Due to the fast-paced modern living, an increasing number of people are looking for ways how to improve and maintain good health on a daily basis. The truth is, with so many things on our mind and activities we have to do, it’s no wonder we often forget or don’t have time to eat, drink water or even sleep.
One of the essentials of healthy living is water. But, could you say that you are ingesting lead-free, healthy and treated water? According to Consumer Reports’ 2019 Water Quality Survey, almost half of the Americans that drink tap water at home say that they filter or boil it first.
If you are on a quest to find the best water purifying option, I am sure, you simply don’t know where to start as there are so many things you need to take into account and there are so many factors that can influence your decision-making process. To help you on this journey, we decided to lay out everything you need to know about water, water filtration, types of filters available for you and your home as well as the benefits purified water can bring to you and your healthy lifestyle.
So, let’s begin!
What Chemicals Are in Your Water
Water is essential for human survival. Although tap water is most accessible and affordable for us to drink on a daily basis, it is now common knowledge that it is contaminated by thousands of unregulated chemicals. As a matter of fact, according to one study conducted by the New York Times, from 2004 to 2009, 62 million Americans have been exposed to highly contaminated tap water that has unquestionably had an adverse impact on their health. So let’s see which pollutants can be found in tap water:
- Week killers
- Rocket fuel
- Industrial solvents
- Car emissions
- Runoff chemicals
- Flame retardants
- Personal care products
- Chemical fertilizers
- Heavy metals (lead, mercury)
As you can see, this is quite a long list of water additives that do nothing but harm to our body and health. While some people might say that these pollutants can’t do much damage because they are found in small quantities, there is now a growing body of evidence that is pointing to the reality that they are terrible and can lead to severe consequences.
There has been a significant rise in health issues and serious illnesses like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and a variety of autoimmune conditions and there is a good reason why this is the case. While our genetics hasn’t changed over the years, our living conditions, environment and lifestyles have experienced some major changes. Most of today’s illnesses and diseases are caused by the contaminators found in the tap water. But, it’s not just pollutants that we need to focus on. Deliberately added fluoride is also raising concerns across the globe, as the scientists have proven that tap water treated with fluoride was connected with increased rates of bone fractures and dental problems. Staggering fact, isn’t it?
So, where to start? The first thing you need to do is to change your perspective and change your water drinking habits. Regardless of where you live you need to know what kind of water you are drinking and what kind of substances can be found in it. Did you know that every year, your local water utility sends you a water report that most of the people just throw away because they, at that moment, do not see the significance of that information? However, in this report, you can see all the substances found in the water you drink, from regular minerals to all the pollutants. So, if you haven’t had a chance to read this report, you can get it online or you can simply call your water utility and supplier to learn more. Besides this report, it would be a good idea if you could run your own water test. You can either ask a local state department to do it for you or drop by a home improvement store. In this way, you will know exactly what makes your water polluted and why you need to do something about it.
One of the ways you can be sure you are drinking clean water is to start using filtered water. The best thing about filtered water is that it removes the excess salts, suspended particles and microbes and retains only essential vitamins and minerals. Naturally, it removes all the contaminants found in the water too. With so many options to choose from on this ever-increasing market, it’s no wonder most of you are at a loss as to where to start when searching for the right water purifier. From a variety of specifications and different types of filers to technologies used and different filter sizes, there are many things you need to take into account when choosing the one that will meet your needs.
To help you in your decision-making process, we have laid out all the things you need to know about water filters so that you can choose the one that will perfectly meet your needs.
Why Do We Need a Water Purifier?
If you are still in doubt whether to use filtered water or not, take a look at this list of major reasons why filtered water should be an essential component of everybody’s daily routine:
- Taste – One of the things that should definitely change your mind is the taste of filtered water versus the taste of tap water. To test this, simply go to the closest store and buy bottled water. You will instantly see how bad your tap water tastes. As a matter of fact, there are people who choose to use water filters, not for health reasons but because they like how tapped water tastes.
- E Coli – Escherichia Coli is the bacteria found in tap water that can cause serious poisoning in its host once it enters the body system. This bacteria may be found in the faecal matter of animals and humans and if your water source comes in contact with this matter, there is a high probability you will ingest it. However, as most people rely on un-filtered rainwater as a primary drinking source, there is no need to be afraid of ingesting this bacteria as most people will not have an issue with it. Still, to make sure you drink the purest water possible, it’s always the best option to rely on filtered water.
- Fluoride – According to the research conducted by the prestigious medical science journal, fluoride is responsible for “cocktail of neurodevelopmental disabilities, including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia, and other cognitive impairments.” Also, many studies point out that brain damage is caused by fluoride found in water. Finally, the New Zealand Supreme Court ruled that fluoride in water is “in breach with human rights”.
- A variety of chemicals – Aluminium sulphate, Liquid Chlorine, Calcium Hydroxide, Fluorosilicic Acid, Sodium Silicofluoride, Sodium Chloride are some of the chemicals found in water that are the problem in our water supply and a reason good enough to start using the filtered water.
- Birth Control pills, Anti-depressants, and other pharmaceuticals – Again, according to research conducted in America in 2008, many pharmaceuticals including anticonvulsants, antibiotics, sex hormones, mood stabilisers have been found in tap water. This is valuable information as we know that antibiotic resistance is not only due to antibiotics overuse, but also because millions of people are ingesting them on a daily basis through tap water. Also, there are many studies pointing out that the water is laced with tiny amounts of antidepressants including benzodiazepines and anticonvulsants.
