Like many South Africans I’ve always believed that our tap water is one of the best in the world and perfectly safe to drink. In actual fact South Africa’s tap water is not one of the highest quality in the world. Even though according to Afriforum, only 3 out of 156 cities failed the water quality test last year, the Blue Drop Report revealed that the state of our tap water is worse than we thought.
The Blue Drop report was released last year in January, leading experts to say the water crisis has not only affected our quantity but also the quality of water as they believe the water is not being sanitized correctly. Released by the Department of Water and Sanitation, the Blue Drop Report showed that of the 1 036 municipal drinking water systems evaluated, only 44 complied with Blue Drop status standards.
Even with so called clean water, health experts believe it isn’t the best thing for you to consume. To make water safe and prevent water-borne illnesses it needs to be disinfected with potential carcinogens like chlorine, ammonia and or chloramines and then “fortified” with fluoride. In addition, to get to you it travels miles in possibly rusty pipes picking up contaminants and pesticides along the way. Not what you want in your body.
Bottled water for us isn’t the answer. Not only is the cost of bottled water high when you consider how much you’d need to get per day; but the plastic bottles and lids – like so much other single use plastics – end up in landfills and even the ocean creating an environmental disaster.
In search of a solution that’s better for our bodies and the environment we turned to H2O International South Africa , South Africa’s number 1 water purification company. With over 40 years of experience in water purification, H2O International South Africa provide solutions for water purification ranging from simple (jugs) to complex (full house water filter systems) including complete water and air purification systems.
We visited one of their branches in Johannesburg, where Fiona explained their various products and how they work so we could find a solution best for us.
To demonstrate why our tap water needs to be purified, Fiona did a chlorine test whereby she filled two cups with water – one filtered water and one pure tap water.
She then added drops to the water which show if chlorine is present and we waited. A few minutes later, the tap water had turned a light yellowish colour, indicative of chlorine, whilst the purified water remained clear.
How Water Filter Systems Work
When it comes to purification systems there are two broad types – those that use reverse osmosis and those that use a media bed to filter water.
With Reverse Osmosis Systems, hydraulic pressure forces water through a semi-permeable membrane. This process removes up to 99 percent of contaminants and impurities. The biggest shortcoming of this method is that it also strips the purified water of essential minerals and electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium. Research studies around the world have shown that the calcium and magnesium content found in good quality water is comparable to that of other foods and can contribute to the daily intake of these minerals. In addition, the process of reverse osmosis uses up to 3 litres of water to produce just one litre of purified water.
With Filtration Purifier Systems water passes through layers of filters which, depending on their efficacy, capture impurities. However, there are many varieties available and cheaper ones only remove visible impurities, so you need to trust the brand you go with.
The benefit of filtration systems is that they are smaller than reverse osmosis units and are easily installed. There is also no water wastage in the process and no loss of naturally occurring minerals and electrolytes in the alkaline water that it produces.
H2O International South Africa uses a filtration purifier system which utilises a GAC/KDF®/Riolyte® Process media bed filter which not only removes harmful chemicals, toxins and metals, but also creates an electrolytic field that destroys harmful bacteria.
Considerations when Choosing a Water Filter System
When choosing a water filter option we looked at things like costs, ease of installation and longevity.
While H2O International South Africa does offer water jugs with filter systems as well as bottle dispensers we wanted something that didn’t require us to constantly filling up a jug, waiting for it to filter and cool and then use. Nor did we want a bottle dispenser which uses plastic bottles that need refilling. We wanted a solution that would make use of our existing taps and be as convenient and environmentally friendly as possible. So, we turned to their tap purifiers.
H2O International South Africa offers both countertop and under the countertop water purification systems. The difference between going over the counter and under are in cost, ease of installation and longevity.
Under the countertop water filters last longer before you need to buy a replacement filter as their filters have a higher capacity than the over the counter top filters. Because of this they are more expensive. They are harder to install, require drilling through a counter, which would mean for most, getting someone in to install.
