In the last years, especially after the Flint water crisis, water filtration and water filters have become a way of (healthy) life. While bottled water may seem like a reasonable solution to avoid drinking tap water (either municipal or from a private well), it is not. The global plastic pollution we contribute to daily with each plastic bottle we throw away is a problem we have to tackle and prevent.
We need water to survive, and we need clean water sources to use for our needs. Drinking the recommended water quantity from a plastic bottle comes with financial and environmental burdens. Nevertheless, can we trust our tap water? The official position is that we can. Facts and reports suggest that the water quality of our nation is shady, at best.
So what can we do to stay safe? We invest in the best water filters and the latest water filtration technologies to avoid yet another water-related national public health crisis like Flint was. Moreover, we invest in water filtration systems to boost our health, even enjoy mineral water from the tap, increase our safety while on the go, and overall enjoy enhanced lifestyles.
- Why Do We Need Water Filters?
- How Unsafe is to Drink Tap Water?
- Common Tap Water Contaminants
- How Do These Contaminants Reach Our Drinking Water?
- Chlorine in Drinking Water – What Should You Know About It?
- Elements in Drinking Water that Are Healthy – Should We Remove Them through Water Filtration?
- Is it Better to Drink Tap Water or Filtered Water?
- Is Filtered Water Better than Bottled Water?
- Are Home Water Filters Worth It?
- How Do You Choose the Best Water Filter for Your Needs?
- Sensorial Evaluation of the Water
- The Water Quality Report
- Third-Party Independent Testing
- Home Water Test Kits
- How to Test Water Quality: Summary
- Water Filters’ Sizes and Uses
- How Do Water Filters Work? The Most Common Processes and Technologies
- 8 Common Types of Water Filtration Technologies for Home Use
- 1. Sediment Filtration
- 2. Adsorption
- 3. Reverse Osmosis Filtration (RO)
- 4. Distillation Technology
- 5. Ion Exchange Water Filter Technology (IX)
- 6. Ultraviolet Water Filters (UV)
- 7. Water Ultrafiltration Technology (UF)
- 8. Activated Alumina Water Filtration (AA)
- 8 Common Types of Water Filtration Technologies for Home Use
- The Best Water Filter Types and Technologies to Meet Your Needs and Budget
- How to Choose the Best Water Filter: Contaminants in Your Water
- How to Choose the Best Water Filter: Required Filtration Intensity & Filter Setup
- How to Choose the Best Water Filter: Your Home Type and Water Problems
- How to Choose the Best Water Filter: Budget
- How to Buy a Water Filter: Tech Specs to Consider
- What to Consider Before Purchasing a Water Filter: Summary
- Water Filters’ Maintenance
- 7 Benefits of Using Water Filtration – An Overview
- Water Filtration FAQs
- What is the Difference between Water Filtration and Purification?
- What is a Water Conditioning System?
- What is Water Ionization?
- Do Alkaline Water Filters Work?
- What is the Difference between Charcoal and Activated Charcoal?
- Are Charcoal Water Filters Safe?
- Do Water Filters Remove Valuable Minerals in Water?
- Water Filtration: Bottom Line
Why Do We Need Water Filters?
According to an NRDC report in 2017, all states across the nation have tap water containing contaminants that could harm human health. The studies showed that back in 2015, nearly 80 million Americans drank water from community water systems that violated federal protections under the Safe Drinking Water Act. These 18,000 systems failed to test the water for contaminants and to report contamination to the authorities or the public.
Many water contaminants do not fall under the E.P.A.’s regulation and monitoring, making NRDC wonder about water threats that nobody bothers to investigate.
Underreporting and sweeping data under the rug makes experts consider the 80,000 reported violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act only a slice of the real problem.
These violations and threats against the American population’s health have multiple causes, which do not make the topic of this article. What makes the subject of our discussion today is the solutions people have to secure the safety of their drinking water and mitigate the American current water crisis.
How Unsafe is to Drink Tap Water?
According to the CDC, drinking water in the United States is one of the safest in the world. However, after the wake-up call represented by the Flint water crisis, Americans started asking more questions.
Taking your drinking water for granted as safe is no longer an option, especially since the CDC itself admits that sometimes, tap water can contain contaminants and waterborne germs like Giardia, E. coli, Cryptosporidium, Hepatitis A, and other harmful microorganisms.
In light of the Flint crisis and the numerous studies reporting alarming levels of contaminants in tap water, the public chose to put safety first and install a wide range of water filtration systems.
Our tap water receives treatment at the source. However, the quality of your tap water depends on where you live and what source you use. If municipal water goes through a purification system before reaching your tap, well water doesn’t. The Environmental Protection Agency does not regulate private wells, meaning that more than 40 million Americans have to test and clean their wells on their own.
While the E.P.A. enforced its National Primary Drinking Water Regulations, setting the legal limits of contaminants, pollutants, chemicals, and other toxins/waterborne pathogens in drinking water, we know we are relying on an outdated, decaying infrastructure system.
This system is currently affecting over 80 million people. Would you drink legally limited contaminants with each glass of tap water, or would you prefer to have no pollutants and heavy metals in your water at all?
The safety of our drinking water is of concern. New reports and research shows we drink substances we have never heard of before – and the E.P.A. is slow in regulating them as well. From lead and “forever chemicals” to the much-contested fluoride, bacteria, and fertilizers, our water teems with contaminants that should never be in the proximity of our children.
For this reason, and for many others, home water filters became a necessity. So let’s see what is in your tap water to know how to choose the best water filter system for your family!
Common Tap Water Contaminants
According to the E.P.A., water contaminants come in four primary categories we will discuss here. Some may be present in your water, and some may be absent. However, we should all know a few things about the most common water contaminants to get a clearer picture of what to expect from our home water filters.
Find below the way the E.P.A. categorizes the contaminants and pollutants you may find in your tap water.
These contaminants change the physical properties of your water: color, odor, even texture. Among the most common physical pollutants that you can find in your water, we can list:
- Sediment: rust, sand, dust, silt, and other large particles, including some heavy metals;
- Suspended organic material
Some of the most prevalent and dangerous water pollutants, chemical contaminants, are the reason we now have innovative technologies when it comes to water filters. Most water filters available on the market comprise processes designed to reduce or remove chemicals such as:
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs);
- Chlorine and chloramines;
- Salts and silica;
- Human/veterinarian drugs, etc.
This category includes waterborne pathogens and microorganisms:
- Bacteria: E. coli, Legionella, Salmonella, Pseudomonas, Yersinia, etc.
- Viruses: Hepatitis A and E viruses, rotavirus, noroviruses, enteroviruses, etc.
- Parasites: Giardia, Cryptosporidium, Cyclospora, Toxoplasma gondii, Schistosoma, etc.
To date – for your peace of mind – there is no proof that the new coronavirus could spread through drinking water.
The unstable radiological elements capable of producing ionizing radiation that we can find in tap water are, according to the E.P.A., the following:
All these water contaminants, chemicals, heavy metals, and so on correlate with a wide variety of acute or chronic illnesses, ranging from diarrhea to respiratory problems, organ damage, hormonal issues, cancers, neurological disorders, congenital disabilities, and even death.
How Do These Contaminants Reach Our Drinking Water?
We cannot discuss water filtration without saying a few words about groundwater contamination. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the contamination of ground water can have two possible sources: natural ones and ones derived from human activity.
Groundwater can become contaminated from natural sources or numerous types of human activities. Residential, municipal, commercial, industrial, and agricultural activities can all affect groundwater quality. Contaminants may reach groundwater from activities on the land surface, such as releases or spills from stored industrial wastes; from sources below the land surface but above the water table, such as septic systems or leaking underground petroleum storage systems; from structures beneath the water table, such as wells; or from contaminated recharge water.
Chlorine in Drinking Water – What Should You Know About It?
When it comes to water filtration and the best water filters one can buy on the market, chlorine is an important aspect to consider. As we all know, water treatment plants use chlorination to disinfect the water that reaches your tap. The E.P.A allows the use of chlorine and chloramines for the removal of bacteria and germs from your drinking water. However, the taste, smell, and color of chlorine in drinking water are unpleasant, to say the least. When people buy water filters of any type, they usually look for the devices’ capacity to remove chlorine.
According to the E.P.A and the C.D.C., the safety level of chlorine in drinking water is up to 4 milligrams per liter (mg/L or 4 parts per million (ppm). Anything above this level of safety comes with health concerns, as the consumption of high concentrations of chlorine correlates with some health issues, especially for dialysis patients.
The best way to learn if the chlorine levels in your drinking water exceed the legal limits of 4 ppm is to test your water and get the best water filter against chlorine. We will discuss this later in this water filtration guide.
Elements in Drinking Water that Are Healthy – Should We Remove Them through Water Filtration?
You probably heard by now that some types of water filters – like water distillers or reverse osmosis filters – strip your drinking water of all its components, including healthy elements.
These elements in drinking water are Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium, Zinc, and more. According to the World Health Organization,
The relative contribution of water to the total dietary intake of selected trace elements and electrolytes is between 1 and 20%. The micronutrients with the largest proportion of intake from drinking water relative to that provided by food are calcium and magnesium. For these elements, water may provide up to 20% of the required total daily intake. For the majority of other elements drinking water provides less than 5 % of total intake.
In other words, the trace elements in drinking water contribute to your overall health and wellbeing. However, anything that is in excess is also harmful. Moreover, most types of water filters (with a few exceptions) put these minerals and trace elements back into the filtered, sanitized water so you can still enjoy a nutritious diet. We will discuss later on the types of filters that make your water mineral.
Is it Better to Drink Tap Water or Filtered Water?
Since nobody wants to ingest mercury, silver, pesticides, hormones, industrial runoff, or plutonium while drinking tap water, water filtration is mandatory, especially in the areas where you rely on well water or outdated water infrastructure and plumbing.
Even if you do not have significant water contamination or pollution issue in your area, and you trust your water treatment company to deliver safe water to your taps, you should still filter it. The taste and smell of chlorine and the health challenges presented by fluoride or germs should be reasons enough to filter the water you, your kids or your pets drink.
