water Purifier?

While “water filter” and “water purifier” are sometimes used interchangeably, there is a subtle difference that you should keep in mind. First, portable filter water bottles and portable water purifiers have a slightly different function. Secondly, the technology is not the same. A portable water purifier will remove everything a water filter bottle does as well as viruses. 


However, unless you plan on traveling to a place where you need to remove animal waste or toxins from the drinking water, you won’t need much more than a two- or three-stage filter water bottle. 


A filter, on the other hand, uses something called filter porosity to remove contaminants. In other words, if the contaminant is large enough, it gets trapped on the filter media, which is usually activated carbon, while water flows through freely. This is a simple function that traps volatile organic compounds, bacteria, chemicals, sediment, heavy metals, and even protozoa, like Cryptosporidium and Giardia. 


Unfortunately, viruses are much, much smaller than metals and sediment. They tend to slip on through the filter. Meanwhile, water purifiers pale in comparison to filters when trying to remove sediment and metal. The good news is that many manufacturers are coming out with options that both purify and filter water. 

How to Choose a Filtered Water Bottle

Knowing the ins and outs of water filter bottles is only the beginning. You need to know how to choose the best one for you. There are many kinds of bottles out there, as well as a wide selection of filter types. Here are some factors to keep in mind when shopping around for a water bottle with a filter: 

Filtration Capacity

How often do you plan on using your water bottle? If you plan on using the water bottle for domestic purposes, like re-hydrating while working from home, a single-stage activated carbon filter is best. These filters are great for “light cleaning” and will leave your water tasting fresher. 


Looking for something a bit more powerful? Choose a two-stage filter. These may contain both activated carbon and fibers that trap odors and flavors, alongside sediment and heavy metals. 


A heavy duty filter combines both filtration and purification. These have specialized stages, such as hollow-fiber membranes and ion exchange. Within the filter are also stages that trap pathogens and eradicate any remaining contaminants. Most heavy-duty filters can also handle far more heavy metals and VOCs than single-stage filters. 


Whatever you plan on getting, make sure the filters have been tested and certified to meet ANSI/NSF standards. That ensures you are purchasing a quality product. 

 

Filter Lifespan

Since it is hard to say how often a consumer will use a filter water bottle and the kind of water they filter, the lifespan is also difficult to determine. That said, most lifespans are measured by volume. This means that some filters—mainly the same ones—can filter up to 30 gallons (114 liters) before needing to be changed. Others measure the “cycles” of usage or “refills.”

Lead Removal Certification

Prioritize filter water bottles that have a NSF/ANSI Standard 53 certification for Class I lead particulate reduction. If you can find that, as this certification is rather new, look for information regarding NSF International lead removal standards. You can find the information on the manufacturer’s website. 


Why is this certification essential? Because it means that lead—a most dangerous contaminant—is effectively removed from your water. Since lead can lead to all kinds of health concerns, you want to remove as much of it from your water as possible. 


That said, lead is difficult to filter out of water. That may be why it is one of the most common pollutants found in previously treated water.

Filter Type

As mentioned earlier, there are water bottle filters that draw out contaminants when water enters the reservoir. Other filters work as water is consumed. These two main categories can be further broken up into four designs: 


  • Gravity filter. With this variety, you fill the reservoir with water then let it drip through the filter. This is a slow process, but you can filter contaminants out of greater portions of water. You won’t see this variety often with travel water bottles.
  • Straw filter. The most common variety in filter water bottles. As you suck water through the straw, the attached filter works to clean the water. Most straws are removable, so you can wash them out. The downside is that you must manually filter with the water while sucking through a straw. 
  • Squeeze filter. Similar in design to a gravity filter, you squeeze the water through the filter. 
  • Pump filter. These kind of filters require some effort—and it depends on the bottle. However, the water remains safe to drink for about 48 hours before you have to pump it through the filter once again.

Quality

Everyone wants a durable, resilient water bottle that will travel with them wherever they go. There are many varieties of filter water bottles out there, though some are more expensive than others. This may be due to unique features or the materials used. Invigorated Water, for example, has several options to suit any budget, including insulated stainless steel bottles or ones made from glass. 


Look for materials that are food-grade and BPA-free. Depending on your need, you may require a water bottle that can be dropped several times. Furthermore, you want a filtration system that can tackle the kind of water you will be using it for. The highest quality filters are those that improve the taste and texture of water while removing impurities. 


Do not buy a filter water bottle that only “softens” the water, as this could result in less than stellar results. If you want to travel with a water filter bottle, a water softener isn’t the best choice. Choose only medium and high quality water filters for trekking, backpacking, and other outdoor activities. 

How to Care For Your Water Filter Bottles

Getting the best tasting and cleanest water also means knowing how to properly use your water filter bottle. Remember that each bottle will have its own unique set of instructions. All manufacturers have filters that need to be used the correct way in order to be effective. Read the instructions carefully before using. 


Keep in mind that most filters need to be cleaned. Sometimes this is done with backwashing, which is the process of forcing liquid through the filter using pressure. Another option is to run the filters through clean water. 


Also, you should never use a filter right away. Most manufacturers recommend priming the filter first. This is because filters function best when already wet. 


Lastly, you should never use salt water, juice, or any other kind of beverage outside of water in the water filter bottle. The filters are not designed to draw impurities out of other kinds of beverages, and that could ruin the filter. 

The Best Water is Filtered

If you are a world traveler, fitness guru, or just generally concerned about the water you are drinking, then you need a filter water bottle. There are many advantages to using a filter water bottle, including the reduction of single use plastics and better drinking water. Plus, the simple filtration technologies that make filter water bottles possible truly function as they should. This means that you can have fresh water wherever you go!

FAQs

1. Do water bottle filters really work?

Yes, water bottles with built-in filters do work. Simply pour water into the bottle. The filter inside the bottle filters out the contaminants, such as heavy metals, chlorine, and other chemicals. The water you drink is clean, fresh, and tastes a lot better than if you had drank it straight from the tap. Some filters may even remove bacteria and viruses.

2. Which filter is best for drinking water?

The best kind of filter for drinking water is one that removes the harsh chemicals, sediment, VOCs, and other pollutants. Look for filters that include activated carbon or a similar material, to draw in and trap impurities. An example of a great multi-stage filter for filtering drinking water is the pH ON-THE-GO from Invigorated Water. The zeolite and activated alumina in the filter reduces the presence of heavy metals, fluoride, chlorine, and chloramine in water. 

3. What happens when you filter bottled water?

Since bottled water is filtered tap water, you aren’t going to be removing many contaminants. Most bottled water is safer to drink than tap water. This is why a lot of people choose filtered water bottles, because they want the flavor of bottled water without wasting plastic. Therefore, filtering bottle water will give you slightly better bottle water. The taste and quality won’t be affected, unless your filter contains minerals to enhance the flavor. 

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