- Heavy metals – As we have mentioned above, there are many heavy metals like lead, mercury, and arsenic found in the tap water. Unfortunately, studies claim that there are still high levels of these metals found in the water. So, what’s the problem with these metals and why they are so bad for our health? These metals have been linked to many issues like miscarriage, kidney disease, blindness, memory and learning problems, Lowered IG. This can have a particularly adverse effect on children as their brains are linked to the process of learning and development which is of major importance during the growing up phase.
- Plastics – most people store their water in plastic tanks. In the past, they used to store in metal tanks, but as plastic became more available and cheaper, more people have started using it for water storage. The worst thing about plastic is that phthalates are used for making it. Phthalates can leach into the water they are in contact with, especially when they are heated by the sun. Water filters filter compounds like phthalates making water pure and drinkable.
- Herbicides and Pesticides – The report Pesticides and Groundwater: A guide for the pesticide user states that pesticide contamination has emerged over the last ten years as a major factor that has a significant impact on the quality of the tap water. Basically, once the pesticides get into the groundwater, it is very hard, almost impossible to clean it up. Plus, contamination can last for years and spread over large areas reaching our homes even if we do not live in farm areas.
- Nitrates – Data from EWG shows that nitrates are one of the most common contaminants in our drinking water. As a matter of fact, high levels of nitrates in the water have been linked to developmental defects and have lead to higher cancer rates.
- Chlorine – this substance is a disinfectant, and most people tolerate it if it is used in small doses. However, if ingested in high levels it can be pretty dangerous, causing damage mostly to respiratory organs and eyes. Also, there is an indication that the bladder cancer and rectal cancer are caused by chlorine in the water. Also, it can bind to organic compounds and byproducts, thus increasing inflammation in the body. Despite the bad effect it has on our whole body, it is sadly still used today.
- Glyphosate – Glyphosate is an extremely poisonous substance. Ingestion or inhalation of glyphosate has been linked to some of the most serious illnesses including birth defects, cancer, gut issues and other health issues.
- Pathogenic bacteria – If you are drinking water from a groundwater source, it is more likely you will get a pathogenic bacteria then those people drinking rainwater. This comes from faecal contamination which is going to be much higher in future and from the dead animals that may end up in your water supply. A good water filter would get rid off all bacteria and give you your peace of mind!
Water filtration is the best defence against a number of contaminants like the above mentioned. Plus, water filtration can improve your water’s taste, smell, structure, and odour. Considering the fact of how important water is for our well-being and our body’s function, we should ensure that the water we drink is pure and as fresh as possible. The most efficient way to do that is to use water filtration methods. At the end of the day, we don’t all have a natural spring water source in our house or a backyard and buying bottled water is pretty inconvenient and expensive. So, the easiest solution is filtered water.
To help you get a clear picture of how the water filtration works, we will go over a few essential steps anyone should take when trying to filter their water.
What is a Water Filter Made of? And, How Does it Work?
Fun fact: Did you know that you can survive without food for several weeks because you have stored fat and proteins your body will start using once you stop consuming the food. On the other hand, if your body lacks water, you can suffer serious consequences, and you might be dead in a few days. Around two-thirds of your body is just water. So, considering the immense importance of water, it makes perfect sense why we need to consume purified the water. And, how do we do that? Let’s take a closer look!
Thanks to its molecular structure, water is amazingly good at dissolving things. All of the water keeps circulating through the environment, and this is known as a water cycle. However, by the time it has reached your water tap, it has picked up various substances and nasties.
To know the water you are about to drink, you need to run it through a water filter.
Technologies used in the process of purification are the ones that can eliminate contaminants in the water and make it clean. While some advanced technologies can eliminate some contaminants from the water, other technologies serve in a broader spectrum of contaminants. To get the best results those technologies should be optimised and they must work in a collective manner.
Technologies Used in the Process of Water Filtration
In its core, water filters use two common techniques to remove dirt and other pollutants from the water: Physical and chemical filtration. Physical filtration includes straining water to remove bigger impurities. Basically, a physical filter is a sieve mainly made of thin gauze or a very fine textile membrane. The other method of filtering water is by using a chemical filtration process. Chemical filtration involves passing water through an active material whose role is to remove pollutants as they pass through. The photo below depicts the process of chemical filtration, courtesy of US Department of Energy/National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
Here are some basic technologies used in the process of filtration:
Reverse osmosis is essentially a technology that is broadly used in filtration processes. This technology uses membrane technology to get rid of impurities, dissolved salts from water and germs. The semipermeable membrane helps separate bacteria and chemicals from water. This membrane consists of very delicate pores that permit only water to go through while all other salts, contaminants and other substances that pollute the water are left behind. One of the disadvantages of this technology is that it changes the taste of the water because minerals are also removed from the water.
RO technology is used by only some types of filters which also retain healthy minerals in the water. Keep in mind that you need to clean the membrane frequently and regularly to have it as long as possible.
This particular technology uses ultra-violet light to kill bacteria, germs and other microbes in the water. It consists of a tiny mercury lamp which generates short wave UV radiation. Essentially, water is enlightened by this radiation where these rays diffuse in bacteria and viruses preventing them to multiply. While this purification process kills all the gems they will still remain in the water unless the filter eliminates them. This technology is usually performed along with other filtration methods including reverse osmosis water filters and activated carbon filters.