Is Filtered Water Better than Bottled Water?
Bottled water is a $200 billion industry that continually promises people clean, safe water whenever and wherever they go. However, recent studies showed that there is little (if any) difference between tap water and bottled water.
Some studies in the industry claim that many brands of bottled water do not even perform a great job of filtering the water before bottling it.
In case the water filter does not remove the healthy minerals in your water – and we will discuss this later on –, water filters deliver cleaner and safer water than bottles do.
As long as you replace the filters correctly, filtered water should keep you safe no matter the type of filter you use. In other words, you can enjoy the fresh taste of bottled water from the tap without having to spend money regularly on bottled water and contribute to the plastic water bottle pollution.
Are Home Water Filters Worth It?
It may seem like a considerable investment and plenty of effort to add a large whole house water filter to your home, but you will reap the benefits in no time. On the other hand, you have plenty of choices when it comes to water filtration systems – size and installation wise. You may even get portable filter units for your RV or your backpacking adventures.
As water contamination goes, if you rely on well water, you should invest in a water filtration system for your home. Even for city water in your apartment, you can find the best water filters that can snuggly fit under your sink, on the countertop, or your kitchen table.
So let’s discuss the specifics of how water filters work, how to choose the best water filtration system for your needs, and what else to know about these devices.
Before we begin, however, let’s summarize what we have learned so far.
What’s really in your drinking water?
Besides nutritious elements, your water can contain a wide range of contaminants, from heavy metals to radiological pollutants. Your water – as it comes from the treatment plant – can also feature by-products of chlorination, some amounts of pesticides, toxins, and pollutants, as a result of groundwater contamination. However, if the water coming to your tap travels through decaying infrastructure, it can also pick up the lead and other dangerous contaminants, thus posing serious health threats.
What is a water table?
The water table is the water level below which the ground is saturated with water. The water table marks the border between the available water in the ground (aquifers or water pockets) and the dry surface. The water table forms when rain and other water sources form the Earth’s surface infiltrate through the soil and accumulates as groundwater.
Is chlorine in drinking water dangerous?
While water treatment plants use chlorination to disinfect the water and remove bacteria and other waterborne pathogens, chlorine, chloramines, and chlorination by-products in your drinking water have a negative impact upon its quality. High levels of chlorine in drinking water lead to a specific water smell, taste, and color. Most water filtration solutions present on the market today contain filtering technologies able to remove the chlorine in your drinking water.
Should We Filter Out All Elements in Drinking Water?
Most elements in drinking water are minerals and micronutrients that add to our healthy lives. The most common ones are calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, etc. While they have an unquestionable positive effect on our wellbeing, excess levels can lead to complications. Some of the most efficient water filtration technologies available for residential use remove all these elements in drinking water only to put them back through a re-mineralization process.
How Do You Choose the Best Water Filter for Your Needs?
Before you start looking for a water filter, you should first know what contaminants you need to remove from your tap water. Just as the water quality in your home depends on where you live, choosing the best water filter depends on what you need it to do.
Some home water filtration systems work better in removing some pollutants, while others are more efficient against different types of contaminants. To understand better what you need, you should test your water first. Here are the main methods you can use to check the contents of your drinking water.
Sensorial Evaluation of the Water
Before you take things up a notch with a water testing endeavor, your senses are your first allies. Keep in mind this is a subjective test that cannot pass as science. No matter what you perceive as bad taste, odor, or color, you should use the other water testing methods we describe in this section.
Your senses, nevertheless, can put you on the right path of water testing. After all, you are probably here because you have had it with your water’s foul smell, taste, and looks. You are searching for water filtration solutions because you do not trust to drink water that reeks of chlorine or, worse, of rotten eggs. Before you begin your quest to find the best water filter for your problem, here is how to use your senses. Let’s make sense of what is going on with the water you drink!
Fill a transparent glass with water and hold it into the light. Here are some signs and symptoms that your water may contain harmful elements.
- If the water is cloudy, features a white-ish overall color, or presents white floating particles, it may have chlorine in it or contain excess hardness minerals. The differential diagnosis, in this case, is the smell. You cannot mistake the smell of chlorine in water for anything.
- In case the water shows red, brown, or orange particles, you deal with rust. It may come from excess iron in water or the pipes, plumbing, or fixtures’ corrosion due to acidic water, chlorine treatments, and other sources.
- Look at the overall color of your water. Notice if it is brown or murky even after you allowed it to run for a while. It is a sign of more severe contamination. It may come from a polluted source or decaying pipes and plumbing.
- Black floating particles in your water indicate the presence of excess chlorine that attacks the pipes and hoses, making them frail.
- Large mineral particles depositing on the bottom of the glass are a sign you have hard water, and you need to test for its pH level. Hardness minerals contain calcium and magnesium usually. Water hardness affects around 8 out of 10 American households. While drinking hard water is not the most considerable health risk of our times, those minerals buildup in time, leading to significant nuisances.
If you turn on your tap, fill a glass of water, and have the feeling that your nose does its best to stop you from drinking it, you have a surefire way to realize there is something foul going on. Fill a glass of water from the tap and take it to another room. This trick allows you to separate the smell of your water from all the odors coming from the drain.
- A bleach-like odor indicates chlorine; if the water also has a white, murky aspect, you need to test for chlorine and chloramines;
- If your water smells like sulfur (rotten eggs like), you have bacteria thriving somewhere along the pipes, plumbing, or fixtures;
- A metallic odor may indicate the presence of rust and iron excess; you should have to test the water for iron and other heavy metals;
- If your water smells more like a swamp (a musty, earthy odor), it means some organic decomposition or decay is going on.
Always perform the odor test in another room. For a more accurate impression, take some time in between two tests: let the water sit in the glass in another room and smell it again. The chlorine odor dissipates in time and contact with fresh air, for instance.
If the odor you perceive does not come from the water but your sink and faucets, it means you should begin with their evaluation and repairs.
If you want to rely on your taste to have a general idea of the contaminants present in your water, make sure you do not swallow it if it has a flavor you don’t like.
- A metallic taste may indicate the presence of excess hardness minerals, rust, or low pH levels;
- The bleach-like taste you probably perceive every time you drink tap water comes from chlorine;
- Salty flavors may indicate chlorine ions or sulfates in the water, most likely caused by an industrial or irrigation drainage problem;
Unfortunately, you cannot solely rely on your sense to draw a definitive conclusion regarding your water contaminants. Most of them have no color, odor, or taste. For this reason, you should look into the following methods of water testing.
The Water Quality Report
Every year, your water supplier should send you a water quality report showing where your water comes from and what contaminants it contains. As we said, water treatment systems sanitize the water before it reaches your home.
In general, they use chlorine, but the substance became more and more problematic in the past years.
- First, it does not kill all microorganisms in your water;
- Secondly, it gives the water a foul taste and odor;
- Thirdly, it can interact with some of the organic materials in the water, leading to the creation of carcinogenic elements.
Another issue with governmental agencies treating the water is that they do not take into account the age and length of the feed lines. In other words, even if your water comes “clean” from the treatment plant, it travels for miles through decades-old pipes, collecting microorganisms, chemicals, and heavy metals. By the time the water reaches your tap, it teems with contaminants leaking from the decaying infrastructure.
Unfortunately, the Flint water crisis was not only an accident. If we are to believe the latest news and reports, Newark is the next Flint, and cities like Detroit or Pittsburgh are dealing with their water crises based on collapsing infrastructure. Lead in our water is a national problem, and you should take all water quality reports with the proverbial grain of salt.
Even if the E.P.A – via de Lead and Copper Rule – states that there should be zero levels of lead in drinking water, most of our cities rely on pipes and lines leaking lead and other heavy metals into the passing-by water.
In conclusion, while a water report is crucial – and you should ask for one in case your municipality forgets to send it to you or publish it online – you should check the results against your own.
Third-Party Independent Testing
For most consumers, it is challenging to determine whether they need a water treatment system in their home in the absence of a water test. Without having a thorough analysis of your water contaminants, it is challenging to decide what filtration technology to use or what type of water filter to buy.
One of the best methods to learn what is in your water and what type of water filter is best for you is to test your water with a reliable, independent laboratory. NSF International offers a comprehensive list of well water testing labs by state. Before you decide to purchase a water filtration unit, here are some things to know about testing your water with a third party entity.
Find an Accredited Laboratory
While the Water Systems Council offers the list mentioned above of well-water testing laboratories, you can also search online for one in your city. In your search, make sure you use keywords such as “accredited,” “well water,” “municipal water,” and “independent.”
You should look for an accredited laboratory as a priority. Such facilities have been through thorough independent technical evaluations regarding their competency to provide accurate data. Moreover, accredited labs do not commonly associate with specific industries or manufacturers.
Collect a Water Sample
After you find a water-testing laboratory near you, read the instructions on sample collection the facility provides. To receive the most accurate results, make sure you collect and handle the sample as the laboratory indicates.
- For instance, if you want to test your water for copper or lead, you should let the water sample sit overnight;
- In some cases, you should deliver a “first draw” water sample. It means to collect the first water coming from the tap that day before you let it run.
- Another example is let the water run before you fill the sample bottle via the faucet when you want to test for coliform bacteria.
These are just examples. Make sure you do exactly how the laboratory instructs, so you ensure reliable water testing results.
You may have to keep the water cold or even frozen until the delivery service takes the samples to their destination.
Also, you may have to follow specific sets of directions, depending on what you test your water for, so take your time and even discuss directly with the laboratory staff before you collect and store the water samples.
If you want to test your water for a larger number of possible contaminants, chemicals, metals, bacteria, hardness, toxins, etc., you should know that the costs may add up to hefty prices.
It is where your water quality report above comes in.
- Analyze the information describing the most prevalent water contaminants in the past year.
- Cross the data with statistics from your local health department and environmental division to understand what contaminants and pollutants are the most frequent in the groundwater in your area.
