Getting the right water filter is essential for optimizing your water safety.
A filter that’s too weak defeats the purpose of using it, but most people don’t need an industrial-level cleaner, either. As we go through our Aquarain water filter review, we’ll look at how this product works and whether or not you should get it.
Aquarain Water Filter Review
This product does not require pipes or electricity to function. At about 13 pounds while empty, it’s also light enough for one person to carry around. While it is large enough to carry quite a lot of water inside, it works best if you use or bottle the water immediately, rather than letting it sit in the tank.
- Competitive pricing
- Durable construction
- The filters last for a long time
- Very slow flow rate
- Requires more maintenance than many competitors
How The Aquarain Filters Work
This unit’s exterior is solid metal, with a simple nozzle at the lower end to release filtered water. This is a basic setup and, assuming you don’t smash the nozzle into anything, it will last an extremely long time.
The part that matters is the ceramic filters, and this product uses three of them to improve the water flow rate. Aquarain uses a three-stage exterior filtration process to purify water as it goes through the filters.
The first step is surface sieving, which prevents any particles over a particular size from passing through the filter. This is the fastest and easiest way to remove many contaminants, and the large surface area helps ensure water can keep flowing even as the exterior pores start to get clogged with debris.
The next filtration stage is a maze-like path where contaminants can’t go straight through the filter but instead get caught in the twists and turns. This maze is dense enough that most particles are caught within 0.005 inches of the surface, and the maze structure is thick enough to last for an extremely long time.
Finally, the filters have a surface charge where particles small enough to get through the maze will cling to the wall. This clinging force is greater than the water flow force, so water won’t dislodge it over time.
Overall, this is a comprehensive and effective filtration process, although there are a few things to note. The most important thing to know about the filters is that you must occasionally clean them with a gentle, abrasive tool to dislodge particles on the exterior and ensure maximum water flow. This slowly reduces the thickness of the filters.
How fast the filters wear down depends on how much you use and clean them, but Aquarain helpfully includes an end-of-life indicator to tell you when it’s time to replace them. They also estimate that you can clean the filters approximately 200 times before replacing them.
The Inner Filter
Everything described above applies to the outer part of the ceramic filters. However, that’s not the only part of the filter that affects the water. The interior has an active carbon filter that uses a process known as adsorption to trap molecules inside of its pore structure.
Active carbon filtering is a common process for water filtration, so this isn’t particularly special or unique for Aquarain’s large water filter. However, it’s also an industry standard and highly effective, and we’re certainly not going to remove any points for products doing the correct thing.
The interior carbon filter for the Aquarain is not replaceable without taking apart the entire filter. However, since active carbon only wears out when it gets clogged with contaminants, the inner filter should outlast the exterior ceramic filter.
The reason for this is simple: since the ceramic filter removes almost all contaminants, there aren’t enough pollutants left to clog up the carbon filter by the time they get to it.
That said, certain particularly abrasive chemicals, such as chlorine or acids, may wear the filters out faster than usual. Consider testing your local water supplies to determine what might impact your use of filters over time.
Aquarain Water Flow Rates
The Aquarain water filter is not a fast filter by any stretch of the imagination, and that’s one of the notable weaknesses of this product.
To be fair, this isn’t entirely their fault. For consumer-level goods, the better the purification is, the slower it tends to be. This is particularly true with gravity powered systems that don’t have any way to speed the water flow but still want to provide the cleanest possible water flow.
As Aquarain itself explains, their system filters about one gallon of water per hour while the tank is mostly full. They recommend keeping the upper vessel as full as possible, refilling it as often as every 15 minutes while you’re trying to purify water. The science behind this is simple: The weight of the water above helps push other water through the filters.
As this flow-rate suggests, the Aquarain filter is not suitable for immediate, on-demand filtered water. That said, you can filter water ahead of time to use as needed, in which case its flow rate is basically irrelevant. It’s still a drawback for the system, but not a deal-breaker on its own.
The manufacturer recommends filtering about 12 gallons of water through new, dry filters before they reach their maximum flow rate. They suggest filling the tank in the evening and letting it run overnight, then adding more water in the morning if needed. We agree that this is the most practical way to use their system, but it brings up another issue.
This unit has a capacity of about three gallons of filtered water. This means you can’t fill up the top with twelve gallons, let it run until morning, and have a new system ready to go. Instead, you’ll need to empty and refill it regularly to optimize the flow rates.
Frankly, given how long it takes to filter the water, we think the capacity is too low. This is especially true given how much water it takes for the filters to start working at their regular speed. While you’ll reach that point sooner or later just by using the system, a higher-capacity tank would be a major benefit here.
Aquarain vs Competing Products
As you can see here in our Aquarain water filter reviews, we think that the system is sound in terms of filtering water, but it has a few issues that prevent it from being a genuinely great filter.
Here’s what we think about some of its competitors:
Berkey Water Filter
The Berkey Water Filter is a faster water filter than the Aquarain system, capable of processing up to 7 gallons of water per hour if you have the maximum number of filters installed. That is wildly faster than Aquarain, and it just goes to show that meaningful speed is possible with systems like these.
This unit is also available in several sizes to fit different needs, rather than the one-size-for-all Aquarain. The smallest version is known as the Travel Berkey, with a capacity of 1.5 gallons. That’s low, but since it’s faster than the Aquarain, it’s still closer to an on-demand system.
From there, it comes in regular (2.25 gallons) and large (3.25) systems, with your choice of two or four filters. The exterior of this unit is stainless steel, which can get a little dirtier than the processed finishes of other water purifiers. However, it’s also easy to clean.
This unit is typically a little more affordable than the Aquarain. When we combine that with a better water flow rate at similar levels of purification, the Berkey filter is fundamentally better than the Aquarain.
Alexapure Pro Stainless Steel Water Filtration System
Not to be confused with Amazon’s Alexa AI system, the Alexapure water filtration system has a similar basic design to the Aquarain, and they’re somewhat similar on the outside. A key feature of this product is its variable number of filters, so you can add more to increase its speed.
Each filter can process about 5000 gallons of water before it wears out, with replacements requiring no priming before use. If you install the maximum of four, that’s 20,000 gallons of filtered water or almost 10,000 refills of the system. If you use it every single day, it will still last you for many years.
While this system is good overall, it will be relatively slow if you’re only using the one filter it comes with. It only shows its full performance with three or four filters, so you’ll need to plan ahead more if you want to save money and stick with just the one.
This stands out from the Aquarain filter mainly because it requires less maintenance to keep functioning. Since you don’t need to scrub the filters in the same way, you can simply put water in and wait.
The Aquarain Water Filter is a decent system with some qualities that help recommend it. However, it’s not quite as good as some competing products in the same price range, so it’s in the awkward position of being not bad, but also not good enough for us to recommend.
Consider getting the Aquarain filter if others are out of stock. However, if you’re looking for a better filter at a competitive price point, try the Berkey or the Alexapure first.