The process of filtration works in the same way as the sieve. It creates a physical barrier in accordance with a pore size to transit the particles in water system filters. Pore sizes are somewhere between 1 and 10 nm, which can eliminate particles even of a size of protein macromolecules. Sub-micron filtration is the technology that includes micro and sub-micro filters that remove alive or dead bacteria as well as biologically active particles. This technology helps in removing enzymes, colloids, endotoxins, bacteria and other particulates. Generally, in this process, the water flow is either channelised straight through the membrane or cross-flow pattern.
One of the things you need to keep in mind is that filters that have this type of technology must be regularly maintained to assure effective functioning.
Types of water filters
Activated carbon granules are the most common household water filters. Sometimes they are also called active carbon-based on charcoal. Charcoal is a very porous form of carbon, which is made by burning wood in cases when there is a reduced supply of oxygen. Put it simply, charcoal is something between a graphite “lead” in a pencil and a sponge. Its internal surface has many nooks and crannies which use a process called absorption to attract and trap all the water impurities. These impurities include industrial solvents, pesticides, chlorine-based chemicals. On the other hand, charcoal can’t cope with “hardness” such as limescale, heavy metals and other substances like sodium, nitrates, microbes and fluorine. One of the downsides of this type of filter is that, over time, filters clog up with impurities and then have to be replaced which brings additional costs.
The advantages of activated carbon filtration:
- Affordable price and high value (performance-to-cost ratio)
- Great contaminants filtration capability
- Very effective in removing chlorine taste and odour
- Customizable for different designs and applications
- Good water flow rate
- Long filter life
- Retain essential minerals
- Minimal pH level change
- Inhibit bacterial growth
- Easily to be used in conjunction with other filtration technologies for greater filtration
- Doesn’t require a power supply
- Green technology
- No chemical additives
Reverse osmosis is a process that includes forcing contaminated water through a membrane at pressure, enabling water to pass through and leaving contaminants behind. In a nutshell, osmosis separates a concentrated solution from a less concentrated solution using a semi-permeable membrane (this kind of membrane allows some substances to pass while other substances remain). In this way, solutions rearrange themselves so that they are both kept at the same concentration. To help you understand this process more clearly we will try to explain it through an illustrative example.
Imagine that you have a sealed glass bottle full of very sugary water and you place this bottle in another glass jug full of water with less sugar. In this case, nothing will happen. However, what if the bottle is a kind of a porous plastic through which water (but not the sugar) can travel? Basically, what happens is that the water from the jug moves through the plastic into the bottle until the levels o sugar are equal on both sides. So, water moves to the bottle under pressure, to be more precise, osmotic pressure.
So, now we have explained osmosis. But what has reversed osmosis? For instance, if you take contaminated water and force it through a membrane under pressure to make clean purified water, this means that you are making the water go in the opposite direction to which regular osmosis would generally make it travel. In other words, in reversed osmosis, we are moving from a more concentrated solution to a less concentrated solution. Since you are using a reversed process, where the water is going in the opposite direction to its natural flow, contaminated water goes through the membrane under pressure which requires additional energy. This is where electric power pumps play a major role. While reversed osmosis is an excellent solution when it comes to removing some pollutants like limescale, salt, nitrates, it is not so effective at removing other substances like some bacteria for example. In the graph below, you can see how reversed osmosis actually look like in practice. In a nutshell, a blue pipe which is unfiltered water is pumped into a purification unit which is represented by a grey pump and then it passes through a yellow pipe, a semi-permeable membrane, which, in this case, is made of cellulose acetate. Clean water flows through the red pipe and impurities go away through a green pipe.
The advantages of reverse osmosis filtration:
- Offer the strongest filtration against the majority of contaminants found in water
- Able to remove or significantly reduce dissolved solids, iron, calcium, lead, cysts, mercury, bacteria, and more contaminants
- Produced the purest and cleanest drinking water
- Extra-long lifespan RO membrane (2-3 years) due to being washed constantly
- Low total dissolved solids (TDS) value of filtered water
If you want to soften the water, that is, if you want to remove limescale, there is one particular technique you can use called ion exchange. These filters are designed in a way to split apart the atoms of contaminated substance in order to make ions (electrically charged atoms with a very few or too many electrons). Once they trap those ions, they start releasing some other ions of their own. In other words, they start exchanging “bad” ions for ‘good” ones, thus purifying the water.
How do these filters work? They are made of zeolite beads which contain sodium ions. Hard water contains magnesium and calcium compounds and when you pour it into the ion-exchange filter, the compounds split apart thus forming magnesium and calcium ions. By trapping magnesium and calcium ions, these filters release their own sodium ions which replace them. This creates a softer taste which appeals to many people. Be mindful that sodium is again another type of a contaminant, which means that the end-product of this process is not a fully clean and purified water (sodium can even damage consumers’ health, especially with those people who are on low-sodium diets). Also, with this kind of water filter, you need to recharge the filters periodically with more sodium ions, by adding a special kind of salt (in a nutshell, this is why we use salt for dishwashers – salt softens dishwasher’s water and helps prevent the creation of limescale which can further damage the dishwasher).
Pros of Ion Exchange Filters:
- Relatively low initial setup cost
- Good flow rate
One of the easiest ways to purify water is to simply boil it. However, heated water cannot destroy various chemicals, limescale and contaminants. Unlike an ordinary boiling, distillation is a process that goes one step further – while boiling the water, you get the steam which you then capture and condense it back into a separate container. Taking into account that water boils at a lower temperature than some heavy metals it contains, these remain behind as the steam separates away and boils off. However, there are contaminants that boil at lower temperatures than water which means that that they evaporate with the steam. This means that they aren’t removed by the distillation process.
