THE BEST PLACE TO LEARN ABOUT WATER FILTERS & TREATMENT
Why Water Filters Are Very Important
Do you worry that you’re not drinking enough water every day? Maybe you notice a strange odor or taste in your water when cooking food, drinking water, doing dishes, or running a load of laundry.
Whether you need to increase your daily water intake, or you want higher quality water in your home, a water filtration system may be the answer to all your water problems.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll discuss the benefits of filtering water, the different types of water filters, and other important information like how to choose the right filter.
By the end of this guide, you will be able to make an educated and confident decision about water filtration and if it’s the best option for you.
The Benefits of Filtered Water
Few people will disagree when we say that water is essential for life. Even if you don’t drink as much water as you should, you probably recognize the importance of drinking water to stay alive. Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits of drinking filtered water.
Filters Make Drinking Water Safer :
Many of us have water in our homes that is easy to access and is deemed safe by our town or city’s public works department. Water that is technically “safe” may have a bad taste and even chemicals or minerals we don’t want to ingest.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reminds us that water supplies can become unsafe or polluted with microorganisms that can make us sick. We’ve seen extreme instances, like Flint, Michigan, where water supplies were thought to be safe, and residents became very ill.
The water in your home may already be safe but filtering your water can act as a safety net. You can also eliminate the guesswork in wondering if your water is drinkable.
Removes Excess Minerals and Unwanted Metals :
Minerals are an essential part of our daily lives. They are in the food we eat or the supplements we take, but water can contain excess traces of minerals we don’t necessarily need, like extra magnesium.
Copper and lead in your water can cause health problems, particularly in children, so it’s best to avoid ingesting it whenever possible. Without testing your water and keeping a careful watch on your supply, you might not know when or what is in your water. Filtering can help reduce, and possibly eliminate, the health risks associated with drinking water that contains excess minerals or metals.
Reduce Cancer Risks :
Most public water supplies are treated with chlorine to kill harmful bacteria. Research suggests that chlorinated water can increase your risk of certain cancers like colorectal cancer. While studies have mixed results and more research is needed, long term exposure to higher than necessary levels of chlorine may harm your health.
Water filters can help to get rid of the extra chlorine.
Stop Your Dependency on Bottled Water :
It’s not uncommon for people to stock up on bottled water because they hate the way their water at home tastes or they think their tap water is unsafe to drink. Bottled water is undoubtedly convenient, but also wasteful. Even if you’re a mindful and eco-conscious consumer, who recycles your plastic water bottles, a lot of people don’t, and the plastic is going straight to the landfill.
Another reason to rethink your dependency on bottled water is that despite the labeling, you can never be quite sure if the bottled water is any better than what comes from your tap at home. Ditching your bottled water habit can not only reduce your carbon footprint but also save you money in the long run.
Better Taste and Odorless
If you ask someone what water should taste like, most people will say, “nothing.” Although water may have some taste due to natural minerals, water should never have an overwhelmingly noticeable taste.
Depending on where you live and the treatment process of your water, you might taste traces of chlorine or your water may have a faint but foul smell.
High-quality drinking water should be tasteless, odorless, and clear. The right water filtration system can produce such results.
You’re Likely to Drink More Water
When your water is unpalatable, you’re less likely to drink an adequate amount. When people have limited or no access to good drinking water, they are more likely to compensate with juice, soda, and other fluids that have sugar and empty calories.
Great tasting water can help you ditch your soda habit and help you reach the daily recommendation. Staying hydrated and drinking water can help you improve your health overall.
Types of Water Filters
As you can see, filtered water is chock full of benefits, and we probably didn’t mention them all. Before you head to the store and purchase the first filter you find or the most affordable one, it’s essential to look at the different types of water filters. Depending on the quality of your water at home, some kinds of filters may be better suited than others.
Activated carbon, which is also known as activated charcoal, is a common and affordable filter that is often used in water filter pitchers. In its solid state, charcoal doesn’t do a great job of filtering or capturing impurities, but when it’s “activated” it filters effectively.
Oxygen activates carbon filters, which causes tiny pores. These pores catch impurities in the water as it filters out of a faucet or into a pitcher. Not only are activated carbon filters typically more affordable than other filtering options, but they don’t need electricity and are often a portable option. One downside is that carbon filters are not able to filter out minerals and other inorganic compounds.
