Charcoal Water Filters: It's Carbon!

Updated: July 22, 2024.

Our water supply is full of impurities and contaminants. There are lot of by-products of natural and human activities that make their way into our water supplies. Many of these natural and man-made remains found in water are harmful. Some of them are not harmful, but are still unpleasant. Therefore, water filtration and purification is an important process that guarantees us safe and fresh water.

Activated Charcoal Water

Activated Carbon: Effective Material For Water Filters

When it comes to our drinking and cooking water, we definitely have high standards and expectations regarding odor and taste. Strange smell or taste of water does not necessarily imply contamination of the water source. But, we want water that is enjoyable, and not just free of harmful substances. Since we drink this water and use it to cook our meals, we want the best possible water supply. We want water that doesn’t have a foul and unpleasant taste. We also don’t want our water to smell bad. When it comes to removing bad odors and tastes from water, Charcoal Water Filters are reliable, efficient, and economical solutions.

Activated Charcoal Water Filter

First of all, Charcoal is a form of Carbon. In fact, some other carbon materials that are used for water filters include wood and various forms of processed charcoal - like granular activated carbon or coconut shell carbon. Therefore, Activated Charcoal and Activated Carbon can be used interchangeably when referring to the water filters. Charcoal Water Filters, and their subset known as Activated Charcoal Water Filters are very efficient in removing unpleasant smells and taste in water. Activated Charcoal is very effective in removing organic matter, which is largely responsible for unpleasant odors and taste in water.

Carbonl Water Filters

Activated Charcoal is simply Charcoal that has been specially treated in a chemical process that opens up the pores of the Charcoal (Carbon) atoms. As a result, the activated charcoal becomes very porous and easily absorbs gases, liquids, and solids that are responsible for the foul odours and taste in water. As waters runs through the Charcoal, all of the impurities are filtered through by the large pores between the Charcoal (Carbon) atoms. Many of the substances found in the water attach to the Charcoal by a process known as Adsorption. So the impure and undesired substances in the water remain attached to the charcoal, while clean water flows through. The end result of Activated Charcoal Water Filters is fresh and pure water that is enjoyable for drinking and cooking.

Activated Charcoal used in water purification is specifically manufactured to have extremely large surface area. A single pound of it has surfacing equivalent to 125 acres.

Activated Carbon Water Filters

Considering drinking and cooking water, the best option is to use Point Of Use Activated Charcoal Water Filters. Point Of Use systems are filters that are used directly on locations where water is to be used. For example, Point Of Use filters include faucet mounted and under sink Activated Charcoal Water Filters. These filters are installed directly on the individual fixtures where you are using water. Also, don’t forget about the most basic pour-through Activated Carbon Water Filters, (gravity or pitcher water filters) where the filter is simply placed between the original water (faucet) and container. When considering volume and flow rate, the quickest filters are the whole house or industrial carbon filters followed by those placed under the sink, then countertop, faucet mounted, and then pour-through. Point Of Use filter systems are economical, as they filter a relatively small amount of necessary water. Rather than installing a large and expensive system for the entire household water supply, you can simply use inexpensive filters individually. When filtering water only for drinking and cooking purposes, it is obviously best to use small filtering systems.

In addition to improving the aesthetic quality of water, Activated Charcoal Water Filters also remove contaminants and Chlorine. As mentioned previously, they are also great at removing organic matter (those containing carbon and hydrogen.) such as Volatile Organic Compounds. However, there are some substances that Carbon Filters do not remove from water including sodium, nitrates, metals, and industrial solvents. When considering using Activated Charcoal for water purification, it is important to test the water to make sure you filter all of the contaminants and impurities. Water tests can be expensive, but your safety should always come first. Check with your local department for water information. For water supplies with serious contamination threats and other harmful presence, it is recommended to install Point Of Entry Activated Charcoal Water Filters. Point Of Entry systems filter water at the entry point to the household, effectively treating the entire water supply for the house. Of course, Point Of Entry water filters are larger and more expensive.

Granular Activated Charcoal

Once used in water, Activated Charcoal has a limited life, and must be replaced at specific intervals. All of the filtered substances accumulate in the charcoal until eventually the charcoal can no longer filter. Because carbon removes so many different contaminants via several methods, such as adsorption and absorption, it will get exhausted when in use. The pores in the carbon become stuffed, and there is simply no more space for other substances. If the filter is not replaced, then over time there's a threat of either a bacteria contamination (yes, these little critters like carbon) , or a break-through of the undesired substances collected in carbon that can make their way into your drinks and meals. So don’t forget to replace Activated Charcoal Water Filters, they can’t work forever. Don’t wait until you start to taste and smell the nasty impurities in the water.

Other than filter replacement, Activated Carbon Filters require very little maintenance.

Compare Carbon Block Water Filters

Activated Charcoal Filters are rated in microns, which implies the size of the particle that can be filtered. The smaller the micron number, the more efficient is the filter. In other words, if a typical filter is rated at 5 micron, it can remove anything LARGER than that rating. The smallest particles get the best rating, in microns. Additional factors that determine the efficient of Activated Charcoal or Carbon Water Filters are amount of substance and flow rate. The more Charcoal in the water filter, the better results you get. The more time water spends flowing through the Activated Charcoal Water Filter, the better the results.

Carbon Block Filters come in 4 standard sizes (in inches): 10x2.5 , 20x2.5 , 10x5 (10x4.5) and 20x5 (20x4.5)

Carbon Block Filter Sizes


Activated Charcoal can be of different quality. Various kinds exist:

  1. Bituminous Carbon
  2. Activated Carbon
  3. Coconut Shell GAC

Coconut Shell Carbon is of Best quality because it is made out of coconuts and it contains very little in terms of bad additives. It is also good if your charcoal supplier tested for arsenic and you know that it is arsenic-free.