- Armed with this information, you can ask an independent accredited laboratory to test your water against the following contaminants:
- Lead and copper;
- Other heavy metals;
- Volatile Organic Compounds;
- Water hardness;
- Other inorganic minerals;
- Chlorine and chloramines;
- Radium 226/228;
- Gross alpha radiological contaminants;
- Coliform bacteria;
- E. coli and cryptosporidium;
- Hepatitis A and E, etc.
Understanding the Results
Homeowners living in rural or industrial areas and depending on well water might want to test individually for radiological contaminants, PFAS, fertilizers, pesticides, or hormones. Not all labs are capable of performing such tests. Some carry accreditations for radiological water testing, so you should look for them in particular.
- Make sure that no matter if you want a water test for radioactive elements or viruses, the lab of your choice accepts mail-ordered samples.
You may have to wait for a few days or weeks for the results to come back. The papers will show the levels of tested contaminants found in your water. Most labs also provide you with detailed information on what those contaminant levels mean and what to do about them.
Home Water Test Kits
Home water testing kits are becoming more and more popular as of late, and many brands provide reliable instruments at affordable prices. In case you cannot afford a fully independent laboratory test, or you cannot find one in your area, you should look for the best home water testing kits on the market.
How to Choose a Home Water Test Kit
Before you buy one, however, here is what you need to know:
- Your water pH influences the overall water quality, so you should start with such a test. Acidic water has a foul taste and contributes to pipes’ corrosion.
- A pH water testing kit may help you make the best choices when it comes to buying an ionizer machine, for instance.
- Hard water, for instance, leads to scale buildups and severe shortening of your appliances’ lifespan.
- Well water and city water are different, so make sure you buy a water testing kit that addressed them separately;
- Some water testing kits are efficient in finding heavy metals in particular, while others are more capable of testing for waterborne pathogens. Make sure you do your homework and get the best one for your needs.
Most water testing kits come with test strips. Make sure you get one with a handful of bands that change color depending on the contaminant levels in your water. Get testing kits, allowing you a broad range of separate tests for chlorine, hardness, bacteria, lead, other heavy metals, fertilizers, etc. A test kit containing only one strip is probably a pH test, so make sure you know what you buy.
How to Use the Water Test Kit
Read the instructions carefully. A reliable water test kit coming from a reputable manufacturer comes with detailed directions on how to sample the water and use the test strips. You will also learn what temperature the water should have, how long you should wait for the results, and how to interpret them.
How to Manage the Home Water Test Results
Usually, you should wait for a certain amount of time before you take the strips out of the water samples and shake them to eliminate excess drops. The most crucial step here is to compare the color of your strips against the color charts provided by the manufacturer.
Pay your full attention to the matching of each test strip against its particular color on the chart. In other words, make sure you do not compare the test strip for lead in your hand with the color dedicated to nitrates in the table.
Some tests these days are very easy and straightforward to use and understand. Many come with detailed explanations on what contaminant levels are hazardous and what isn’t. You will also probably find tips and advice on how to proceed if your water shows dangerous levels of pollutants, chemicals, or toxins.
As a recommendation, always repeat the tests in the same way you performed them the first time. If the results do not satisfy you, reread the instructions before you complete the second test. The repetition helps you confirm the results and eliminate any human errors.
How to Test Water Quality: Summary
Before we go on with this water filtration guide, let’s sum up what we learned about water testing. If you ever wondered how to test water quality, you can rely on your senses, request an official report, perform a water test with the help of a specialized kit, and send water samples to an independent laboratory for further analysis on the contaminants that interest you the most.
Armed with all these results, you can compare them and draw conclusions regarding the most dominant water pollutants in your drinking water. Once you narrow down your research and learn what pollutants you need to remove, you can pick a water filter dealing specifically with those contaminants.
Water Filters’ Sizes and Uses
Now that you have a good idea regarding your water contaminants, it is time to move forward and select a water filter. You will choose one depending on the filtration technology it uses so it can adequately address the water problems in your home.
However, just as you buy any new appliance or device for your home, you should take time to reflect. We don’t recommend impulse purchasing when it comes to buying a water filter system for your home.
Practical Questions to Ask Before You Consider Any Water Filter
Here are some questions before you move on with this guide on how water filters work and what you should get for your needs.
- Do I want my future water filter to treat all the water in my house (the one we use for the toilet as well, for instance), or just the water we drink, cook with, and consume for bathing?
- Where do I put this new water filter? Does it fit in my available space? Alternatively, do I have to find a new solution and a place for it?
- Do I have to call plumbers, electricians, and even carpenters to prepare its installation and use? Can I install it myself? Do I need special tools for installation? Will it fit my existing plumbing system?
- How long will I stay in this home? Can I take the water filter with me if I move to another place?
- Say a water filter eliminates the need to drink plastic bottled water at home. What about drinking water when you are at work/running errands in the city, going camping, or backpacking?
Now, let’s discuss water filter types by installation!
Point of Entry Water Filter Systems
Point-of-Entry (POE) water filter systems are the ones you install near your home’s main water supply. They work best for houses rather than apartments, as they need plenty of space. Such systems filter the entirety of the water entering your home before its distribution to your faucets and appliances.
In other words, POE water filters deliver clean water to sinks, showers, toilets, dishwashers, washing machines, and all other water-consuming applications in your house. You can thus use filtered water for drinking, bathing, washing, cooking, and cleaning, and so on. They come before even the water heater, so they deliver clean and safe water – hot and cold – to every fixture in the house.
As we said, you need space for them. Capable of filtering thousands of gallons of water per day, they may come in wall-mountable units or massive casings and tanks combinations. While they use different filtration technologies and need little maintenance, POE systems are expensive and come with quite the installation challenges.
These systems are durable and come with lengthy warranty policies.
While replacing the cartridge once a year is easy, the installation may require the presence of a professional plumber.
Their downside is that you may need a POU water filter system to make your water pure and clean and with no drinking-associated dangers. POE systems do remove sediment, rust, chlorine, some bacteria, hardness minerals, and so on. Nevertheless, if you want the cleanest water possible, you should consider adding other options.
In the POE category, you will find two main types of water filtration systems:
1. Whole House Water Filters
As their name suggests, whole house water filters usually use one or more filtration stages or technologies. The first stage usually involves a sediment screen to remove large particles, rust, minerals, dirt, silt, etc. The following filtration stages typically include carbon filtration to remove chlorine, chemicals, some pollutants, and, in general, smaller particles.
When it comes to whole house water filters, you can accompany them with pre-filters, water softeners, and other point-of-use water filtration systems.
Typically, whole house filtration systems use sediment filtration and adsorption technology (we will address immediately), but you can find such massive units also using reverse osmosis.
Before you consider buying such a device for your entire home, calculate the price of the unit, the costs of replacement filters/cartridges, the plumber’s fees, the tools you might need to buy, and the overall maintenance costs for a year of full use.
2. Water Softeners
Coming with brine tanks and other accessories, water softeners are also POE systems. The crucial aspect you need to know about them is that they do not filter water; they just eliminate water hardness and limescale problems.
For this reason, you should always pair them with a whole house water filter or another POU filtration unit. Water softeners use a chemical process of water cleansing – ion-exchange – based on sodium. In essence, they replace the water hardness molecules (usually calcium and magnesium) with sodium chloride. Once the system captures the hardness molecules, it flushes them out down the drain.
When it comes to water softeners, the conversation is a bit hot, as many communities banned them or restricted and regulated their use due to their environmental burden.
The release of saltwater back into the systems is problematic, to say the least. Moreover, they produce plenty of wastewater that goes down the drain instead of going through a reuse cycle. Besides, some health experts frown upon drinking softened water, so this is why you should pair a water softener with another type of filter.
On the other hand, conventional water softeners represent the best solution you have to deal with severe water hardness levels. Their main advantage is that they do a great job of softening the water in its entirety. Most importantly, they protect your pipes, plumbing, faucets and fixtures, and appliances.
Such devices require space for installation, a plumbing specialist, and tools. You also need to stock on water softener salts to keep them functioning. While durable and requiring little intervention (except for the regular salt replacements), these massive devices need to work together with another type of water filter if you want to have clean, safe, and drinkable water beside a soft one.
At this point in the conversation we have to discuss a few things on what is brackish water and how can one solve the problem of the salty water produced by water softeners.
What is brackish water? In natural environments, brackish water is a mix of freshwater and seawater found in estuaries and brackish fossil aquifers. However, brackish water is also a generic term used to describe water that is more saline than freshwater but less saline that true marine water.
Some people consider the brine water of a salt-based water softener to be brackish water. As we said above, the brine solution usually goes down the drain. Nevertheless, one of the oldest and most powerful solutions to turn brackish (salty) water into freshwater is reverse osmosis.
3. UV Water Filters
If you ever saw a UV water filter, you know it comes in a sleeve you can install inside the water chamber, or you can mount outside transparent tubes transporting water.
UV filters usually come together with more complex water filters – many reverse osmosis systems feature UV disinfection as a bonus. Nevertheless, you can purchase standalone UV filters to install along with your Reverse Osmosis water filter, Carbon Activated whole house water filter, and even water softeners.
UV water filters are not new tech – they went through testing, which showed their ability 99.99% of bacteria and viruses present in your city or well tap water. They can remove the following microorganisms successfully:
- Bacilli of dysentery
- Tuberculosis bacilli
- E. coli
- Hepatitis B
The destruction of such living organisms in your water depends on the UV dosage. It is the measure of the energy (expressed in mJ/ cm²) delivered by your UV filter. As you can easily understand, the more dosage the device provides, the more power it produces to purify your water.
Point of Use Water Filter Systems
You can install Point-of-Use water filters – as their name suggests – at every fixture. The most common applications include water filters that go in the kitchen to clean the water you cook with and drink. You will also find uses for the bathroom. POU water filters deliver some of the best and cleanest water you can have in your home. Depending on the technology they come with, POU filters can remove a wide variety of contaminants, from sediment to chlorine, heavy metals, toxins, bacteria, viruses, and many other pollutants.
While they can bring clean water to a single faucet, they come with plenty of advantages: easy to install, affordable, practical (fits in almost all kitchens and matches most standard faucets and fixtures), and featuring innovation technologies.
