SMI Analytical Laboratory Services | Water Filter Scams | Information on Buying Water Filters | South Africa


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Questions and Information on Water Filters
PO Box 260787
EXCOM 2023
Republic of South Africa

Questions and Points to Consider when Buying a Water Filter

Many effective filters and purifiers are available for home use that improve drinking water quality. However, the increased attention on water quality and safety serves as an invitation for unscrupulous companies, who use deception and scare tactics when selling home water treatment equipment. Water treatment devices or systems may be referred to as water "purifiers," "filtration systems" or water "conditioners.

If you are concerned with your water quality do a laboratory water analysis. Understand your results, Identify any contaminants/pollutants, and make sure that the water filter you have in mind can remove water contaminants/pollutants.

Feel free to Contact us with your water testing requirements and a quotation will be forwarded to you.

Information on Common Types of Water Filters. How they work and what they do.

Common Methods and Approaches Used to Market Water Treatment and Purification Systems

Water Quality Inspectors and "Researchers"

Some callers represent themselves as "water quality inspectors" or "researchers" doing a survey on drinking water quality and water safety in your sorrounding area. The surveys allow sales people and advertising companies to gain information on households and to identify people who have concerns about drinking water quality and water safety. Depending on how one responds, many people will receive a follow-up visit or phone-call about water purification or water treatment systems, typically from pushy and unscrupulous sales people.

Demonstration utilizing a Free Water Test Done in Your own Home

Another approach used in selling purification devices is offering a free in-home quality test of your drinking water. Some sales people take a water sample, run the some supposed tests, and then contact or show you a report highlighting numerous "problems".

The in-home "test" will show there are dissloved minerals in your water (Except for high grade lab water, virtually all water has disolved minerals present, and perhaps the acidity/alkalinity (pH) level will also be measured. The testing procedures use a chemical that combines with dissolved minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, and causes them to settle or precipitate out to the bottom of the bottle. Keep in mind that all water, except distilled water, contains some minerals and dissolved elements. In general, the presence of minerals is not a health threat or water based health risk. Normally, many of the minerals in our drinking water are beneficial to the body. However, some do cause water hardness and an undesirable taste.(Organic compounds from rotting plant matter is commonly found in muncipal drinking water, after sustained heavy rainfall. This leads to "weedy" and musty smells in water. These organic compounds are typically not harmful for a person, but add another concern about ones water quality)

Another demonstration uses a cloth that you previously washed. The salesmen will put the cloth and a water softening agent into a jar of your water and shake-it vigorously. Bubbles will occur in the bottle. This is normal as some detergent residue remains to a certain extent on all washed goods.

These free, in-home "water quality tests" are merely sales ploys designed to sell you a water treatment purification system. In many cases the public buy water purification systems they do not need. Often the "test report" on your tap water is given in a way that implies that your water contains a lot of minerals that are not good for your family's health.

Usually the people who do the home testing will require that both husband and wife be present for the demonstration. This prevents one spouse from using a delaying tactic by insisting on talking to the other spouse before making a decision to buy a unnecessary water purification system.

The Electric Precipitator or Floculator

Some unethical operators use a more dramatic demonstration with an "electric precipitator." This "instrument" looks like a tea pot in which two metallic electrodes (metal rods) are placed. The demonstration produces a white froth or a dark brown sediment/sludge , these are caused by electricity decomposing the metal electrodes. The electric precipitator or floculator device is a sham, but it is a convincing sales tool because of its visual shock effect. High pressure selling tactics are used to convince people to buy unnecessary water filters or water purification systems.

Taste and Appearance

Claims that a water treatment device can improve the taste of your water may be accurate. Also, softened water saves some electricity because it takes less electricity to heat water and because you use less washing powder for doing ones laundry. However, claims about saving hundreds of Rands may be highly inflated.

Harmful contaminants/pollutants and pollutants in water are often more difficult to test for than the common minerals in tap water. For example, lead is odorless, colorless, and tasteless, but may be harmful at even very low concentrations in water. Tests for lead, and most other contaminants/pollutants that are health concerns, require special equipment and complex procedures. Tests for most potentially harmful water contaminants/pollutants cannot be done in your home, and have to be done at a laboratory.

