Carbon filters have been used for several hundred years and are considered one of the oldest means of water purification. Historians have shown evidence that carbon filtration may have been used in ancient Egyptian cultures for medical purposes and as a purifying agent.  2000 B.C. Sanskrit text refers to filtering water through charcoal (1905 translation of “Sushruta Samhita” by Francis Evelyn Place). The first recorded use of a carbon filter to purify potable water on a large scale occurred in 19th century England.

Currently, carbon filters are used in individual homes as point-of-use water filters, groundwater remediation, landfill leachate, industrial wastewater and, occasionally, in municipal water treatment facilities. They are also used as pre-treatment devices for reverse osmosis systems and as specialized filters designed to remove chlorine-resistant cysts, such as giardia and cryptosporidium.