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Ion Exchange (IX) Water Filter: How Does It Work?

An Ion Exchange (IX) Water Filter is a filter that utilizes the ion exchange process to soften or purify water by removing dissolved magnesium and calcium ions found in hard water and replacing them with new and cleaner/healthier ones while several other contaminants sulfate, nitrate, and arsenic are also eliminated through supplementary processes such as deionization and disinfection.

A typical ion exchange water filtration system consists of an IX resin layer (the most important component in the system) to comprise the solid side of the ion exchange, a separate inlet, and regenerant distribution system to assure consistency and reliability, retention elements to prevent resin from escaping the vessel, a programmable logic controller (PLC) for proper and continuous operation, necessary piping infrastructure for proper water and material flow, and control valves to ensure safe operability. Hard water that is rich in magnesium and calcium content is linked with several problems like preventing soap from lathering, causing dryness in human skin and hair, leaving white stains on dishes and silverware, and causing limescale accumulation in the piping infrastructure to shorten the lifespans of appliances that use such hard water. The benefit of an ion exchange water filtration system is preventing these issues from being experienced by end-users while operating in a perfectly environmentally friendly manner to provide high volumes of treated water at low maintenance and repair costs. However, IX water treatment systems also have certain disadvantages, namely calcium and sulfate fouling, absorption of harmful organic matter, organic contamination resulting out of resin material, as well as bacterial and chlorine contamination. The softened/purified IX treated water with above 300 milligrams of sodium per two gallons of water can also pose a significant health risk to individuals with health issues such as high blood pressure and/or coronary artery disease.

What is an Ion Exchange (IX) Filter?

truth about ion exchange filterAn Ion Exchange Filter is the physical medium that is composed of organic polymers that create hydrocarbon networks located within the polymer matrix, containing the functional groups of cations and anions that attract the ions of opposite charge, within which ion exchange reactions are facilitated.

While IX filters show significant variance regarding their characteristics like structure, size, and geometric shape, most of the ion exchange systems house a resin bedding that consists of small-sized and porous microbeads, while in systems that are used for electrodialysis, a planar sheet-like mesh resin is used. Most IX resin beads are small in size and spherical in shape with a radius range of 0.25 to 1.25 millimeters with either a uniform or Gaussian particle size distribution and among all the options, gel resin beads are the most popular ones thanks to their semi-transparent appearance and capability to provide high operational capacity and efficiency in carrying out the previously mentioned chemical reactions. Ion Exchange (IX) Filtration Systems for Home, meaning for residential use, are generally smaller in size and offer filtration options ranging from 3 filters to 5 filters and more using standard IX resins. For use in harsh environmental conditions, opaque white or yellow-colored macroporous resins are preferred for the higher levels of stability and chemical resistance they provide.

The process of cross-linking hydrocarbon chains with each other to form the IX resin is referred to as polymerization and the process makes the resin polymer stronger, more resilient, and more voluminous. The most common chemical material used in the manufacturing of most IX filters is polystyrene while acrylonitrile and methyl acrylate are also frequently used in IX resins with all filters undergoing several chemical treatments processes to bind the functional groups with ion-exchange zones within the matrix. The functional groups are highly determinant in a resin’s capability to separate the content of the water and due to a large variety of available compositions, various types of resins with different separation capabilities exist. Some of the most common types are Strong Acid Cation (SAC) exchange resins used for water softening and demineralization, Weak Acid cation (WAC) exchange resins to remove certain types of cations found in alkaline water, Strong Base Anion (SBA) exchange resins for retaining high concentrations of chloride (CI-) and hydroxide (OH-) ions in the water, and Weak Base Anion (WBA) exchange resins to eliminate anions in strong mineral acids, and Chelating resins to remove certain metals in the water.

The history of the ion exchange (IX) process dates back to 1850 when an agriculturalist, Harry Stephen Meysey Thompson, and a chemist, John Thomas Way, discovered the creation of calcium sulfate in a solution when ammonium sulfate was transferred through a certain type of soil and reported their discovery to the Royal Agricultural Society of England along with the discovery of several other minerals referred to as permutites during the process and established the foundations of industrial water softening. The first commercially available scale hardness removal system was developed in 1905 by Dr. Robert Gans in Germany with the use of a natural zeolite soil type and the first industrial use of the given system took place in Moscow, Russia in 1910 at an electrical power plant. In 1913, the New York-based industrial machinery manufacturer Pfaudler Permutit began to market the first synthetic zeolite system, beginning a new era of water softening in water conditioning, followed by the first successful attempt to reduce dissolved solids in water through the IX process. Culligan Co. became the first commercially successful water treatment company thanks to its development of the first control valve during this period and today numerous household names, including Calgon Carbon, The Dow Chemical Company, Evoqua Water Technologies, GE Water & Process Technologies, Lanxess, Lenntech, Newterra, and Tonka Water, manufacture IX water treatment systems and resins/filters. In 1935, two British chemists by the names Eric Leighton Holmes and Basil Albert Adams manufactured the first-ever phenolic ion exchange resins which could be used to create cation resin with sulfonic function groups or anion resin with amine groups, making it possible to demineralize water using the IX process, leading to the establishment of the first-ever water demineralization plant in 1937. Styrene-divinylbenzene was created in a lab using organic polymer between 1945 and 1947 to establish the foundations of the modern-day IX technologies as the highly strong, stable, and significantly pH-insensitive nature of polymer replaced phenolic resins and further research yielded ion-specific resins in a short period of time which were effective against resilient contaminants like sulfate, nitrate, arsenic, tannin, and uranium.