According to the report titled ‘Health Risks From Drinking Demineralised Water‘ done by The World Health Organisation, distilled water leads to the loss of electrolytes in the body and increased diuresis – dehydrating the body. So If you are consuming distilled water, you must supplement with minerals such as potassium, magnesium and calcium.
The advantages of water distillation:
- Strong water purification
- Remove the majority of contaminants found in water
- Able to remove dissolved solids, excess minerals, and bacterial
- No filter cartridge replacement needed
Ultra Violet (UV) filters
In this technique, UV light is passed on the water to kill bacteria and other pollutants by attacking DNA in cells. An interesting fact is that UV light kills almost 99% of pesticides, so this is a highly effective technique. However, by using ultraviolet filters you cannot remove suspended particles, smell, taste and colour. On a daily basis, it can purify up to 2000 litres.
Pros of UV Water Filters:
- Sterilises water – killing any pathogenic bacteria, viruses and cysts.
- Great for rainwater and groundwater sources that may have come into contact with animal wastes etc
The ceramic filters are made in a shape of hollow cylinders usually made of clay mixed with materials like coffee husks, sawdust, rice husks. These filters have small-sized pores inside of them which they use to drain out bacteria. This technique removes E.coli bacteria and chlorine up to almost 99%. Also, it has a safe storage capacity which prevents water from getting recontaminated.
This filter is a plastic box filled with layers of gravel and sand which remove both suspended solids and pathogens from contaminated water. Since this filter cannot remove most of the chemicals, water should be free from dangerous chemicals before it is poured into the top of the filter and collected in the safe storage container. Most of the substances that cause infection to grow in the top 2 cm of sand which is called biolayer. These microorganisms eat away the pathogens in the water which significantly improves the quality of water. It can filter 12-18 litres each batch.
Oxidation/Reduction (REDOX) Copper/Zinc Filters
This particular technology has many names, including copper zinc water filtration, KDF (kinetic degradation fluxion media) and many others.
Basically, copper and zinc create an electrochemical reaction during which electrons are transferred between molecules allowing for new elements to be created. Ultimately, some of the dangerous contaminants are changed into harmless components. For instance, chlorine is changed into water-soluble chloride which is then further carried through the water. Plus, heavy metals like mercury, lead copper and others are effectively removed from the water. All in all, this technique can significantly remove iron, heavy metals, chlorine while decreasing the amount of some of the inorganic contaminants.
How to Choose the Right Water Filtering Solution That Will Meet Your Needs?
With so many options on the ever-increasing market, choosing the one that will have all the features you need is not an easy task. While each of them is designed to remove contaminants in the water, not all of them can remove all of the pollutants that exist in the water. Here are a few steps you need to take to find the right water filtration solution:
- Test your water – Before you even begin searching for the right water filter, you need to check the quality of your water, and there are a few ways you can do this:
- Using a water test kit – When talking about how polluted the water we consume is, we are actually referring to the number of contaminants in the water and this is exactly what we are trying to determine. Besides the containants we mentioned above, you should also consider Ph value because this also influences the quality of water. All in all, before you start searching for your water filtration solution, you need to know what you are looking for, and what you would like your water filter to do. For instance, while chlorine changes the taste, hard water can lead to scale buildup. Also, pesticides and nitrates are dangerous for your health and acidic water can speed up corrosion. A water quality test kit can be easily found in a local retailer. These kits usually contain separate strips for hardness, chlorine, pesticides, nitrates, and Ph, heavy metals. They will change their colour based on the water’s contaminant content. Make sure you avoid test kits with only one strip as these may only help you determine water’s Ph level. Ensure that you read all the steps you need to take on the instruction of the test kit. The instruction will help you gain an insight into how much you will have to expose strips to water, how warm the water should be and how to interpret the colours. Once you have read all the instructions carefully, you are ready to proceed with testing the water. Take one strip and keep it submerged for the appropriate amount of time. Next, remove the strip from the water and shake off any excess water from it. Wait some time to pass by before you compare the strips to the colour chart. Finally, you are ready to determine your water’s quality. Each strip you use will have multiple indicators. The colour will determine whether the number of contaminants will have an adverse effect on health. If any of the substances found in water are harmful, do perform the test once again to eliminate the possibility of human error.
- Using your own sensory system – Your senses are of big help when it comes to determining how polluted your water is. Even professionals who have a wide knowledge of water and its pollutants sometimes use their own personal sensory system to examine the water quality. However, be mindful that this kind of technique is not as accurate as the one with a test kit. You can check the quality of your water by using three of your senses: Using your taste – when tasting the water, you need to keep in mind not to swallow it if it tastes foul. For example, if your water tastes like metal, this means that there are a lot of minerals or low level of Ph in it. On the other hand, if the water has a strong bleach taste, it might mean that it has a lot of chlorine, and, finally, if the water tastes salty it might mean that there are a lot of sulfates and chlorine ions in it. If you realise that one of these compounds is probably contained in the water, this might mean that there is industrial or irrigation damage somewhere. Using your sight – besides tasting the water you can also take a look at it to see what colour it is and what structure it has. If there are red, brown or orange particles, this might mean that there is rust in your pipes or textures. Also, if there are some black particles in the water, they might come from the hose your water runs through. Chlorine can significantly impact the hose and make it frail. Also, white particles indicate a high hardiness level usually caused by an excess of magnesium carbonate. To check this let the water run for a minute or two and then fill a glass with water. If the colour of the water is murky, this means that the water is contaminated which is caused either by upstream pollution or rusty pipes. Also, if you notice a large build-up of minerals or corrosion in your pipes, this means your water source might easily get polluted. Besides checking the pipes, you can look at the toilet bowl and check for the rust or blue stains. Using your smell – finally, to find out if your water is polluted or not, you can simply smell it. Different kinds of smells can indicate different types of contamination. If your water has bleach smell, it means that your local water facility is using chlorine to disinfect the water. If your water smells like rotten eggs, it means that some bacteria have developed inside of it. To check this, pour water into a glass, take it to some other part of the house and wait for a few minutes to smell it again. If your water no longer has the sulfurous smell, it means that it came from your drain. On the other hand, if both hot and cold water has this smell even in a different room, it means that the water probably comes from municipal pipes. Sometimes water can have earthy smell meaning it is a result of decomposition of decay. To check it, fill your glass with water and take it to another room.
