What Is Carbon Filtering?

K.C. Bruning

Carbon filtering is the process of using activated carbon to remove impurities from matter such as air and water. It works by absorbing harmful chemicals and other contaminants. Activated carbon filtering can remove volatile organic compounds, chlorine, and sediment. It often comes in pellets, which are then inserted into various types of holders, capsules, and other items that can help with the filtration process.

Carbon filtering removes impurities from water.
Carbon filtering removes impurities from water.

Removing impurities from he air is one of the main purposes of carbon filtering. Filtering can also take away the bad smell associated with these impurities. It can be used for benign purposes such as freshening the air in a room or as a protective agent against poisonous elements such as mustard gas and radioactive gases.

Carbon filtering can remove organic compounds like chlorine and sediment from water.
Carbon filtering can remove organic compounds like chlorine and sediment from water.

Carbon filtering is a common way to remove impurities from water for health purposes and improved taste. It is commonly marketed for home use in products including specialized water pitchers and faucet attachments. This kind of filtration primarily removes chlorine, in addition to several other contaminants.

The chemicals that are most effectively removed with carbon filtering tend to be large, organic, and not soluble. How well a filter will handle these chemicals depends on the type, size, and specific chemical composition of a filter. As some filters handle certain chemicals better than others, it may be beneficial to experiment with different types.

A major drawback of carbon filtering water is that activated charcoal can grow pseudomonas bacteria. For this reason, it is advisable to keep all items used in the filtration process clean and to occasionally sterilize them. Water from large systems using carbon filtration should be periodically tested by a lab in order to ensure that it is safe.

Activated carbon is an effective filter because it has been treated to be especially porous. It is most effective in the carbon filtering process when the matter can pass through the carbon slowly, allowing its pockets to catch as many contaminants as possible. The density and number of pores in activated carbon can also have an effect on the filtration process.

Though activated carbon has been in use since ancient times, the benefits of carbon filtering were not discovered until the early 1900s. It was first used as a medicine by the Egyptians. Then soldiers in World War I used carbon filtration to protect themselves from the effects of poisonous gas. In more recent times, it has primarily been used for air and water filtration.

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