When comparing an Ion Exchange (IX) Water Treatment System to other water filtration systems like the process of distillation, the first thing to note is that the latter is a lot less sophisticated than the former because the distillation process is a physical process that boils water to separate its contaminants and then condenses it again to return it to liquid form. There are no chemical reactions and the results are substantially less efficient than those produced by the IX filtration/purification system. The distillation process also requires a large amount of physical space and energy to operate and produces a highly bland and flat taste. Reverse Osmosis is yet another physical process but thanks to numerous filtration stages involved in it, it is significantly more efficient than distillation, while also being more efficient than IX systems. The only disadvantage of RO systems over ion exchange (IX) systems is that they produce substantially more wastewater, which can be cost-inefficient for the end-user. Ultraviolet Water Sterilization and Filtration is a process used to eliminate microorganisms by exposing UV light on water periodically for long periods and therefore it is inefficient when dealing with chemical or metal contaminants. However, in terms of killing harmful bacteria and viruses, UV systems are 99.99% efficient, making them an ideal supplementary process to IX systems.

How Does an Ion Exchange (IX) Filter Work?

Ion Exchange (IX) Filter work based on the principle of filtration/purification of incoming water through numerous IX resins. First, it replaces calcium and magnesium ions in unfiltered water with sodium ions using a unique cation exchange resin, with the formation of scale due to temperature increase being avoided thanks to the high solubility of sodium salt. The resultant process is a mature one and the effects it produces are stable and accurate, with the overall process being referred to as a water softening system.

The resin used in an IX filtration system is essentially a polymer that contains different functional gene groups, usually containing large amounts of sodium ions, which releases these ions when the calcium and magnesium ion content reaches high levels in the water to combine the functional gene groups with the calcium and magnesium ions and decreases the given ion content as well as the hardness in water to produce soft water. In times of clogging in the resign which decreases its softening ability as a result of too many functional gene clusters combining with calcium and magnesium ions, a sodium chloride solution can be used to strengthen the flow through the resin to restore its exchange capacity, which is a process referred to as “regeneration”. The working principle of ion exchange (IX) water filtration system can be described in five processes, namely water production, back-washing, salt absorption/regeneration, slow flushing/replacement, and fast flushing, while additional processes can be added to the standard procedure for higher operational efficiency or control.

During the first process, water is casually sent through the IX filtration/softening system without any issues observed or problems encountered, followed by the backwashing process that takes between 5 and 15 minutes, where the water flows in from the bottom of the resin and out from the top to wash away the dirt brought in and accumulated on top of the resin by the resin so that the exchange resin can be exposed to the incoming water and the regeneration effect can take place. In the third process of salt absorption/regeneration, saltwater is injected into the resin tank with traditional equipment using a standard salt pump and fully automatic equipment using a built-in ejector at standard water pressure to carry out the process. The process is carried out as slowly as possible for the regeneration effect of saltwater to take place properly and all over the resin area for about 30 minutes, with the duration of the process varying with the type and amount of salt being used. In the fourth process of slow flushing/replacement, the total amount of salt used in the previous process of salt absorption/regeneration is gradually and slowly flushed out for approximately 30 minutes to exchange the calcium and magnesium ions with sodium ions found within the functional groups remaining after the salt absorption/regeneration process.

In the fifth and final process of fast flushing, the remaining salt needs to be flushed out with raw water that flows at the same or close rate as the raw water used in the water production process for 5 to 15 minutes every 48 hours of operation and the equipment should be shut down and left overnight in off status for the salt to be absorbed before being back-washed and normalized the following day.

What is IX Resin?

ix resin working principalAn Ion Exchange (IX) Resin is a type of material produced from a variety of different types of organic compounds that have been synthetically polymerized to contain both positively and negatively charged zones that attract the ions of opposite charges from the solution that surrounds itself. The electrically charged particles found in an IX resin are generally carboxylic or sulfonic acid salts or quaternary ammonium salts, while the classification of polymers used in an IX resin as acid/cation and basic/anion exchangers based on the charged ions they exchange, with acid/cation polymers that contain acid groups exchanging positively charged hydrogen and metal ions while basic/anion polymers that contain ammonium groups exchanging negatively charged hydroxide or halide ions. An IX resin is usually a light solid with a porous structure manufactured in granule, sheet, or bead form and swells after absorbing the solution when immersed in it, with the efficiency and degree of the swelling process depending on the polymeric structure of the IX resin and the solution’s total ion concentration.

