Welcome to WaterFiltersAdvisor, your ultimate stop point for anything and everything there is to know about water filters. You may be thinking “how much can there really be to learn?”
Don’t worry though; there’s no need for you to become a plumber in order to get a handle on your home water supply. We here at WaterFiltersAdvisor have done that for you! Before you jump in, we’ve written up a handy article that will give an introduction to the world of water filters. Let’s take a look at a breakdown of the ideas and terms that we consider in our reviews and buying guides.
There are many different types of water filters on the market. They can each be categorized into one of two types of filter; Point-of-Entry (POE) or Point-of-Use (POU). Let’s examine both, as well as taking a look into portable filters, and some FAQs.
- Point-of-Entry Systems
- Point-of-Use Systems
- Portable Water Filters
- Frequently Asked Questions
- 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?
- Do Water Filters Remove Valuable Minerals in Water?
- Is Filtered Water Better than Bottled Water?
- Are Home Water Filters Worth It?
- Bottom Line
Point-of-Entry (POE) water filter systems are large systems installed near your home’s main water supply. They filter all the water entering your home, before it reaches the faucets.
POE systems come in wall-mountable units, or massive casing and tanks combinations. They’re commonly installed before your water heater, so they can deliver both hot and cold filtered water to every fixture in the house.
As mentioned above, these units are large, and require plenty of space. They do have a higher cost, but are worth the benefits. POE systems are capable of filtering thousands of gallons of water per day, every day, for a continuous supply of clean water directly from your faucets. The actual installation may require a plumber, but after that these systems require relatively little maintenance. For some units, you only need to replace a cartridge just once a year.
POE systems are great for removing sediment, rust, chlorine, some bacterias, and hard minerals from your water. This will keep all of the water in your home at a baseline level. For maximum filtration, you can use your home filtration systems with additional filtration units. These can include pre-filters, water softeners, and other point-of-use filtration systems.
Below, we’ve listed the two main types of POE filtration systems.
1. Whole House Systems
The most common POE filters are whole house water filter. As the name suggests, these are filters for your entire home. These filters use different methods and processes to filter all the water in your home.
In most whole house filter systems, the first stage “screens” your water. This is the process of removing sediment and large particles through a physical screen or mesh. After this, different filters follow different processes, such as carbon filtration, to remove chlorine, chemicals, some pollutants, and other small particles.
2. Water Softeners
Water softeners are units that filter out hardness from waters. They target elements, such as calcium and magnesium, that are most responsible for producing hard water.
To do this, softeners use a chemical process of known as ion-exchange. This process replaces the “hard” molecules (usually calcium and magnesium) with sodium chloride. Once the system captures these elements, it flushes them out down the drain. The “softened” water that is left is then circulated through the house. Soft water feels much more pleasant on the skin, and protects your pipes, plumbing, faucets and fixtures, and appliances from corrosion and mineral scaling.
Some consumers do question how eco-friendly water softeners are. The release of saltwater back into the system is problematic, to say the least, as is the amount of water they waste during the process. It is a personal choice for each homeowner to decide whether the benefits of a water softener outweigh the drawbacks.
If you do decide to invest in a water softener, such devices need space, and a plumbing specialist for installation. You will also need to stock on water softener salts, to keep the system functioning.
Point-of-use(or POU) systems differ from point-of-entry filters in that you can install POU filters at every fixture. Some of the most common POU systems are found in the kitchen. These include countertop water filters or filters attached directly to the sink. POU filters deliver some of the best and cleanest water you can have in your home. Depending on the technology, these filters can remove a variety of contaminants, such as sediment, chlorine, heavy metals, toxins, and even bacteria and viruses.
POU systems come with plenty of advantages. They are easy to install, affordable, and practical. Most units fit in the majority of kitchens, and attach directly onto most standard faucets and fixtures.
Here are five POU filters you can rely on to have clean water in your home.
1. Under-Sink Systems
Most under-sink filters feature reverse osmosis technology and multiple stages of filtration to produce clear, delicious drinking water. Many also include a re-mineralization step that delivers balanced mineral water to your tap. These durable and affordable systems are very convenient in terms of space, ease of installation and maintenance, and performance.
Some under-sink filters are sizable enough that they need special room set aside under the sink. Some users also install them in adjacent kitchen cabinets or mount them on the kitchen wall.
