How does a carbon filter stack up against Clearly Filtered?

by Asaiah Passwater / Apr 07, 2021
Standard Carbon Filters vs. Clearly Filtered

While Clearly Filtered’s reputation for high performance spreads quickly by word of mouth, many families still use mainstream budget filters as the source of their household’s drinking water. But, when they learn about the modern filtration technology Clearly Filtered water filters use to filter a vast number of contaminants, they are quick to opt for an upgrade.


Filtration Media: Coconut Carbon vs. Affinity Media

Budget filters use simple loose carbon media aimed at removing a small category of five chemicals called carbon-bonded chemicals. It focuses on the reduction of mainly chlorine (taste and odor) as well as Mercury, Cadmium, Copper and Zinc, but that's it. By making a small change in the taste and odor, the filter gives the perception that it has vastly improved your water. In reality, it has only removed the five carbon-bonded chemicals and is otherwise not much different than your tap.

Think of it as a marathon runner who skips to the end to win the race when they only actually ran a minor portion of the total race. Your perception is that they ran the whole race because they crossed the finished line, but they really left so much of the course untouched. We're running a marathon and doing all the hard work, while carbon filters are skipping out on most of the race, leaving many chemicals behind untouched to pass right through the carbon filter.

We're running a marathon and doing all the hard work, while they are skipping out on most of the race.

Here at Clearly Filtered, we use advanced filtration technology called Affinity® media. It is a unique blend of a 7+ different materials that is designed to ionically target a broad range of up to 365+ contaminants.

Think of our Affinity® blend as a combination of tiny, super-powerful magnets. As water passes over them they recognize the ionic signature of contaminants that are in the water. It then draws them out, attaches to them, and forms a powerful, lasting bond, preventing them from entering your drinking water.


Filtration Types and Stages: Granular Single Stage vs. 3-Stage Affinity Technology (Mesh, Granular, and Block Filtration)

Another major difference between our filters is the number of barriers the water must go through before it is cleaned. Typical carbon filters are granular single stage filters. That kind of filter allows water to pass through very quickly but it sacrifices effectiveness to do so. For that reason, carbon filters can only claim to reduce certain contaminants rather than remove them.

Clearly Filtered's filter consists of 3 stages, multiplying the effectiveness of our filter so it can actually remove contaminants. First, a stainless steel mesh screen removes medium to large debris that could be in your tap water. Second, the loose granular media absorbs contaminants as water flows through it. Third, water must pass through a dense block of filtration material. This third step really allows for an extraordinarily thorough contaminant removal by ionic absorption.


Claims / Test Results: Better Taste* vs. 365+ chemicals and contaminants 

Budget carbon filters usually only claim is as follows: 

"... helps reduce the amount of chlorine (taste and odor), copper, cadmium and mercury – all of which may be found in tap water."

One of the key words in this claim is "reduce". They use this word to imply that they can only reduce the contaminants (anything over 50%) rather than using the word "remove". With this specific claim, these budget filters only shows that 4 contaminants are reduced, even though hundreds of various contaminants are found in tap water. When focusing on major contaminants that have a taste, odor or color, these companies prey on the idea that a customer believes all contaminants have a taste, odor or smell, when in fact, less than 1% of contaminants actually fall into this category.

Clearly Filtered on the other hand removes up to 365+ harmful chemicals and contaminants that are found in tap water. Our test results are proven by 3rd-party, EPA accredited labs to meet or exceed NSF standards for contaminant reduction. Clearly Filtered even goes above and beyond what the EPA requests for tap water testing. According to the EPA, only 94 contaminants are regulated in tap water. Of those 94, many harmful pesticides, herbicides, hormones, and pharmaceutical drugs do not make the list. At Clearly Filtered, we recognize that these chemicals and contaminants can have a negative impact on your health so we have decided to both remove and test for these various compounds. 

Here is how our testing protocol works:

  1. A filter is removed from our shelves in order to ensure that the exact same filter we send to our customers is the filter that we are testing at the lab
  2. The Lab creates spiked solutions of various contaminants at levels much higher than real life scenarios. An example of this is with Chromium 6. The lab spikes water to create the testing solution to 312 parts per billion (ppb) and runs 100 gallons of the spiked solution through the filter to which we remove 97.8%. To put that into perspective, the highest tested large municipality is currently Phoenix, AZ which is testing at 7.853 ppb, and that number is 393x higher than the current public health goal for Chromium 6. 
  3. Each spiked solution is run through the filter and tested to find the final percentage removal of that contaminant
  4. These results are then compiled and posted for each of our filters on our website in order to be as transparent as possible with our customers
  5. We occasionally pull filters off the line to re-test in order to ensure the quality is standard throughout the various product lots

At Clearly Filtered we also look to be on the fringe of testing for various contaminants. We were the first to test (and prove we remove) the chemical Glyphosate, which is the main active ingredient in RoundUp Weed Killer. There is a rarely a time where we do not have a filter (or filters) at the lab for testing as there is always something we can be doing more or better.


Filter Longevity: 40 gallons vs. 100 gallons

This discrepancy simply comes down to everything we discussed above. The type of filtration technology and the quality of materials leads directly to the life expectancy of the filter. As you can imagine, the filter is only as good as both the quality and the amount of materials involved in the filtration. The 3-stage filtration process used by Clearly Filtered allows for both more surface area, contact time and volume of filtration media, which then equates to a longer filter life. 

If taste (which is subjective by the way) is all you care about, then budget carbon filters are fine. But if you care about better tasting, but also healthier water you might need to look into a more robust filtration system like Clearly Filtered. 


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