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Filtration vs. Purification — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Fiza Rafique — Updated on September 22, 2023
Filtration is the process of removing particulate matter from a fluid by passing it through a permeable medium. Purification is a broader term that involves removing impurities and contaminants, often through multiple methods including filtration.
Filtration vs. Purification — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Filtration and Purification


Key Differences

Filtration is a mechanical process that removes particulates from liquids or gases by passing them through a filter. Purification, on the other hand, is a more comprehensive term that encompasses various methods to remove contaminants, not just particulates.
Filtration typically involves the use of a porous material such as a filter paper or membrane to separate particles. Purification can include chemical, biological, or physical processes in addition to filtration.
While filtration is generally a single-step process, purification often involves multiple stages or methods to achieve higher purity. Filtration can be part of a purification process.
Filtration is generally used when the goal is to remove solid particles from a liquid or gas. Purification is utilized when various types of contaminants, such as bacteria, viruses, chemicals, and particulates, need to be removed.
Filtration usually has limited effectiveness against microorganisms and dissolved impurities. Purification methods can be designed to target specific contaminants, including dissolved substances and microorganisms.

Comparison Chart

Process Type


Materials Used

Filters, membranes
Chemicals, UV light, filters


Usually single-stage
Often multi-stage

Target Contaminants

Particulates, bacteria, viruses, chemicals


Limited against microorganisms and dissolved impurities
Can be tailored to specific contaminants

Compare with Definitions


"The filtration system traps dirt and debris."
Limited in scope.


Targets various contaminants.
Purification removes bacteria, chemicals, and particulates.


Mechanical separation of particles from fluids.
Filtration alone won't remove dissolved chemicals.


Often multi-stage.
The purification system has several steps for thorough cleansing.


"Filtration through sand removes larger particles."
Usually a single-step process.


May use multiple methods.
The purification process includes filtration and UV treatment.


Uses a porous medium.
The filtration unit is a standalone device.


Customizable efficacy.
The purification setup can be tailored for specific needs.


Targets particulate matter.
Filtration is effective for removing suspended solids.


Removal of impurities and contaminants.
Purification ensures safe drinking water.


Filtration is a physical or chemical separation process that separates solid matter and fluid from a mixture using a filter medium that has a complex structure through which only the fluid can pass. Solid particles that cannot pass through the filter medium are described as oversize and the fluid that passes through is called the filtrate.


The act or an instance of cleansing or purifying.


The action or process of filtering something
Small particles are difficult to remove without filtration


The act or process of purifying; the removal of impurities.
Air purification
Purification of water


The act or process of filtering.


A religious act or rite in which a defiled person is made clean or free from sin.
Purification of the soul


The act or process of filtering; the mechanical separation of a liquid from the undissolved particles floating in it.


(Christianity) The pouring of wine into the chalice to rinse it after communion, the wine being then drunk by the priest.


A totally ordered collection of subsets.


The act of purifying; the act or operation of separating and removing from anything that which is impure or noxious, or heterogeneous or foreign to it; as, the purification of liquors, or of metals.


The act or process of filtering; the mechanical separation of a liquid from the undissolved particles floating in it.


The act or operation of cleansing ceremonially, by removing any pollution or defilement.
When the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished.


The process whereby fluids pass through a filter or a filtering medium


A cleansing from guilt or the pollution of sin; the extinction of sinful desires, appetites, and inclinations.


The act of changing a fluid by passing it through a filter


The act of cleaning by getting rid of impurities


The process of removing impurities (as from oil or metals or sugar etc.)


A ceremonial cleansing from defilement or uncleanness by the performance of appropriate rites


The act of purging of sin or guilt; moral or spiritual cleansing;
Purification through repentance

Common Curiosities

What types of filters are used in filtration?

Filters can be made of paper, cloth, ceramic, activated carbon, and other materials.

Is filtration effective against viruses?

Standard filtration is generally not effective against viruses; specialized filters are needed.

Can filtration remove chemicals?

Traditional filtration is not designed to remove dissolved chemicals.

What methods other than filtration are used in purification?

Chemical treatment, UV light, distillation, and reverse osmosis are common.

Can filtration alter the taste of water?

Generally, no, unless the filter has activated carbon that removes some taste-causing elements.

Do both methods require electricity?

Not necessarily; some filtration and purification methods are gravity-based.

Is filtration always part of purification?

Not always; purification can involve methods other than filtration.

Can purification methods remove heavy metals?

Yes, some purification methods can specifically target heavy metals.

Can purification methods remove pharmaceuticals from water?

Some advanced purification methods can remove pharmaceutical traces.

Do both methods need regular maintenance?

Yes, filters need replacing, and purification systems need periodic checks.

Can I purify already filtered water?

Yes, you can apply further purification methods to filtered water for higher purity.

Is filtration cheaper than purification?

Filtration is generally less expensive but also less comprehensive.

Does purification kill bacteria?

Some purification methods, such as UV treatment and chlorination, can kill bacteria.

Is filtered water always purified?

No, filtered water may still contain dissolved chemicals and microorganisms.

What is ultrafiltration?

Ultrafiltration uses membrane technology to remove very small particles and some large molecules.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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