Water Terminology


Water Terminology

Common Terms To Describe Water and Water Filtration

Absolute filters – These are filters that are certified to accomplish the stated claims throughout the designated life (rated gallons) of the filter.  We use NSF certified filters. If a filter is a .5 micron absolute, it won’t allow anything to pass through the filter over .5 microns in size.

Adsorption – This is the process in which contaminates in the water separate from the H2O molecules and bonds to the filter media.

Acid - A substance that has a pH (potential hydrogen) of less than 7, which is neutral. Specifically, an acid has more free hydrogen ions (H+) than hydroxyl ions (OH-).

Activated Carbon - A granular material usually made from wood or coconut shell, which is roasted at high temperature in the absence of air. Because activated carbon is very porous, it is used as an adsorbent in water conditioning. It reduces chlorine, various chemicals and organic compounds form water.

AgION – It is an antimicrobial compound that inhibits the growth of bacteria. The active ingredient is silver which is a natural antimicrobial metal ion.

Alkaline – When the pH level is greater than 7, it is considered to be basic or alkaline.

Aquifer- It is a geological formation or structure that stores and or transmits water to wells and springs.

Bacteria – One-celled organisms that are found in our water. They break down organic matter. Not all bacteria are harmful however, some can cause health problems.

Bacteriostatic – It is a term used to describe an environment where bacteria are unable to grow or reproduce.  Certain medias are added to carbon filters that don’t kill the bacteria, but prevent its growth. 

Biofilm – If bacteria grows and reproduces in a filter, it creates a slimy film that adheres to the filter media, clogs the pores of the carbon and reduces its ability to filter the water efficiently.

Base – The term base is another word for alkaline. It is a substance that has a pH of more than 7 which is neutral. A base has less free hydrogen ions (H+) than hydroxyl ions (OH-).

Calcium (Ca) – A compound, when dissolved in water, leads to  hard water and the formation of scale.

Chemical Filtration – A carbon filter with millions of tiny pores that adsorb chemicals such as chlorine.

Chloramine – It is formed by the combination of chlorine and ammonia. Some water treatment facilities use chloramine instead of chlorine as a disinfectant.

Chloride – Chloride is a salt that is highly soluble in water. It can cause corrosion on plumbing pipes and pitting corrosion on stainless steel. At high levels it imparts a salty taste to food and beverages.

Chlorine - Chlorine is chemical used by many water utilities for the disinfection of water and as an oxidizing agent for organic matter and some metals. When chlorine is introduced into water, a portion of it may bond with contaminants such as oils and organic matter and become “combined chlorine”. The chlorine that does not bond remains as residual “free chlorine”. Total chlorine is the total of both combined chlorine and free chlorine.

Color – A tint that is usually caused by dissolved organic matter. It cannot be removed by mechanical filtration. This is not to be confused with turbidity.

Commercial water use—This is water used for motels, hotels, restaurants, office buildings, other commercial facilities, and institutions. Water for commercial uses comes both from public-supplied sources, such as a municipal water departments, and local wells.

Cryptosporidium - A group of common waterborne intestinal parasites usually found in water contaminated by animal waste. It causes illness, and can sometimes be fatal to individuals with weakened immune systems. Cryptosporidium is resistant to chlorine disinfection, but can be removed from water with absolute sub-micron filters.

Cyst – A parasite that develops a hard protective shell (oocyst) when it leaves its host. This shell makes them strongly resilient and capable of surviving chlorine disinfection. When a cyst is ingested, it can cause intestinal illness, including diarrhea, abdominal pain, cramps and nausea. Cysts can be removed from water with absolute sub-micron filters.

Desalination – It is the removal of salts from saline water to provide freshwater. This method is becoming a more popular way of providing freshwater to populations. Reverse osmosis systems are able to desalinate water.

Domestic water use - It is the water used for household purposes, such as drinking, food preparation, bathing, washing clothes, dishes, and dogs, flushing toilets, and watering lawns and gardens. About 85% of domestic water is delivered to homes by your local municipality, such as your county water department. About 15% of the Nation's population supplies their own water from wells.

Effluent Water – It is water that flows from a sewage treatment plant after it has been treated.