Here are some of the most available POU water filters you can rely on to have clean and safe water in your home.
1. Under-Sink Water Filters
The most under-sink water filters feature reverse osmosis technology. They typically feature multiple stages of filtration. Their vast majority also includes a re-mineralization step that delivers mineral water to your tap. They are convenient in terms of space availability, price, ease of installation, low maintenance, performance, and durability.
However, you need to know that some are sizeable enough for you to make a special room for them under your sink. Some users also install them in adjacent kitchen cabinets or mount them on the kitchen wall where available space is a problem.
Since most such water filters use reverse osmosis technology, you need to consider the following:
- The wastewater vs. the clean water ratio. If this ratio is other than 1:1, you may need to mitigate an environmental/budgetary issue, as the system consumes plenty of water to deliver a gallon of filtered water.
- Installation, while straightforward, may require the presence of a plumber to avoid leaks or other further malfunction problems.
- Calculate the costs of replacing the filters, as not many come cheap. While most under-sink water filters feature long filter lives, you still need to replace the filters once or twice a year.
Under-sink water filters are among the most popular water filtration systems available on the market. They ensure the safety of your cooking and drinking water and even enhance your life by delivering fresh mineral water from the tap.
Before you put such filters on your shortlist of purchases, make sure you get one that works best for city water and well water, respectively.
2. Countertop Water Filters
If you do not have enough space to install a water filter under your sink, you can try as an alternative a countertop water filter. These devices solve a single issue: cleaning the water you use for drinking and cooking.
Most models fit standard faucets, while some manufacturers also include matching taps in the package. Countertop water filters usually use sediment filtration and carbon filtration as technology, being able to remove dust, dirt, silt, rust, some chemicals, pollutants, and heavy metals from your water. They also improve the taste, odor, and aspect of the water you drink.
Some of their benefits include ease of installation and operation, low maintenance, low prices, excellent filtration performance, and, in some cases, portability. The filter replacement is straightforward. You may need to replace the filters monthly or a few times a year, depending on the brand and model.
3. Faucet Water Filters
If you live in a rented place, a dorm room, a small studio, or a home where you cannot install under-sink water filters or countertop water filters, your next best alternative is faucet filters. You can install them in minutes and use them to have clean and healthy drinking and cooking water for your needs. You can also take them with you when you move out.
Their performance is worthy of your attention – low maintenance, great filtration capacity, and moderate filter life. Look for some models that do not interfere with your overall water pressure and flow. They are also eco-friendly, as they do not consume more water than they produce. Their technology stands on the shoulders of sediment filtration and adsorption.
Most faucet water filters can deal with a handful of water problems and contaminants, being able to solve the issue of lousy water taste, color, and smell. However, if you rely on well water, it is best to pair these filters with other filtration technologies and units.
4. Showerhead Water Filters
Now that we move into the bathroom let’s see what option you have to enjoy a shower or a bath without soaking in hardness minerals, bacteria, chlorine, and chloramines, etc.
The best shower head water filters can remove a handful of water contaminants, reduce the impact of chlorine on your skin, and even add some beneficial elements (like Vitamin C) for your skin, hair, and nails.
As you can easily understand, these filters are for comfort. They do not remove hardness minerals from the water in your house, nor eliminate PFAS, radiological contaminants, chemicals, or toxins from your water. On the other hand, they do turn your bathing experience into a spa-like one. They are a breeze to buy and install, fit most standard shower units, and some can come along with you in case you move.
5. Refrigerator Water Filters
More specific as other POU water filters, refrigerator water filters go inside your fridge (most likely its door) to deliver crisp, fresh, and healthy water in the blink of an eye. The only issue is that you have to match the filter with your refrigerator perfectly. Most types are OEM, but you will also find models that go with a wide variety of refrigerator brands.
Newer, upgraded refrigerator water filters use adsorption technology for filtration and can quickly eliminate the problem of water terrible smells and taste. They can also reduce chlorine and a handful of other water contaminants.
Portable Water Filters
Some filters can accompany you in your outdoor adventures or road trips, while others elegantly sit on your kitchen table, offering you all the clean and healthy water your family requires during the day. Let’s see the most popular choices!
1. RV Water Filters and Softeners
In case you did not know, they exist, and they do a fantastic job at cleaning your water of chlorine, pollutants, sediment, metals, and more. You can find RV water filters using adsorption technology or even reverse osmosis technology. You can also find RV water softeners.
2. Water Filter Pitchers
The answer to eliminating plastic water bottles from your home took the shape of water filter pitchers. Now, with the new filtration technologies available, these pitchers are the most popular option for drinking mineral, alkaline, or simply contaminant-free water in the comfort of your home.
They almost play in a league of their own, as are now present in our homes more than ever. Some models remove heavy metals and harsh chemicals from water, not only chlorine or sediment.
Practical and high performing, the best water filter pitchers feature advanced adsorption filtration, long filter lives, generous volumes, affordable replacement filters, and low prices. Some are even capable of making your water mineral. One water filter pitcher can replace hundreds or thousands of plastic bottles a year.
3. Filtered Water Containers
We arrived at the point when we present you with some of the most popular portable filters for work, commuting, walking, sports, outdoor activities, camping, backpacking, etc.
You can carry such filters in your purse or backpack and take them everywhere. Most filtered water containers and outdoor accessories can remove some harsh chemicals (in case you drink water from rivers, lakes, or streams), heavy metals, toxins, bacteria, viruses, and more. Here are some of the most popular options:
- Filtered water bottles: allow you to take with you all the latest water-filtering technologies to have safe and healthy water wherever you go.
- Alkaline filtered water bottles: besides removing a load of water contaminants, they also modify the water pH and add healthy minerals into the water.
- Backpacking water filters: they can accompany you during your outdoor adventures and work great for sightseeing trips, camping, hiking, preparedness, survival, etc.
- Gravity Water Filters: these filters remove some of the most dangerous water pollutants and contaminants. They make excellent choices for outdoor, preparedness, and survival enthusiasts.
Of course, you can keep a few portable water filters and accessories around the house for crises. They can filter some amount of water, but they will not cover the needs of an entire family living in a large house.
4. Water Distillers
When it comes to water distillation, you probably guess it is one of the many technologies used to strip water of its most dangerous contaminants. If other POU or portable water filters use adsorption, sediment filtration, reverse osmosis, or a combination of the three, water distillers do have a club of their own, as they distill water quickly and efficiently. However, they can only treat small volumes of water and do take their time to process.
The size of a coffee maker or microwave oven, water distillers do a fantastic job of eliminating chemicals, toxins, or bacteria from your drinking water.
The last criterion to consider before you move forward with your quest for the best water filter for your home is the certifications acknowledging that water filter does indeed what it says it does. Home drinking water treatments are becoming increasingly popular. It is difficult to differentiate between manufacturers and advertisements.
Certification is as vital as the results of your water test. How do you know a product will work as they promise? How do you know it won’t do more harm than good? The answer lies with NSF and ANSI certifications.
All products coming with an NSF International mark meet the strictest standards when it comes to public health protection. The same goes for ANSI and products certified by the European Union’s agencies. Should you choose to add any type of water filter in your home, read everything about how the manufacturer tested it, and certified it.
Here are some National Science Foundation (NSF) standards you should consider:
- NSF Standard 42 refers to the filter’ aesthetic effects: Filters meeting this standard reduces chlorine and improves the taste and odor of your drinking water. The rule mostly addresses carbon filtration and includes material safety, structural integrity, and aesthetic, non-health-related contaminant reduction performance.
- NSF Standard 53 refers to the filters’ health effects: A NSF 53 water filter has to meet the minimum requirements for the certification of POU/POE filtration systems. An NSF 53 filter removes a long list of health-related contaminants from your water: Cryptosporidium, Giardia, lead, volatile organic chemicals (VOCs), MTBE, etc.
- NSF Standard 58 refers only to reverse osmosis water filters: The standard certifies that the RO water filter reduces toxic pollutants, chemicals, bacteria, etc. Certified RO water systems decrease the levels of the following contaminants in your water. The list includes TDS, cysts, chromium (trivalent and hexavalent), arsenic, nitrate/nitrite, cadmium, lead, barium, turbidity, fluoride, copper, VOCs, asbestos, radium 226/228, perchlorate, selenium, etc.
- NSF Standard 401 refers to incidental contaminants or emerging compounds. The standard (and thus, the filter) can cover up to 15 contaminants found in water as of late. The standard lists human/veterinarian pharmaceutical drugs (prescription and over-the-counter medication), flame-retardants, pesticides and herbicides, BPA, precursors to commercial detergents, and more. The NSF Standard 401 also applies to RO water filters.
Most filters you will find on the market meet the NSF standards 42 and 53, while others can reach more.
How Do Water Filters Work? The Most Common Processes and Technologies
The times has come to discuss the most critical aspect of water filtration. How do water filters work? So far, we mentioned adsorption, sediment filtration, reverse osmosis, and distillation, among others. You may have already heard about carbon filtration and other technical terms.
What you need to understand is that some technologies can be present in various types of water filters, from the smallest water filter straw to the most extensive whole house water system. So let’s discuss filtering technologies to help you understand better what to choose for your home.
8 Common Types of Water Filtration Technologies for Home Use
When you try to learn how water filters work, the first thing you should know is that we have different water treatment technologies available today. As we said, such techniques are present in various types of water filters, sometimes in combinations. Let’s see the eight main water filter types according to the filtration processes they use.
1. Sediment Filtration
You cannot get more straightforward and more basic water treatments than sediment filtration. This type of water filter is present widely across industrial, commercial, and residential water filtering systems all over the world.
A sediment filter consists of a washable screen made of polypropylene (PP) or pleated polyester with a micron rating that can range from 1 to 100.
You can find standalone sediment water filters as a POE whole house water filter. However, the most frequent employment of sediment water filters is in conjunction with activated carbon filters or reverse osmosis water filters to provide more efficient filtration. In these situations, the sediment filter works as a pre-filter to prevent the clogging of carbon filters or reverse osmosis membranes.
