Absorb or Adsorb…You Need To Know The Difference

Remember when you first started to learn to write in cursive ( okay this is before texting) and you sometimes transposed a d for a b? When you did this it would sometimes look correct especially when combined with other words in the same sentence. Eventually you learned which letter format was correct and the d & b letters found their way into the correct word locations and you now know that each letter expressed a different meaning.

This difference between these two letters is no better misunderstood than in the different meaning of the words Adsorb and Absorb. For most people the word Absorb is used in common language as in “this paper towel will absorb a lot of water before I need another one”. Or, ” this new Sham-Wow will absorb 10 times its’ weight in water”.

So when we are using something that has the ability to pick up moisture (of any kind) ¬†like a sponge we use the word absorb or absorption (in this case the second b is replaced by a p….don’t ask me why…ask Daniel Webster).

When we change the second letter in Absorb to a d… and make it Adsorb it modifies the meaning of the word but interestingly does not really change the process the word describes. Adsorb means the removal of odors and gases by the use of medium such as carbon or charcoal. Carbon, for example, will adsorb common gases such as formaldehyde or acetone.

Much like a sponge absorbs water, carbon and other adsorptive media use a very porous surface area to attract and retain gaseous molecules until it is saturated and then release some of those molecules like a sponge releases some water once it is saturated.

Carbon, and the other adsorptive medias such as potassium permangenate and specially treated carbon mediums, have been used for many years to aid in the removal or reduction of harmful gases and many household and industrial odors.

Pure Air Systems has been using carbon as a standard component of their HEPA based air filtration systems since 1985 and today offers a complete line of Carbon based adsorption systems for the commercial, institutional, industrial and residential markets. For more information on this line of Adsorption systems please go to our website at: www.pureairsystems.com

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