Protection from Deceptive and Devious Sales Practices

Your best defenses are knowledge about water filtration and water purification systems and a healthy skepticism of advertising and sales pitches. Recognize that a considerable amount of "puffery" is used in promoting most products and water systems. Be particularly wary of "scare tactics based on supposed water based health risks and contaminants"

  • When dealing with telephone sales and telephonic sales pitches: learn which company is calling you , and get a specific physical address were you can come and view there products.
  • Ask the caller for his or her name.
  • Ask for information about the product/system in writing before you agree to buy. What guarantees are implied?
  • Don't buy something merely because you'll get a "free gift or present."
  • Don't give your credit card number to anyone over the phone.
  • If you are uncomfortable with being pressured to purchase something on the phone or are being irritated, HANG UP!
  • Successful con artists and devious salesmen are appealing individuals who can gain your full trust and confidence. They have an unusual understanding of human nature. They know how to mis-use people's feelings of fear, insecurity, vanity, power, or desire to get "a sale." Rather than selling a water treatment or water filtration system on its merits, some companies and sales people choose to prey on the public's fears that their drinking water isn't safe. Thereby selling you unnecessary and expensive equipment.

    No tap water is 100 percent pure, and most people have limited knowledge about what is safe drinking water. Also, people may have little information about the home water purification or filtration system they are looking at buying. As a result, some people buy expensive water purification equipment they don't need, to cure supposed problems that don't exist.

    Fraudulent Selling by E-Mail, Postal Services and Telephone

    Here are some common approaches used to sell water purification devices

    The seller claims that the water purifier can completely remove a variety of contaminants/pollutants such as bacteria, viruses, cholera, chloroform, arsenic, lead, mercury, pesticides, solvents, asbestos and numerous other "contaminants/pollutants".

    Normally - No single home water purification system is capable of removing all pollutants and contaminants/pollutants. Different types of substances require different types of treatment systems or filtration methods.

    Customers may be assured that if they are not satisfied with the water purifier they will be refunded via a money back guarantee system.

    Normally - It may be impossible to get a refund. There may be stipulations such as a "restocking fee" (e.g., 15 percent of the purchase price) which means the consumer loses some of the money that has been paid. This information typically is not revealed until the consumer tries to return the purchase that was made.

    Customers may be told that the filtering system is virtually maintenance free, or that a filter will last 12 to 24 months.

    Normally - Not only are claims about minimal maintenance false and misleading, they can create a potential health threat if they are taken seriously. Regular maintenance of any water treatment system is critical to its effectiveness and correct functioning. Inadequate cleaning and/ or failure to replace the filtering parts of the treatment system may create serious health hazards because bacteria and other contaminants/pollutants often build up in the purification system.

    Exaggerated promises are made about the amount or volume of water that the purification device can deliver.

    Normally - The volume of water a treatment device can process is related to both its size and type. Some water purification devices require hours to produce just 3 or 4 litres of high quality water.

Be cautious about letting someone into your home for "free testing" of your drinking water. Understand that this is merely a sales ploy to convince you that you need a water purification system. When a "water problem" is pointed out to you, do not panic. Thank the person for the information and say you will check into the problem. Keep in mind that salespersons are not scientists and have typically no experience with water analysis. They are not trained to make judgments on the quality of your drinking water.

Be an Informed Consumer and Customer

If you have concerns about your drinking water quality and you are on a public water system, contact your local water system officials (those who send you your water bill if you are on a public water system). Ask for a copy of the latest complete analysis of the water. Ask what the results mean and are there any issues you should be aware of.

If you have a borehole as your source of drinking water, have it analysed by a reputable laboratory as to its quality

If you still want to have other tests done on your water, there are several options you may exercise. For a microbial and bacterial test, special care must be taken in sampling, the slightest inadvertent contamination, will lead to incorrect results. Have a laboratory test for the presence of "e-coli" , To test for chemical contamination, contact SMI Analytical or a certified laboratory. Tests for chemical contaminants/pollutants range from R10 to a few thousand Rand depending on the complexity of water analysis required and pollutants present. .

Invest time reading about water quality and health "risk" factors. Understand the difference between harmful "contaminants/pollutants" and the minerals commonly found in our water supply that pose no health risks. Such information can be quite enlightening. Many minerals are even helpful and required by our bodies

In summary, learn what the home water treatment or purification system can (and cannot) do, so you can evaluate what a seller is promising or trying to promote. Asking a lot of questions is okay! Asking for additional information is okay! Asking to have another testing agency verify the results is okay! It is okay to be skeptical! You are much better off not buying than spending your money for something that may have limited or no benefits and costs you lots of money. An informed consumer is less likely to be taken for a ride!