For most industrial and domestic applications, and IX resin is used to remove calcium, iron, magnesium, and manganese salts from raw water, to purify sugar, and separate valuable element concentrations like gold, silver, and uranium from mineral ores while when used in the chemical analysis process, an IX resin separates ionic substance concentrations from raw water, and in the chemical synthesis process, certain IX resins can be used as effective catalysts during the esterification and hydrolysis reactions. As an answer to the question “what is an ion exchange resin and how does it work?”, an IX resin can be considered as a system that is highly useful in removing dissolved organics if regenerated properly and periodically but is not too reliable for removing particles or bacteria.

What is an IX Resin Made of?

An IX Resin typically is made of a styrene-divinylbenzene copolymer substrate with a high molecular weight while other materials such as methacrylic acid–divinylbenzene and phenol-formaldehyde polymer substrates can be used for specific purposes.

What Contaminants do Ion Exchange Systems Remove?

An Ion Exchange system can successfully remove numerous types of charged atoms and molecules in the form of ions like fluoride, sulfates, iron, manganese, perchlorate, and nitrates along with toxic metals like chromium, uranium, and radium from the raw water it filters/softens.

In scientific industries, namely in laboratory settings for both analytical and preparative purposes such as in the routine analysis of amino acid solutions, ion-exchange chromatography is used to maintain the acidity of the solutions so that the amino acids can be retained in their cationic forms. Consequently, the 20 main amino acids found in blood serum or obtained through the hydrolysis of proteins are separated and the light-absorption methods are used to determine their concentrations in clinical diagnosis. Cation exchange resins are also used in the analysis of the products of nucleic acid hydrolysis to learn about their structures and how such structures are related to their biological functions in transferring hereditary information, making ion-exchange chromatography an essential tool for modern molecular biology research in explaining biological processes concerning molecular interactions in complex biological materials. Ion-exchange chromatography is also used to separate inorganic ions as the columns of cation-exchange resin separate rare earth elements, or lanthanoids, while the anions of the citrates, lactates and other salts create negatively charged complexes for which the lanthanoid ions are used to remove the ions from the columns with the metal ions being retained by the resin.

Similarly, metal ions can be easily separated using anion-exchange in hydrochloric acid as negatively charged chloride complexes which are held together by anion-exchange resins are formed by most metals, and using the variation in their stabilities in a solution as well as their affinities with the resin, they can be separated by manipulating the hydrochloric acid concentration using mixed solvents such as acetone-water that offer a high amount of selectivity. In the activation analysis procedure, large quantities of neutrons are applied to a sample to form radioactive elements that are then separated using anion-exchange processes, which is a highly useful analysis when minor metallic constituents are separated from other substances. Another scientific use of IX resins, namely chelating resins, is the collection of trace metals from seawater as the copper-loaded resin absorbs amino acids from seawater while IX resins are also used to dissolve soluble salts such as calcium sulfate, to determine dissolved salts in natural water, and to identify minute traces of ions. Similarly, IX resins are used in the preparation of hydroferrocyanic acid and cesium hydroxide and the purification of acids or bases containing non-ionic contaminants, and the removal of ionic contaminants from solvents.

Ion exchange treatment has also been previously used in the removal of salts from high sugar content juices and increase the sugar crystallization process while water deionization through the use of IX resins to remove traces of heavy metals responsible for low-quality taste and faster oxidation, has also been used to improve the taste, flavor, and shelf-life of juices and wine. IX resins are used in hydrometallurgy as well for the recovery of valuable metals such as silver, gold, and copper from wastewater with uranium being extracted from lower-grade ores through the application of a diluted solution of sulfuric acid to convert uranium IV to uranium VI to produce negatively charged uranium sulfate complex ions, absorb such ions onto the anion-exchange resin and then extract the uranium with dilute nitric acid. As previously mentioned, Cation-exchange resins with high acidity and housing large quantities of hydrogen ions can catalyze numerous chemical reactions that take place during the liquid phase, namely the processes of hydrolysis and esterification/ester formation without contaminating the product. Inorganic exchangers high in metal content can also be used to catalyze gas-phase reactions such as petroleum fraction cracking in gasoline production thanks to their crystalline structure that makes it possible to access metal ions. Finally, IX resins are also used in the field of medicine as carboxylic resins containing hydrogen or ammonium ions can remove the sodium ions in the gastrointestinal tract to control edema when consumed orally, while other resins can lower acidity in the stomach and help fight ulcers.

