Purified vs Filtered Water: What’s the Difference?

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Tap water often contains traces of contaminants, and many people choose to remove these contaminants with an at-home water treatment system.

Some systems are advertised as “filtration” devices, and others are sold as “purification” solutions. You might be wondering which water treatment type is best for your situation.

“Filtration” and “purification” are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but they’re actually very different processes.

In this filtered water vs purified water guide, we’ve discussed the differences between the two treatment methods, so you can decide on the best method for your needs.

📌 Key Takeaways:

  • Purified water is water that has had virtually all of its dissolved solids removed, making it as close to pure as possible.
  • Filtered water has undergone a filtration process to remove contaminants, but not all impurities are removed.
  • Purified water is better for you if you want to protect your family from as many contaminants as possible, while filtered water is better if you just want to improve your water quality and taste.

🆚 Purified Vs Filtered Water: Key Difference

The key difference between purified and filtered water is that purified water is made with a water purification process, which removes almost 100% of all dissolved solids, while filtered water is made with a filtration process, which reduces a number of contaminants but can’t eliminate all dissolved solids.

Purified water is much closer to being pure than filtered water. While filtered water still contains some contaminants, as well as healthy impurities like minerals and salts, purified water is virtually impurity-free.

⚗️ What is Purified Water?

Purified water is water that’s purified – or about as purified as it gets.

Purified water has been treated with a purification process that removes as many dissolved solids as possible. After treatment, it should contain essentially nothing more than H2O.

You can buy purified bottled water from the store, such as reverse osmosis bottled water. Or, you can purify your own tap water at home using a water purification system.

How Drinking Water is Purified

Purified water is usually produced by an in-depth purification process.

This process may include filter cartridges, as well as other purification processes, such as:

  • Reverse osmosis – Removes the majority of total dissolved solids with membrane separation
  • Deionization – Removes both positively- and negatively-charged ions from water
  • Distillation – Removes most impurities through evaporation and condensation of water

You might hear other treatment systems referred to as purification systems, such as UV purifiers. These systems kill microorganisms, but they don’t produce pure water in a literal sense because they can’t physically remove all drinking water contaminants.

Purification solutions typically include some of the more advanced water treatment options available. Water that is purified is as clean, safe, and contaminant-free as it can possibly be.

Purified water

Advantages Of Water Purification

Cleanest, purest water available

If you’re concerned about drinking water contaminants, purified water is the best solution. It contains virtually no impurities, so your risk of drinking harmful pollutants is almost non-existent.

Eliminates contaminants of all sizes

Water purification systems target even the smallest impurities, like bacteria and viruses. If you’re looking for a system that can remove pathogens, microplastics, and other tiny contaminants, water purification is a sound option.

Disadvantages Of Water Purification

Costlier option

When comparing filtered vs purified water, water from a purification system is generally the more expensive alternative. That’s because you can enjoy the benefits of comprehensively purified water that’s almost guaranteed to be contaminant-free.

Demineralizes water

Water purification doesn’t only remove the bad stuff – it also removes the impurities that are safe to drink and important for our health, like calcium and magnesium.

You should get plenty of these minerals from our diets, but purified water may have a “bland” or “flat” taste due to its lack of mineral ions.

🚰 What is Filtered Water?

Filtered water is tap water that has passed through one or several filtration stages.

Water filtration removes select contaminants of specific sizes, depending on the micron size of the filter’s pores. Filtered water still contains traces of healthy minerals and several other contaminants that the filtration process couldn’t remove.

Filtered water is available as a bottled water product, but it’s usually cheaper and more convenient to filter your water at home.

Tap water is technically already filtered before it reaches your home. Local authorities are required to remove certain contaminants down to trace levels according to EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) standards. However, you might not want to drink even small amounts of contaminants with known health effects – and that’s where you can benefit from thoroughly filtering your water with a domestic water filter.

Ways to Filter Tap Water

When water filters through a filter cartridge or element, the filtration media collects certain impurities, retaining them and preventing them from passing through to the other side.

There’s a range of water filtration media to choose from, including activated carbon, ion exchange, KDF, and ceramic media. Each filter type removes a specific selection of contaminants.

Some of the different ways to filter tap water include:

Countertop/ pitcher filtration

Countertop and pitcher filter units provide gravity filtration. Tap water added to the pitcher travels down through a filter, where certain contaminants are removed. The filtered water collects in the pitcher reservoir. Sediment/carbon filter cartridges are usually used in these drinking water systems.

Whole-home water filtration

Whole-home water filtration systems are installed at your home’s point of entry, before the water heater. They send water through one or more filtration stages, and filtered water is supplied throughout your entire home.

Shower water filters

Showerhead filtration systems attach to a shower arm, and often come with their own dedicated showerhead. These systems remove chlorine and other synthetic chemicals that can affect skin and hair health.

Under-sink filters

Another point-of-use filtration system is the under-sink system. This type of water filtration consists of one or multiple filtration stages, and removes contaminants from tap water before it comes out of your kitchen faucet.

Filtered tap water

Advantages Of Water Filtration

Generally less expensive

There are so many water filtration systems available today, including options for smaller budgets, such as pitchers and some countertop filters. If you’re on the fence about installing a filtration system, starting cheaper is a good idea.

Doesn’t remove beneficial minerals

The majority of water filters don’t remove minerals, which is a benefit if you’d prefer to drink water with fewer contaminants while retaining its mineral content.

Disadvantages Of Water Filtration

Can’t remove everything

Water filtration can target specific impurities, but it doesn’t remove everything.

Heavy metals, chlorine, chloramines, and pharmaceuticals can typically be removed by water filtration systems. But these systems can’t typically eliminate pathogens that are unsafe for human consumption, like bacteria.

Require regular maintenance

Most water filtration systems have filters that need replacing every 2 weeks to 12 months (depending on the filter type and size). Without maintenance, the cartridges eventually become too clogged to work properly.

📑 Purified Water vs Filtered Water: Which is Better?

Comparing filtered water vs purified water, the right water type for you depends on your personal situation.

For instance, if you currently drink bottled water because you don’t enjoy the taste of your tap water, either one of these solutions will suit you well. You may prefer filtered water because it still contains healthy minerals.

Filtered and purified water are also both safer and cleaner than tap water. They’re free from city water disinfectants like chlorine. Water filtration can also usually remove lead nitrates, pesticides, and other common city water contaminants (the exact contaminants removed depend on the filtration process). Water purification removes virtually all tap water contaminants, including healthy minerals and salts.

When deciding between the two water sources, ask yourself what you want to achieve:

  • If you want the reassurance of drinking water that’s as pure as possible, opt for a water purification system.
  • If you want to retain minerals in your water and just want to remove a handful of common contaminants and get rid of the chlorine taste in your drinking water, opt for a water filtration system.

Whatever you go for, make sure to do your research and read customer reviews carefully before you spend your money.

  • Michael Claybourn
    Water Treatment Specialist

    With 25+ years in water treatment, Michael Claybourn Sr. (WT Specialist 3) leads his company, Water of Texas LLC, in solving industrial, commercial, and residential water challenges. From filtration to ozone, he tackles any task, from initial consultation to equipment maintenance. His passion, honed in nuclear power and Culligan of Brazosport, fuels his commitment to delivering pure, healthy water for every client.

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