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Is your water purifier making you sick?

Well, if there is one thing that everyone irrespective of their origin, their race, their gender or their political outlook absolutely depend upon to survive, is Water.
So it wouldn’t be wrong to say, “Water is life”. Nearly two-thirds of a human body is made of water. Thus, if there is one thing, that humans should invest their time and energy upon is purchasing a water purifier that gives them clean, filtrated, healthy water so as to ensure a long life and disease free life.

Now, if you are a frequent visitor to the posts on this blog, you might be probably aware that we take each topic from the grass root level and we will do the same with this post as well. We will begin with the basics first, understand how a water purifier works, after that we will proceed to discuss the negative impacts of high and low TDS value (Total Dissolved Salts) of water on one’s health and what should be the optimal range of the TDS value of water. Then we will discuss how some brands cut costs and manufacture below par products which are very inefficient in cleaning the water and then proceed onto deciding which would be the best water purifier according to your needs.

You might be glad to know that my father works at a company that manufactures home appliances like geysers, washing machines, refrigerators, water purifiers etc. So at home, we frequently have a conversation about commercial appliances, what goes into making them, how brands try to do cost cutting etc.

Today, I’ll try my best to pass on the knowledge that I have acquired from my father over the years, to you so as to help you make a good decision.
So without further a do, let’s begin…

The Basics

Water purification takes place in two ways:-

  1. Physical filtration
  2. Chemical filtration

Physical filtration
It involves physical straining of water so as to remove larger impurities. This process basically works like the sieve (chalni) does. The sieve is made up of fine gauze or textile material and separates the larger impurities like sand granules, very small pebbles, clay and very small wood sticks from the water. This works in the similar manner that the sieve at your home does in separating the tea leaves from the tea.

Chemical filtration
It involves passing the water through an active material that gets rid of various types of impurities which can not be removed by physical filtration. These impurities include disease causing viruses, dissolved dust and organic particles that can not be removed by physical filtration. The following are the techniques involved in chemical filtration:-

  • Reverse osmosis
  • Activated carbon
  • Ion exchange
  • Distillation

At homes the filtration technique we generally use is Reverse Osmosis.
Reverse Osmosis (RO) works by deploying a high pressure pump that forces the salt water through a semi-permeable layer. This layer removes majority (97%) of the impurities, salts, viruses and organic particles behind which is thrown out through a reject stream. This water though is now fit for consumption but one more step is required to get it completely purified. This step involves disinfection of water by ultraviolet rays.

As you might be aware, the ultraviolet radiation is a very good way of disinfection. The ultra violet radiation gets the water free of remaining protozoa, bacteria or viruses that have not got completely removed by the reverse osmosis process.

Now, when purchasing a water purifier, attention should be given to the TDS value of the water that is available at one’s locality. The TDS (Total Dissolved Salts) value of water which is considered to be fit for drinking purposes is in the range of 100-500. If the water supplied at one’s home has TDS value beyond 500, it has to be brought down by the water purifier by removing the additional salts. High TDS in water can severely damage the kidneys and has negative impact on the overall health. However, if the TDS value of water is less than 100, that too is not a good sign. In such a case, the water purifier raises the TDS value of the water to bring it to the optimal level.

Having learnt the basics, let us proceed to discuss how some manufacturers try to maximize their profits by cutting costs and play with the health of people.

Cost cutting techniques

  • Installing an inefficient and impotent semi-permeable layer in the reverse osmosis process. The cost of the semi-permeable membrane covers approximately 60% of the manufacturing cost of the RO water purifier and is thus the favorite equipment among the manufacturers to cut costs. Some brands (names not taken) install the membranes that are of no good use and almost all the pathogens in the untreated water gets to your throat. It is needless to say, what impact of this untreated water can have on one’s health. Majority of the water borne diseases like Cholera, Typhoid, Salmonella etc are contracted this way.
  • Installing pump motors that have an inefficient cooling system. Reverse osmosis is quite a taxing task and the pump motor that is responsible to force the water through the semi-permeable layer gets extremely warm during the process. What good manufacturers do is, they install a cooling system to it, known as heat sink which keeps the operating temperatures under check and ensures longevity of the motor. However, the other brands cost cut on this front and do not install a heat sink or even if they do, it is very inefficient. What this results in is requirement of repair or replacement of the pump motor frequently and thus the additional cost.

The next thing you must be aware of when choosing a water purifier is your family needs:-

  • If you are a family of 4 individuals, it would be a safe bet to go with a 5-7L capacity water storage tank.
  • If you live in a joint family having more than 5 individuals where majority of the food is cooked at home, deciding on a tank size between 8-10L would be a wise choice.

Having said that, let’s proceed to zero down at some of the best built water purifier of few good brands in each of the above two categories that are not only safe but also provide the best value for your money.

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