You want to give you and your family the best possible drinking water but choosing the best water filter can be challenging because there are a lot of choices out there. There are so many different options for water filtration that the dense jungle of reviews, biased and unbiased opinions and manufacturer promotional copy can be difficult to cut through.
You should first be aware of some things about bottled water as well. Many people have started drinking bottled water in order to have access to a cleaner water source, but recent research has showed that the material called Bisphenal A – or BPA for short, may cause birth defects, some cancers and other health concerns, and this is the plastic that most bottled water is made from. In addition, other research has touted the potential dangers of bottled water – from the less stringent testing than tap water to potential contaminants – for years.
Unfortunately, since there are very few people that live next to a fresh, mountain stream where pure water is plentiful, we have to go with what we can, and that means choosing the best water filter for your tap water.
What Are The Top Brands Of Countertop Water Filters?
1. Culligan Faucet Mount – Click Here For Reviews
2. Aquasana Countertop – Click Here For Review
3. Brita Filter Pitcher – Click Here For Reviews
What Are The Best Under Sink Water Filters?
1. ISpring – Click Here For Ratings And Reviews
2. Filtrete – Click Here For Reviews
What Is The Difference Between Water Softeners & Water Filters?
To understand the difference between water softeners and water filters, you must first understand the difference between hard water and soft water. Hard water is when there is a lot of buildup of minerals like magnesium and calcium (read more here). Water picks up heavy metals when it passes through rocks and soil. Some portion of these metals aren’t just harmless, but actually good for us, but if they are present in too great of an amount, the hard water can cause pipes and drains to become clogged and promote the buildup of lime.
What Makes Up Our Drinking Water
While you might already be aware that you need to filter your drinking water you might not understand exactly why. The reason is simple – there are around 300 chemicals that pollute our tap water, according to studies done by the Environmental Working Group. Here are just a few of those.
• Other volatile organic chemicals
• Heavy metals like lead and mercury
• Chemicals that affect your endocrine system
• Chlorine (in varying amounts)
• Fluoride (added to water purposely and linked to thyroid disorders)
Seriously? Is Bottled Water Bad?
Bottled water was the craze for awhile, and now it is starting to lose its appeal. But some people are still okay with drinking it over tap water. That’s because while BPA has been linked to many different health problems, the FDA says that the trace amounts that get into our bottled water from the bottle itself aren’t going to cause any health problems. However (and this is important) they are still researching the subject and this wouldn’t be the first time that the FDA was wrong on their initial opinion of something. Or the second. Or the third. However, the presence of BPA is not the only reason to skip bottled water. Here are some other very good reasons.
• In many cases, your just buying tap water. In a bottle.
• It is expensive, and especially at places like sporting events and from sidewalk vendors.
• Bottled water creates, well, bottles, that fill up landfills and destroy our beautiful planet.
• Also, chemicals (BPA) from the water bottle can leak into the water. Chemicals that cause cancer, birth defects and other health problems.
So, now that you understand the dangers of bottled water, and you understand why tap water has to be filtered, let’s get to the ways to filter it and help you to choose the best water filter system.
Portable Water Filters
These filters, also called pitcher filtration systems use a process of granulated activated charcoal to remove some of the nasty stuff in our drinking water. You have probably seen them on television, mainly under the brand name Brita, and these filter systems will certainly make your water better than it was, but they don’t remove much. They are less expensive than many other filtration systems, but they also require a lot of filling, especially if you have a big family, and they require that you replace the cartridge regularly which can add up.
Pitcher filtration will reduce, but not remove, chlorine, but does not do anything for fluoride, heavy metals, endocrine affecting chemicals or herbicides and pesticides. This includes the filtration systems attached to your tap. So, while this option is probably better than bottled water, and better than drinking tap water straight, it certainly isn’t the best water filtration option out there.
Distillation is the process of heating up water so that it becomes steam and then cools down that same steam and turns it back into liquid. This really is a good process for filtering water when it comes to large particle contaminants, but unfortunately, it doesn’t do anything for the chemicals that affect your endocrine system, or the pesticides and herbicides. They vaporize when the water gets turned into steam and then get turned right back into the liquid that you drink.
However, this process of filtration does have the benefit of killing any bacteria present in the water. So, to recap: the distillation process removes more contaminants than portable water filtration, reducing arsenic, lead, mercury, other heavy metals and asbestos and completely removes fluoride. However, it does not reduce or remove endocrine disruptors or pesticides and herbicides. Not the best choice in our opinion.
Reverse Osmosis Filtration
Another option we’ll take a look at is reverse osmosis filtration. Reverse osmosis puts water through an actual filter called a membrane, and is often combined with a granulated activated charcoal filter. This is an even better method than the two methods discussed previously, because it removed even more contaminants at higher levels than the other types of filtration.
The membrane allows some water to get through but not all of it.That means that you are paying for more water usage at the same time as filtering it, and it isn’t a small amount. Several gallons of water are wasted for every gallon that you filter. Also, some of the minerals that are beneficial to you like calcium and magnesium get removed from the water. This simply doesn’t do enough, wastes a lot of water and removes some helpful stuff from the water. It does remove fluoride.
So, to recap, it removes quite a few contaminants, and it removes fluoride, and there is a reduction of arsenic, asbestos and lead and mercury, but the downside comes in the fact that it wastes a lot of water, and you’re going to have a very high water bill from using it. It also doesn’t work on endocrine disruption chemicals that we discussed earlier, nor does it work on pesticides or herbicides. It also doesn’t store water, so you won’t have any if your water has to be shut off for some reason, and it can take up to an hour just to filter a gallon of water. Also, it removes minerals that you need and you’ll have to replace them manually. Better than most, but still, not the best water filter out there.
Solid Carbon Filtration
So, what is the best water filter out there? We think it is solid block carbon filtration. The EPA even says that is removes herbicides, pesticides and other volatile carbon organic chemicals. It also removes bacteria, fluoride (though you do need a separate filter for that) and heavy metals, nitrate and nitrites (fish owners will know what these are) and parasites.
These are usually gravity based filters that can turn just about any water into safe drinking water. That includes dirty pond water, rain water and sea water (don’t try it you’ll clog the filters after a few tries) and even water with food coloring added will come out clear. Now, there is the fact that this is a big filtration system and it takes up a lot of space. But it will work without electricity or even running water. This is also the most expensive type of filtration that we’ve tried, but it doesn’t require a lot of filter replacements like the reverse osmosis unit. The other big advantage is that it doesn’t remove necessary minerals from the water.
So, what this has going for it is that is filters out volatile organic chemicals, chlorine, fluoride, nitrates and nitrites and bacteria as well as parasites and heavy metals. It doesn’t need electricity or water pressure to work. It doesn’t remove needed minerals. What is bad about it is that it is big and bulky and you’ll lose a lot of counter space. Also, the price tag is quite a bit higher. Still, this is what we recommend as the best filtration system on the market. There are many brands out there so you’ll just have to look into the brands before you buy, but as long as it is solid carbon filtration, it will give you the filtration that you need.
- What Is a Salt Free Water Softener – Find Out Here
- Which Water Softener Is The Best? – Click Here
- Water Softener Installation Tips – Go Here
- Water Softener Price Guide – Here