By Tony Barthel
A few years ago I was camping in Quartzsite and the water was so horrible we bought a three-stage water filtration system for our RV. Our travel trailer has a “whole house” water filter, but the filters themselves are difficult to find and expensive so we have stopped replacing them. Like so many RVers, we basically had been using the typical blue in-line filter that we attach to the spigot. Clear2O (pronounced “clear two oh”) offered to send me one of their two-stage water filters to compare to what I bought in Quartzsite, so I decided to give it a try.
The Clear2O filter is an interesting design comprised of two parts
The first part of the Clear2O looks like the blue filters so many RVers are using and is designed to be used in-line. Unlike the typical filter, however, this one is constructed of solid carbon, whereas the typical blue or white ones are granulated carbon. What’s the difference?
According to Keith Bernard, President and founder of the company, a solid charcoal filter provides more effective filtration by virtue of being a solid piece with smaller pores. Bernard stated that his filtration system takes out things down to a single micron, whereas the typical blue filter can only filter out things as small as 20 microns to 100 microns.
What’s a micron?
A micron is one-millionth of a meter. A typical human hair is 30-70 microns in width, so a single micron is pretty darned small.
As such, the company claims that their filter reduces contaminants and bad taste and odor in water. Company documents claim that their filter reduces lead, chlorine, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as Benzene and more.
To this, the company offers a secondary water filtration system that essentially spins on the standard in-line RV water filter. This filter is a 20-micron polypropylene filter that gets rid of sand, silt, sediment, rust and other larger contaminants and allows the main filter to last longer and do a better job… according to the company. You could almost describe this as a hat or mushroom over the standard in-line filter.
My experience with water and water filtration
My wife is a groundwater geologist and is really picky about water, so I used her in my testing. For me, most of my water either tastes like coffee or beer – for good reason. I know beer was what saved humans in the Middle Ages – and plain water was just awful.
To test the filter, we went to a campground where I knew the water was pretty terrible. In one glass I put water out of the tap. In a second glass, I put water from our three-stage filter. The third glass contained the water that came out of the combination sediment filter and Clear2O in-line filter. In the fourth glass was water from a filtered water pitcher.
Peggy, my wife, got to wear a blindfold and taste the various water samples. The straight, unfiltered water was immediately pronounced disgusting. Good, we have a baseline.
Surprisingly, the water from the three-stage filter and from the Clear2O filter were pronounced indiscernibly equal. The pitcher didn’t do as well, even though we had just replaced the filter in it. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great. Peggy has a strong sense of taste and so I am going with this. My own sense of smell and taste is pretty compromised from previous bad behavior.
My original goal was to actually test the water in a lab but, in the interest of expediency and my poverty, this didn’t happen.
Conclusions on the Clear 2O water filtration system
The bottom line on this is that it seems that the two-stage Clear2O water filtration system does a comparable job to the three-stage filter in our own semi-scientific test. So that means we’re probably ditching the three-stage filter and just bringing the Clear2O filter from now on.
The Clear2O filter is just so much more compact and easy to carry, yet, in our own tests, performed as well as the bulky three-stage filter.
I also like that the sediment filter is removable and can be washed out. Since this is designed to remove sediment it will get pretty dirty with use – as is intended. According to the company, it can be rinsed out three times before it needs to be replaced.
The sediment filter also came with a backwash attachment. This essentially lets you attach the hose to run the water through it backward, thereby flushing it out.
In the box
I got two boxes in this shipment from Clear2O. The first was the carbon filter itself, which comes in one small box. Many RVers will be very familiar with this.
The second is the sediment filter that fits over the carbon filter almost like a cap or giant mushroom. That box comes with the case, the filter itself, a wrench to separate the lid from the base, a hose extension and some instructions.
Safe drinking water on the road