- A water quality report – Another way to check the quality of your water is to reach out to the local municipality and ask for a copy of the water quality report. Creating this report is one of the things they need to do, so they will definitely have a copy of it. However, be mindful that this report doesn’t take into account the passage the water goes through.
- Choose according to your situation and preference – Above all, you need to think about what kind of water you really need. Decide whether you want a purifier for the entire water system of the house, or you just want to use it for a drinking water tap. Also, focus on choosing a water purifier according to your current situation. For instance, if you are on a short budget, you may have to sacrifice filtration power for a lower cost. On the other hand, if you have limited kitchen space, you should focus on choosing a smaller size water filter instead.
- Shortlist from a variety of brands on the market – you need to check if your water filtration system’ brand has accreditation. There are acclaimed institutions like Water Quality Association (WQA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) and others that give accreditation to water purifiers. This accreditation serves as a safety mark for consumers. This is usually called Water Filter Performance Certification. In its core, water can be tested and certified according to standards developed by NSF International (NSF), and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). It is based on contaminants reduction in water to below Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) determined by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and different types of filtration technologies are tested by different standards. For example, standard 58 is for a reversed osmosis filtration system, standard 62 is for distillation, and NSF/ANSI standard is for a carbon filter. This product performance purification system is mandatory in some states, while in the majority of other states it is optional. These standards help consumers find out more about the water filtration system they are about to choose for their home. Also, they are highly beneficial for the seller of those systems because they help sellers in their marketing efforts.
- Do an online search – The easiest way to find out more details about different water filtration system brands and their prices is to do an online search and gain insights into all the things you need to know about water purification. One of such websites is Pure Water Guide. Also, make sure you consider your system’s maintenance cost before you finalise.
- Ask questions – Once you step into the store to buy a product, feel free to ask a few additional questions we listed below:
- Is the product accredited by one of the renowned institutions like FDA, WQA, NSF?
- What is the filtering speed of the purifier? (naturally, it is advisable to buy a high-speed purifier that ensures a good flow of the water)
- How often do I need to clean or change the sediment filter/membrane?
- What free services does the company offer and what is the warranty on the parts of the machine?
How to Choose a Water Filter That Will Meet Your Needs
When choosing your water filter, there are a few factors you need to consider. For instance, you have to think about the results you want to achieve, your available budget and the results of water testing.
1. Types of filters
Depending on your budget and preferences, there are a few types of filters you can choose from:
- High budget choice – if you have a decent budget and are ready to invest in your water filter, you can always go for a high-budget solution which is large and powerful enough to remove minerals that make your water hard and produce enough soft water for your house. This kind of water won’t create limescale and will make your hair and skin look fantastic.
- Limescale deposits – there are filters that can help you get rid of limescale easily and quickly. These types of filters can either be low budget or expensive ones but will definitely contribute to the quality of your water and help you get rid of limescale.
- Low budget choice – if you are on a low budget, you should opt for an ion exchange filter. This filter will remove magnesium and calcium in the water and exchange them for the sodium particles trapped in its beads. In this way, you will solve your limescale problem which can be quite bothering sometimes. This filter is just what you need to make your water soft and you can find it at quite an affordable price. Also, another advantage of these kinds of filters is that they have a low maintenance cost.
- Medium budget choice – if you are not ready to set aside a large amount of money to buy a water filter but would like to find the one that meets your needs, then the electric water softener is the right choice for you. These are small devices that do not even touch your water. Instead, they fit onto the water feed pipe and purify water in a salt-free way. One of the biggest advantages of these kinds of filters is that they don’t alter TDS, which means that the water still maintains minerals which are of great importance for our health.
2. Taste and Smell of Water
If you are looking for ways how to remove bad taste or odour from your water, there are also several filter options you can choose from:
- High budget choice – If you are willing to invest more money into your filter system, the best filter option you can get is reverse osmosis system. These kinds of systems are the best systems when it comes to purifying water which results in taste and smell-free water.
- Medium budget choice – Ozone water filters. These filters are super-efficient as they are capable of removing most of the pollutants in your water source and bad taste or smell as well. Also, be mindful that depending on the amount of ozone and filters used, the water may absorb ozone smell and taste.
- Low budget choice – if you are on a tight budget, opt for the activated carbon filter. This filtering option was used even by our ancestors, but it has naturally improved and become more advanced over the centuries. Activated carbon comes in various sizes and different capacities. If your focus is to find the best way to remove bad smell and taste from the water, this is ultimately the best, the most affordable and the most effective way.
