Brazilian clay water filter

Brazilian Clay Water Filters: Everything You Need to Know

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Table of Contents

If you’ve been looking around for a new water filter, you may have stumbled upon Brazilian clay water filters. Brazilian clay water filters work by using ceramic candles in the filter chamber to remove impurities in the water. This is how most gravity water filter work, but a group of US researchers published a book in which they indicated “traditional clay filter of Brazilians is probably the best water purification system in the world.” Today, they are regarded as some of the best gravity filters, and they can be found in just about every household in Brazil.  

Before you pull the trigger and buy one, you’ll need to know whether this ceramic water filter fits your needs and your specific situation.

Read our complete guide below to learn more about ceramic water filters and the benefits of owning one. If you are curious to learn more about ceramic filters, we have previously written an article on the Pros and Cons of Ceramic Water Filters, How to make a Ceramic Water Filter and the 6 Best Ceramic Filtration Systems.

What Is a Brazilian Clay Water Filter?

A Brazilian clay water filter is a type of gravity water filter that uses ceramic candles to remove impurities through tiny pores on its surface. The pores can filter impurities down to 0.5 microns, eliminating almost all the bacteria and sediments from the water. Harmful pathogens are removed from the water once the pores are smaller than 1.5 microns.

Fortunately, the science takes care of itself. These filters are simple to use and easy to install. 

Brazilian clay water filters integrate themselves into a wide variety of applications, but they are most commonly used on the countertop. However, ceramic water filters can be used under the sink or be used as a whole house system. 

Compared to other water filtration systems, a ceramic water filter is affordable. Moreover, it’s environmentally friendly since you can clean and reuse it instead of disposing of it and buying a new one.

Additionally, since clay is a natural product, it is a chemical-free solution for purifying water. And gravity water filtration systems do not require electricity to operate, so they can be used in lots of different situations.

How Does a Ceramic Water Filter Work?

ceramic water candle filterAs briefly mentioned earlier, a ceramic water filter purifies water as it passes through the tiny pores on the casing of the ceramic cartridge. These pores are small enough to trap impurities and contaminants as water passes through them. So, the water that flows through the other end of the ceramic water filter becomes free of sediments.

The way a ceramic water filter works mimic the earth’s natural water purification process. Similar to how water seeps through layers of soil and rocks on the earth’s surface, the water in a ceramic filter flows through the many tiny pores to cleanse itself of impurities.

What Does a Brazilian Clay Water Filter Remove?

On its own, ceramic is a powerful filter and removes lots of contaminants. Here are some of the things that a Brazilian clay water filter can remove from your water:

  • Bacteriaceramic filters are particularly effective at removing bacteria from water. This is due to the fact that not many bacteria are small enough to pass through the tiny pores on the filter; thus, they get trapped in the filter while water continues to flow through. E. coli, shigella, and salmonella are but a few of the many pathogenic bacteria that ceramic filters remove. Additionally, microbial cysts such as giardia and cryptosporidium also can’t get through ceramic water filters.
  •  SedimentThe millions of tiny pores on the surface of a ceramic water filter almost entirely filter out sediments such as dirt, rust, and debris.
  • TurbidityTurbidity, the cloudiness caused by particles in your water, is also removed by ceramic water filters. In other words, ceramic water filters can turn murky-colored water into the crystal-clear water.
  • Chlorine: If you have a ceramic water filter with activated carbon, then you can use it to remove chlorine from your water. Most city water contains chlorine since it’s used for purification; however, chlorine leaves the water with an unpleasant scent and taste. Luckily, a ceramic filter with activated carbon can eradicate chlorine. 
  • VOCsVolatile organic compounds (VOC) include many different chemical contaminants that find their way to your water when the water makes its way from its natural source to your home. If you have a ceramic filter with a carbon core, you can use it to reduce the level of VOCs in your water significantly. 
  • Heavy Metals: If you buy a ceramic filter with ion exchange resin, then you can use it to filter out heavy metals such as copper, mercury, lead, and zinc.

What Does a Brazilian Clay Water Filter NOT Remove?

For better or for worse, there are certain elements that Brazilian ceramic water filters can’t remove. 

  • Total Dissolved SolidsIf there are contaminants that have dissolved and have been absorbed by your water, a ceramic water filter won’t be able to get rid of all of them. You’ll need a different tool to purify your water for that purpose.
  • MineralsMost minerals in water are healthy. Luckily, ceramic water filters act differently from water softeners and don’t get rid of minerals like calcium and magnesium. Other methods, like reverse osmosis, remove even healthy minerals from the water.

How Effective Are Brazilian Ceramic Water Filters?

ceramic water filterBrazilian ceramic water filters are effective – especially when faced with bacteria. Ceramic candles are one of the few natural materials that can effectively remove bacteria from water without the use of chemicals. This is due to the millions of 0.5-micron pores on the filter’s surface that are capable of trapping bacteria.

The only other water filtration systems that can remove bacteria are reverse osmosis membranes, chlorine injection systems, and UV systems. But these other systems are far more expensive than ceramic filters. 

When Should You Use a Brazilian Ceramic Water Filter?

You Want a Long-Lasting Water Filter: Your ceramic water filter’s mileage will vary depending on what kind of ceramic water filter you buy and how big it is. But you can expect to get at least 12 months out of it typically. You can easily extend the filter’s lifespan by cleaning it out. 