Reverse osmosis, or RO, is a multi-stage filtration process to ensure effective filtering of impurities. The sediment pre-filter is the first stage and filters out large particles like sand. A carbon filter is the second stage and removes organic contaminants that are often responsible for taste and odor in drinking water. A semipermeable membrane is the final stage and filters out chemical contaminants.
Some reverse osmosis systems have a few additional stages, but the three stages we mentioned are the most common and available in a variety of home systems. Once the water goes through all the filtering stages, the purified water is held in a clean holding area while impurities are flushed away.
Reverse osmosis relies on steady, high pressure to filter water thoroughly and efficiently. If the water pressure is an issue in your household, an RO system may not work as well as you might hope. Another potential downside of this filtering process is that more water is wasted then if you were to use a carbon filtering system. See the best reverse osmosis systems.
An ultraviolet light filtration system is most effective at killing germs but doesn’t necessarily filter out odor, taste, or trace minerals. If you’re in the market for more than one water filtration system, you may want to consider trying an ultraviolet light filter. It’s not designed to filter out everything, but if contaminants are your number one worry an effective filter.
Alkaline water filters are somewhat similar to reverse osmosis because water goes through several different filters to remove impurities from your water. An alkaline water machine increases the pH and alkalinity in your drinking water.
If you have low pH, the water is acidic and may have an unpleasant taste. Low pH levels also indicate that you have heavy metals in your water.
Other Kinds of Water Filters
Other water filters include infrared filters, water distillation, and ceramic filters. Since these kinds of filters are less common for water filtration, we won’t spend much time discussing them.
Infrared filters work similarly to alkaline filters. Ceramic filters have similar features to carbon filters, such as small pores to capture contaminants. Water distillation is an effective way to remove bacteria and contaminants through boiling water, but the process is one of the slowest filtration processes available.
Styles of Water Filters to Consider
Like the other types of water filters, there are many styles to consider before you start filtering your water at home.
Water Filter Pitchers
Water filter pitchers are typically the most common and affordable ways to filter water. Water pitchers come in a variety of sizes from a slim space-saving design that’s ideal for small refrigerators or larger containers with a spigot that are capable of holding gallons of filtered water.
The filter in most pitchers are activated carbon, and since they are a cost-effective option for many households, the filters are often available in bulk. Water pitcher filter cartridges typically last for a few months before they need replacing, but it depends on how much water you filter.
Aside from changing out the filters and washing out the pitcher as needed, filter pitchers are relatively low maintenance.
If you are looking for portable options that are similar in price and style to a water filter pitcher, several “to-go” options make filtering water on the go convenient. Although there are plenty of benefits to using a water pitcher, they are often slow to filter water.
Faucet water filters are easy to use and filter your water as it comes out of the faucet. Like pitchers, the faucet filters need frequently replacing if you filter most of your water for drinking and cooking. The filter is easy to install, and you have control of whether or not you want to filter the water by turning the filter on or off (some styles have slightly different functions).
Most faucet filters use activated carbon, so it can improve taste and odor but not necessarily get rid of all the impurities or bacteria. Faucet filters come in a variety of sizes and styles, but the downside is that it may not fit on your faucet, especially if it has a low design. Another reason why some people opt out of using faucet filters is that they filter water too slowly.
Like faucet filters, countertop filters are easy to install, and they filter water more efficiently. They are also less likely to clog or slow down as quickly as pitcher or faucet filters. A countertop filter sits on your countertop and has a diverter that attaches to your faucet.
The water pressure is better when you use a countertop filter, but it’s not a space-saving design. If you have limited countertop space in your kitchen, this style of filter is probably not your best option. See the best countertop water filter reviews.
Under the Sink Filters
If you like the idea of filtering the water at your sink, but don’t have the counterspace or want to deal with the filter on the faucet, an under the sink filter may be right for you. As the name suggests, the water filter is placed under the sink and filters water out of a separate smaller faucet on your sink.
Under sink water filters do an excellent job of filtering bacteria, odor, taste, and other impurities. One downside to consider is that they often require modifying your sink or plumbing.
Whole House Filtration
Whole house water filtration is a popular choice for homeowners who don’t want individual filters at every faucet. They may also choose a whole house system if the quality of their water is so poor that they want to filter every water source from the shower and bathroom sink to the laundry facilities and dishwasher.