3. Level of bacteria
Another factor you should consider when choosing your water filter is the level of bacteria that can be found in the water. To get the best results, you should install a filter that is capable of killing bacteria. There are a few solutions you should take into account, depending on your budget of course:
- High-budget choice – if you want to invest some serious money into filters that will successfully get rid of bacteria in your water you should aim for reverse osmosis filters complete with UV light. These filters remove contaminants first using mechanical filters, and then they use chemical filters. After passing through a semi-permeable membrane, the water reaches a UV filter. This process is quite thorough and it produces water that has superior quality.
- Low-budget choice – if you are not planning to invest much money in your water filtration system, you should go for water distillation filters. These filters boil the water and then put the condensed steam into another container. Once the water reaches high temperatures, the bacteria and viruses are destroyed. This is one of the most efficient ways of getting rid of bacteria in water.
- Medium-budget choice – if you are on a medium budget, you should opt for UV filters. These filters are specifically designed to kill bacteria and viruses. Since they are really small, it is easy to install them. However, they need an electric source to work. In this way, the number of bacteria in your water will significantly drop or even disappear depending on the source of your water.
Facts and Statistics about Drinking Water
- According to NAM the recommended daily water intake for an adult male is 3.7 litres and for an adult female is 2.7 litres.
- The research conducted EPA by more than 15 million households in the United State rely on private household wells for drinking water.
- USGS claims that, on average, each person uses about 80 to 100 gallons of water per day.
- According to the research carried out by WHO in 2015 there are estimated 502k diarrhoeal deaths each year due to contaminated drinking water.
- In 2014, the UN conducted a survey on unsafe water. According to the survey, Unsafe water causes more deaths each year than war and all other forms of violence combined.
- FAO points out that agricultural pollution is the most common types of water contamination and the leading source of water degradation.
- According to WHO only 71% of the global population used a safely-managed drinking water service that is free from contamination.
- WHO claims that about 890 million people do not have access to safe water.
- According to the research conducted by Water.org every 2 minutes, a child dies from a water-related disease.
- Unsafe water causes sickness and illness to about 1 billion people every year. (NRDC)
Frequently Asked Questions about Water Filtration system
Here are some of the most common questions people tend to ask about water filters.
How long do you need to replace your water filter cartridge?
This mainly depends on water filter capacity and family usage. For example, for most standard capacity activated carbon filter, you should replace it at least once every year. On the other hand, reverse osmosis membrane filter can last up to even three years because it has a self-wash mechanism which it uses to regularly clean itself. Keep in mind though that Sediment filter like Polypropylene (PP) should be replaced more frequently, from 3 to 12 months time depending on the frequency of usage. In most cases, the filter comes with a certain capacity which lets you know how much water you use on a monthly basis and then calculate the replacement period.
Can a TDS meter measure the Total Dissolved Solids in the water?
No. Although there is a common belief that TDS can help you measure Total Dissolved Solids, it actually does something else. In short, TDS measures the electrical conductivity in water (pure H2O has virtually zero EC), and then times EC value by a factor between 0.5 to 1 (set by the manufacturer) to estimate the TDS (which by definition is not the Total Dissolved Solids in water). For instance, TDS cannot measure dissolved organic solids like sugar and microscopic solid particles (colloids) because they do not have an impact on water connectivity. The most efficient way to measure the actual TDS in water is to evaporate the water and measure what is left.
Is the brand of the water filter important?
No, the brand of the filter is not important but it is advisable to choose a reputable brand in terms of quality, safety and customer support. There are a few things you need to keep in mind when choosing a brand of your water filter: the material of components, the functionality of a filter system and the place where the components are manufactured. Also, make sure you choose a company which has strict material control and quality control measures (for example, US-based manufacturers.)
If the water filter is made in the USA, does that mean it is 100% safe and good?
For instance, a certain company in the USA may have bought low-quality parts somewhere abroad and assembled them in the USA. In this case, the company is allowed to say that water filters were “made in the USA” but this is not a guarantee that those filters are of high quality and that they are considered safe.
Is NSF certification required?
As we have mentioned above, having certificates is not obligatory but it is advisable to have them for all components that are connected to water. NSF, in particular, is a certification system and not a quality system control, which means that it cannot guarantee system control in the long run as well as the quality fo your filter when it is manufactured (considering the fact that thousands of filters are being produced and sent to customers without going through NSF).
How to know that the water filter cartridge system is clogged?
By installing pressure gauges before and after the filter you can measure the pressure drop. If your filter cartridge is new, turn on the water filtration system and write down the difference of pressure reading (for instance 2 psi). Wait for a few months and measure again. You will notice that the pressure difference is increasing, for example to 7 psi. Once the difference of 2 pressure gauges reading reaches about 15, you need to change your filter cartridge (or maybe wash it if it is washable).
What is the ideal Ph level of tap water?
The answer is 7.5. The preferable value is between 7.0 and 8.0 because if the Ph level is below 7.0, acidity may cause corrosion to fixtures pipes and appliances. On the other hand, if Ph is above 8.0, the alkalinity may create mineral deposits both on floors and in pipes.
Common Home Water Filtration Systems
We have discussed different types of water filtration systems. Now we are going to talk about different setups of these purification systems. Essentially, there are a few different types of filtration systems. They can be either for point of use purposes like washing machine, bathroom, kitchen use and many more.
