View Full Version : Anyone using just carbon filters instead of R/O to filter drinking water?

Brian Elfert
10-19-2014, 11:01 AM
The well water at my house is pretty awful to drink. No bacteria or anything like that.

I have seen suggestions that if you have no nasty bad stuff in the water to just use two carbon filters instead of reverse osmosis. The claim is that most of the cleaning of the water in an R/O system is done by the pre and post carbon filters anyhow. Is anyone doing just carbon filters for drinking water? Otherwise, I am looking at a Kinetico K5 system because it has technology that mitigates a lot of the issues with R/O systems. Nobody seems to have issues with the K5 other than the high cost.

Bill Davis
10-19-2014, 3:14 PM
Have you had the water tested?
What is it you are trying to filter out?
I would think that is where you should start. Different filters remove different things.

If it is just taste carbon may be adequate. Carbon block filters are preferred over granulated carbon but both will work to the extent that they can. Were it me, and I am going through some of the same thing, I will likely go simple and less expensive to start then bump it up if necessary or as needed. I looked into RO and was set to take the plunge but have backed and will most likely go with a sediment filter follower by a carbon block. But again it kind of depends what you are trying to remove.

Jim Koepke
10-19-2014, 4:08 PM
Our water has a high iron content at times. We just have a large Brita tank in the fridge and the water is fine out of that.

Our water isn't so bad. We cook and make coffee with it straight from the tap. Our well house has a filter and a tank we add salt pellets to for the cleaning of the filter.


Stan Calow
10-19-2014, 6:55 PM
Carbon filters take out sediment, some microbes and some heavy taste and odor compounds. RO takes out dissolved minerals and lighter organic chemicals and smaller microbes. Undisinfected water can cause growth of stuff in the carbon. Good source of info is the Water Quality Association (WQA.com)

Brian Elfert
10-19-2014, 9:38 PM
The water was tested. The water is somewhat hard. The water has iron and manganese in it, and it stinks like sulfur at time. The manganese is showing up as black specks. I have no desire to drink the water as it is.

Justin Ludwig
10-20-2014, 8:13 AM
Our water is very hard. Heavy with Iron, Manganese, and Sulfur. The sulfur is easily eliminated with aeration. I have two 300 gallon holding tanks to assist in sediment settling plus they are aerated with simple fish tank aerators. After the jet pump that provides our house with pressure, I have four 5-micron carbon filters set in parallel. They've been on for about a year and haven't been changed. We changed them when we lose water pressure as the more they filter the better they get (to the extent of losing pressure).

We still use two R/O units in the house for drinking, but the water that comes in is fine for showers, dishes, etc - and I can drink it, but the wife is picky; though, she'll use the ice it produces (filtered again in the fridge).

David G Baker
10-20-2014, 9:30 AM
I tried one carbon filter prior to our main drinking water faucet, it didn't work. Our water still stunk and tasted nasty. Due to the iron content we used a water softener that removed the iron deposits in sinks, in the tub and in our clothes but it didn't do anything for the taste and smell. I finally gave up and paid around $3300 for Kenitico iron filter that is installed after the softener. We have nice tasting and nice smelling water. Funny thing, we still use bottled water so we know how much we drink every day.

John Bullock
10-21-2014, 9:54 AM
RO water is completely devoid of all minerals and will actually erode metal piping. I have used a double filter consisting of a particulate filter followed by carbon filter. It has drastically improved the taste of all water we receive here in Los Angeles and has paid for itself in relation to purchasing 16oz bottles of commercial drinking water. My unit is located under the kitchen sink and I don't bother to filter water used for other purposes.

Here is the San Fernando Valley, water is stored in large reservoirs and treated heavily with chemicals, which the activated carbon filter removes. We no longer drink water with strong chlorine odors or with the taste of various sediments that are in the water supply.

As a former chemistry student I don't relish ingesting various chemicals and/or chlorine delivering agents. The europeans are much more intelligent in this regard in that many countries use ozone for water treatment in order to eliminate and oxidize contaminates in the water. Unfortunately we still heavily dose our systems with chlorine, which is toxic and will actually kill acquarium fish.

Carbon filters are reasonably priced, don't waste large amounts of water, as RO filters must do, and are widely available.

David Weaver
10-21-2014, 10:08 AM
I've been using a simple brita for town water for almost 15 years, and it works well. My parents and FIL have been using the same type of filter for well water, though my parents' water tastes great. They do have an in-line sediment filter (just woven, nothing particularly fine) in their house, but not RO.

Both of them have gone to using water softeners, though (not that it's related) and FIL has put in a UV setup because of bacteria.