The purest water will come from a distiller, providing a charcoal filter is used to remove any volatile organic chemicals that can rise up with the steam and condense into the distillate, but a good home distiller that attaches directly to the water line and operates automatically (such as the Polar Bear model 26-CT) is expensive, around $1200 and up. The best setup is to have a plumber run a water line to a large, under the sink type charcoal filter, then run a water line from the charcoal filter to the distiller. The better distillers also have a small charcoal filter between the condensation coil and the collection chamber to post condition the water. Some distillers can be purchased with pumps that pump the water from the stainless steel storage tank to a faucet in the kitchen sink. The Polar Bear, and probably similar distillers from other manufacturers, produces 8 gal/day, but larger models are available, producing up to 50 gallons, or more per day. The disadvantages of distillation are that distillers produce heat, which may not be welcome in the summer, the boiling chambers have to be cleaned periodically, and they require electricity to function. It's been estimated that in the USA, a distiller would consume 25 cents of electricity per gallon of water produced. Also, some people believe that distilled water is "dead, unstructured" water, unless treated in various ways (such as exposing it to sunlight), to restore the "structure," but I'm more concerned about getting all the pollutants out of my water than I am about the possibility that I might be drinking "unstructured" water. The small, cheap distillers that look like coffeepots, are very low volume, manual fill units that may not be as effective in removing volatile organic chemicals as the better distillers, and "Consumer Reports" found that some of these cheap, non-stainless steel units showed rusting and corrosion during testing. Below is a document from a web site that will give you an idea of the features found in some of the better home distillers.
Distillation is the simplest and most reliable method of water purification! Polar Bear combines that process with superior technology and quality standards to give you the finest portable automatic system available! Not only will your Model 26-CT provide you with the naturally healthy benefits of pure drinking water, your cooking and baking will retain the original flavors! Distilled water is also ideal for infant formulas, low-sodium diets, house plants, aquariums, wet-cell batteries, steam irons, photography, and pet care.
Simply place your Model 26-CT on a convenient counter top and plug into normal household current. For automatic distillation, the unit is tapped into the main water line. Water is drawn into the boiling chamber, regulated by a start/stop float system which extends the life of the heating element . As the water boils, steam rises, leaving the contaminants behind. The vapor travels through an exclusive double-baffle system and any volatile gases are released through a safety vent. The steam is condensed in the fan-cooled coils and the distilled water passes through coconut charcoal. The pure water is then stored in a stainless steel tank, ready for your enjoyment!
A Pump Kit Option, fuse-protected and Safety Certified, may be added to your unit to deliver water to an accessory faucet at your kitchen sink. The high-flow rate pressurized system may also be connected to a refrigerator ice-maker, water dispenser and furnace humidifier, if you wish. An automatic pump shut-off control protects the pump from burning out should the storage tank ever run out of water.
Your Model 26-CT was designed with a V-shaped and sloped bottom boiling tank to allow easy draining when cleaning. To reduce maintenance, the Electronic Auto-Drain® Option may simply be connected to your unit. The water purity is maintained by flushing the contaminants from the boiling chamber every 24 hours of distillation. For very polluted water, you may easily customize the circuit board for draining every 6 or 12 hours. Cleaning is reduced to once or twice a year (depending on your feed water quality)!
Engineered like no other distiller in the world, your unit is made from the finest surgical stainless steel. An exclusive energy-saving system allows you to use up to 1/3 of the distilled water in the storage tank without the unit starting up. This results in 25% lower operating costs! A built-in safety system automatically shuts off the distiller should it overheat. Other features you'll enjoy are the lighted switches, distilled water level sight gauge, and convenient storage tank tap. You may also fill your Model 26-CT manually to produce one gallon at a time. Its compact size makes it easily portable for your traveling or holiday needs!
Independent laboratory testing proves Polar Bear water distillers remove greater than 99% of all heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides, organic compounds, bacteria, viruses and even radioactive water soluble compounds. Polar Bear has the best warranty in the industry (10 Years) because their distillers are built to last a lifetime!* You can count on the Model 26-CT's superior quality to provide you with pure drinking water for many years - because we care about the water you drink!
*Available in all International Electrical Specifications. All figures are approximate and subject to change without notice.
POLAR BEAR WATER DISTILLERS MFG. CO. LTD. P.O. Box 113, Pickardville, Alberta T0G 1W0 Canada
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The next step down in water purity is that from a reverse-osmosis filter used in conjunction with large sediment and charcoal filters. Gabriel Cousens uses a r-o filter. These systems produce water that is almost as pure as distilled water, don't require electricity, and have initial purchase costs significantly lower than a good distiller, but the sediment and charcoal filters must be changed on a regular basis, and the reverse-osmosis membrane is usually changed about every 3 years. The 3 filters must be changed, as they become less effective over time. I saw one report (Consumer Reports Jan. 1990) indicating that after factoring in the maintenance cost of all the filters, etc., the cost per gallon of water produced from a reverse-osmosis system would be similar to that of a home distiller. Reverse-osmosis systems usually require a minimum water pressure of 40 psi, may not work if you have very hard water, generally produce 6 to 30 gal/day (varies depending on model), and waste 4 to 5 gal of water for every gal of purified water produced, so may not be appropriate in areas subject to drought and water use restrictions. The purified water produced, is usually stored in a steel tank with a plastic/rubber membrane, which may be of concern to those worried about chemicals leeching into the water from the membrane, but the better units have a charcoal filter in the line from the storage tank to the dispensing faucet, to remove pollutants. Below is a description of the Culligan Good Water Machine reverse-osmosis system, from the Culligan web site, to give you an idea of the features to look for in a good r-o system.
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The next step down in water purification are the systems using only sediment and charcoal filters. These systems are much cheaper, but the filters must be changed regularly, as bacteria can grow on the filter media, and the filters become clogged. Charcoal filters help remove bad taste, odors, chlorine, organic chemicals, and pesticides, but are not very effective against microbial contamination, heavy metals (lead, etc.), sodium, nitrate, fluoride, and hard water minerals. Consumer Reports states that the very small faucet-mounted charcoal filters are "virtually useless at filtering out dangerous contaminants." With charcoal filters, the bigger, the better.
I have seen some deionization water purification systems for producing water to be used for commercial or industrial purposes, but haven't seen any hard data on the purity of the water from home deionization systems.
Below are a few web sites with some info that an Internet search engine turned up:
One source for Polar Bear distillers is Perfect Health: (800)444-4584 or (805)382-2021
For Culligan water filters check the phone directory for the local dealer or call 1-800-CULLIGAN.