Water Filter Reviews - Be Informed and Buy Smarter
How to Choose the Right Filtration System
Before you start shopping, you need to answer a couple of easy questions: First, what's in your water that you want to take out of it? If you are only concerned about how your water tastes, that may mean that you just want to remove the chlorine. Since 87% of Americans rely on public systems for their tap water, most of us have chlorine and/or some other disinfectants in our water. We can taste chlorine in concentrations as low as 0.5 parts per million, and smell it at even lower concentrations. It's fairly easy to get out of water. Luckily, activated carbon works great for removing it, and that's available in water filter pitchers and faucet filters for prices ranging between $20 and $60 dollars. If you're not sure, try this: Fill a glass with water from your tap. Allow it to stand in open air for at least 6 hours, then taste it. If the water tastes good, you should consider a filter pitcher or faucet filter. While the cost per gallon of pitcher and faucet filters is relatively high, exceeding $0.30 per gallon in some cases, the initial cost is low, and there's little set up or installation.
If the water you're testing doesn't taste good, or if you're concerned about health, keeping reading, and look through our index or site menu for articles related to health and water.
The source of your water is another important factor in choosing your filtration system. Water wells and springs may have bacteria or other pathogens, depending on how they are constructed, well depth, climate, and other factors. Water from these sources may also contain nitrates, pesticides or herbicides, petroleum compounds, metals, minerals, carbonate and other hardness components, along with suspended solids.
Publicly supplied water may also contain these contaminants, as well as a pretty scary list of pharmaceutical chemicals. In fact, if you're still of the opinion that the taste of your water is more important than how it might affect your health, here's an excerpt from an Associated Press article regarding prescription drugs in drinking water: "A vast array of pharmaceuticals including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones have been found in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans..." While the article goes on to say that these contaminants are present in very low concentrations that almost certainly wouldn't affect your health, I'm not comforted. And while you may not want to know exactly how these pharmaceuticals make it into your drinking water, research shows that their route includes a pass through human anatomy.
Activated carbon in filter pitchers and faucet filters may help to remove some of the contaminants that I've mentioned above, but there are other more effective systems that you may want to consider. One of the most efficient and cost-effective means of removing a broad suite of dissolved solids, organic chemicals, chlorine and related chemicals, pathogens, and suspended solids is reverse osmosis. Combining reverse osmosis with de-ionization and ultraviolet sterilization is the most definitive way to ensure that your water contains nothing but water. There are other choices that may be less expensive initially, like countertop filters. These include systems that can be connected to your kitchen faucet, and others that simply rely on gravity to pull water that you pour into a container through various filter media, like the Berkey series of countertop filters. There are even small countertop distillation units that do a good job of removing just about all contaminants, but are slow and expensive to operate.
You may also consider larger systems that can be installed under your sink, allowing you to add more filtration steps. These include reverse osmosis systems, but there are other less costly systems that remove fewer contaminants but require less frequent maintenance. If your water is hard, meaning that it contains high concentrations of calcium carbonate, magnesium, and other hardness minerals, you may want to consider a whole-house filter, which includes softeners, descalers, and sometimes large activated carbon and particulate filters as well as whole-house ultraviolet sterilization systems. If you're already tired of the process, and are interested in a system that will provide clean, sanitary water, go with a reverse osmosis system with de-ionisation. You can find our recommendation here.