Buying a Water Purification or Water Filtration System

Use this questionnaire sheet to prepare for a visit from a water purifier salesperson. If the salesperson will not answer all your questions expect something "fishy" with the deal.

Questionnaire Part A - Review your water treatment and filtration needs

. 1. Ask to have your water tested by a reputable laboratory for Chemical and Organic contaminants/pollutants and understand your results. If you have any questions contact the water laboratory and ask them about risks and other issues associated with your test results. Good laboratories should include a report with there analysis.

2. Review information about health and appearance impacts of your water contaminants/pollutants or pollutants. Make a Note of the special concerns and enquire about them or do further research to get a clear picture.


2.1 Review purification and filtration choices and list those that might be appropriate for your particular water based threats or contaminants.

3. How much water can the treatment system process before replacement parts or maintenance will be needed?
________ liters

3.1 Have you installed a device to monitor your water consumption? Do you understand how to reasonably estimate when maintenance or servicing will be needed?
____ Yes ____ No

4. Are you able replace parts or maintain the water purification unit? Without the need for expensive call-out fees for routine maintenance
____ Yes ____ No

5. Do you know what the cost of maintenance and consumables will be each year for the unit?
____ Yes ____ No

6. Other comments about the water purification system:

Questionnaire Part B - Estimate the cost of the purification system.

7. Water treatment or purification system, purchase and installation: Cost of water treatment system .........R______
Cost of installation ...................R______
Other costs................R_______

8. Replacement costs: Frequency of replacement/service needs ..R______
Parts to be serviced or replaced .......R______

Total annual service labour costs ..........R______

9. Any other special design considerations:
Additional electrical costs per month to operate water purification system..... R______
Additional water costs per month per month to operate purification system .R______ (a lot of water purifiers have a high rejection rate leading to increased water consumption.)

10. Total annual operating costs including maintenance and servicing.........................R______

11. Is the manufacturer/supplier of the equipment reputable and reliable? ____ Yes _____ No

Questionnaire Part C - Evaluate the quality of the water purification system.

12. Is there a product approval and performance specification letter for the purification system which lists the types and amount of contaminants/pollutants it will remove?
____ Yes _____ No

13. How much space is the purification system going to need?

14. Does the purification system need specially treated water or other hidden and costly requirements to function properly?
____ Yes _____ No

15. How many liters of water does your family/household use per day?
(Base your estimates on: 3 liters per family member per day for drinking and cooking.)

16. Have you compared the daily volume of water available from the purifier treatment system to the amount of water or drinking water your household/family will need?
____ Yes ____ No

17. Check the rate/volume of water flow that you require where the water treatment device will be installed. Does the flow rate of the device meet the needs of your family/household?
____ Yes ____ No

18. Have you carefully reviewed and understood the instructions for operation and maintenance that come with the potential treatment or filtration system?
____ Yes ____ No


Water is the major constituency of our bodies. Therefore the quality of the water we drink is very important for our health and well being.
Feel free to Contact us with your water testing requirements and a quotation will be forwarded to you.

Disclaimer: The liability of SMI ANALYTICAL is limited to the cost of analysis. SMI ANALYTICAL indemnifies itself from any legal action which may be instituted against it due to supplied data. SMI ANALYTICAL accepts no responsibility whatsoever for any results released, however used. No part of this document may reproduced in part or in full unless permission from SMI ANALYTICAL is granted in writing. This document may not be altered in any way whatsoever and is printed without correction.

Water Chemistry Links

Water Chemical Properties
The mystery, art and science of water
Why is water blue?
Water Institute Southern Africa
All About Water Purification
Water analysis link
Information on Water at TheWaterPage

Analytical Lab

SMI Analytical Laboratory Services / Chemical Laboratory Services specializes in quantitative X-Ray diffraction water analysis, water quality, drinking water, potable water, water tests, borehole water, water testing lab, water checking laboratory, water filters, water purifiers, laboratory, South Africa, in, near, site:, =, '', SA, za, 'loc:za
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