Freshwater – It is water that contains less than 1,000 milligrams per liter (mg/L) of dissolved solids. Over 500 mg/L of dissolved solids is considered undesirable for drinking and many industrial uses.

Giardia Lamblia – This is a common water-borne protozoan parasite that can cause severe intestinal illness when ingested. Similar to cryptosporidium, it can be removed by absolute sub-micron filters.

GPM – This is an abbreviation for gallons per minute which usually indicates the flow rate of a filter.

Grains – It is a unit of weight equal to 1/7000th of a pound. It is used as a measurement for the hardness of water and the capacity of a water softener.

Grey water – It is the wastewater from clothes washing machines, showers, bathtubs, hand washing, lavatories and sinks.

Hard Water – This is water containing high levels of dissolved calcium and magnesium. It is measured as grains of hardness per gallon of water. If the water you use is "hard" then more soap, detergent or shampoo is necessary to raise lather.  When hard water is heated, it produces scale.

Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) – It is a toxic, colorless gas produced naturally during decomposition of organic material that contains sulfur. It has an odor similar to rotten eggs, and can be very corrosive.

Ion Exchange – Hard water has calcium and magnesium ions present, and ion exchange removes these from water by replacing them with non-hardness ions. Water softeners use an insoluble resin, which is saturated with sodium. As hard water comes in contact with this sodium-coated resin, the calcium and magnesium ions attach to the resin, and the sodium is released. The hardness is now removed from the water. The resin is flushed with a salt brine solution, and the sodium again attaches to the resin. The calcium and magnesium ions are released, and are flushed out with waste water.

Industrial water use – This is water used for industrial purposes in such industries as steel, chemical, paper, and petroleum refining. Nationally, water for industrial uses comes mainly (80%) from self-supplied sources, such as a local wells or withdrawal points in a river, but some water comes from public-supplied sources, such as the county/city water department.

Iron – Iron is a mineral found in water. Iron in water can be either ferrous (dissolved) or ferric (oxidized particles), and can create red-orange staining on plumbing. Certain types of bacteria can actually feed off the iron creating a slime that can clog plumbing.

KDF (Kinetic Degradation Fluxion) – This is a filter ingredient developed by KDF Fluid Treatment, Inc. KDF is a high-purity copper-zinc formulation that uses a process known as redox to remove chemicals, heavy metals and other inorganic materials from water supplies. Normally it is used in conjunction with an activated carbon filter because it extends the filter life and provides additional effectiveness at removing metals and chlorine.

Lime Scale – This is when water with high concentrations of calcium and magnesium is heated and reverts back to rock. This can cause a hard crust to form on foodservice equipment such as ice machines, coffee brewers, espresso machines and steamers. Over time it can reduce the efficiency and damage the equipment.

Magnesium (Mg) – Magnesium is a common element making up the earth’s crust. When dissolved in water along with calcium, the result is hard water. When energy is applied to hard water, the dissolved magnesium and calcium become hard deposits called lime scale.

Maximum contaminant level (MCL) – This is the designation given by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to water-quality standards ascertained under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The MCL is the greatest amount of a contaminant that can be present in drinking water without causing a risk to human health.

Membrane – A thin layer of micro-porous, semi-permeable material that allows water to pass through, but not particles that are too large to fit through the pores. Membranes can filter substances from 5 microns to as small as .02 microns, depending on its classification. Everpure uses a pleated membrane in their precoat cartridge filters. Membranes are also used in reverse osmosis systems.

Media – A fine material used in filters that allows the passage of water, but not certain particles or molecules that are suspended in the water. Ion exchange resin is also called a media.

Mechanical Filtration – A filtration process by which water is driven through a media, and the media prevents suspended solids from passing through. The density of the media determines the micron rating.

Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE) – It is a chemical oxygenate that is added to gasoline to help it burn cleaner. It is easily dissolved in water, and can enter water sources through leaking underground storage tanks and pipelines. According to the EPA, there is insufficient data at this time to determine the health effects of MTBE in small doses, but in large doses is it a potential human carcinogen.

Micron – It is a unit of measurement equal to one millionth of a meter, 1/25,000 of an inch. A high-grade filter can remove solids from water as small as .5 microns in size.

