Carbon: Burnt, Black and Good For Water?

Learn more about carbon filter media and why and when to replace your filters!

Carbon use is not limited to water filtration… I got dizzy looking at the subject and the amount of technology that it requires to produce it correctly. Carbon is even used in medical applications for absorption of poisons and or drugs overdoses. Check any vitamin store and you can find some carbon capsules. Other things that have carbon as the filter are; Nose masks, Air filters, Aquarium Filters, and many other filtration systems use carbon.

Water contaminant types are abundant and attempts to remove them require an incredible understanding of those contaminants and then the RIGHT media or material to remove them is then needed! Carbon is that something that will work well and last, and one that isn’t going to cost you an arm and leg! Not all contaminants will be removed but it is amazing what it will remove.

Carbon can be made from many things… burn something and the remaining stuff is CARBON! When carbon is made correctly the material that ends up as carbon has some microscopic holes that create contact surface for adsorption. 

Think of a sponge and you get an idea of holes and contact surface and absorption. The better the sponge the better the absorption. But with Carbon the contact surface is what attracts the contaminant to it like a magnet. It is called ADSORPTION and not ABSORPTION. Think of a magnet with lots of holes!

 What makes carbon ideal in water filtration is the amazing amount of things that it adsorbs… This ADSORPTION (magnet effect) attracts the contaminants and then sticks them to the carbon surface! Carbon has lots of tiny microscopic holes! The right amount of flow and enough contact time and you have great water to drink and cook with!

As a result of this adsorption process, activated carbon is an ideal, effective and popular method in removing chlorine and its by-products (TTHM’s) and volatile organic compounds (VOC’s). Both, man-made and naturally occurring contaminants of these types. (including those in the list in the box among others) More on these in future newsletters. 

 The contact surface of carbon is amazing; it is estimated that just a teaspoon of activated carbon has a contact surface area the size of a football field.

  • Not all carbon is created equally! Some carbons are of very poor quality. Some carbons are not made with a very good process either! Drinking system filters are made in either Granular form, Powdered Form and in Extruded block form and are made from: bituminous coal, lignite, wood, coconut shell to name a few.
  • The better the carbon the better the water. The most popular faucet filters and fridge filters have carbon!
  • Water does not stick to Carbon but the contaminants do.
  • Carbon will not remove the following: Hardness, arsenic, fluorides, some heavy metals, nitrates and some other things.

Carbon Does not Remove Bacteria!

This is the weak point in carbon and carbon filters and the reason replacement is vital to giving you great water! Carbon can actually become a perfect bacteria growth bed.

A small list of Things Carbon Adsorbs!

  • Alachlor
  • Atrazine
  • Benzene
  • Carvofuran
  • Carbon tetrachlorides
  • Chlorine
  • Chlorobenzene
  • Dicbromochlopropanes (DBCP’s)
  • –P Dechloropropane
  • Dichloopropylenes
  • Taxophenes
  • Chlordane
  • Randon
  • Simazine
  • Toulenes
  • Xylenes
  • PCB’s (Big area)

And many, many more gases and oils.


How Often Should I Change My Filters?

There are recommended times to replace filters but the truth is that those are recommended with averages. Even Fridge filters have a timer with a light to remind someone of the need to replace a filter… We based our 18-month recommendation on you having the Purity Bay Multistage processor! 

Something that you may notice when a change is needed is that the taste may change a bit. Amount of use and the quality of the water coming into the filter will determine your actual interval. 

To our Purity Bay clients, we recommend every 18 months or so… This because of the power of the Big processor to do the heaving lifting so to speak… 

We do have some clients that want them replaced every 12 months… they demand the best water they can possibly get and they want to eliminate any doubt. 

Drinking systems without a full Purity Bay System should replace their carbon filters more often… Probably no more than every 6 months.


We use filters that are made of the highest quality materials and processes! Our post filter for example is a fine quality GAC (Granular Activated Carbon) that is made of Coconut shells. Talk about sweet tasting water!!!

Our pre-filters are made of a coconut shell that is are made of a unique process that makes the carbon into a block by using hundreds of pounds of pressure. This allow for determination of the pore sizing and creates a powerful filter that works and delivers water that is really great tasting! One thing for sure… they are designed for quality and to fit your system. They are 5 micron rated and reduce Chlorine Taste, Odor, Bad Taste and all the stuff Carbon is known to adsorb!

The filters we use have to be made of NSF/ANSI 42 tested and certified materials. 
I hope this helps give you a better understanding of CARBON!