Rather than hooking up at one source of water, like a faucet, the whole house system attaches to the point of entry (POE) where the water enters the home. Whole house filtration systems are the most expensive, but many homeowners with this style of filtration think that the benefits outweigh the initial cost.
Like other styles of water filters, a whole house filtration system may rely on multiple kinds of filters, such as carbon or reverse osmosis. With minimal maintenance, whole house water filtration systems are likely to outlast other types of systems.
Which Filtration System is Best?
One of the most challenging things about choosing a water filtration system is that nearly every filtration company promises that their product is the best. When it comes to the safety of your drinking water and the health of your family, you want to pick the best of the best.
There are advantages and disadvantages to each system, and while one system may work best for a family member or next-door neighbor, it might not be what you need.
While we can’t tell you which type of water filtration system is best for you, let alone what brand or style, we can give you some advice on things to consider before you settle on the best water filtration system for your home.
Things to Consider Before You Buy a Water Filter
Ready to run to the store right now and buy a water filter? Take a little time to consider some of these factors before you decide on a filter.
Choosing the Filter That Removes the Most Contaminants
One of the primary purposes of water filters is to remove contaminants from water. While everyone wants water that’s safe to drink, you might be more concerned with getting rid of the taste of chlorine or a less than pleasant smell.
It’s important to note that your water source may be more or less contaminated than others. So, do you go for the biggest safety net and filter out as much as you can or do you go for the bare minimum? The choice is up to you, but it’s a good idea to know what’s in your water before you settle on a water filter.
If your water comes from a public water supply, you can have access to your city or town’s drinking water “report card.” Call your local government office to find a number to call. If you have a private well, you can purchase test kits to check certain levels of contaminants in your water, like lead or nitrates.
These signs may also indicate that you need to filter your water:
- Cloudy water
- A slimy feeling after washing your hands
- Odors that resemble eggs, fish, or bleach
- Metallic taste
- Water that is anything but clear in color
When in doubt, a water filter is an excellent solution and a filtration system like reverse osmosis, or a whole system will take care of the majority of contaminants, odor, and taste.
Again, if you are looking for a filter that is portable, such as something you can take on a camping trip, reverse osmosis type filters are not portable, but an activated carbon filter can make your drinking water safe to drink.
These can help you remove specific contaminants in water
Which Filter is More Space Efficient?
If you rent an apartment or live in a small home, a whole house filtration system, or even an under the sink system might not be an option for you. Carbon and faucet filters are the most space-efficient options; just make sure you know how often they need replacing for optimum performance.
Aside from space, cost is likely your most significant determining factor in deciding which water filter to buy. Carbon filters, with the pitcher, costs on average about $20. A whole house filtration system can start at over $1,000 and cost upwards to thousands more.
Depending on the size or type of whole house system you’re considering, it can last anywhere from three to ten years. Other types of filters don’t typically last as long.
If cost is a factor for you, you need to weigh the pros and cons, and do a little math to see which filter is the best option for you. You will also need to consider installation costs or if other hardware or equipment is needed to make your system work properly.
A water filter pitcher is as easy as it’s going to get when it comes to installation. You follow the directions on the package, and within minutes you have a filtration system that’s ready to go. Faucet and countertop filters are also relatively easy to install, and you don’t need many tools or skills to set it up.
Some people have no issues with installing an under the sink filtration system, while some prefer to hire a professional to do the installation. Unless you have plumbing experience, a whole house filtration system is best left to professionals.
A water filtration system should be relatively maintenance-free. As long as you follow the recommendations for caring for your water filter, whether you choose a water pitcher or a whole house system, you’re likely to get the most out of the filter.
The maintenance required for your filtration system will have a lot to do with the quality of your water. If you have hard water, your filter system may not work as efficiently as it should until you get a water softener.
Final Thoughts on Water Filters
We’ve given you a lot of information to think about when considering which type of water filter is perfect for your household. Before you go out and purchase a filter, we strongly recommend finding out what’s in your water.
Knowing what might be in your water can help you narrow down your choices. If your water has low levels of minerals and a slight odor, a carbon filter may be enough for what you need at home. You might decide to invest in a UV filter to reduce all chances of drinking contaminated water.
While you can purchase water filtration systems online, never hesitate to shop around in-person and talk to someone who specializes in water filters. They can answer specific questions you have about certain filters. Carefully weighing your options and considering your personal preferences and needs are important when choosing a water filter.
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