How Sediment Filter Works
Imagine a flour sifter. When the water from the system containing contaminant particles of various sizes passes through a sediment filter with a 5 microns rating, it will sift all particles of 5-microns or larger, blocking them on the surface of the sediment filter. The water containing contaminants smaller than 5 microns will flow through the screen and reach your tap.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Sediment Water Filters
|Affordable||Does not remove chemicals, toxins, or other contaminants smaller than 1 micron|
|Easy to use and replace||It has to join another (more complex) water filtration system for clean & safe water|
|Efficient against large particles|
|A broad range of microns rating|
|Pairs well with other types of filtration technologies|
Sediment filtration works excellent in the removal and reduction of large particles such as sand, dirt, silt, rust, some heavy metals, and other sizeable elements in the water.
You may know adsorption – in the context of water filter systems – as carbon filtration. However, adsorption is the process/technology used for the carbon filtration of water.
Adsorption is by far the most common, accessible, and available water filter technology on the market today. You will find large whole house water filters using this technology together with carafe-size or even pencil-size water filters in the shape of filter water pitchers and filtered water bottles.
How Adsorption Water Filters Work
Imagine a sponge. Adsorption is the consequence of surface energy. As the water comes through the pipes, it meets the adsorption filters. The filtration occurs as the atoms, the gas ions, or molecules of a liquid or dissolved solid adhere to the adsorbing surface and cannot move forward to reach your tap. All the contaminants in water various micron sizes) remain as a film on the surface of the adsorbent medium.
When it comes to adsorption water filtering, you can get one of two principal water filters: Activated Carbon Block filtration (ACB) and Granular Activated Carbon filtration (GAC). In commercial water filters, you will meet this filtering process as Activated Carbon (AC), but you should know the differences between the two carbon water filters.
2.1 Activated Carbon Block Water Filters (ACB)
One of the most straightforward types of activated carbon water filters, ACB filters consist of a fine carbon powder and a binding agent holding it together and making it stay static.
The powder features high porosity, resulting in a larger adsorbing area that can block a large number of particles, preventing water from channeling as well. The pore size of ACB filters is tiny, making them able to block small-sized contaminants. It also has high bacterial resistance.
Since we are talking about adsorption, ACB filters mechanically adsorb the contaminants and impurities in the water that have sizes larger than the filter’s pores. ACB filter systems also feature positively-charged activated carbon molecules that attract all negatively charged chemicals in the water. In this way, with active carbon block filters, you can remove chlorine, and eliminate the bad odor & taste in your water.
ACB filters are efficient in the removal and reduction of contaminants such as chlorine, bad taste and smell, VOCs, some chemicals, and cysts.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Activated Carbon Block Filters (ACB)
|Efficient in removing bad taste and odors in the water||For increased efficiency, they require a sediment filter for pre-filtration|
|Efficient in removing chlorine||Can not remove health-hazardous contaminants such as viruses|
|Versatile and customizable for a wide range of water filters designs and applications||Can not remove excess dissolved solids, minerals, and other smaller contaminants|
|Do not filter out essential minerals in the water|
|Easy to use in pair with other water filtration technologies and systems|
|Eco-friendly water filtration|
|Long filter life|
|Do not alter water flow rates|
|Resilient to bacterial growth|
You can find activated carbon block water filters in large residential or commercial applications, such as whole house water filters, as the first-stage filtration in reverse osmosis water filters, or smaller applications, such as countertop water filters and more.
2.2 Granular Activated Carbon Water Filters (GAC)
Granular Activated Carbon water filters (GAC) perform the same functions as Activated Carbon Blocks (ACB). However, their construction is different. They contain loose carbon granules larger in size than the powder you encounter in ACB filters. This difference results in weaker contaminant removal but higher water filtration rates.
You will find GAC filters as part of more complex water filters – in the shape of pre-filters or first-stage filtration – as they can remove large contaminant particles.
They also achieve a better removal of bad odor and taste in water, together with more efficient chlorine reduction. One of the best things about CAC filters is that they allow high water flow rates. For this reason, you will find them in POE applications like whole house water filters or reverse osmosis under-sink water filters.
They absorb all the contaminants in the water whose particles are bigger than their pores. The positive-negative attraction is present here as well. It makes the GAC water filter some of the best solutions when it comes to eliminating chlorine, bad taste, color, and smells in your water.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Granular Activated Carbon Water Filters (GAC)
|Excellent water filtration capabilities and flow rates||Do not remove viruses|
|Affordable||Do not remove excess dissolved solids or minerals|
|Very effective against chlorine, lousy water taste, and smell||Cannot remove water contaminants of small sizes|
|Long filter life||The loose carbon granules can lead to water channeling|
|Pairs well with other water filtration technologies and applications|
|Widely available in various types of water filters|
|Eco-friendly water filtration technology|
|Does not remove essential minerals in the water|
|Good filtration capabilities against most common water pollutants|
Some of the most common applications of Granular Activated Carbon water filters are:
Keep in mind that most GAC filters come in a combination of multi-stage water filters featuring other filtration technologies.
3. Reverse Osmosis Filtration (RO)
Reverse Osmosis is a water filtration technology based on semi-permeable membranes. RO membranes split the water into two streams. One stream contains all the contaminants that cannot pass through the membrane, while the other is the clean, safe water you get on your tap.
Reverse osmosis is the most efficient, accessible, and available water filtration technology, as it is capable of removing up to 99.9% of all water contaminants, including the essential minerals in the water.
How do Reverse Osmosis Water Filters Work?
Reverse osmosis is a process based on water pressure. The RO system forces the water flowing in your pipes to pass through a semi-permeable membrane. The membrane turns the concentrated water solution (as it contains contaminants) into a less concentrated one (lacking contaminants). The main advantage of RO systems is that their membranes can block particles that are as small as 0.0001 microns.
Therefore, a reverse osmosis water filter is among the best water filters that can remove bacteria, cysts, and 99% of all water contaminants. However, you cannot rely on RO water filters alone to remove most VOCs, some pesticides, some solvents, and chlorine.
The pollutants in your water adhere to the surface of the membrane. The RO system flushes away in the drain the stream of contaminated water to preserve the efficiency and lifespan of the RO water filter.
The system also usually comes with a water tank to store the filtered clean water for later use, as it features a slow water filtration rate.
One of the problems of the past with reverse osmosis water filters was their environmental burden and high operational costs. It is not efficient to consume 4 gallons of water to obtain 1 gallon of clean, filtered water and pour the rest down the drain.
Moreover, in the past, people have confronted with health concerns regarding reverse osmosis water filters. They do remove essential minerals from the water, leaving it dull, with no nutritional value, and flat-tasting.
Nowadays, the best reverse osmosis water filters feature multiple stages of filtration, feature wastewater-to-filtered-water ratios of 1:1, and come with additional re-mineralization steps. In other words, modern reverse osmosis systems put back the essential minerals in the water, making it mineral and healthy.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Reverse Osmosis Water Filters (RO)
|Offers the most efficient water filtration against most water contaminants||It does not remove chlorine, some VOCs, some pesticides, etc.|
|Produces the cleanest water of all POU water filtration systems||May interfere with the water flow rate in your home|
|Lowers the TDS value in your water||Requires maintenance|
|Long lifespan of the membranes||Expensive|
|Modern RO water filters re-mineralize the water with balanced levels of healthy minerals for human nutrition|
|Moderate to low environmental impact|
|Available for a wide range of industrial, commercial, and residential applications|
RO water filters are the answer to the question, “how do I filter well water?” Moreover, the technology is available most commonly in under-sink water filters. Still, you can also find whole house water filters sporting a combination of activated carbon filtration and reverse osmosis.
4. Distillation Technology
As we said above, distillation is an old process – usually used in industrial settings nowadays. Distillation works through the process of condensation. A water distiller boils the water, captures the cooled and condensed vapors, and transfers the purified water into a separate compartment.
How Water Distillers Work
During the distillation process, the distiller heats the water to its boiling point, using electricity. The water starts to evaporate. The distiller collects the steam and condenses it into filtered water in a liquid form. The distillation technology discards contaminants in the water together with the essential minerals.
Water distillers work well against most water contaminants. However, some water pollutants reach the boiling point before the water does so that they can remain in the distilled water compartment. It is the case of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Their boiling point is lower than 212 F (100℃), so they will vaporize and condense faster than water, ending up in the distilled water compartment.
The entire water distillation process is relatively slow, and it produces limited volumes of filtered water at a time. While most applications are industrial, you can find a wide range of water distillation machines for residential use.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Water Distillation
|Excellent water purification capacity||Time-consuming with low output|
|Removes bacteria, most water contaminants, and dissolved solids from the water||Removes essential minerals from the water without putting them back as RO systems do|
|You don’t have to replace filter cartridges||The water tastes flat|
|Affordable||Cannot remove any contaminant with a boiling point lower than 212℉ (100℃)|
|Present in commercial water distillers||Requires careful maintenance|
Many people wonder if it is safe to drink distilled water. The answer is yet, it is, but you may not like its taste. Moreover, you should start drinking distilled water in small quantities and progressively increase the volume for health reasons.
5. Ion Exchange Water Filter Technology (IX)
Ion-Exchange filtration is present in water softeners – as commercial IX technology goes. The process allows the capture and replacement of positively charged hardness minerals (calcium and magnesium ions) in the water with sodium ions.
The IX water filtration technology is capable of exchanging both positively charged ions (cations) and negatively charged ions (anions). It means that in some industrial settings, the IX process can remove fluoride, nitrate, arsenic, sulfate, and others, as they represent negatively charged ions.
How Ion Exchange Works
When it comes to water softening, you have an ion-exchange resin with positively charged sodium ions that captures the ions responsible for hard water and limescale buildup. In exchange for these ions, the resin bed releases sodium into the water.
The resin bed in a water softener has a limited lifespan. For this reason, it has to go through a process of regeneration that restores the initial efficient conditions of the IX resin. The restoration works by using water softener salts, usually containing sodium chloride solution and Hydrochloric acid.