Since most under-sink use reverse osmosis technology, you need to consider the following when browsing for a system:
- Wastewater vs. clean water ratio – If this ratio is anything other than 1:1, you may consider doing more research on the unit. This ratio means that the system requires more than one gallon of water to produce one gallon of filtered water. Later down the road, this could present a budgeting or waste issue.
- Installation – Some units require help from plumbers or professionals for installation, maintenance, or repairs. Others are relatively simple to install and maintain, and you can DIY.
- Calculate cost of replacing the filters – Most under-sink filters have long filter lives. But you will still need to replace the filter cartridge at least once or twice a year. Keep in mind that cartridge prices vary widely.
Under-sink water filters are among the most popular systems available on the market. Many consumers love the convenience and ease of having fresh mineral water for cooking and drinking straight from the tap.
2. Countertop Filters
If you do not have enough space to install a filter under your sink, a countertop filter can be another great option. Most models fit onto standard faucets. There are also some manufacturers that include matching taps in the package.
Countertop water filters usually use sediment- and carbon-filtration to remove dirt, silt, rust, some chemicals, pollutants, and heavy metals from your water. They also improve the taste and odor of your drinking water.
Other benefits include ease of installation, simple operation, and effective filtration, all at generally low prices. You may need to replace the filter cartridge monthly or a few times a year, depending on the system, but cartridge replacement is generally very straightforward.
3. Faucet Filters
Under-sink filters and countertop filters are not always the ideal choice, especially for renters or those without the space or budget. If this applies to you, another great alternative is a faucet filter. You can install and use these systems in the same minute, and take them with you when moving.
Faucet filters use sediment filtration and absorption to solve issues like subpar water taste, color, and smell. These filters require low maintenance, and have great filtration capacity and moderate lifespans. They are also eco-friendly, as they do not consume more water than they produce.
When choosing a faucet filter, be sure look for models that won’t interfere with your current water pressure and flow.
4. Shower head Filters
We’ve covered several ways to filter your drinking water. But, what about the water that you bathe in? Shower filters are a great way to avoid soaking your skin in minerals, bacteria, chlorine, or chloramines.
The best shower head filters can remove a handful of contaminants and reduce the impact of chlorine on your skin. Some even add some beneficial elements, which can help create stronger nails and smoother skin and hair.
Most shower filters are easy to install and require little maintenance. There are many different types of shower filters, which target different issues. Some are meant to improve the quality and hardness of your water, while others filter out chlorine. Some options focus on transforming your home shower into a spa-like luxury experience! With all the varieties of filters available, you’re sure to find the right fit for your shower needs.
5. Refrigerator Filters
Another specific type of water filters are refrigerator water filters. As the name suggests, they go inside your fridge and deliver fresh drinking water. Newer refrigerator water filters use adsorption technology for filtration, which quickly solve problems with taste and odor. They can also reduce chlorine and other contaminants.
The only issue with refrigerator units is that you do have to match the filter type to your refrigerator perfectly. Many filters are brand-specific or OEM, but models that fit a wide variety of refrigerator brands can be found.
Portable Water Filters
You can also enjoy the taste of clean drinking water on the go. Portable water filters are great for outdoor activities and long road trips. There are many different types of portable filters on the market, each with their own purpose and different methods.
Here are four types of portable water filters available.
1. RV Water Filters and Softeners
RV water filters do a great job of filtering out chlorine, pollutants, sediment, metals, and other contaminants. Most use adsorption or reverse osmosis technology, and work just the same as a home filter. You can also find RV water softeners to go with your filter.
2. Water Filter Pitchers
Water filter pitchers have been a common sight for years. But did you know that now, new filtration technologies allow for more options when choosing filter pitchers? Most models will remove chlorine and sediment from the water, but some can even filter out heavy metals and harsh chemicals. Others even produce mineral, alkaline, or contaminant-free water.
The best water filter pitchers feature advanced adsorption filtration, long filter lives, generous volumes, affordable replacement filters, and low prices. As well, one water filter pitcher can replace hundreds or even thousands of plastic bottles a year.
3. Filtered Water Containers
No option is more portable than a filtered water container.
You can carry such filters in your purse or backpack and take them everywhere. Most filtered water bottles and other outdoor accessories can remove some harsh chemicals, heavy metals, toxins, bacteria, and viruses. Here are some of the most popular options:
- Filtered water bottles: Take with you all the latest filtering technologies on the go.
