What Type of Water Filter Do I Need? Take Our Quiz!

Water filter and water glass

There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to finding the right water filter. Different water filters serve different functions. For example, some filters can make your water taste and smell better, and some remove or deactivate contaminants within your drinking water. 

Read on to learn about 7 different water filters below and take our quiz to get matched with the best filter for you. 

1. Sediment Filtration 

Sediment filters are the most common and basic water filters available. They remove large contaminants and dissolved solids larger than 10 microns, or roughly the size of a piece of sand. They can be used alone but are often used in conjunction with other filters.

Sediment filters are usually used in the beginning stages of filtration because they can filter out larger particles right away. The ability to capture larger particles can improve other treatment processes like ultraviolet (UV) sanitization. UV light is used in the sanitization process to destroy bacteria in water, but sediments can hinder UV systems. It is, therefore, recommended that manufacturers install a sediment filter before other filters in a single filtration system to keep the system from getting clogged by larger particles. 

 Sediment filters capture:

  • Sand
  • Silt
  • Dirt
  • Rust
  • Loose scale
  • Clay
  • Organic material[1]

2. Distillation Systems

Distillation is one of the oldest methods of water purification. To distill, you must bring water to a boil. During this process, water vapor rises and condenses, then that condensed water is stored for later use. Contaminants in the water get left behind and discarded.

Distillation captures:

  • Arsenic
  • Asbestos
  • Benzene
  • Fluoride
  • Mercury
  • Lead
  • Nitrate
  • Radium
  • Radon
  • Biological Contaminants[2]

3. Ion Exchange

Ion exchange process

Image courtesy of envirogengroup.com

Ions are any particles with a negative or positive charge. Ion exchange systems remove undesirable ionic contaminants and replace them with innocuous substances. For the exchange to happen, both the contaminant and the substance that will replace it must be dissolved and have the same type of electrical charge (either positive or negative). You can see an example of the ion exchange process in the image above. In that image, you can see calcium ions replace less harmful yet equally charged sodium ions. 

Water softeners and deionization systems are common types of water filters that implement the ion exchange process. 

Ion exchange systems are best for removing soluble ions such as:

  • Nitrates
  • Arsenic
  • Organics
  • Minerals
  • Chloride
  • Sulfate
  • Sodium
  • Alkaline Earth Metals
  • Nickel
  • Copper
  • Zinc
  • Base and heavy metals

4. Carbon Filtration 

Carbon filters use activated carbon to remove anything larger than 5 microns, or the size of a speck of flour. Activated carbon is packed like a sponge. It has many holes, which can trap and remove chemicals from water. Carbon filters are also able to attract and bond with any positively charged ions in the water to prevent chemical compounds, like chlorine, from passing through. [3] 

Carbon filters capture: 

  • VOCs
  • Chlorine (carbon filters are especially effective in removing chlorine taste and odor) 
  • Lead
  • Fluoride
  • Pesticides
  • Chloride 
  • Herbicides
  • Nitrate
  • Forever Chemicals 
  • Phosphate
  • Lithium
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Microplastics

5. Reverse Osmosis

Reverse osmosis process

Reverse osmosis (RO) technology is at the heart of many drinking water systems. During the RO process, applied pressure pushes water through a semipermeable membrane (synthetic lining). When it moves through the semipermeable membrane, water goes from high concentrations of contaminants to low concentrations of contaminants. This action filters unwanted molecules and large particles like metal ions and aqueous salts. RO also removes microorganisms, getting your water down to a molecular level, leaving only hydrogen and oxygen behind. 

RO systems can rid water of up to 99.9% of all contaminants and sediments. It can filter out particles as small as .001 microns, or the size of dissolved salt. RO will also remove essential minerals from your water, which is why it is best to pair an RO filter with a filter that adds minerals back to your water. 

RO filters capture:

  • Sodium
  • Chloride
  • Copper
  • Chromium
  • Lead
  • Arsenic
  • Fluoride
  • Radium
  • Sulfate
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium 
  • Nitrate
  • Phosphorous
  • Forever Chemicals
  • Microplastics  

Note: Although RO is highly effective in removing contaminants from drinking water, it does not remove large amounts of chlorine, some pesticides, some organic chemicals, solvents, or VOCs.[4]

6. Mineral Addback Filter

A mineral addback filter is usually coupled with an RO filter. RO can be a lifesaving filtration option for people who live in areas with high levels of contaminants. Yet, there are risks involved when drinking pure RO water. The World Health Organization (WHO) released a report that explained that drinking demineralized RO water over a long time can drain the body of healthy minerals and have harmful effects on the intestinal mucous membrane and your body’s metabolism. 

A mineral addback filter is FDA and NSF certified to add essential electrolytes and minerals to pure RO water. Many mineral addback filters add calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, and other beneficial minerals to improve water’s alkalinity and taste

7. Polishing Filter

Polish filters are located downstream of larger filtration systems. They are considered the last line of defense within larger water filtration processes. Polish filters can catch any leftover contaminants that may still be lingering at the end of the filtration journey. 

What is quenchWATER+ Filtration?


No one filter can address all contaminants that ever existed. Therefore, the best way to safeguard yourself from impurities is to find a water filtration system that combines multiple filters in one. 

Take the quenchWATER+ filtration system, for example. The quenchWATER+ filtration system combines 5 water filters in one water dispenser. It starts with a sediment filter to get rid of all the larger dissolved solids. After passing through the sediment filter, tap water will move to the pre-carbon filter, where anything larger than 5 microns is removed. The third stage of the quenchWATER+ filtration process uses RO filtration to remove remaining contaminants larger than .001 microns. Next, the water passes through a mineral addback system and absorbs calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, and other beneficial minerals. The last phase 5-filter process, includes a polishing filter to rid water of pesky leftover sediments and impurities.

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Quench does over 260K water quality tests per year. As a result, we have one of the most comprehensive water quality databases, and we know the exact filtration system needed for each customer. Our trained and certified water experts are standing by to recommend the best type of water filter and the best-filtered water dispenser for your business.

Call the number at the top of your screen or click the green “Get a Free Quote” button to start your journey towards a healthier hydrated future.

[1] https://www.espwaterproducts.com/sediment-filter
[2] https://www.iwapublishing.com/news/distillation-treatment-and-removal-contaminants-drinking-water
[3] https://semspub.epa.gov/work/01/6847.pdf
[4] https://extensionpublications.unl.edu/assets/html/g1490/build/g1490.htm