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Water Filter Buyers Guide

How to buy the right water filter for your home or business.

Water Purifier Overview

People have become concerned about the quality of the water they drink, no doubt fueled by reports that in certain areas of the country, dangerous carcinogens have been found in drinking water. Those areas have been linked to abnormally high levels of deaths due to cancer. These fears in turn have fueled an explosive growth in bottled water which is a very expensive, eco-unfriendly and ultimately ineffective solution; we not only drink water, but we cook with it and bathe in it.

Do I need a Water Purifier?

Whether or not you actually need a water purifier depends on two things: firstly, whether you have well water in which the answer is most certainly yes, or secondly, whether you are on municipal treated water, in which the answer is maybe. The true answer to "need" can only be answered if you send off a sample of your water to an independent testing lab. Home test kits are only informative up to a point and will not give you a complete answer. But another consideration is that filtered water almost always tastes better.

How does a Water Purifier Work?

Filtered Water Pitchers
Some of these are very effective and kept in the refrigerator can give you good tasting, chilled water. The problem with these pitchers is if used by an entire family, they can cost you too much money in replacement filters. But if you ever wanted a place to start just to convince yourself that purified water tastes so much better than what comes out of the tap, buy a filtered water pitcher.

Faucet Filters
These are very simple to install but will usually only fit on a standard faucet and not decorative faucet. These are most often used on kitchen faucets. They will cover both drinking and cooking water, but the filters can become saturated very quickly, making these an expensive option.

Shower Filters
The skin is a very effective part of the body for absorbing contaminants. Therefore, many people prefer to enjoy a chlorine-free shower, which, together with the removal of other contaminants, find that their hair and skin are softer, and they no longer get skin rashes. Filters can last six to twelve months.

Counter Top Filters
These will fit on a counter top if you have enough space, require no plumbing changes, and you can filter a larger quantity of water once the aerator on your faucet has been removed. They are also easily portable if you do not own your own home. We would recommend this kind of water filtration to most people.

Under The Counter Top Purifiers
For decluttering the counter top, using additional multiple specialized filters, and larger long lasting filters, an under the countertop water purifier will be your choice. This is a more expensive option as it requires drilling a hole in the counter top for the water dispensing tap. It also requires plumbing hook up and depending on your DIY capabilities, a plumber might be needed for filter changes.

Ultra Violet Filters
These use UV radiation to kill water borne organisms which is particularly needed in third world countries. In most places in the USA this is a nice added feature and is very popular for helping treat well water.. Ultra violet also has the disadvantage of warming your water, so that when it comes out of the tap it is warm and then needs refrigeration to taste good.

Whole House Water Filters
We are great fans of whole house water purifier systems as they filter all of the water in your house, are inexpensive to run after the initial installation (about 2 hours of plumbing time) and the filters need changing once every few years. You will also need a pre-filter, but these are inexpensive and easy to change.

Reverse Osmosis ("RO") Filters
These are best reserved for high contaminant areas since the production of purified water is very slow. In RO systems, water is forced through a semi-permeable membrane that filters out a wide range of contaminants such as arsenic, nitrates, sodium, copper and lead, and fluoride added by your municipality. They can be more effective than ultraviolet filters in removing bacteria and viruses. RO systems also remove all of the good tasting and healthy minerals in your water, which then need to be added back afterwards.

How to Choose A Water Purifier

  • For the safety of your drinking water, you most likely need to choose a carbon block type of filter which primarily absorbs chemicals which improves taste and reduces odors. The smaller the number, the better the filter. We highly recommend the water filter to be certified by NSF International (nsf.orgChoose a brand of water filter that removes the widest range of contaminants - that is the easiest route to protect yourself. For a complete list of harmful contaminants that could be found in water, go to nsf.orgChoose a reputable manufacturer who has a good track record and who will give you a "no questions asked" refund, if, for some reason, you are dissatisfied.
  • Look at the warranty on the housing. A stainless steel housing, being impervious to cracks, will give you very good longevity.
  • Consider the cost of replacement filters VERY carefully. This is where most manufacturers make their money.
  • After having had your water independently tested, decide if you want to target specific contaminants. Most likely at the very least you will want to remove chlorine which has been used by your municipality to disinfect your water (but it is carcinogenic) and its by-products.

How to Use a Water Purifier

Water purifiers after initial installation are simple to use with the exception of a Reverse Osmosis system where the membrane needs cleaning. Just turn on the tap and go!

Where to Use a Water Purifier

You can use a water purifier on faucets, on shower heads, under the counter and in pitchers. The long term and most cost effective solution is a whole house system.

Water Purifier Features

Water Purifiers are simple devices. The big challenge is deciding how far you want to go with water filtration with choosing point of use devices or whole house solutions. Here are some additional filters you might want to consider adding to your basic carbon filter. Usually no more than two additional filters are added.

  • Fluoride filtration: Fluoride is a common constituent of many minerals. Municipal water treatment plants commonly add fluoride to the water for prevention of tooth decay, and they try to maintain a level of 1.5-2.5 mg/l. The filter elements are designed to reduce fluorides in drinking water.
  • VOC filtration: 100% coconut shell carbon filter. Removes free chlorine and organic chemicals and specifically designed for use where sediment is an issue and taste and odor problems may be present.
  • Nitrate filtration: Most nitrates that occur in drinking water are the result of contamination of ground water supplies by septic systems, feed lots, and agriculture fertilizers. Nitrate filters will remove essentially prepared 100% of all nitrates and sulfates from drinking water for approximately 7,500 ppm.
  • Arsenic filtration: Designed to reduce arsenic in drinking water to safe, drinkable levels. These are effective at removing arsenic at a wider range and requires little or no pH adjustment of the raw water. [Andy Eide] Arsenic III can't be filtered out. Arsenic IV can be filtered.
  • MTBE filtration: Methyl-tertiary-butyl-ether (MTBE) is the most common fuel additive used in gasoline. In drinking water, even trace amounts of MTBE can cause taste and odor problems. The M-1 granular used in the filter significantly exceeds the capacity for MTBE than that of standard activated coal-based carbon, thus reducing the threat of MTBE in drinking water.