1. Cationic Resins: Cationic resins, namely the high acidic and strong cation (SAC) and the low acidic and weak resins, eliminate the positively charged contaminants in ionic water to carry out several functions, such as elimination of water hardness, softening, and de-alkalization, and barium and radium elimination. When eliminating water hardness, the calcium ions (Ca2+) and magnesium ions (Mg2+) that form scales are removed by the SAC resin beads to be replaced with sodium ions to decrease water hardness and increase sodium levels. To recharge the resin, a solution of sodium chloride brine of 8-12% concentration is used to remove the accumulated ions from the resin beads. When softening and de-alkalizing water, WAC resin is used as it can remove total dissolved solids (TDS) to a rate of approximately 17.1 parts per million for every eliminated grain of hardness, while also eliminating approximately 80% of temporary water hardness due to dissolved bicarbonate minerals. Depending on the hardness level of the incoming water, the reduction rate of TDS and the amount of pH decrease will change as the process of exchanging hardness and alkalinity ions with hydrogen ions produce acidic water with lower PH levels. When removing barium and radium in incoming water, both of which are divalent cations that are heavily regulated by the government and related agencies, it becomes substantially more difficult to regenerate cationic resins due to the slower diffusion rate of larger atomic mass into the resin matrix. SAC resins that have specific properties to enhance barium and radium reduction are currently being used for this process.         

2. Anionic Resins: The negatively charged ionic contaminants in water such as nitrate (NO3–), perchlorate (ClO4–), Arsenic, Total Organic Carbon (TOC), and Uranium, can be removed by negatively charged anion resins, namely strong base/anion (SBA) and weak base/anion (WBA) resins. The same resins can also be used to demineralize/de-ionize water by reducing certain minerals and TDS in water through the exchange of minerals and TDS for hydrogen cations (H+) and hydroxide anions (OH-) from the resin beads which results in the formation of purified water. Similarly, SBA resins can be used to disinfect microbial life forms by binding halogens ionically. When eliminating nitrate (NO3–) from water, the SBA resin should be regenerated at an early stage when the water’s NO3– concentration is high to stop the sulfate anion from acting as a regenerant and discharging the necessary NO3–, while in cases with high sulfate concentration, a specific and highly selective SBA resin can also be used. Both single-use and regenerable SCA resins can be used to selectively eliminate perchlorate (ClO4–) and when removing arsenic, a pre-oxidation process is required to convert the As (III) arsenate into As (III) arsenate form due to arsenite (H3AsO3) occurring in a neutral state in aqueous solutions, leading the SBA resins to be able to remove only the negatively charged arsenate (HAsO42-) and not the positively charged arsenate. Negatively charged TOC, which occurs naturally in organic matter and is prone to create carcinogen Disinfection Byproducts (DBPs) like Trihalomethanes (THMs) and Haloacetic Acids (HAAs) when oxidized by secondary chlorine disinfection, can be eliminated through the use of SBA resin. SBA resins can also be used to eliminate uranium which is typically found in anionic uranyl carbonate/sulfate complexes.

3. Specialty Resins: Numerous types of specialty resins are also available for contaminant removal and purification processes, namely for brine purification, nitrate, arsenic, iron, color & chemical oxygen demand (COD), chromium, and high TDS content removal.

What are the Benefits of IX Water Filters?

The benefits of ion exchange (IX) water filters are listed below:

  • Elimination of Dissolved Inorganics: IX filters effectively eliminate dissolved inorganics, which are responsible for issues like foul taste and smell, while reducing the quality of the filtered/purified water.
  • Highly Efficient Service Deionization: IX filters remove both positively and negatively charged ions from water effectively to improve water quality and drinkability.
  • Affordability: IX filtration systems are quite affordable when compared to other systems like Reverse Osmosis or Distillation due to the simplicity of the system, while both the automatic and semi-automatic regeneration of resins is also a relatively inexpensive process and the supplementary materials such as salt can also be obtained at relatively low costs.
  • Significantly Reduced Water Hardness: The IX treated water has a significantly low scaling tendency due to the reduction of hardness level of water to lower than 2 ppm, making the filtered/purified water suitable for both human consumption and other applications like use in washing dishes or clothes as well as cleaning.
  • Ease of Installation and Operation: IX water filtration systems are quite easy to install due to the simplicity of the system design, while the operation of IX water filtration systems is also quite easy as the operation is minimally affected by the variations in the incoming water flow rate, producing uniform treated water quality with the ability to carry out an efficient operation in any given size of the system, making IX water systems utile for use in both large and small installations.

What are the Disadvantages of IX Water Filters?

