Carbon Filtration: Keeping Your Water Clean Since 2000 BC
Some of the best modern “inventions” have actually existed in some form or another for centuries. All the way back in 2000 BC, for example, ancient Sanskrit texts referenced filtering water through charcoal (carbon residue formed from burning wood). By 400 BC, Nile-dwelling ancient Egyptians began replacing their rotting wooden docks with charred wood after accidentally discovering charcoal’s antiseptic properties.
Now, in 2022, Wisewell is applying cutting-edge technology to this ancient technique. Wisewell machines use activated carbon to filter out mercury, chlorine, and other organic compounds from your drinking water. The carbon filter works in tandem with a powerful reverse osmosis filter to reduce forever chemicals and UV light purification that kills bacteria and viruses. Wisewell combines time-tested techniques with innovative applications to ensure every drop of water in your glass is clean and delicious.
Here’s why carbon is so enduringly powerful — and how Wisewell uses carbon to ensure your drinking water is completely pure.
Carbon: The Stardust Inside Us
Carbon is one of the most enduring elements on our planet. It makes up close to half of all dry biomass on Earth — in fact, our bodies are about 12% carbon, because sugars, proteins, fats, DNA, muscle tissue and other biological building blocks are carbon-based compounds.
Why is carbon everywhere? The answer has to do with its chemical structure. Think back to high school chemistry class: Carbon atoms have four valence electrons on their outer shell, meaning one carbon atom can form four covalent bonds to different molecules in endless combinations to create an enormous amount of different compounds. Close to ten million chemical compounds include carbon — and those are just the ones we’ve discovered so far.
Most importantly, carbon-to-carbon bonds are very strong and not very reactive, meaning they can easily form long chains or rings. That helps make carbon particularly effective at trapping other chemicals — and thus perfect for water filtration.
Carbon Filtration: How Does It Work?
Carbon filters — like the one inside a Wisewell machine — use a process called adsorption to filter out unwanted compounds from your water. Adsorption (not to be confused with absorption) is when a solid substance attracts other molecules to its surface. Carbon bonds easily and strongly to other chemicals, acting like a magnet for unwanted compounds in a process called chemical adsorption.
However, carbon filters use both chemical and physical adsorption — neutral molecules in water stick to each other through weak electric forces, but carbon’s strong attraction and easy bondability pulls non-water molecules out of the H2O. You can think of the charcoal as a microscopic quality control specialist.
According to the EPA, carbon filters effectively reduce the 14 most common pesticides; the 12 most common herbicides; and all 32 identified organic contaminants, including potentially cancerous compounds like chlorine byproducts.
Although activated carbon can remove many chemicals, it can’t catch everything. For instance, “forever chemicals” — synthetic compounds found in household items like non-stick pots and pans — evade carbon filters with ease, including the ones used in the pitcher filter you may have sitting in your fridge right now.
That’s why Wisewell complements its carbon filter with two other powerful processes: a reverse osmosis filter to reduce forever chemicals, and UV light to kill bacteria and viruses. With those three filters working together, Wisewell makes sure the only substance that ends up in your glass is water.
While technology has advanced far beyond the filtration systems of the ancient world, carbon is here to stay. Wisewell is the perfect blend of old world ingenuity and modern innovation, keeping your water healthy and clean for years to come.