AquaCera Ceramic Candles
Frequently Asked Questions about Ceramic Candles (Filters)
1. What is the history of the ceramic candle?
John Doulton founded his first pottery in 1815. As early as 1827, Henry Doulton developed ceramic filters for removing bacteria from drinking water. The Thames River was heavily contaminated with raw sewage; cholera and typhoid epidemics were rampant.
In 1835, Queen Victoria commissioned Doulton to produce a water filter for the Royal household. Doulton created a gravity fed filtration system that used a ceramic filter.
With Pasteur's advancement in microbiology, Doulton's Research and Development department created micro-porous ceramic cartridges capable of removing bacteria with better than 99% efficiency. Today, competitors such as Aqua Cera have entered the market with more competitive and innovative products.
2. Will ceramic candles pass the “red dye” test?
No, and that test is a gimmick. Carbon Block filters, available everywhere, will remove dyes from water. But Carbon Block filters are not designed to remove bacteria and living organisms. Ceramic filters will not remove red dye. You’ll simply end up with pink candles and pink water. This is a gimmick used by some water filter sellers to make you think their brand is higher quality. And besides, where have you ever seen a water supply contaminated by red dye?
3. Will Ceramic candles reduce the TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) in water?
Another marketing gimmick. Filters that claim to produce water with zero dissolved solids are not telling you the whole story. A TDS meter essentially measures the electrical conductivity of water. Water with lots of minerals in it will score a high number. Remove the minerals and the number drops, sometimes to zero. There are a couple things wrong with this logic: First, do you really want to remove dissolved minerals from your water? Water is a significant source of minerals our bodies need to survive.
Second, the TDS meter only measures dissolved solids that are conductive (conduct electricity) in nature. Organic solids, for example, are not conductive, so a water sample contaminated with bacteria and/or organic solids would make you sick, but it would show a zero total dissolved solids number on the TDS meter.
Ceramic candles do not remove essential nutrients and dissolved minerals from the water. In fact, they typically add some nutrients because they are made from diatomaceous earth which is rich in mineral content. Our earth cleans water the same way – rainwater falls on the ground, and as it seeps further and further through the earth’s crust, it passes through a layer of diatomaceous earth where bacteria and living organisms are stopped. Aquifers, therefore, are bacteria free and high in nutrients..
4. WHEN do I clean the ceramic filter element?
Always clean NEW candles by washing in clean water and lightly brushing. This will remove much of the dust from the manufacturing process. Then discard your first batch of water. As you use your filter, contaminates from the water (sediment, bacteria, etc.) are trapped in the outermost layers of the ceramic. This will slow down the filtering rate of the water. When the time it takes for the water to filter into the lower chamber decreasesto the poi nt where it is no longer meeting your daily water needs, it is time to clean the elements. This cleaning process can be performed 50-100 times before the ceramic must be replaced.
5. HOW do I clean the filter element?
Hold the ceramic element under clean running water while scrubbing lightly with a 3M ScotchBrite pad circular cleaning brush (both included with water filter purchases at www.stpaulmercantile.com). Cleaning should be performed evenly, working from the threaded end down. This removes a tiny amount of the ceramic from the surface of each filter, the clogged part, and exposes a fresh unclogged layer. If the filtering rate does not increase after cleaning, clean again using very fine sandpaper (400, 600, 800 grit).
6. How do I determine when the granular carbon in the ceramic element is exhausted?
When bad taste and odor of the source water is no longer removed. The ceramic shell will continue to remove pathogenic bacteria even after the carbon is exhausted. If your water tastes bad, the carbon has been exhausted and you should replace your candles. An alternative is to continue to use your ceramic candles to remove bacteria, and either pre-filter or post-filter the water with an inexpensive carbon filter, such as a Brita.
7. When must I replace the ceramic elements?
The answer is “it depends”. As a general rule, the manufacturer wants you to replace the candles every year. If you are using a relatively clean water source, such as a lake or rainwater as a water source, the chemical-removing capability of each candle isnusually 700-900 gallons. If you have 2 candles installed, then you will get 1400-1800 gallons before the chemical-removing capability has been exhausted. And if you are consuming 2 gallons of water per day, you will get 21-27 months of use before replacement.
However, the chemical-removing capability of the candles is accomplished by the granular carbon and special resins that are INSIDE the ceramic candle. Their ability to remove chemicals deteriorates with use. But it is the ceramic shell that removes bacteria and living organisms, and as long as you still have ceramic, the candle will continue to remove bacteria. The ceramic gets slightly smaller each time you clean the candles, as you are scraping away a tiny amount of the exterior of the candle – the part that is clogged with sediment and bacteria. You should be able to clean your candles 50-100 times before the ceramic thickness gets to the point that the candle will no longer remove bacteria. If you are filtering well water, spring water or fairly clean river or rain water, you may only need to clean your candles once a year, so the candles could literally last up to 100 years.
I’ve talked to customers who are still using ceramic candles manufactured in the 1950s. Just remember that the chemicals are no longer being removed.
8. Is it possible to reactivate or regenerate the granular carbon in the filter element once it becomes saturated with chemicals?
Not completely, but some chemicals such as chlorine can be partially removed from the carbon by simply boiling the ceramic filter element in water for five minutes. Note: To avoid cracking the ceramic shell, place the element in cool water and then bring the water to a boil. Never place a cool element in boiling water or a hot element in cool water.
9. Can I prolong the need for cleaning the filter elements?
Yes. You can pre-filter the water through a coffee filter before pouring the water into the top chamber. However, this is not necessary for proper functioning.
10. What are some of the water sources I can filter through ceramic candles?
Water from ponds, creeks, lakes, rivers, wells, cisterns, rain, or even water you have stored yourself can be used for drinking and cooking with peace of mind.
11. How does the system work?
Just add water into the upper chamber. Gravity causes the water to flow through the ceramic candles to the lower chamber. A four-filter system using 7" candles will produce up to a gallon per hour. NOTE: All of the water you put in the top compartment will filter to the bottom compartment, even if the bottom is full. So make sure you don’t overfill the top. Water will flow downhill, including onto your countertop and floor.
12. Who uses Ceramic Candle Water Filters?
- Relief Organizations like the Red Cross, Unicef and the Peace Corps. 58,000 units were used in Sarajevo after their water treatment plant was destroyed y the Serbs. In 1998, thousands were shipped to relief organizations in Honduras. The disasters in Haiti and Japan caused the factories to ship 100% of their inventory to those countries for several months.
- Missionaries all over the world (more than 140 countries) have used ceramic candles since the 1850s.
- Populations in third world countries where water supplies are frequently contaminated.
- Preppers, Survivalists, Families who want to improve the taste and safety of their own water supply.
13. Why do the ceramic elements contain silver? Are they safe?
The silver in the ceramic elements is a specially formulated self-sterilizing (bacteriostatic) agent. The result is that bacterialgrowth is prevented from occurring within the ceramic element (which is possible with other filter elements, especially those made from paper.) More importantly, bacterial "grow-through" is eliminated. The silver does not kill all the bacteria, but it makes them unable to reproduce on and within the ceramic. The silver content is about 0.07%, which is well within the allowablelevels recommended by the World Health Organization and the EPA. Because of the silver, AquaCera filter elements do not require sterilization after cleaning.