While ion-exchanging water filtration can remove some contaminants in the water, it is not the same thing as water filtration, as we have seen above. In your home, IX technology is present only in conventional water softeners.
Keep in mind that if you have contaminated water, you should always pair a water softener to work in conjunction with whole house water filters based on activated carbon technology and RO water filters. Water softeners cannot remove organic contaminants, waterborne pathogens, and other common water pollutants.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Ion-Exchange Water Filtration (IX)
|The best solution against hard water||Cannot remove sediment, organic contaminants, microorganisms, and other health-hazardous water pollutants|
|Effective against most dissolved inorganics contaminants||Massive units for home water softening|
|Moderate to high maintenance|
|Moderate to high operational costs|
|High environmental impact|
When it comes to the best water softeners on the market, you should know that they do a terrific job as POE devices. You will, however, find some models that go great with your RV.
Make sure you also check our guide on more modern water treatment techniques against hard water, including conventional water softeners, electronic water descalers, or Template Assisted Technology.
6. Ultraviolet Water Filters (UV)
On the light spectrum (electromagnetic spectrum), UV light falls between x rays and visible light. UV water filters use UV-C – the wavelength that disinfects your water by killing microorganisms.
The UV light in your filter strikes the bacteria’s, viruses’, and cysts’ cells and sterilizes them. In short, the UV radiation attacks the microorganisms’ DNA, preventing them from reproducing and from spreading diseases in your drinking water.
How UV Water Filters Work
A UV water filter usually consists of a system encased in a chamber. The UV lamp (mercury vapors) lies in a glass quartz sleeve. It emits UV-C radiation to kill microorganisms by penetrating the transparent glass sleeve, reaching the water, and disinfecting it.
Since water and electricity do not work well together, you understand why it is crucial to have the system encased in a quartz glass container. Usually, O-rings hold together the entire device.
UV water filters are point-of-entry devices. It means you should install them on your water lines before the water enters your home. Nevertheless, you will find some UV filters as POU devices or some coming directly with a reverse osmosis system.
This sterilization process provided by UV filters does not add or remove particles from your water. It does not change your water from a chemical point of view – as reverse osmosis systems do. The UV radiation at the 254 – 256 nm wavelength disrupts cells’ DNA.
A UV filter’s efficiency depends on the water flow in your home. The correct exposure of water to UV radiation, while it travels through the pipes, renders the system more or less efficient.
In short, you need to make sure the water flow rate in your home allows the UV filter to contact the water long enough, so the radiation kills microorganisms. You do not need to worry, though. Most UV systems operate efficiently with typical household water pressures and flow rates.
Advantages and Disadvantages of UV Water Filters (UV)
|They do not interact directly with the water||Do not remove anything else from the water except for microorganisms|
|Easy to install with current water filtration systems||Tend to heat the water|
|The quickest and most reliable method to remove microorganisms in the water|
|Low operational costs and maintenance|
|Low energy consumption|
|One of the best water filtration solutions for well water when paired with other water filters|
|One of the best lines of defense against natural disasters resulting in flooding and bacterial/viral spreading through water|
The most critical aspect you need to understand about UV filters is that they cannot remove different types of contaminants from your water. Since tap water can contain plenty of pollutants, you need to use a UV filter in combination with a reverse osmosis water filter or another type of water filtering system.
7. Water Ultrafiltration Technology (UF)
Ultrafiltration technology works more or less like reverse osmosis. It uses hydrostatic pressure to push the water through a semipermeable UF membrane made of a hollow fiber. The membrane’s pores range in size between 0.01 and 0.5 microns. This way, UF water filtration technology is capable of removing most water contaminants and pollutants – with some caveats.
How Does Water Ultrafiltration Work
As the water flows against the hollow fiber medium, it leaves behind all impurities larger than 0.01 to 0.02 microns. One of the essential aspects of UF technology is that the membrane has high resilience against chlorine. For this reason, a UF filter does not require a supplemental activated carbon system to act as a pre-filter.
Ultrafiltration technology is efficient against microorganisms. In comparison to reverse osmosis water filtration, it does not block essential minerals in the water. Keep in mind that for a UF system to work efficiently, it needs to treat water that contains low levels of total dissolved solids (TDS).
Advantages and Disadvantages of Ultrafiltration (UF)
|Excellent filtering capacity of contaminants down to 0.01 microns||Does not remove chlorine, bad taste & odor in your water|
|Efficient in removing most waterborne pathogens||Does not remove large dissolved solids like fluoride, salts, and more|
|Keeps the essential minerals in the water||Not efficient against cysts or VOCs|
|Resistant against chlorine and other chemicals|
|Does not affect the water flow rate|
|Easy installation and low maintenance|
If you want clean and safe drinking water, it is best to pair UF techs with other filtration systems, such as activated carbon filtration (AC), sediment screens, and reverse osmosis.
8. Activated Alumina Water Filtration (AA)
Activated Alumina (AA) water filtration is mostly standard in industrial settings – namely, your city’s water treatment plant. It is a rather niche water filter technology, as the highly adsorptive porous aluminum oxide (bauxite) filter can only remove fluoride, arsenic, selenium, and thallium in water. For this reason, you will find commercial fluoride water filters using AA filtration.
Despite widespread concern and some myths, the aluminum in the activated alumina filter does not leach into the water, so you should not worry about filtering water of fluoride and drinking aluminum instead.
How Activated Alumina Water Filters Work
The activated alumina goes through a process of initialization before anything else. This process consists of the backwashing and the chemical treatment of the activated alumina filter.
The tap water coming to your tap via your pipes encounters the activated alumina medium, this filter absorbs the fluoride, arsenic, selenium, and thallium onto the filter’ surface.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Activated Alumina Water Filtration (AA)
|Efficient in removing 99% of fluoride in your water||Cannot remove most water contaminants|
|Also performant in removing arsenic, selenium, and thallium from the water||Requires constant maintenance and regeneration|
|The filter can regenerate|
If you want to remove fluoride from your water, you can opt for a fluoride water filter using AA filtration. However, in case you deal with other types of contaminants, from chlorine and VOCs to heavy metals and chemicals, it is best to pair AA filtration with other filters, sediment, activated carbon, reverse osmosis, and even ion exchange.
The Best Water Filter Types and Technologies to Meet Your Needs and Budget
If you arrived at this point after reading so much about water filtration technologies and still do not know what the best water filter for your home is, let us make things easier for you! Find below a series of tables and guides we hope will help you make the smartest choice!
How to Choose the Best Water Filter: Contaminants in Your Water
It is time to pair some of the most common water contaminants with the best filtration technologies available to remove them! Keep in mind that in devices meant for your home, you will encounter mixed water filtration technologies.
Before you get the best water filter to help you eliminate a specific contaminant, don’t forget to read the manufacturer’s specifications regarding the type of water filtration technology employed, certifications, and users’ reviews.
|CONTAMINANT||WATER FILTER TECHNOLOGY|
|Chlorine and chloramines||Absorption – ACB and GAC|
|Sediment and particles||Absorption – ACB and GAC | Reverse Osmosis | UF|
|Lead||Reverse Osmosis | Distillation|
|Bacteria and viruses||Reverse Osmosis | Distillation | UV | UF|
|Radiological elements||Reverse Osmosis | Distillation|
|Pesticides||Absorption – ACB and GAC | Reverse Osmosis | Distillation|
|Hardness minerals (calcium & magnesium)||Ion-Exchange | TAC|
|Nitrate and nitrites||Reverse Osmosis | Distillation|
|Fluoride||Reverse Osmosis | Distillation | AA|
|VOCs||Absorption – ACB and GAC | Reverse Osmosis | UF|
|Heavy Metals||Reverse Osmosis | Distillation | UF|
|Arsenic||Reverse Osmosis | Distillation | AA|
|Sulfate||Reverse Osmosis | Distillation | Ion-Exchange|
|Selenium||Reverse Osmosis | Distillation | AA|
As you can see, reverse osmosis water filter systems are the most efficient against the broadest range of contaminants. However, choosing the best water filter for your home needs to take into consideration the filters’ setup, the order of installation (in case you need more to solve your water contamination issues), and the intensity of water filtration you need.
How to Choose the Best Water Filter: Required Filtration Intensity & Filter Setup
It is possible that you still need help with choosing the best water filter now that you know what filtering technologies go best against some of the most common water pollutants and contaminants.
Moreover, you may need some necessary details on how to use and install one or more water filter systems ranging from basic setup and filtration intensity to complex, multi-stage structures, and high power.
For this reason, we will continue our presentation on how to choose the best water filter for your home, depending on the filters’ sizes, setup, and intensity of filtration that you require.
Before we continue, however, let’s quickly resume the types of water filters available on the market, depending on their build, complexity, and setup.
We have seen already that most water filter systems split into two main categories: Point-of-Entry filters and Point-of-Use filters. Current technology allows us to install some filters as either POE or POU (such is the case with RO water filters, sediment filters, and some UV water filters).
To eliminate the confusion here is a more straightforward way to categorize the most popular water filters on the market today:
Basic Setup & Small/Medium-Sized Water Filters and Water Treatments
- Carbon-based water filter pitchers;
- AC faucet water filters;
- Carbon-based single-stage countertop water filters;
- AC single-stage under sink water filters;
- Water distillers;
- Fluoride water filters;
- Filtered water bottles;
- UV filters;
- Water descalers;
Advanced Water Filters and Water Treatments
- Multi-stage carbon-based countertop water filters;
- Multi-stages RO under sink water filtration systems;
- Multi-stage AC whole house water filters;
- Multi-stages RO whole house water filters;
- Water softeners;
Complex Setups for Severe Water Contamination Problems
- Add a Sediment filter + Activated Carbon Block (ACB) + Reverse Osmosis (RO) filter
- Start with Sediment filter + ACB filter + RO filter + Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) filter
- Install a Sediment filter + GAC filter + ACB filter + RO filter
- Try a Sediment filter + GAC filter + ACB filter + RO filter + Ultraviolet (UV) filter
Water Filters’ Mounting and Installation
- Wall-Mounted/Floor Mounted Water Filters – These water filters, usually the POE type, need a free wall or a large free surface in your house (think basement or a dedicated room) for installation. In this category, you will most likely find whole house water filters and water softeners. Some reverse osmosis water filters are large enough to require their special place in the kitchen if they don’t fit under the sink. Some countertop water filters can also stay on a wall in the kitchen, but they do not require so much space.
