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What, if any, chemicals does a charcoal filter remove from water? Answered

           I'm working on designing a water filter for third world countries, and I was wondering if a charcoal filter would remove chemicals in a water source.  If so, what chemicals would they be?  I know that charcoal filters kill many bacteria, etc., but that would be of little use if the bacteria were gone but toxic chemicals remained in the water.  Recommendations are appreciated.  Thanks!



8 years ago

Chemicals are typically not the greatest issue in third world countries. What would be the source of these toxic chemicals you mention? If there isn't any kind of factory within 100 miles, chemicals are probably not going to be an issue. 
Dysentery, Cholera and Guardia are usually the biggies.
Charcoal filters work really well for lots of contaminants, but they have a service life. They load up and must then be replaced.
Charcoal filters do not kill bacteria! In fact, they can be a source of contamination once they are loaded with enough organic material to provide a growth bed.
A simple water plant consisting of a sand filter and a solar pasteurizer serves millions already and once constructed, runs for free.


8 years ago

Charcoal is interesting stuff, it tends to attract organic molecules, and reactive moeties. Things like petroleum, chlorine, aliphatic acids, "colour" and various other large organic-stuff. Bacteria should be sterilised (or filtered otherwise), charcoal cannot be relied upon to filter very-small particles completely.
Be aware that if this may be applied in central Asia, charcoal is not effective at sequestering arsenic,