Carbon over time
No one knows exactly when the properties of carbon were discovered. It goes back in time so much that scientists cannot date the period when humans first started using carbon.
But we know the following: That the ancient Indians used carbon to purify drinking water and the Egyptians used it from 1500 BC. to detoxify their body.
The father of medicine, Hippocrates, often used carbon in his treatments.
When did carbon become known to the world?
A French chemist, Pierre Fleurus Touery, believed so much in the properties of carbon that in 1831 he drank strychnine 10 times above the lethal dose in front of his bewildered colleagues at the French Academy of Medicine.
There was nothing wrong with this strange experiment. However, he explained to his colleagues that he had previously drunk about 15 grams of carbon, which bound the poison.
What is activated carbon and how is it produced?
Carbon is a 100% natural product. It is basically a fine, odorless, tasteless and non-toxic black powder. We can produce coal from peat, bamboo, coal, wood, sawdust, coconut husk, olive kernels and oil.
Activated carbon is similar to plain carbon. The main difference is that activated carbon has a different way of processing as in order to be produced, it must be heated in a controlled environment and in a vacuum. This way, it acquires an extremely porous surface. These tiny holes (pores) can increase the area of carbon from 500 to 1500 m2 / gr.
As a result, it binds various substances that come in contact with it, in liquid or gaseous form and in quantities many times its weight. One cubic centimeter of activated carbon has the same area as a surface of 50,000 square meters.
Alternatively, it can be turned into powder to maximize the absorption surface.
Activated carbon is used as an absorbent for filtration in various applications: anti-asphyxiation masks, water purifiers, kitchen hoods, absorption of toxins (in Medicine), poisons or gases from a digestive system. It is mainly used in water treatment systems, medicines, purification of various substances, car catalysts, etc.
However, its main use is as a means of water filtration and processing. In activated carbon water filters, we meet not only granular (powdered) activated carbon but also solid activated carbon. Solid activated carbon has a slightly smaller absorption surface than granular one, but gains in mechanical filtration. Because it is compact, it mechanically filters water from larger particles (dust, dirt, rust, pebbles, etc.).
The optimization of an activated carbon filter depends on several factors:
1. The size of the pores and the way they are allocated . This depends on the carbon source and how it is processed. It basically has to do with the quality of the factory and the raw materials. Activated carbon filters may visually look identical, but the quality of construction greatly affects water filtration.
2. The absorption tends to increase as the temperature and pH decrease. Activated carbon filters should be installed in the cold water supply. This optimizes their performance, they do not wear out and last longer.
3. The flow rate also affects the effectiveness of an activated carbon filter. Toxic substances are removed more efficiently when they come in contact with carbon for a longer period of time. In fact, the slower the water passes through the carbon filter, the better the water will be filtered.
Carbon "stores" toxic substances in its holes (pores), which means that at some point it "clogs" and needs to be replaced. All filter manufacturers recommend changing filters at least once a year for safety reasons.
In recent years, water treatment technology has developed so much that there are now zeolite activated carbon filters on the market. Zeolite is a mineral of volcanic origin that, due to its special chemical property, is used in water treatment industry, environmental protection, crops, agriculture, etc. It was named in 1756 by the Swedish mineralogist Axel Kronsted, who observed that rapid heating of stilvite produced a large amount of steam from water which had been absorbed by the material. This is how he called this material "zeolite", from "zeo" (boil) and "litho" (stone).
It contains a significant amount of clinoptilolite and can also be used in nuclear reprocessing, as it can purify nuclear waste containing radioactive isotopes. One of its most important functions is its ability to capture and eliminate heavy metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, aluminum and excess iron, without removing healthy ions and metals.
The best known filters in this category are from the American company Ceramic Filters Company Inc.
Read our guide about water filter cost per category.
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George Margiolos was born in Thessaloniki and has graduated from the Department of Marketing of the Alexandreio Technological Educational Institute of Thessaloniki. He is fluent in English and (not so fluent) in German.
Ηe has been Project Manager at Avery Dennison - Fastener Division in the UK. There, his main project was to redesign the company's products into new applications so as to become more environmentally friendly. In combination with the fact that in the UK people are more familiar with water filters, he has developed a love for environmentally friendly water filters, which reduce the use of plastic bottles and improving people's quality of life.
Since 2008, he has published over 300 unique educational and informative articles on water filters and new water treatment technologies.
Occasionally, universities and doctoral students request to use George Margiolos' articles in their research because of their quality and uniqueness.