The disadvantages of ion exchange (IX) water filters are listed below:

  • The increased acidity level of the treated water: Due to the introduction of sodium ions into the softened water, IX filtered/purified water might have higher acidity levels than normal/accepted levels, making it unsuitable for certain types of use.
  • The extra operational requirements and costs of ion exchangers: Due to the high levels of saturation they provide, the ion exchangers might face significant wear and tear, making it necessary to change the exchangers frequently, which increases costs of operation. Contaminants such as iron, aluminum, and chlorine also have a corrosive impact on IX water resins, making frequent cleaning and regeneration a necessity.
  • Environmental impact of IX waste: The disposal of certain types of salt used in the regeneration of the IX resin into the environment as waste poses risks to the environment, mostly agricultural areas due to extra soil salinization.
  • Ineffectiveness to eliminate/reduce certain types of contaminants: In cases of ineffective use or the loss of large quantities of salt due to improperly set-up or wrongly sized filters, IX water systems lose their efficiency in eliminating/reducing the alkalinity, silica, and total solids content of the water decreases, making IX filters unsuitable for certain specific applications.
  • Incompatibility with turbid water: IX water systems also encounter problems when working on turbid water such as bed fouling, short service operations, and poor end-product quality, while it is recommended that regular city and well waters be clarified and filtered before being treated with an IX water filter.
  • Several types of fouling: Additionally, the issues of calcium sulfate and iron fouling, organic matter absorption, organic contamination from the resin, and bacterial contamination are also possibilities that should be considered as disadvantages of IX water filters.

Does an Ion Exchange (IX) Filter Waste Water?

Yes, ion exchange (IX) water filters do wastewater to some extent. While water loss due to leaking valves is a possibility in an IX water filter, it is usually the sodium leakage that is considered to be the major issue related to material leakage from the filter. As for the operational water loss, IX water filters are considered to be highly efficient and thus waste minimal water. To minimize issues of water leakage, only reliable parts and components should be used, all the components of the IX system should be properly installed and regularly checked for functionality and status.

Are Ion Exchange (IX) Filters Good for the Environment?

Yes, ion exchange (IX) filters can be considered harmless for the environment but just like any other artificial systems that are constructed using materials and require energy to operate, IX water systems also have a certain environmental impact on the environment. The waste brine that is created during the resin regeneration process also has adverse environmental effects when disposed into wastewater treatment systems due to its high salinity produced by the biological processes involved in its generation. In addition, ecosystems can get impacted by the waters they receive that have been contaminated by high sodium content wastewater. To minimize the environmental damage of IX filtration systems, it is necessary to properly dispose of the brine and high sodium content wastewater and make sure that they are not released into public water systems or agricultural zones. It is also recommended for industrial systems to install the necessary extra filtration systems to remove/eliminate excessive salt and other contaminant concentrations before the wastewater is disposed of.

Is Ion Exchange (IX) Filter Water Good for Health?

Yes, ion exchange (IX) filter water is good for health. Overall, Ion Exchange (IX) water filtration systems produce contaminant-free water and therefore the filtered water they produce is generally considered to be a healthier alternative than regular tap water. However, it should also be noted that in most developed countries, the maximum allowable level of sodium in drinking water has been set at 200 mg/l, and any type of filtered water which exceeds the threshold is considered to be unhealthy to consume by human beings. Given the IX water filtration systems’ heavy reliance on sodium in their operations as a contaminant remover, it is highly recommended that the water produced by an IX water filter system should be periodically checked for its sodium content before being consumed by human beings. Similarly, IX water is not recommended for use in preparing baby food for infants under 6 weeks old since their kidneys have not yet formed, and thus consumption of water with an above-average sodium content might lead to issues like dehydration, while IX water should also not be consumed by individuals on a low sodium diet.

How Much does Ion Exchange Resin Cost?

Given the availability of numerous different types of IX water treatment systems as well as the different types of regeneration system vessels and their configurations, it is not possible to name a direct cost for an Ion Exchange resin but on average, SAC/WAC resins cost between $40 and $200 per cubic foot, and SBA/WBA resins cost $130 and $200 per cubic foot. Specialty resins cost between $500 to $2000 and above, on average.

How Long Do Ion Exchange Filters Last?

Several factors affect the service life of Ion Exchange filters such as temperature, the number of oxidants and organics, the concentration of iron, calcium, barium, and other substances like oil and polyelectrolytes, application of pre-treatment procedures, the cycle length of the operation, the flow rate, and the frequency of resin transfers, which make it difficult to give an exact estimation regarding the service life of IX filters. However, on a general note, it can be stated that cation IX resins have a service life of 7-15 years and anion IX resins have a service life of 3-8 years.

