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How it Works: Water Filters


Water Filters


Water filtration systems have a long history—up to 4,000 years ago the ancient Greeks and Egyptians used a variety of techniques to make water cleaner and safer to drink. Today, a range of water filtration systems exist, each with its own benefits and limitations.


Water filtration uses either physical or chemical media. Physical filtration basically uses a fine mesh or sieve-like substance to remove impurities from the water. Chemical filtration passes water through a filter medium that triggers chemical reactions. Impurities bind with the filter substance and are removed from the water.


Activated Carbon Filters

One of the most common types of household filters, carbon filters use activated carbon granules. At the microscopic level, activated carbon granules are a porous mass of nooks and crannies which trap impurities as they pass through the filtration media.


Activated carbon is an effective filter for chlorine and chlorine-based chemicals, as well as some pesticides and chemicals. The system, however, has some drawbacks. Carbon filters do nothing to soften water, and cannot remove a number of contaminants, including:


  • Heavy metals
  • Sodium (salts)
  • Nitrates
  • Fluorine
  • Microorganisms


Traditional carbon filters clog up quickly and require frequent, costly replacements. Pelican carbon filters solve these issues. Properly fitted, a Pelican premium active carbon filter handles 15 gallons a minute and lasts, on average, five years before needing replacement.


Ion Exchange

An ion exchange filter uses chemical filtration to split the atoms of contaminants into ions, exchanging unwanted ions for less harmful ions. Traditionally, filter beads containing sodium, or salt, are used. The beads trap magnesium and calcium, releasing sodium into the water in exchange.


While ion exchange effectively removes heavy metals, such filters have some drawbacks:


  • Cannot remove microorganisms
  • Ineffective when filtering pesticides and other chemicals
  • Removes beneficial minerals as well as heavy metals
  • Salt-based ion exchange filters can leave water feeling “slimy”
  • Adding sodium to water may adversely affect those on low sodium diets
  • Produce a gallon of briny wastewater for every gallon of softened water
  • Filters require frequent, expensive recharging.


These concerns led Pelican to develop our NaturSoft salt-free water softeners, which reduce heavy metals while returning beneficial minerals to your water and without producing any wastewater.


Reverse Osmosis

A reverse osmosis filter forces water through a porous membrane. Water molecules are small enough to pass through the membrane, leaving contaminants safely on the other side.


  • Effectively removes salt, nitrates, and lime scale
  • Filters out cysts, but not all, microorganisms
  • Can remove beneficial minerals as well and unwanted substances.
  • Traditional systems require an energy source, and produce significant amounts of wastewater.


Unlike reverse osmosis systems that use electric pumps to produce water pressure, the Pelican Pro 6-Stage Reverse Osmosis system uses the existing water pressure in your pipes to filter water, removing the need for an electric pump and cutting down on wastewater by up to 50 percent. NSF-certified, the system adds beneficial minerals back into your water after filtration, ensuring you healthier, tastier water.



Distillation removes contaminants by boiling water, capturing the resulting steam, and then condensing the steam back into water. As water boils at a lower temperature than most contaminants, unwanted substances are left behind when water turns to steam.


As a home filtration system, however, distillation has limited usefulness. Power is required to heat water to boiling, and while many substances are left behind, chemicals such as volatile organic compounds have lower boiling points than water so come along for the ride, contaminating any condensed water.


UV Treatment

You’ll note most filtration systems remain vulnerable to some degree of contamination by microorganisms, including cysts, parasites, bacteria, and viral agents. Ultraviolet treatment provides a solution. By passing filtered water through ultraviolet light, UV treatment destroys a microorganism’s ability to replicate, which in turn protects you from infection. Pelican offers Whole House Water Filters with UV, combining activated carbon with UV protection for one of the most efficient water filtration systems on the market. NSF-certified and easily installed, our whole house filter with UV ensures your family safer, tastier, and cleaner water.

Pelican Combo System Salt-Free Water Softener Whole-House Water Filter