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Natural Materials Used for Water Filtration

author image Joshua Duvauchelle
Joshua Duvauchelle is a certified personal trainer and health journalist, relationships expert and gardening specialist. His articles and advice have appeared in dozens of magazines, including exercise workouts in Shape, relationship guides for Alive and lifestyle tips for Lifehacker. In his spare time, he enjoys yoga and urban patio gardening.
Natural Materials Used for Water Filtration
A water filtration system. Photo Credit: manfredxy/iStock/Getty Images

Contaminants in your drinking water, such as disease-causing microorganisms or toxin dissolved metals, can pose a health risk to you and your family. Meanwhile, non-hazardous contaminants can make your water taste bad. Several natural materials are incorporated into modern water filtration systems to help remove potential contaminants so you can enjoy safer and tastier water.

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Activated carbon, also known as charcoal, is a very porous type of carbon. It can be made from a variety of natural substances, including wood and peat moss. It helps purify water in a water filter by trapping contaminants, reports the Natural Resources Defense Council. The council also notes that carbon's positive charge also helps attract contaminants to the carbon. It's popular because it can remove common heavy metals like lead, as well as dissolved chemicals and some types of parasites.


Ceramic water filters, fashioned from natural clay, works as a slow but effective filter medium, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The dirty water is pushed through the ceramic, and the ceramic captures impurities like arsenic and microbes. MIT says ceramic filters are popular in developing countries due to their cheap construction costs.


A sand bed made from glauconite, a green clay, is extremely effective at filtering out mineral impurities in water, according to North Dakota State University. The university says that dirty water is pushed through the sand. Sand captures insoluble minerals and can be reused by rinsing it. However, sand is primarily used to get rid of minerals like manganese and iron, which affect water taste and also create mineral stains.

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is the crumbled form of a type of siliceous rock. When layered, its very fine texture helps to remove larger impurities like algae, as well as waterborne viruses, according to the National Drinking Water Clearinghouse. This makes diatomaceous earth-based water filters popular for recreational uses like swimming pools.

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