What are the Best Ion Exchange (IX) Water Filter Brands?

ion exchange water treatment systemsGiven the popularity of water treatment and filtration systems and demand for different types of treatment and filtration, the market for such systems is growing daily. Due to such an economically profitable market reality, there are literally thousands of companies that produce IX water treatment systems but some of them have more established and reputable brands because of their high-quality product and service, as well as their decades-long history in the market. Brands that produce the Ion Exchange (IX) filter are listed below:

  • Pentek: The company is famous for its versatile and functional IX water filters that operate on an optimal contact between water and resin surfaces to allow the maximum amount of ion exchange between the two mediums. Pentek IX water filters house an internal expansion pad that minimizes channeling and a highly efficient post-filter which eliminates any potentially bypassing ions, making them ideal for use with low water use and the protection of sensitive water delivery equipment with capacities varying between 750 and 4500 grains. Such equipment includes medical equipment, commercial foodservice machines, and beverage, coffee, and espresso machines that operate on low water volumes. IX filtered water produced by Pentek significantly reduces the consumption of soap and other cleaning products, offers efficient grooming and cosmetic benefits, and reduces water heating costs substantially.
  • Applied Membranes Inc.: Applied Membranes Inc. manufactures IX water filters and cartridges that come in universal sizes for maximum use and applicability to carry out the ion exchange process and prevent hard water scaling to prolong the service life of several different types of appliances at high capacities up to 750 grains at a maximum flow rate of 0.5 GPM. The company also offers excellent installation, maintenance services thanks to its long history of operations that spans over several decades and more than 8 million filters manufactured, and more than 20,000 water system installations. Applied Membranes IX filters are associated with the provision of high-quality drinking water, high levels of hard water scale prevention as well as prevention of staining on bathroom and kitchen fixtures, dishes, dishwashers, washing machines, and clothes, while being significantly easy to install, maintain, and clean.
  • Aquastar-H20: Aquastar-H20 IX filters come with high exchange capacities to soften hard water efficiently and eliminate several types of contaminants from drinking water and the entire house water supply to prevent health issues such as kidney stones development and skin and hair related complications. Being highly efficient in preventing limescale buildup in plumbing infrastructure, Aquastar-H20 IX filters extend the service life of several household appliances like dishwashers, washing machines, water heaters, and plumbing fixtures, while their convenient and compact cartridge-style designs that offer ease in installation and storage make them ideal for countertop water purification systems. Aquastar H20 IX water filters also utilize the reverse osmosis process as pre-treatment to prevent scaling on membranes and prolong the entire system’s service life.
  • Lake Industries: Lake Industries ion exchange filters offer highly efficient systems of filtration using an IX resin, tourmaline, mineral balls, carbon, and powerful antioxidants to achieve a high negative oxidation-reduction potential to remove 90% of all contaminants found in unfiltered water through oxidation and increase energy levels in the consumer’s metabolism and strengthen their immune system. The resultant alkaline IX water improves hydration due to the use of micro-clustered molecules, natural stones, and ceramics in the filter which make it easier for the human body to absorb water. In addition, the company also operates a highly efficient online customer service system that answers customer questions and receives opinions and criticism 24/7.
  • EHM: EHM manufactures premium quality IX filters using high-quality materials, state-of-the-art manufacturing procedures, and highly strict quality control to maximize the filtration/purification efficiency of their IX water treatment systems. The company also uses micro-clustering and reduction in water molecule size to provide easily absorbable alkaline water that is free of radicals and toxins and acts as a strong antioxidant to enhance the energy levels and boost the immune system of the consumer. An EHM IX filter typically employs a composite 6-stage filtration system to remove contaminants and maintain a pH level of up to 10 depending on the incoming water quality and characteristics, while adding minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium along with antioxidants to the filtered water to offer a low negative oxidation-reduction potential of -100 to -200 mv.
  • PUR: PUR manufactures IX filters that have been certified to eliminate or reduce 22 different types of contaminants to produce clean and tasty water, while maintaining large capacities of production, with the company’s tap water filtration system eliminating or reducing more than 70 contaminants, including lead and chlorine by employing both ion exchange and carbon filtration technologies to create as much as $1,000 of savings annually. The resultant filtered water is 95% mercury and industrial pollutant-free while retaining the existing beneficial fluoride in its composition.
  • Invigorated Water: Invigorated Water manufactures specialized IX filters for high pH alkaline water using more than 10 filtering mechanisms to eliminate or reduce contaminants such as chlorine, lead, chloramine, and fluoride while retaining vital minerals such as calcium and magnesium to produce odorless softened water with alkalinity up to pH level of 10. Invigorated Water IX water filtration systems are highly suitable countertop models due to their convenient, compact, and utile design as well as their ease of installation and use to offer alkaline water for everyday use. The company also offers a 100% money-back guarantee for all of its products.
  • Zero Water: Zero Water IX water filters employ a 5-stage filtration system that combines both carbon and ion exchange filtration processes to reduce the majority of the existent contaminants in unfiltered water with a specific emphasis on lead, chromium, and similar heavy metals while eliminating 99.6% of all TDS in water. Due to their compact and intelligent design, Zero WAter IX filters are also highly suitable for portable uses, while fixed models offer protection against contaminated water damage to household appliances such as ice makers, water heaters, coffeemakers, and plumbing infrastructure, as well as lower water heating costs and less soap and cleaning product consumption for the end-user.