Here are some of the most common water purification systems:
- Water Pitcher
- Faucet Water Filter
- Single-stage under sink water filter
- Single-stage countertop water filter
- Gravity drip water filter
- Multi-stages Countertop water filtration system
- Multi-stage Under sink water filtration system
Let’s take a closer look at these systems:
A water pitcher has only one filter meaning that it is usually an activated carbon filter that consists of activated carbon block of granules and a layer of sediment filter. It has the simplest setup (there is no need for installation, just buy and use it). Also, it is quite light so you can carry it around the house with ease and outdoor as well. If you want cold water, simply put it in the fridge and enjoy it a few minutes later.
Faucet Water Filter
This type of filter is designed for families looking for basic, essential water filtration system which has a continuous water supply. Plus, it has a compact-size body that is attached to the faucet. It doesn’t take up much space and will make your kitchen look neat. Once you install, simply turn on the faucet and enjoy clean drinking water. Read our Faucet Water Filter Reviews Here.
Single-stage Countertop Water Filter
If you want a filter with some basic functions but don’t want to change it that often, single-stage countertop filter is just what you need. It usually comes in higher capacity, allowing longer usage before you actually have to replace the filter.
Single-stage Under Sink Water Filter
When it comes to this type of a filter, most people prefer the under sink water filter setup as countertop space is more precious. If you install the filter and hide it as well as piping and valve in the under-sink area, you will get a more aesthetic look of your kitchen.
Multi-stages Countertop Water Purification System
If you are looking for more advanced water purification systems, you should go for the multi-stages water purification system which has two or more water filters linked together. We have already mentioned that there is no single filter that can remove all the contaminants in the water. If you want to have a better effect and achieve a greater filtration capability, you need to add multiple filters where each of them deals with different kinds of contaminants. However, the more filters you have, the bulkier your system is. So, if you don’t have enough space, just go for an under-sink setup.
Multi-stages Under Sink Water Purification System
The three stages of the under-sink water purification system are the most widely used filtration system for the home. It has a strong filtration capacity which is why they can only occupy under sink space. Here are some of the multi-stages under sink water purification systems: advanced direct flow-through filtration system, the popular Reverse Osmosis (RO) filtration system, RO with alkaline post filter, Ultrafiltration (UF) system, filtration system with ultraviolet (UV) disinfection, and more. These are all multi-stages water filtration system.
Gravity Drip Water Filter
This type of filter is mainly used for outdoor and travelling purposes. Also, if you do not have kitchen access or renting a room with no kitchen this is an excellent solution for you. All you have to do is just to pour the infiltered water in the purification area, wait for a moment and get clean drinking water from a collection area.
Maintaining and Cleaning of Water Filters
While most fo these water filtration systems remain functional even after many years of usage, it is still important to maintain them regularly so that we would have as clean water as possible. Even if your water is clean, it can sometimes have a really odd taste, especially if you have never replaced your filter. Luckily most carafes come with filters that can be changed after some period of time.
Also, besides changing your filters, you need to pay closer attention to the development of algae. Although this is not a common situation, algae growth in your pitcher is a real nuisance and should be taken seriously. To prevent them from growing and causing damage to your filter and pitcher, you need to take preventive measures. For instance, if you notice that some green film is developing in your pitcher, throw out the water and hand wash your pitcher vigorously so that that you remove all the algae. If you don’t succeed, you should read the instructions and learn how to get rid of them.
Also, keep in mind that once you buy a water filtration system, you need to take care of all the other parts as well. How many parts you will have to clean depends on the type of filter system you buy. Besides housing the filter, the lid of each unit may come with several components that control flow rate meaning that they impact the overall performance of your carafe. If you clean your pitcher and filter regularly, you will significantly extend your pitcher’s and filter’s lifespan.
Preparing and Changing the Filter
The most important thing when you buy a water filter is to read the instructions on how it is prepared, used and maintained. Don’t try to prepare it on your own and using your own intuition because you may damage it by mistake. That being said, there are a few things you need to do to prepare your pitcher:
- Flush your filter – Some filters need to be pre-soaked before you start using them. However, new producers have designed modern filters which no longer require you to do that. Still, to be sure that you are doing the right thing, you can always flush your filter for a minimum of 15 seconds under cold water.
- Insert filter – the next step is to carefully insert the filter. In most models, there is a groove in a filter that lines up with a notch or some other marking in the pitcher itself. When inserting it, make sure you push down firmly so as to ensure that it is tightly sealed allowing it to properly reduce contaminants.
- Fill up your pitcher and discard the water – you may find a level of carbon dust in your water, depending on which type of filter you use. While this is completely normal, it would be best if you could use this water to water your plants and not for drinking. We advise you to fill your pitcher three times, and use that water to either water the plants or simply discard it and then use your water for drinking and cooking after a few times.
- Replace your filter – while some of the filters come with reminder stickers or alerts informing you when you need to change them, many others simply don’t state this anywhere. To be sure when you have to replace the filter, the best thing is to check the instructions.
What Are the Benefits of Using Filtered Water?
If you are still having second thoughts about whether to invest and start using filtered water, check out this amazing list of benefits that filtered water can bring you:
Saving money on bottled water
While it is highly practical to drop by a local store and buy a few bottles of water, it is, on the other hand, money-draining. The growing popularity of the fitness industry has had a major impact on water production industry. More and more people started consuming bottled water. However, an interesting fact is that bottled water can be 30% more expensive than filtered water. Whether you are just buying one bottle per day or the entire crate it will still cost you more when compared to the price per litre you receive from a water filter. Also, not only that you save money in the long run, but you also get the water that has a similar taste like bottled water and straight from your tap.