The over the countertop filters have the advantage of being able to be installed by yourself, with no drilling or complicated plumbing and can be attached and detached as you want.
The CTP Hi-Capacity Countertop Purifier
H2O International South Africa has a variety of options which vary in their capacity to filter water before requiring cartridge replacement. We chose the The CTP Hi-Capacity Countertop Purifier as not only does it have a high capacity (37 000 litres) but it ticked many other boxes we found important. It’s portable, making it a great option if you’re renting or see yourself moving. It’s easy to install, fits most taps and can be upgraded. You can eventually, if you want to, turn it into an under the counter-top water filter.
How it works
As your tap water enters the filter it’s first point of contact is a 5-micron filter pad which protect the filter from fine sediment and blocks any particles larger than 5 micron in size. The water then passes through a thick bed of KDF, a highly patented zinc alloy media that removes iron, aluminium, sulphur, heavy metals like lead, mercury and arsenic; as well as harmful chemicals. The KDF media bed does most of the work and helps extend the operating life of the carbon within the water purifier.
KDF also removes harmful chemicals by creating an oxidation reductive reaction which converts these chemicals into harmless compounds. This creates an electro magnetic field in the media bed which inhibits the reproduction of any harmful bacteria, fungi or algae within the purifier rendering it completely bacteria static.
The next point of contact for the water is the coconut shell granular activated carbon (GAC) which works by absorbing harmful chemical compounds commonly used in municipal water treatment like chlorine, disinfectant by-products as well as many unwanted industrial and agricultural chemicals which inadvertently enter our water supply post treatment due to declining infrastructure. GAC also traps any unwanted organic materials and polishes the water improving the taste, colour and odour.
Mixed into the GAC is Riolyte, a unique H2O International South Africa International component that contains beneficial mineral components that get slowly released into the water making it slightly more alkaline and pleasant to taste.
At the top of the GAC media bed is a layer of silver impregnated granular activated carbon added to kill any harmful bacteria that might enter and contaminate the water purifier from water flowing back into the unit.
The final point of contact for the water is another 5-micron fibre filter pad which prevents any carbon granules from being released into your glass of water.
The filter system comes in a box complete with multiple tap attachments, so you can find the right fit for your tap, and a manual. The manual wasn’t overly descriptive, but even with knowing nothing about plumbing and never having worked with taps I was able to install it within an hour. My only advice is when tightening the connectors to your tap use a wrench or put gloves on. I used my bare hands and walked away with cuts in my fingers from tightening it.
Once the water filter is installed you have the option to use filtered water or regular tap water. This helps you prolong the life of the system by only using the filtered water for drinking and tap water for washing. Tap water continues to come out of the main tap, whilst turning the knob redirects water through the filter system and out the filter nozzle.
You need to let the filtered water run for a few minutes (it comes out grey at first) but once it’s clear you’re ready to go.
I was skeptical about being able to taste the difference and was pleasantly shocked to discover there was a huge difference in taste. The filtered water was softer and less bitter and harsh than tap water. It’s a very noticeable taste difference. I did blind taste testing with my family and they all were able to differentiate between the tap water and filtered water. Aside from the taste, I love that the H2O International South Africa system removes the things I don’t want in my body but keeps the nutrients found in water in your glass. It’s where all my drinking water is now coming from. While important for all of us, filtered water is especially important for kids as they develop their immune systems and those with compromised immune systems.
The The CTP Hi-Capacity Countertop Purifier retails for R3200 and can be installed yourself fast and be used immediately. H2O International South Africa offers numerous other purification systems to suit your budget and lifestyle. Click here to view their full range and find your nearest dealer.
How to Install a Counter Top Water Filter
This post was brought to you in partnership with H2O International South Africa Thank you for supporting the brands that support us.
Photography by Feige Lewin, Video editing by MK Visuals
Zissy is the co-founder of Nutreats. She likes to make things, do things and wear things.