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The Inexpensive, Easy Ways to Filter Arsenic from Water

inexpensive easy way to filter arsenic from water

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An invisible culprit, Arsenic, is “Hidden in the water of Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and California” and naturally added in your private and local wells. Arsenic destroys the water quality and imposes negative health effects. 

It is crucial to remove arsenic as it is associated with neurological, cardiovascular, respiratory, and immunological issues. Thanks to the specialized filter media, including absorption, anion exchange, reverse osmosis, and coagulation processes that are 80-95% efficient to remove it. 

In this blog, we’ll be describing the inexpensive and easy ways to filter arsenic from water. Let’s dive into it! 

How Does Arsenic Get in the Water?

Private wells, often in rural areas, are susceptible to arsenic contamination if they draw water from arsenic-rich aquifers. It is a natural element found in the Earth’s crust and groundwater. It gets into the drinking water in many ways, including.

1. Run-off during mining operations.
2. Agricultural and industrial runoff.
3. Human and animal waste through leakage.
4. By using arsenic-treated wood 
5. Altered precipitation patterns and droughts

Can Arsenic Be Filtered Out of Water?

Yes, arsenic can be filtered out by distilling, using biochar with iron-enhanced activity, absorption media, reverse osmosis, and coagulation methods.  

As it is found in organic and inorganic forms in drinking water. Inorganic forms include arsenite As(III) and arsenate As(V), which are more toxic. Inorganic, arsenic type 3 or arsenite is more dangerous and difficult to filter than arsenic type 5. So, it is suggested to test your water to determine the exact CULPRIT; then, it will be easier to filter arsenic from the drinking water. 

Here’s a column of arsenic removals for different water treatment methods:

Treatment Method   Arsenic Removal (%) 
Distillation80-99%
Iron-enhanced BiocharUpto 85%
Absorption Media   60-80%
Anion Exchange   70-80%
Reverse Osmosis    80-90%
Oxidation + Filtration 80-90%
Coagulation + Filtration60-80%
Coagulation 60-70%
Arsenic treatment method chart.

How to Remove Arsenic from Water Naturally

Arsenic can be removed 60-80% using the following natural methods:

How to Remove Arsenic from Water Naturally
Image Credit: Pixabay

1. Distill Your Water at Home

It is one of the natural processes that requires no filtration tool to remove arsenic from the drinking water. Distillation works wonders for you; in this process, water is allowed to cool, condensed, and collected as “purified distilled water.”

Let’s follow my step-by-step guide to turning your kitchen into a science lab. 

  1. Take a stove and a large container with a lid to cover the steam.
  2. Now, add some amount of water to a large container.
  3. Turn on the stove, and the water will start boiling and raising steam. 
  4. Now, take a heatproof small bowl and place it in a large container, ensuring it doesn’t touch the bottom.
  5. Now, cover the large container with a lid and place ice cubes on it. The ice cubes will cool and condense the steam into liquid form. 
  6. Wait until the water is collected into a small bowl, and turn off the stove. Here you go!  

It effectively removes inorganic compounds such as lead arsenic, nitrate, iron, hardness, and waterborne bacteria from drinking water. Although it is a time and heat-consuming method, but is a bonus.

2. Using Biochar

Biochar is a carbon-rich substance made by burning organic material like wood or agricultural waste.  It has a large surface area to absorb contaminants like arsenic

You can make your simple filtration system. You need to follow the given steps:

  1. Pack a biochar into a container, such as a column or filter bed.
  2. Take arsenic-containing water and pass it through the filter media. The arsenic ions of water will attracted and absorbed by the biochar’s surface, and voila! 

This process makes the water safe for drinking while filtering out the arsenic. You can easily perform this inexpensive filtration at home. 

At the University of Florida, researchers ground the hickory wood chips, then heated them in nitrogen gas but did not burn them. The resulting biochar was then treated with a saltwater bath to impregnate it with iron. Tests showed that plain biochar did not affect arsenic, but the iron-enhanced product effectively removed the poison from the water. 

3. DIY Coagulation by Moringa Oelifera

Moringa Oleifera, commonly known as the moringa tree, is considered effective in removing arsenic from water due to its natural coagulation and flocculation properties. 

DIY Coagulation by Moringa Oelifera
Image by: Unsplash

They are protein in nature. When they are added to the water, their proteins bind to negatively charged particles of contaminants such as arsenic ions. It forms the larger, aggregated particles called flocs, which settle down and are separated easily. However, It doesn’t remove arsenic completely but greatly reduces its concentration.  

How to Filter Arsenic From Water? – A Poisonous Offender

You can filter arsenic by using absorption media, anion exchange, reverse osmosis, and coagulation methods at home cheaply. However, it is recommended to test your water for arsenic (type 3 or 5). If arsenic 3 is present, we recommend using oxidation media before choosing the mentioned methods that oxidize arsenic 3 into arsenic 5, which is easier to remove. 