Chlorine is most frequently used to treat water supplies in the UK. Although chlorine is essentially used to remove pollutants from the water, it actually causes a bad odour which makes water unpleasant to drink. There is also a study carried out by the US Council of Environmental Quality according to which cancer risk is 93% higher among the people who drink tap water. Also, according to the World Organisation Health Center, there is an increased risk of bladder cancer among people who consume tap water.
Removing heavy metals
As we have mentioned earlier heavy metals are common contaminants in the tap water. Despite the fact that these metals are found only in small quantities, they can do some serious damage to your health. By filtering your water, you can make these metals disappear.
Due to the fast-paced modern living, most of us frequently forget about drinking water on a daily basis. This can lead to dehydration and various health issues over time. Through filtration, your water quality can be significantly enhanced allowing you to get hydrated more on a daily basis. Again, an experiment conducted in 2010 that was published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that mineral-based alkaline water improves hydration levels by testing it with a group of who consumed it over a period of two weeks vs a group who were given non-mineralised placebo water. In a nutshell, alkaline filters can improve the mineral content of your tap as well as its Ph level which significantly boosts hydration when compared to regular ta water.
Better skin health
It is a well-known fact that water can improve the quality of your skin. Can you imagine how beneficial it can be when it is filtered? Water with an improved mineral structure can directly improve the health of your skin by removing toxins out of your body more effectively. Plus, by removing chlorine out of the water, you will also aid your pursuit of healthier skin because chlorine is known to deplete natural oils of your hair and skin.
Increasing your energy
If you consume enough filtered mineralised water, not only will you have healthy skin, but you will also maintain your energy levels throughout the day. Often we feel tired and exhausted and then try to solve it with stimulants like coffee or energy drinks. However, this is wrong. Filtered water can also help you stay alert and focused throughout the day by maintaining optimum hydration.
Eliminating dissolved organic contaminants
Besides heavy metals and other pollutants, there is a growing concern because of dissolved organics such as drug, pesticides and hormone residues. Whether they have a negative impact on your body or not is not yet investigated. However, there is no doubt that filtered water will decrease this impact and make the water healthier to drink. Also, the higher the quality of the filter, the healthier the water will be. Also, the more layers and elements contained within the filter, then the higher number of contaminants it is able to remove.
By using filtered water for cooking you will be able to preserve the natural tastes of the food you cook and consume. Water that does not go through the filtering process will maintain heavy metals and chlorine which absorb the taste of some food. While you can reduce contaminants by boiling water, you cannot reduce some substances like heavy metals and chlorine.
Make drinking more water easier
When you know that you are drinking water that is devoid of dangerous substances, you will automatically drink more water because you know that it is healthier. Mineral-rich drinking water in your kitchen means that you don’t have to go to the shops to buy bottled water every once in a while. This also means that you will more easily and more frequently drink water than usual which will help you develop healthy drinking habits.
Where there is water, there is limescale as well. Luckily, a countertop water filter can help you get rid of limescale. If the water you consume is hard you will have more limescale in general. By filtering your water, limescale in your cooking and drinking water will be a thing of past.
What if besides removing contaminants, you also gain anti-oxidant properties by filtering your water? Whether water is anti-oxidant or not can be measured by Oxidation-Reduction Potential (ORP). In its core, ORP is the ability of one liquid substance to reduce oxidation levels of another. Basically, the more powerful anti-oxidant capacity, the lower the level of ORP.
Reducing Acid Reflux
Alkaline water filters have the ability to reduce the condition known as reflux or heartburn. Basically, alkaline water alters Ph level of drinking water meaning that it also neutralises the acidic build-up that leads to the uncomfortable feeling in your oesophagus. According to an interesting study by Kaufman and Johnston (2012), alkaline water has the acid-buffering capacity.
Another benefit of consuming filtered water is its positive impact on the digestive system. Hydration you get from the water helps your body transport minerals and nutrients more easily. Nutrients have a very positive effect not only on the way you feel but also on the entire digestion process because it helps digest soluble fibre.
Reducing plastic footprint
One of the biggest problems and obstacles the modern world has to face nowadays is a huge amount of plastic that is all around us and that has a very bad impact on the environment we live in. Over 1000,000 bottles are sold each minute around the world! To produce so much water, it takes 17 million barrels of oil to be produced each year. Scientists claim that this is a crisis that should be taken seriously. One way to contribute to the reduction in the use of plastic is to use filtered water because it doesn’t require you to consume bottled water. Is there any better benefit of using filtered water when it comes to the preservation of our environment?
Reducing cardio stress
Besides having a positive impact on the level of hydration and digestion, filtered water can also significantly reduce stress. Although this is not the case with all types of filtered water, studies show that alkalizing supplements in water can reduce cardio stress in a period of intense physical output. A study by Daniel P Heli conducted an experiment where they created two groups. Both groups consisted of 12 skiers. The purpose of the experiment was to determine whether ingestion of alkaline substance could improve cardiorespiratory functions ad other performances. It turned out that the group that consumed filtered water showed a significantly lower level of cardiorespiratory stress and higher levels of upper body power.
A healthy lifestyle is definitely something that all of us should be striving for. One way of achieving this goal is through the consumption of filtered clean water. Also, it is advisable to consume at least 2 litres of water per day and that water must be free of chemicals and contaminants to make a truly positive impact.
With the advancements in water filtration technology everyone, even those on a tight budget can afford an efficient water filter that will significantly change their water drinking habits and contribute massively to their healthy lifestyle.
Hopefully, this guide has helped you understand the significance of consuming clean water on a daily basis, and to figure out what water filtration solution you should focus on to get the best results in the long run.