What is filtered water versus bottled vs tap water versus distilled water? Important to know

Water can contain invisible particles that you want to avoid. For example, calcium can clog up your plumbing system. Lead can also be present in water and this can lead to unwanted effects when you drink it. We have discussed how you can test your water here. Let’s take a look at the types of water you have in the house and how you can filter it. Finally, we will take a look at alternatives to filtered water.


Different types of water in houses

1.    Tap water

In advanced countries like the U.S, tap water is accumulated from rivers and other water sources. The first process of sand filtration is done to remove the bigger particles like suspended leaves and worms are removed. Then chlorine is added to kill various types of microorganisms. Finally, filtration techniques like flocculation are used to filter the water to make it potable. The water is tested often to make sure that the city water (or tap water) is clean.

In some countries such as Brazil, the water from the tap is not drinkable.

There still can be issues though. For example, if there is a problem with your pipes it can leak chemicals in the water. For this reason, it is important that you test your drinking water regularly. Some people don’t trust the city water and prefer to buy bottled water. This can lead to a lot of garbage as plastic bottles can be hard to recycle.

Photo by Jacek Dylag on Unsplash

2.    Well or groundwater

Some houses have their own well. Other houses have a deep pit that provides access to groundwater. It is possible to pump this up to the house. This is often cheaper than city water. It is generally used for a washing machine or dishwasher but this depends on the quality of the water. It can contain a lot of calcium and filters might be needed to remove this.

Rainwater is sometimes used in a house as well. Given that it is hard to guarantee how clean it is, it is mainly used to flush the toilets and people generally don’t drink from it.

What is filtered water and what are water filters?

Most homes use a water filter in their homes to filter particles out of the water. This can range from sand to dust. This makes sure that your water heater and other devices don’t get clogged up. You can get more advanced filters to remove chemicals from the water as well. Not everyone has these more expensive systems. It is important that you replace or clean the filter regularly. A lot of people don’t do this and this can lead to dirty water.

It is also possible to filter water from the tap only. Tap water is run through carbon filters to remove the chlorine other harmful chemicals. This is a more environmental alternative to bottled water. Keep in mind that you should test your water in a laboratory to see if a filter is even needed. Smart marketing has convinced people that they need one but that might not be the case. In some situations, they can be useful though so you can take a further look at them if you are interested.

When you go camping or travel to certain areas, it is important that you pick water that is filtered and checked. Water can contain a lot of harmful elements that you want to avoid. People often forget this when they travel. Even eating vegetables that are washed with water that has not been filtered can lead to trouble.

Various processes of water filtration

If you are planning to buy a water filter, these are the options you have available to you.

1.    Using charcoal- Water filters use activated charcoal to purify water. Activated charcoal removes impurities through a process called ‘adsorption’ which means that it binds the impurities on the surface of the charcoal filter. It is also known to remove toxins from the water. However, it does not strip the water from vital minerals and salts.

People in developing nations use this type of water filter as it is inexpensive and effective. It is easy to maintain as the replacement of the filter is only required every so often.

2.    Using alum- Alum is the short form of aluminum sulfate, and in the olden days people added it to the stainless steel water filters. Alum coagulates the suspended mud particles and due to the high charge on the aluminum ion, even the small particles sink at the bottom and can be removed. Basically, it reacts with the bicarbonate alkalinities suspended in the water and creates a gelatinous precipitate which we can see after an hour of adding alum to the water pot.

In third-world countries, people still use alum to purify water. In some Asian countries where water is stored in earthen pots drop a piece of alum in it and drink it. The taste of the water changes drastically, however, it is safer than untreated water. Some people boil the water treated with alum to make it safer for drinking.

3.    Using modern RO (reverse osmosis) water filters- People across the globe are moving towards buying or renting water filters fitted with reverse osmosis technology. It is the safest type of water filter available in the market now, and it does not remove the necessary minerals from water.

This process of filtration is widely used in households in the U.S, Canada, Australia, India, Japan, China, Hong Kong, and many other parts of the world.

Alternatives to filtered water: differences with distilled water and purified water

1.    Distilled water: is filtered water the same as distilled water

Pure water or H2O (chemical symbol) is boiled at 100-degree Celcius, the boiling point of water and the steam is collected. The steam is cooled and that water is known as distilled water.

Distilled water doesn’t contain calcium and magnesium which are available in tap water. This is a drawback as this is something that we need.

It is often used to clean industrial machines to remove dust and dirt. For example, to produce electronics we need clean rooms.

It is clear that distilled water and filters water are different. Filtered water just removes some particles from the water. What is removed depends on the type of filter. The filter has to be cleaned and replaced regularly to get the best results. Distilled water goes a step further and heats the water up to remove more elements. Distilling water is more work though so you have to see what is feasible for your application.

Most people use filtered water a lot. Distilled water is not that often used in homes. It is more popular in industrial settings. For example, some food producers have to make sure that everything is clean. The same is true about using water in certain complex fabrication applications such as the development of computer chips.

There are not a lot of devices that make it possible to distill the water in the pipes in a home. On the other hand, there are a lot of filters that can be installed on the pipes to remove certain particles such as sand from the water that enters a plumbing system.

2.    Purified water

This is also a type of filtered water which goes through a few more steps after the filtration process. Reverse osmosis is the first step in that. Reverse Osmosis is a procedure where the manufacturers deionize or demineralize water. They push it under very high pressure, through a partially-permeable reverse osmosis membrane.

Sometimes extra minerals are added to the water to enhance its quality.


After reading this article, you might be worried about the kind of water you have been drinking. In recent years the industrial pollutants and chemicals from the factories got mixed with the soil and reached the groundwater. City water is often tested and safe but you can check your own water and use a filter to make sure that there are no issues. In this article, we have outlined some ways you can filter your water.