What are the Ion Exchange (IX) Water Filter Products?

The most commonly available IX Water Exchange filter products in the market today are:

  • Strongly acidic and basic weak and strong anion and cation exchange resins
  • Mixed resins
  • Chelating resins
  • Amphoteric resins
  • Pouches
  • Synthetic absorbents

For more practical purposes, IX filters also come installed in pitchers that can be stored in refrigerators.

Which Ion Exchange (IX) Filters Should be Preferred?

There are numerous factors to be considered when choosing an IX water treatment system for any type of use, such as the size of the system, number of elimination/removal mechanisms, capacity, types of resins being used for filtration, price, health, safety, and environmental benefits, costs of operation, disposal options, incoming water system, and maintenance and repair services offered by the manufacturer. Described below are ten highly popular, safe, and reliable IX filters that are commercially available for purchase in both the markets and online retailers when considered in light of the mentioned factors.

  • Pentek WS-10 Water Softener Ion Exchange Filter with 10” Cartridge: Pentek WS-10 Water Softener Ion Exchange Filter is high utile in reducing the hardness of readily available minerals in the incoming water by offering optimal amount of contact between water and resin surfaces to allow the maximum amount of ions to be exchanged in the process. Pentek WS-10 Water Softener Ion Exchange Filter houses an internal expansion pad that minimizes channeling and a post-filter that minimizes potential ion bypass, while the filter is perfectly fit for low water usage, offering softened product water with its sodium-based softening resin. The unique cartridge-style design of the Pentek WS-10 Water Softener Ion Exchange Filter provides high-quality water that protects sensitive water delivery equipment in capacities ranging from 750 to 4500 grains for uses requiring low water hardness and scale deposits. The filter is available in three sizes, is highly popular for use in medical equipment, coffee and espresso machines, low volume beverage, and commercial foodservice machines, offers grooming and cosmetics benefits, reduces water heating costs, soap, and cleaning product consumption, and can be purchased for $21 in commercial retailers such as Amazon and Walmart.
  • Applied Membranes Water Softening Filter Cartridge in Standard/Universal 10” Size: Applied Membranes Water Softening Filter is highly utile for eliminating minerals like Magnesium, Calcium, and Iron to produce easily drinkable water that is also protective of mechanical equipment like household appliances, ice, or beverage machines. The system comes in 10” and 20” standard and large (big blue) sizes while the filters are perfectly compatible with standard filter housings, showing high efficiency in preventing hard water scale buildup, which is a known cause for a multitude of mechanical complications and breakdowns in household and industrial machinery. Applied Membranes Water Softening Filter has a capacity of 750 grains of hardness removal and a maximum flow of 0.5 GPM and can be purchased for $29 in most online and offline retailers.
  • Aquastar-H2O 10” by 2.5” Water Softener Filter Cartridge and Ion Exchange Resin for Countertop Water Filter Systems: Aquastar-H2O is highly efficient in removing water hardness by substantially reducing the amount of Iron, Magnesium, and Calcium in incoming tap water and also significantly reduces scale build-up on plumbing infrastructure. The produced water is in line with FDA standards due to the effective use of cationic softener resin material in the process, helping with health-related complications such as kidney stone development and improving skin and hair health. Aquastar-H2O also reduces energy usage and extends the service life of plumbing fixtures and household appliances like water heaters by preventing time-scale buildup. Aquastar-H2O can be purchased for $36 dollars at major retailers.
  • Lake Industries 7000 Alkaline Water Filter: The system employs a 7-stage Filter Cartridge which includes an ion exchange resin, tourmaline, mineral balls, and carbon in combination to remove foul odors, heavy metals, and chlorine from incoming tap water. The pitcher design of the system allows easy storage in fridges and other enclosed spaces and also allows easy refilling without the need to remove the system’s cover, with the system requiring its filter to be replaced every 2 months or every 150 liters of water treated. Lake Industries 7000 Alkaline Water Filter effectively removes all free radicals and toxins using antioxidants to create highly negative Oxidation Reduction Potential, showing specific efficiency in removing 90% of all copper, zinc, and pollutants in the incoming water to improve the water’s taste, increase energy levels and strengthen the immune system of the consumer. Lake Industries 7000 Alkaline Water Filter also improves hydration within the consumer using micro-cluster molecules that help the human body to absorb water more efficiently and easily, producing fast results on human digestion and health and offering excellent results for both short and long-term applications. Lake Industries 7000 Alkaline Water Filter can be purchased at all major commercial retailers at $33.