- Under-Sink Water Filters – It all depends on how generous space you have under your sink. Some RO under-sink water filters feature compact designs, but others are large and bulky. Under-sink water filters, no matter their technology, are the obvious choice due to their low installation requirements.
- On-the-Counter Water Filters – As long as you make sure your new filter matches your faucet, you can install one on the counter in case you don’t have enough room under the sink. They may not look great, but they do a great job.
- Fixture-Mounted Water Filters – Reading this article, you probably realized by now that you can install a kitchen faucet water filter or a showerhead water filter. Make sure you respect the instructions (and remove the faucet aerator before installation).
- Unit-Mounted Water Filters – In this particular category, you will find fridge water filters and, sometimes, water cooler dispensers coming with incorporated water filters.
- Pitchers and Dispensers – From water filter pitchers to filtered water bottles or even gravity water filters for outdoor enthusiasts, you have a broad range of products that go wherever you go.
Now let’s see some popular setups and installations depending on the water contamination and issues you may have in your home!
|WATER PROBLEM||REQUIRED FILTRATION INTENSITY||FILTERS’ INSTALLATION & SETUP ORDER|
|Municipally treated water that is soft and of good quality||Low / Moderate||Sediment filter -> ACB/GAC filter|
|Municipally treated water that is soft and of low quality||High||Sediment filter -> UF filter -> ACB/GAC filter|
|Municipally treated water that is hard and of good quality||Low / Moderate||Sediment filter -> Water Descaler|
|Municipally treated water that is hard and of low quality||High||Sediment filter -> Water softener -> ACB/GAC filter|
|Private well water that is soft and of good quality||Low / Moderate||Sediment filter -> POE UV filter -> POU RO water filter|
|Private well water that is hard and of low quality||Hight||Sediment filter -> UF filter -> POE UV filter -> POU RO filter|
How to Choose the Best Water Filter: Your Home Type and Water Problems
You may live in a small home in the country. Some live in large houses in the suburbs, while others rent city apartments. Your water contamination problems can range from mild to severe.
You may also want to simply remove the bad taste and odor of your water or just get rid of limescale once and for all. Find your best water filter and filtration system in the table below!
|Water Problem||Mild Contamination||Moderate Contamination||Severe Contamination|
|Chlorine and chloramines in small homes in the city||Water filter pitcher||Countertop water filter/Faucet water filter||ACB/GAC Countertop water filter + Distiller|
|Chlorine and chloramines in large homes||Water filter pitcher||Countertop water filter/Faucet water filter||ACB/GAC Whole house water filter + Under-sink RO water filter|
|Bad water taste and smell in small homes||Water filter pitcher||Faucet water filter||ACB/GAC Countertop water filter|
|Bad water taste and smell in large homes||Faucet water filter||Countertop water filter||ACB/GAC whole house water filter|
|Well water||Whole house water filter||Whole house water filter + RO under-sink water filter||ACB/GAC Whole house water filter + RO under-sink water filter + UV filter|
|Sediment and particles in small homes||Sediment filter/Faucet filter||Water filter pitcher/Countertop water filter||Under-sink RO water filter|
|Sediment and particles in large homes||Sediment filter/Faucet filter||Countertop water filter/Under-sink RO water filter||ACB/GAC Whole house water filter + RO under-sink water filter|
|Lead in small homes||Countertop water filter||Water distiller||Under-sink RO water filter|
|Lead in large homes||Countertop water filter/Water distiller||RO under-sink water filter + Water Distiller||ACB/GAC Whole house water filter + RO under-sink water filter + Water Distiller|
|Bacteria and viruses||Water Distiller||RO Under-Sink Water Filter||RO Under-Sink Water Filter + UV filter|
|Radiological elements||Water Distiller||RO Under-Sink Water Filter||RO Under-Sink Water Filter + Water Distiller|
|Pesticides in small homes||Countertop water filter/Water distiller||RO Under-Sink Water Filter||RO Under-Sink Water Filter + Water Distiller|
|Pesticides in large homes||Countertop water filters/Water distiller||RO Under-Sink Water Filter||ACB/GAC Whole house water filter + RO under-sink water filter|
|Hard water in small homes||Electronic water descaler||RV water softener||TAC technology|
|Hard water in large homes||Electronic water descaler||TAC System||Whole house water softener|
|Nitrate and nitrites||Water distiller||RO Under-Sink Water Filter||ACB/GAC water filter + RO under-sink water filter|
|Fluoride||Fluoride Water Filter||Water Distiller||RO under-sink water filter|
|VOCs||Countertop water filter/Water filter pitcher/Faucet water filter||RO under-sink water filter||ACB/GAC water filter + RO under-sink water filter|
|Heavy Metals||Countertop water filter/Water filter pitcher/Water distiller||RO under-sink water filter||RO under-sink water filter + Water distiller|
|Arsenic||Fluoride water filters (AA-based)||Water Distiller||RO under-sink water filter|
|Sulfate||Water Distiller||RO under-sink water filter||RO under-sink water filter + Water Softener|
|Selenium||Fluoride water filters (AA-based)||Water Distiller||RO under-sink water filter|
How to Choose the Best Water Filter: Budget
Budget is always an issue when it comes to picking the best water filter for your home. Next, we will look at some water filter options to solve some of the most common water problems and contamination risks depending on the money you can or are willing to spend.
- Low budget water filters are usually the ones you find in the “basic” category. They include faucet water filters, water filter pitchers, some countertop water filters, and many of the portable water filters.
- Medium budget filtration systems are medium-to-complex devices. They include water distillers, fluoride water filters, TAC softeners, water descalers, and some UV water filters.
- High budget systems, as you can easily imagine, include multi-stage water filtration systems sporting combined water filtration technologies. In this category, you will find whole house water filters, reverse osmosis water filters, water softeners, and some high-end water distillers and water ionizers.
Let’s see a few solutions to your water contamination problem and the products that may best fit your budget!
|Water Problem||Low Budget||Medium Budget||High Budget|
|Bad water odor and taste||ACB/GAC faucet water filter or|
ACB/GAC water filter pitcher
|ACB/GAC countertop water filter||ACB/GAC whole house water filter|
|Chlorine||ACB/GAC faucet water filter or|
ACB/GAC water filter pitcher
|ACB/GAC countertop water filter or Water distiller||ACB/GAC whole house water filter|
|Hard water and limescale||Water descaler||TAC technology||Whole house water softener|
|Bacteria and other waterborne pathogens||Water distiller||UV water filter||RO Under-sink water filter + UV filter|
|Lead||Water distiller||RO Under-sink water filter||ACB/GAC whole house water filter|
|Fluoride||AA fluoride water filter||Water distiller||RO Under-sink water filter|
We hope we offered you enough information to help you make the best choice! If you need specialized setups and installation information to meet the particularities of your home and the needs of your family, make sure you discuss it with a professional plumber. Moreover, read our guides on the best water filters to get the best products and devices for your requirements!
How to Buy a Water Filter: Tech Specs to Consider
The quest to find the best water filter on the market is not over. Before you buy any type of water filter, you should take into account a handful of tech specs and features besides the water filtration technology they employ.
Measured in gallons per minute (GPM), the average flow rate of a home is around 10-15 GPM. Some water filtration technologies and products will likely lower the flow rate in your home. Reverse osmosis water filters, some ACB/GAC water filters, and even some water softeners may have an impact on the water flow rate of your home.
Our advice is to look for the water filtration system that has a minimal effect on the flow rate. If you need a specific water filtration system or combination of filters (especially if you live in a large house and need to satisfy the needs of a large family), you should talk to a plumber.
Filter Life and Capacity
It is probably the essential feature you should consider when you analyze a specific water filtration device, no matter its type or technology. Measured in gallons or months/years, the filter life and capacity of a unit tells you how often you need to replace the filter. Whole house water filters can clean hundreds of thousands of gallons of water before you need to replace their filters. Some ACB/CAG or reverse osmosis filters have lifespans of 3-5 years before they require any intervention from your part.
On the other hand, smaller sized water filters – like water filter pitchers, countertop water filters, faucet water filters, and portable water filters have lower or even short lifespans. Some can filter hundreds of gallons before they need replacement, others last for a few tens of gallons.
As you have seen so far, few commercial filters are coming with only one stage of filtration. Even water filter pitchers can sport 2-3 filtration technologies and stages. The best water filters on the market come with combination technologies and multiple filtration steps. The more screens, mediums, and membranes your water passes by, the cleaner it will be. Remember that the more complex and advanced a water filtration system is, the more money it may cost.
We mentioned above that a sediment filter could remove particles larger than 5 microns. On the other hand, reverse osmosis water filters remove particles that are as small as 0.0001 microns, while UF units eliminate contaminants ranging in between 0.01 and 0.5 microns. Before you buy a water filter, make sure you read its tech specs and understand what to expect from it when it comes to contaminant removal.
Filtering the water in your home indeed saves the planet from thousands of plastic water bottles a year. Still, the conversation about the eco-friendliness of water filters is a bit longer. Some water filtration technologies waste water to make clean water. Conventional water softeners and some reverse osmosis water filters are not as eco-friendly as you might think. Look for the tech specs and watch out for the following:
- Wastewater vs. clean water ratio in RO systems. Ideally, 1:1 is the best, but 3:1 works as well. The best thing about RO systems’ wastewater is that you can collect it to use it for washing the car, the yard, and even tools.
- Quantity of brine flushed by the water softeners. In some exceptional cases, you can also collect this water for a vehicular wash, building exterior wash, and so on.
- Look for water filter pitchers made of glass instead of plastic;
- Look for water filters (countertop, water filter pitchers, and even refrigerator water filters) whose filters are recyclable or compostable.
