Can Water Filters Remove Viruses?

Sometimes in our lives, we all have been infected with a virus, and the experience as we recall, in every way, was obnoxious. How can we forget the persistent ache and unstoppable jarring symptoms? A whole chunk of waterborne diseases is caused by some viruses — including hepatitis, typhoid, rash, gastroenteritis, meningitis, and countless more. That being acknowledged, we, in an attempt to prioritize our health, get water filters to make the water as drinkable as possible. But the question remains; Are they actually eliminating everything we are hoping? The answer is NO! Let’s find out why.

Water Filters Vs. Water Purifiers

The Effectiveness of Water Filters

A standard water filter is generally a combination of different media, which is only designed to get rid of sediments and heavy metals, including sand particles, dust, debris, organic matter, mercury, lead, zinc, copper, etc.

The physical filters are built as per a micron-scale, while viruses are much smaller than that — even 100 times smaller than average bacteria. Therefore, water filters cannot stop them from getting into your stomach; however, they can surely reduce a good deal of contaminants from the water source. Another point that needs to be noted is that they can remove some kinds of bacteria.

Sometimes, to increase the filtration capabilities of water shower filters, they are chemically modified; by using activated carbon. As a result, its filtration is enhanced ten times, but still, the device cannot capture viruses.

Common examples of these filters are; Whole house filters, shower filters, and drinking filters.

The Effectiveness of Water Purifiers

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that water purifiers are the advance form of filters having additional steps to purify the liquid. They are embedded with a wide range of filtration stages undergoing many processes — including reverse osmosis (RO) and distillation.

During RO, all the small particles are effectively removed using a semi-permeable membrane and while distillation water is boiled and later on collected in the form of vapors. As long as the water is getting boiled at some point, all kinds of microbes, including viruses, bacteria, fungus, etc. are tossed out. Therefore, only water purifiers remove viruses, at least most of them.

However, both terms, filters, and purifiers, are used synonymously to each other sometimes, and that’s where the confusion began in the first place.

One more thing, some purifiers use UV light technology to kill microbes, and they are known to eliminate 99.9% of all kinds of infectious diseases in the water. So, if you are looking for the best one, then go for the device that has this technology.

Special Water Filters That Can Remove Viruses

As established before, most of the filters cannot discard viruses because of the micron-sized media. But there are some special filters in the market, that are extremely costly, having nanometer-rated filters — their pore sizes are so small that not even viruses can pass through.

Sadly, these filters do not last long — due to the small pores; it gets clogged in no time. So, they are a waste of money.

How to Remove Viruses Yourself?

For this, you wouldn’t need any special equipment. There are three main ways in which you can carry out the purification process yourself:

1) Boiling the Water

This age-old method always works. When you heat the water above 100 degrees, the protein in the micro-organisms starts to denature, and ultimately, they die. For maximum results, make sure you heat the water for several minutes. Giving an additional boost in the heat in the last three minutes will help you achieve even better outcomes. By doing so, you would be able to kill all kinds of bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens.

Afterward, do not leave the water in the open to avoid the amassment of additional microbes. We would suggest you refrigerate it.

You must know that boiling may kill viruses, but other contaminants like chemical toxins, heavy metals, dust, and debris will still remain. Therefore, you should run a filtration process in the end for maximum purification.

2) Using Chlorine

If you don’t trust boiling, then you can use chlorine as a disinfectant instead. You might have already witnessed this process happening in swimming pools or in your municipal water, which is purified using chlorine. It might give off an off-putting stench, but it effectively kills all micro-organisms in the water.

You can use your household bleach instead of the pure chemical. Just pour two drops of bleach per quart of water. Maintain this ratio; otherwise, it would be hard to remove the persistent stench from the water. You must wait half an hour for the disinfection to occur. Afterward, you should use a carbon activated filter to filter out the chlorine.

How Does It Kill Viruses?  

Health professionals all across the globe believe that chlorine’s ability to kill microbial waterborne pathogens might have saved the gazillions of people by eliminating the chances of large-scale outbreaks. A century back, typhoid fever was at large, killing millions of people annually, but since the introduction of chlorine, it is virtually eliminated. How does it do that? Well, it is still not clear, but many pieces of research have shown that chlorines attack the protein and lipids present inside the cell walls of the microorganisms causing the cells to rupture and die.   

3) Using Iodine

Another way is to use iodine instead of bleach, which can be found at any nearest pharmacy. You would require 5-10 drops of iodine per quart of water. For complete disinfection, leave it out for an hour. One thing to be noted; iodine can trigger many other stomach-related crises such as diarrhea.

Conclusion

To sum it up, water filters that utilize micron filters can never toss out viruses. If you have the budget, you must always prefer water purifiers having reverse osmosis, distillation, and UV light treatment. Purifiers not only make the water safe but also remove the stench and sharp, unnatural taste. But if you are on a short budget, then you can always boil the water or mix chlorine as a disinfectant before using