  • EHM Ultra Premium Alkaline Water Pitcher: With an impressive water tank capacity of 3.8 liters and filtration capacity of 2 liters, state-of-the-art design, and manufacture, and a highly strict quality control procedure applied to every single unit produced, the system offers significant ease in hydration for the consumer by using micro-clustering technology and reducing the readily available water molecule size. The 6-stage filtration system employed by EHM Ultra Premium Alkaline Water Pitcher effectively removes most free radicals and toxins along with pollutants such as chlorine, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and heavy metals, to act as a powerful antioxidant to enhance the energy levels and immune system of the consumer by offering an easily absorbable type of alkaline water that has a pH value of up to 10, a low ORP value of between -100 and -200 mv, and is also highly tasty. EHM Ultra Premium Alkaline Water Pitcher is also highly helpful in preventing hard water scale which is responsible for various forms of straining on bathroom and kitchen fixtures, washing machines, dishwashers, clothes, and dishes and can be purchased for $42 at most commercial retailers.
  • PUR CRF950Z Ion Exchange Filter for Pitcher Water Filtration Systems: PUR CRF950Z Ion Exchange Filter has been certified to be reducing the amounts of more than 22 contaminants found in incoming water to produce cleaner and better-tasting water in amounts of up to 40 gallons of filtered water, requiring replacement only every 1 to 2 months. PUR CRF950Z Ion Exchange Filter that is highly preferred by numerous consumer types due to its health benefits as well as its capability to save up to $1,000 for its user per year, also has protective properties for household appliances, dishes, and clothes as well as grooming and cosmetic benefits and can be purchased for $7 at most major retailers.
  • PUR RF9999 MineralClear Replacement Ion Exchange Filter: The faucet filter can substantially reduce the amounts of 70 different types of contaminants in incoming water, including lead and chlorine by using the activated carbon and ion exchange processes while showing 99% efficiency in removing lead, to produce clean and tasty water in amounts of up to 100 gallons for 2-3 months of use before requiring replacement. PUR RF9999 MineralClear Replacement Ion Exchange Filter, which can save up to $1,000 for its user annually, reduces both soap and cleaning products consumption and water heating costs substantially while also prolonging the service life of several different types of appliances including ice makers, dishwashers, water heaters, downstream equipment, and plumbing fixtures, being usable in the most standard residential and commercial filter housing and costing $80 at most major commercial retailers.
  • PH Recharge 1F Alkaline Water Filter Ionizer: PH Recharge 1F Alkaline Water Filter Ionizer is capable of increasing the pH level of incoming water up to 10 along with its ORP levels through ionization, while utilizing remineralization to add critical minerals like selenium and calcium, removing odor and color, and filtering out potentially harmful substances like chlorine, fluoride, chloramine, and heavy metals to improve water quality and give it a naturally pleasing taste. A single PH Recharge 1F Alkaline Water Filter Ionizer can produce 360 liters, 96 gallons, or 1500 cups of water to save up to 720 bottles worth of water, equaling $1080 or $1.5 per bottle, while the system fits perfectly well and easily on a counter without the need for a tap or faucet. The system is manufactured from only BPA-free and premium materials, granting it SGS, TUV, RoHS, BSI, and ISO 9001:2000 certificates and accession the product and its manufacturer into the Water Quality Association. PH Recharge 1F Alkaline Water Filter Ionizer which comes in various types of tank sizes can be used in short and long term applications with ease and efficiency to reduce water heating costs and prolong the service life of household appliances, can be purchased for $70 at most major retailers, while the manufacturer offers 100% money-back guarantee without any questions as well.
  • PUR PPF951K Lead Reduction Ion Exchange Filter for Pitcher Water Filtration Systems: PUR PPF951K Lead Reduction Ion Exchange Filter which is WQA certified can reduce 99% of all lead along with 22 different types of contaminants in incoming water using activated carbon and ion exchange to produce clean water in amounts of 40 gallons for 1-2 months of typical use before requiring any replacement and saves up to $1,000 in water costs for the consumer. Being highly easy to install and maintain, PUR PPF951K Lead Reduction Ion Exchange Filter reduces water heating costs, the lead content in incoming water substantially, and prolongs the service life of various types of household appliances, including dishwashers, downstream equipment, coffee makers, icemakers, and water heaters and can be purchased for $43 at most commercial retailers.  
  • Zero Water Ion Exchange Filter for BPA-Free Water Filtration Systems: Zero Water Ion Exchange Filter system is NSF certified for its high efficiency in filtering incoming water and eliminating harmful substances like chromium and lead to produce pure-tasting and cleaner drinking water tanks to the 5-stage filtration method used in the process, which combines both carbon filtering and ion-exchange technology to reduce most types of contaminants. Zero Water Ion Exchange Filter can eliminate 99.6% of all total dissolved solids in incoming water which is twice more efficient than any other brand in the market, while the product can also be used in a variety of settings, including pitchers, bottle filtration systems, and on-the-go cup filters. Significantly reducing soap and cleaning products consumption, the filter also offers grooming and cosmetic benefits, reduces water heating costs, and prolongs the lifespan of household appliances by using the reverse osmosis process as pretreatment which prevents membrane scaling at a reasonable cost of $47 per unit at most major retailers.

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