Which Is Better: Granular Activated Carbon or Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System

You have several options to consider when choosing a water filtration system. Two common options are systems using granular activated carbon and systems using reverse osmosis.

Which is better? There’s no universal answer to this question. The ideal water filtration system for one person’s needs might not be the right option for you.

The following overview covers the significant differences between granular activated carbon and reverse osmosis water filtration systems. The information here may help you more easily choose between the two.

How Does a Granular Activated Carbon Water Filtration System Work?

Per the Minnesota Department of Health, granular activated carbon filters work when chemicals in water bind to activated carbon granules. Over time, these granules may become too covered in such chemicals to serve their purpose.

Replacing them may be necessary when this happens. That said, it’s often possible to reuse granular activated carbon by removing the chemicals that have already bound to it.

How Does a Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System Work?

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), reverse osmosis systems work by using pressure to transfer a given quantity of water through a membrane. The membrane separates the “reject water” (which contains the contaminants a reverse osmosis system filters out) from the clean water.

Filtration Capabilities of Granular Activated Carbon vs. Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration Systems

Granular activated carbon comes in a variety of styles. Different types of granular activated carbon have different filtration ratings. If you use a granular activated carbon system, check the filtration rating first to confirm its sufficient for your needs.

Granular activated carbon is effective at removing numerous contaminants from water. However, reverse osmosis systems tend to remove more due to the tiny size of pores in a reverse osmosis system’s membrane.

That’s not to say reverse osmosis systems are inherently “better” than granular activated carbon systems. Because reverse osmosis systems can remove certain contaminants that a granular activated carbon system might miss, reverse osmosis systems may be useful for individuals with health conditions. On the other hand, some argue that reverse osmosis systems also deprive water of its potential nutritional benefits by removing vitamins and minerals as well.

Cost, Size, and Related Practical Considerations for Water Filtration Systems

Reverse osmosis water filtration systems usually require more components than granular activated carbon systems. They’re bulkier as a result. The added size of these systems means they may also be costlier than granular activated carbon systems.

Water waste can also contribute to the high cost of reverse osmosis systems. According to the EPA overview in the link above, some reverse osmosis systems can generate up to 10 gallons of reject water for every gallon of clean drinking water they generate. Such inefficiency is bad for the environment and bad for your bank account.

Granular activated carbon systems may be smaller and more efficient. They may also require less maintenance than reverse osmosis systems.

Speak With an Expert

Choosing the right water filtration system for your goals is vital. Although the information here might help make this decision a little easier, it’s best to speak with an expert if you have more questions about this subject. Discussing your needs with a professional can ensure you get the best water filtration system based on the way you plan to use it.

Puragen offers granular activated carbon filtration solutions to customers across a range of industries.