Tools and Accessories
A water softener or a whole house water filter should include a bypass valve and some installation tools. Of course, not all water filters sold on the market come with additional features. You will easily find reverse osmosis water filters with incorporated UV filters and water filter pitchers coming with extra replacement filters.
Before you buy any water filtration product, read the description carefully. Before you start the installation, you should make sure you already have the tools in the house, or at least you will find some in the package.
Crucial when you buy any appliance for your home. Some manufacturers offer 5 years, 10 years, or lifetime warranty for their products. Of course, the more extended the warranty, the better for you.
You will find such generous warranties mostly in whole house water filters, water softeners, and some reverse osmosis water filters. Basic water filtration devices (countertop, faucet, pitchers, etc.) have warranty policies ranging from 1 month to 1 year.
What to Consider Before Purchasing a Water Filter: Summary
Now we are certain you want us to resume what to consider before purchasing a water filter after discussing so many variants and situations. So here are the main points to keep in mind before you buy any type of water filter:
- Your drinking water source: municipal or well water;
- The water quality in your home as it results from testing;
- Water filtration technology most capable to deal with the most prevalent water contaminants in your home;
- The installation of a water filter as point of entry or point of use, depending on your needs;
- Type of water filter that is best for your home depending on the device’s size and functionality;
- Tech specs and features of the water filter in accordance with what you need it to do;
- The environmental impact of the water filter – mild with the environment and capable of reducing the use of plastic bottled water;
- Warranty and maintenance.
Water Filters’ Maintenance
You bought a water filter. Now what? Well, as we said above, some water filtration units need maintenance, regeneration, even repairs. So let’s answer the most pressing questions regarding water filters’ maintenance, no matter the technology they use!
How Long Does a Water Filter Last?
A water filter can last from 1 month to 5 years. It all depends on the type of water filtration technology you use, its size, tech specs, and the quantity of water it filters. Most manufacturers specify the life expectancy of their filters, in months/years, gallons, or both.
However, nobody guarantees you should replace the filter at that exact date. If your family uses more than 100 gallons of water/person/day, you will replace the filters more frequently. Reverse osmosis water filters and whole house water filters usually have longer life expectancies.
The good news is that modern water filters – like water filter pitchers or countertop water filters – also display the time before you need to make the next filter replacement. Some use electronic digital displays, others just simple mechanical displays you need to set on your own. Regardless, you have to change the water filter, the ion-exchange medium, or the AA beads medium when the time comes. Otherwise, you will have some problems.
What Happens If You Don’t Change the Water Filter?
As you use your water filter, it wears out, either we talk about carbon filters, RO membranes, or UF hollow fibers. As the system loses its capacity to filter the water efficiently, you will first notice that your water starts to smell and taste bad again. You may also see impurities in the water, channeled by the filter overloaded with sediment, pollutants, and contaminants.
If the water starts to smell bad, imagine what goes on inside the filter. It is now susceptible to bacterial growth, clogging, and malfunctions. You may ignore such problems in a water filter pitcher, thinking that you can always change the filter when you have the time, money, or disposition.
However, under no circumstance should you ignore such issues when it comes to whole house water filters, reverse osmosis water filters or water softeners. The damages may be worth thousands of dollars in repairs and replacements.
Can Bacteria Grow in Water Filters?
In some water filters, bacteria can grow and affect the quality and performance of your water filter. Faucet water filters are susceptible to bacterial growth. While some of them can remove lead and chlorine from your water, their small size (that doesn’t allow multiple protective technologies to fit in) makes them an excellent breeding ground for bacteria.
Whole house water filters, reverse osmosis water filters, and many countertop water filters are resilient to bacterial growth. Carbon filters, in general, can block the development of bacteria colonies inside the filter.
How do You Change a Water Filter Cartridge in a Whole House Water Filter?
Usually, water filters come in cartridges that you can replace when the time comes. They feature O-Rings you need to remove carefully. You should have some tools at hand, Teflon tape to avoid leaks, a bucket to collect the water left in the system, and patience. Make sure you turn off the water flow in the entire house – here is where the bypass valve comes in handy. Keep in mind to dispose correctly of the old water filter after you replaced it. Some manufacturers and even retailers collect used filters for recycling or proper disposal.
7 Benefits of Using Water Filtration – An Overview
Before we wrap up this guide on how water filters work and how to choose the best one for your needs, let’s resume why using a water filter is an excellent idea!
1. Improved Water Taste and Odor
Even if you enjoy municipally treated water, it can still have a bad taste and smell from time to time. Most water filters on the market are capable of clearing your water of the contaminants and impurities, rendering your water unpleasant to drink. You can always rely on carbon filters or reverse osmosis water filters to do a great job. Water filtration can deal with the most prevalent and evident water problems, leading to almost immediate positive effects when it comes to water physical qualities.
2. Safer, Healthier Water
Drinking unfiltered water is already a national public health issue, so it is better to consider your options. Imagine how your cooking, bathing, and drinking water will be without chemicals, bacteria, heavy metals, pesticides, rust, and everything else we have talked about in this article. Allow your body to cleanse and use filtered (even mineral) water for your daily needs! Water filters maintain the water you use, cook with, and drink at safer levels than those accepted by water treatment plants or the authorities.
3. You Protect the Environment
It is environmentally friendly to drink filtered tap water than buying plastic bottled water. Instead of using plastic water bottles on the go, you can always carry a filtered water bottle with you at work, at the gym, or wherever you go.
4. Save Money in the Long Run
Some water filters come with hefty investment prices. Most whole house water filters, RO water filters, and water softeners are expensive. However, if you think long-term, you will soon realize that water filters save you plenty of money.
5. Suitable for Children, Elders, and People with Health Issues
Children, elders, immuno-compromised people, people following cancer treatments, and other people with health issues are vulnerable to water contaminants. Lead in the water already made victims, and the bacteria and viruses in tap water affect us all.
6. Good for Pets
Our pets are our family members. If you do not drink water containing heavy metals, bacteria, and chlorine, you shouldn’t give it to your pets either. Animals are even more susceptible to organ damages, hormonal imbalances, and poisoning than humans are.
7. Better Looking Skin and Hair
If you do not use softened water for bathing, a whole house water filter will eliminate enough impurities from the water to offer you soft skin, less frizzy hair, and more durable nails. You will also notice the difference soon enough if you install a shower head filter, for instance.
Water Filtration FAQs
Before we conclude this guide, let’s see some water filtration and water treatment issues that might interest you. People ask us plenty of questions regarding the use and benefits of water filters and are curious about the alternatives they have to condition and treat their water. In the following section, you will find answers to the frequently asked questions we received from our readers.
What is the Difference between Water Filtration and Purification?
You will not likely find 100% pure water anywhere, not even in a bottle. However, you can find and make pure water at home by using certain types of water filters. The most efficient water purifiers are those capable of removing not only large particles but also microorganisms, viruses, bacteria, salts, chemicals, etc.
Among the best water filters that can clean your drinking water towards an ideal level of purification are reverse osmosis water filters, water distillers, and UV filters – with the amendment that they only work against waterborne pathogens. Water filtration is a significant part of a water purification process.
What is a Water Conditioning System?
Water conditioning and water filtration are not the same things. For this reason, we talked about water conditioners only in passing. You can include in the water conditioning category the electronic water descalers and Template Assisted Crystallization System as alternatives to salt-based water softeners.
Moreover, water ionizers are devices able to change the pH levels in your water and make it healthier. Nevertheless, water descalers (electronic, magnetic, etc.), TAC systems, alkaline water machines, and other similar devices do not filter water to the same capacity as ACB/GAC filters, RO filters, UF or AA filters do. When it comes to water filtration vs. conditioning, you should know that conditioners do not remove water pollutants as you would expect them.
What is Water Ionization?
Water ionization (water electrolysis) is the process of separation of water from the alkaline minerals in it by changing the water’s molecular structure. Water ionizers achieve electrolysis with the help of electrical current and metal plates. A water ionizer (an alkaline water machine) produces ionized alkaline water for drinking (with high antioxidant potential) and ionized acidic water (for external uses). Do not mistake water ionization for water filtration, although most alkaline water machines also contain a water filtration stage.
Do Alkaline Water Filters Work?
We mentioned above that water ionization (alkalization) is not water filtration per se. However, most alkaline water machines employ carbon filtration to cleanse the water before they increase/decrease the pH. Alkaline water filters go a great job in allowing you to change the pH of your water. Some machines offer a broad range of possibilities where you can select your pH level from 2 to 13.
What is the Difference between Charcoal and Activated Charcoal?
Activated charcoal – or activated carbon when it comes to water filters – contains charcoal, among other things. The activated carbon in water filters went through a technological process (production at high temperatures) that confers its curative properties.
Activated charcoal is more porous and more absorbent than regular charcoal. While we use regular charcoal for arts, cooking, or odor removal, activated charcoal found its place in medicine and water filtration systems, to name just a few applications.
Are Charcoal Water Filters Safe?
Yes, they are. Even if you may find some carbon powder or granules in your water, they are safe for human consumption. As we said before, activated charcoal water filters are resilient to bacterial growth, so you don’t have to worry about anything.
Do Water Filters Remove Valuable Minerals in Water?
Some do, some don’t. The problem with water filtration versus minerals and other elements in water is when the latter are in excess, rendering your water hard. For this reason, we have conventional water softeners that remove calcium and magnesium from the water, making it soft.
Reverse osmosis water filters also remove all valuable minerals from the water, but they put them back in one of the final stages of filtration. Most RO systems add balanced levels of clean minerals back into your water.
Water distillers also remove the healthy minerals in your water. Unfortunately, these systems do not put back the substances you need for balanced nutrition.
The most popular water filters – activated carbon ones – do not remove healthy minerals and elements from your water.
Water Filtration: Bottom Line
We hope this ultimate guide on how water filters work, water filters, and water filtration, in general, helped you find the best solutions for your needs. The market offers plenty of options when it comes to the best options in terms of budget, sizes, installation, contaminant levels, and so on. In case you have any more questions, feel free to ask us questions and request details!