You Have Well Water: If you have well water, a ceramic water filter will serve you well. As mentioned earlier, ceramic filters are great at removing bacteria and sediment – both of which are commonly found in well water. 

Your Space Is Limited: If you have limited space – for example, if you need a filter for an apartment or an RV – some water filtering systems may be out of the question. Luckily, ceramic water filters are space-saving and should work well in limited space. What’s more, you can easily store away certain ceramic water filter models when you’re not using them.

You Need a Reliable FilterThere are ceramic filters that are made specifically for hiking, camping trips, or living off-grid. If you’re planning on living completely off-grid and won’t have access to your city’s water supply, a ceramic water filter will be ideal for you. Plus, they do not require electricity to operate, so you can use them in just about any situation.  

How Long Do Ceramic Candles Last?

Ceramic water filters are reusable. You can clean them many times to extend their lifespan. But it would be best if you remembered that the internal parts of the filter might not last as long as the ceramic itself. For example, if you have a ceramic water filter that uses carbon, you’ll need to replace the unit much sooner.

If your ceramic water filter doesn’t make use of carbon, you can continue to clean and reuse it until the water stops flowing. Note that you can expect to use a ceramic water filter reliably for at least a year.

Also, keep in mind that the water filtration chamber should be cleaned once every two months. This way, you can ensure your water is clean and mold does not grow on the ceramic material.

Pros and Cons of Brazilian Clay Water Filters

Before deciding on a Brazilian clay water filter, it’s important to know the pros and cons of using them. There are many water filtration systems on the market, so you should consider them before making a final decision. Below is a helpful list to help you decide if a Brazilian ceramic filter is right for you.

What Are the Pros of Using Brazilian Clay Water Filters?

  • NaturalOne of the pros of using a ceramic water filter is that ceramic is a natural and non-toxic substance. So you won’t have to worry about chemicals or a filter malfunction that contaminates your drinking water. 
  • Reduction in BacteriaCeramic water filters are highly effective at getting rid of bacteria in water. Certain ceramic filters can remove bacteria almost wholly. 
  • Ultra-Fine Filtration: Due to the ultra-fine pores of ceramic filters, these filters can effectively remove parasites and bacteria that other kinds of filters can’t get rid of.
  • AffordablePure ceramic water filters are cheap. Even ceramic filters that contain extra components like carbon are still affordable compared to other water filtration solutions. What’s more, they become even more cost-efficient when you consider the long lifespan and reusability of ceramic filters.

What Are the Cons of Brazilian Clay Water Filters?

  • Frequent CleaningThe primary downside of using a ceramic water filter is that the pores on the ceramic surface can glob up quickly – especially if the water you’re filtering starts out exceptionally dirty. If you’re constantly filtering water that’s of poor quality, you may have to clean out your ceramic water filter every few weeks. If, however, you’re filtering out moderately clean water or you’re using a pre-filter, you won’t have to clean your ceramic filter as often.
  • No Chemical ReductionIf your ceramic filter has activated carbon, this downside doesn’t apply to you. But if you’re using a pure ceramic filter, you won’t be able to remove chlorine and other chemicals from your drinking water.
  • Not Effective Against Viruses: Ceramic filters aren’t particularly effective against viral contaminants. To remove viruses from your water, you’ll need to either chemically treat the water, boil it, or process it using a UV water filter.
  • Variable Quality ControlNot all Brazilian clay water filters are made equal. Depending on the manufacturer of your filter, you may end up with either a filter that breaks after a couple of months or a highly effective filter that will last you a couple of years.

Clay Tiles Best Roof for Rainwater Harvesting

Final Thoughts

We’ve given you a complete rundown of everything you need to know about Brazilian clay water filters. These ceramic water filters may suit you if you need a highly effective natural water filter that does not use chemicals or electricity to treat water. 

Ceramic, or Terracotta roofing, is often used to collect rainwater. Roofing made from clay tiles is popular because they are durable and reduces the amount of chemicals that are collected from the catchment area. If you are interested in learning about roofing for rainwater collection, make sure to check out our article on the topic.

To learn more about rainwater harvesting, water filtration, and other topics on water security – and other types of water filters – check out the other articles on our website.

People Also Ask

Cleaning a ceramic water filter is easy. To remove the filtered contaminants that built up on the exterior of the filter, you’ll need to: 

  1. Carefully remove the ceramic cartridge from the unit’s casing. Handle the cartridge gently since it’ll crack and break if you drop it.
  2. Scrub the ceramic in a bowl of water or under running water using a clean plastic brush or toothbrush. Don’t use soaps, detergents, or any rough items like steel and wool. Be sure to brush away from the threaded mount to avoid contaminating the filter.
  3. Re-install the filter cartridge.

Ceramic water filters are affordable and cost-effective. The cost of a ceramic water filter differs depending on the system you buy; however, for non-industrial purposes, you won’t be spending much. Here are some general prices:

  • Point-of-Use Filter – $100
  • Portable Filter – $30
  • Industrial Filter – $350

Regardless of whichever type of ceramic water filter you buy, you’re still going to spend less compared to buying bottled water to drink the entire year. Moreover, you can clean and reuse these filters for a long time, and they won’t increase your electricity bill. After all, ceramic filters don’t need power.

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