MicroPure II – This is the media Everpure uses in it’s precoat filter with AgION antimicrobial compound that inhibits the growth of bacteria. As water passes through the filter, the carbon adsorbs chlorine, off-tastes and odors, and AgION works to inhibit any bacterial growth within the filter.

Municipal water system—It is classified as a water system that has at least five service connections or which regularly serves 25 individuals for 60 days; also called a public water system.

Nephelometric turbidity unit (NTU) – This is the unit of measure for the turbidity of water. A nephelometer measures the cloudiness of water. Turbidity is based on the amount of light that is reflected off particles in the water.

Nitrate – A nitrogen compound is a common groundwater contaminant in rural areas. It comes from a number of sources, including fertilizer run-off, leaking septic tanks, landfills and animal waste. Excessive levels in drinking water can cause health problems, especially for infants.

Nominal - In terms of a filter’s nominal rating, means that approximately 85% of particles the size of the micron rating will be blocked by the filter.

NSF – A not-for-profit organization that is the world leader in standards development, product certification, education, and risk-management for public health and safety. NSF develops national standards, focusing on food, water, indoor air, and the environment.

NSF Standard 53 – NSF Standard 53 was established to help consumers compare the contaminant reduction performance and capacity of drinking water treatment systems. Included under 53 are standards for the reduction of chemicals and heavy metals, VOC’s, turbidity, cysts, THM’s and organic compounds.

Organic matter – This is plant and animal residues made by living organisms.

Osmosis – This is the movement of water molecules through a thin membrane.

Particulate – These are solids suspended in water.

pH – It is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of water.  Water with a pH of 7 is considered neutral. Water with a pH of less than 7 is considered acidic and can be corrosive.  pH levels higher than 7 is basic or alkaline and may create when heated, lime scale deposits in equipment.

Point of Entry (POE) – A device generally consisting of multiple carbon-filled vessels that supply filtered ingredient water to multiple water using appliances such as a coffee brewers, fountain dispensers, ice machines, ware-washing equipment and steamers.

Point of Use (POU) – A device generally consisting of one or more carbon-filled vessels that supply filtered ingredient water to single water using appliances such as water coolers, coffee brewers, fountain dispensers and ice machines.

Potable water – This is water of a quality that is suitable for drinking.

Reservoir – It is a pond, lake, or basin, either natural or artificial, used for the storage, regulation, and control of water.

Resin – It is an insoluble permanent medium used in water softeners as part of the ion exchange process.

Reverse Osmosis – A process for purifying water that uses pressure to force water through a semi-permeable membrane. This leaves behind the dissolved minerals (TDS, total dissolved solids), which are then carried out with waste water. Often, mechanical and/or chemical filters are installed before a reverse osmosis system to improve taste and odor of the water.  RO systems usually waste upwards of 5 gallons of water in order to create one good gallon.

Sediment – It is the material in suspension in water or recently deposited from suspension.

Submicron Filter – It is a fine membrane filter that is used to remove particulates of less than one micron in size.

T & O – Taste and odor. Carbon filters are effective taste and odor filters.

Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) – A measure of the quantity of dissolved minerals in water. Reverse osmosis systems remove high levels of TDS effectively.

Trihalomethanes (THM’s) – When chlorine is used to disinfect water it can sometimes react with natural organic matter to create THM’s, a volatile organic chemical.

Turbidity – It is the amount of solid particles suspended in water that gives the appearance of cloudy water. The opaqueness of the water is called turbidity, and is measured by the amount of scattering and absorption of light in nephelometric turbidity units (NTU). Drinking water should be less than 0.5 NTU.

Virus – It is the smallest living organism.  It is often less than .02 micron (about 100 times smaller than bacteria), viruses are a parasite that can cause diseases in humans.

VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) are organic chemicals that are found in many common products such as paints, fuels and solvents that have a high vapor pressure at ordinary, room-temperature conditions. VOC’s evaporate easily. Water that is contaminated with high levels of VOC’s is believed to cause serious health problems.

Water quality – It is a term used to describe the chemical, physical, and biological characteristics of water, usually in respect to its suitability for a particular purpose.