- Alkaline filtered water bottles: Modify your water on the go. Adjust pH levels and add good minerals to your water.
- Backpacking water filters: Great for sightseeing trips, camping, hiking, or survival preparedness.
- Gravity Water Filters: These filters remove some of the most dangerous water pollutants and contaminants. They are another excellent choice for outdoor, preparedness, and survival enthusiasts.
Of course, you can keep a few portable water filters and accessories around the house just in case. They are great for a quick fix, but they won’t cover the needs of an entire family living in a large house.
4. Water Distillers
Distillation is one of the oldest forms of filtration. Water distillers generally use high volumes of heat to kill bacteria. This method does a great job of removing chemicals, toxins, or bacteria from your drinking water. Distillers also come in different sizes for your convenience. However, some can only treat small volumes of water, and most need time to complete the lengthy distillation process.
Frequently Asked Questions
Before we conclude this guide, let’s take a look at some filtration and treatment issues that might interest you. People ask us plenty of questions about the use and benefits of water filters. In the following section, you’ll find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we receive from our readers.
What is the Difference between Water Filtration and Purification?
Water filtration is a part of the purification process. You will not likely find 100% pure water anywhere, not even in a bottle. However, pure water can be manufactured by using certain types of filters. The most efficient filters 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 are reverse osmosis filters, distillers, and UV filters with the amendment that they only work against waterborne pathogens.
What is a Water Conditioning System?
Water conditioning and filtration are not the same things. Filters always remove contaminants, and some add beneficial elements. Conditioners always add beneficial elements, but not all of them remove contaminants. For this reason, on the site we talk about water conditioners only in passing. Types of water conditioners include: electronic water descalers, Template Assisted Crystallization System, salt-based water softeners, and water ionizers.
Nevertheless, water descalers, TAC systems, alkaline water machines, and other similar conditioning devices do not filter water to the same capacity as ACB/GAC filters, RO filters, UF or AA filters do.
What is Water Ionization?
Water ionization (or electrolysis) is the process of separating alkaline minerals from water by changing the water’s molecular structure. Water ionizers achieve electrolysis with the help of electrical current and metal plates. A water ionizer (or alkaline machine) produces ionized alkaline water for drinking (with high antioxidant potential) and ionized acidic water (for external uses). Don’t mistake ionization for filtration, though most alkaline machines also contain a filtration stage.
Do Alkaline Water Filters Work?
As we mentioned above, ionization (alkalization) is not filtration per se. However, most alkaline machines employ carbon filtration to cleanse the water before they increase/decrease the pH. Alkaline water filters allow you to change the pH of your water. Some machines offer a broad range of possibilities where you can select your pH level, anywhere from 2 to 13.
What is the Difference between Charcoal and Activated Charcoal?
Activated charcoal is more porous and more absorbent than regular charcoal. While we use regular charcoal for arts, cooking, or odor removal, activated charcoal is more useful in medicine and filtration systems.
Do Water Filters Remove Valuable Minerals in Water?
The short answer is that some do, and some don’t. For instance, water distillers remove the good minerals alongside the harmful ones in your water. Unfortunately, these systems do not put back the substances you need for balanced nutrition.
But, many popular water filters use activated charcoal, which does not remove good minerals and elements when it filters out contaminants. If you are concerned about water nutrition levels, be sure to do research on the type of filter that will best fit your needs before purchasing.
Is Filtered Water Better than Bottled Water?
Generally, filters deliver cleaner water than bottles do. They provide this superior water from the comfort of your own home, without having to spend money regularly on bottled water. Filters also lessen your carbon footprint by eliminating plastic bottle usage.
Are Home Water Filters Worth It?
For many, whole house water filters seem excessive and expensive. But, there are many factors that make a home filtration unit a great investment. Many have found that the benefits of these systems far outweigh the costs. There are many different choices in terms of size, price, and filter type. It’s worth doing research into what type of whole house filtration would be right for you, and exploring the different options before writing them off completely. Of course, Water Filters Advisor is the perfect place to compare and contrast your options! Check out some of our buying guides and reviews to find the best unit for you.
We hope this ultimate guide on water filtration will help you find the best solutions for your needs. The market offers plentiful filter options, for all types of budget, sizes, contaminant levels and so on. It’s just a matter of choosing the best filter to support your lifestyle. If you have any more questions, feel free to ask questions, and we’ll do our best to help you with all of your water filter needs!