1. By Using the Absorption Method

The absorption filter media can easily remove arsenic from your drinking water, either well or tap, such as activated alumina, iron oxide, and activated carbon. All are good to go, but you can choose whatever suits you. 

Activated Alumina

Activated alumina is another inexpensive arsenic and fluoride removal method. It is made by heating aluminum hydroxide to form aluminum oxide (dehydrated and porous form) that has excellent adsorption properties. 

When water is allowed to pass through a bed media, its large surface area trap and absorb a wide range of substances, including moisture, volatile organic compounds, heavy metals such as fluoride and arsenic (type 3 and 5), and other contaminants. 

You don’t need to make it at home because it is available in multiple forms, including beads, pellets, and granules, to make a suitable filtration process. You just need to replace the beads or pellets in the filter housing, ensuring enough space for water to flow through.

Iron-Oxide Media

Iron oxide is another absorption-based mechanism used as activated alumina. It is made of granular hydroxide-based media, which has a large surface area to grab both types of arsenic, including 3 and 5. in flowing water.

Like activated alumina, it is available in pellets that are placed in vessels or housing filters, effectively removing lead, mercury, and chromium.

Activated Carbon 

The activated carbon filter is made up of activated charcoal that works on absorption, like activated alumina and iron oxide. This type of filter is inexpensive but doesn’t remove arsenic completely. 

However, if you use this filter with iron-enhanced activity (activated carbon that incorporates iron nanoparticles or compounds into its structure), then its activity is wonderful.  

2. Anion Exchange or Ion Exchange Methods

Ion exchangers are designed to remove contaminants such as calcium, magnesium, arsenic, and many more. It is made up of resin beads, which are positively charged. When arsenic water flows through the media, the beads attract the negative ions of arsenic, exchanging them with less harmful ions like sodium, potassium, or chlorine.

Ion or anion exchange is installed at point-of-entry; they can easily remove arsenic type 5 from the water. We suggest you install any oxidation media before ion exchangers so that it can convert arsenic 3 into type 5. 

However, if specific water contamination is your concern, then you may need to install another system or this system with the pre and post-filters. 

3. Using a Reverse Osmosis

Reverse osmosis is the most widely used effective method to remove heavy metals such as arsenic, nitrates, sulfates, and many more from drinking water. It works by passing a contaminated water semi-permeable membrane and filtering out 99.99% of the impurities. 

Importantly, they remove arsenic V at a higher rate than arsenic III, so installing post-filters such as activated carbon and ion exchange can give incredible results.  

They are designed as countertops or under the counter, and you can install them at the point-of-use (POU) systems. Even though these systems are very expensive, they are definitely worth the investment if the arsenic in your well water is dangerously high. 

Note

We personally love using them with multiple filtration mechanisms. They are expensive for most people, but it is really worth it. Some of our top picks are Waterdrop for small use and Crystal Quest for large use. “Pure Bliss in Every Sip: Reverse Osmosis, Your Liquid Elixir!”

4. Using Coagulation Method

Coagulation is a process that works chemically. It works by using coagulants such as ferric chloride or aluminum sulfate, which are positive charges. They attract the arsenic ions present in the water and form large particles known as flocs. These flocs with the arsenic impurity can be easily filtered out. 

Use the filter media to separate the impurities, as this filter will additionally contribute to the arsenic removal. 

Conclusion

Conclusively, test your water quality to determine the arsenic in your water. Thankful to the easy, inexpensive methods that you can easily use to filter and remove from the drinking water. By employing techniques such as activated alumina, iron coagulation, or even simple household filtration systems, we can take a significant step towards arsenic-free water.

However, we suggest regular testing, maintenance, and continuous monitoring of water sources for the consistent removal of arsenic. And, let us not compromise on our commitment to health and safety. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Safe Level of Arsenic in Drinking Water

World Health Organization (WHO) and  Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommend the safe levels of arsenic in drinking water is 10 micrograms per liter (µg/L) or 10 parts per billion (ppb). This limit is set for people to lower the possibility of developing long-term conditions like cancer, heart disease, and skin lesions that are linked to arsenic exposure.

What are the Side Effects of Drinking Arsenic Water?

Drinking arsenic water in the short term can cause serious health issues such as skin lesions and the development of hard patches on the palms and soles. Additionally, long-term exposure is associated with cardiovascular, respiratory, Neurological, and Gastrointestinal Problems, Increased Cancer risk, and a weakened immune system.  

Can You Boil Arsenic Out of Water?

No, you can’t boil the water because it can increase the amount of arsenic in drinking water instead of limiting it. Being a non-volatile element, boiling can’t change its chemical form. So, you need advanced treatment methods like filtration, reverse osmosis, or adsorption with specialized media rather than relying on it.

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