Which Type of Filter is Best for Drinking Water?
No one wants to spend money on a water filter only to find out that the filter solves a problem they don’t even have. And yet, when faced with the multitude of water filtration options, it can feel intimidating to find the right one for your home – the one that not only makes your water taste great but also rids it of the maximum number of contaminants. It’s incredibly important to diagnose the “problem,” or in this case, assess the existing quality of tap water before choosing a filter. Tap water varies by region and depending on its source could be treated for any number of contaminants.
Labels on water filters also typically state the contaminants that are reduced, which can help to guide your choice. Be sure to read labels carefully yourself and verify the manufacturer’s claims with an independent source, as not all sales representatives will be familiar with your needs. Salespeople might be able to help you make an appropriate selection, but remember that they are sometimes paid to sell a particular brand. You should check claims and read the fine print on filter packaging for yourself and ensure that it will work for your purposes before purchasing. Don’t assume that if the filter removes one contaminant, it also removes others.
The prices of different filtration systems can vary widely, from simple systems that can cost under $20 to complex systems costing hundreds of dollars and requiring professional installation. In addition to the price of purchasing and installing the system, consider the cost, schedule, and ease of maintenance, such as changing filter cartridges. In order to continue to work properly, all water treatment systems require maintenance.
Furthermore, some filters are slow, while others can filter large amounts of water quickly. If you only need the filter for personal drinking water, you may not need a fast filter. Determining which type is most appropriate for you—or whether you need a filter at all—depends on what functions you want a filter to provide. No filter eliminates all contaminants, so understanding what filters do and do not do is important. Let’s take a closer look at the types of drinking water filters and their pros and cons.
Water filter pitchers are pitchers that are filled from the top and have built-in filters that water must pass through before being poured out for drinking or other use. These are relatively inexpensive and easy to use, but they are slow at filtering and the filters must be replaced often, sometimes once a month.
Faucet-mounted filtration systems attach to a standard faucet and can be switched on and off between filtered and unfiltered water flow. The ability to switch it on and off is nice and can preserve filter life, but they don’t work with every type of faucet. Also, these types of filters may slow down water flow.
There are also faucet-integrated filtration systems—faucets designed with built-in filters, instead of an attached filter, like a faucet-mounted system. These usually require installation and can be expensive.
Under-sink filtration systems are installed under a sink and send water through a pipe to the filter’s own specially installed faucet. These are nice because they can filter large amounts of water and do not take up countertop space. However, they are often expensive and may require modifications to plumbing. If you are not comfortable installing this yourself, you may need to hire a professional.
Many refrigerators have a built-in filter that supplies water through the door and supplies an automatic ice maker. These usually come already installed on your fridge making them very convenient and easy to use. Refrigerator filters are also nice because they use filtered water to make ice. These filters need to be changed regularly and can be expensive.
Reverse Osmosis makes the water much safer and more suitable for drinking and cooking purposes. It filters out any minerals and metals that are unneeded, unwanted, or generally detrimental to your plumbing or health. It eliminates odors, bad tastes, and color and helps promote a longer lifespan for your water-using appliances.
In a reverse osmosis filtration system, the membrane and filters are used to catch the water before it’s poured out. It’s filtration at its most basic, just on a microscopic scale. The RO membrane allows water to pass through and into your glass but leaves behind anything with a larger particle size than its 0.0001-micron pore size. To put that in perspective, 1 micron is equal to around 0.00004 inches and a human hair is around 75 microns in width (source). The semipermeable membrane catches and holds bacteria and impurities in the water, but it also prevents salt and other minerals from passing through too. An RO unit is a great solution for water used for drinking and cooking. It removes solids that a water softener cannot and provides the whole family with high-quality water right from the tap. We can also run a line from the RO tank to your refrigerator, so you don’t have to mess with changing its filter.
Excess calcium and magnesium—two minerals found in all-natural water supplies—lead to water “hardness.” Hardness is due to calcium and magnesium dissolved from bedrock. The hardness ions which are positively charged attach to the negatively charged resin beads that act as a magnet. Thereby, they substitute the loosely held Na+. This is because calcium, magnesium, and the like carry a stronger positive charge. Basically, all hardness minerals are removed from the water and the sodium goes into solution. Whichever filtration system you decide to use, it should be fed by soft water produced by ion exchange. The only way to accomplish ion exchange is with a water softener that uses salt. Water softeners can have high initial costs but will save money in the long run.
While it’s not a filter, per se, ultraviolet light will mitigate bacteria in your water. UV is a disinfection method by the use of Ultraviolet Rays. It deactivates the DNA of pathogens such as undesired pathogens such as e. coli, coliform, cryptosporidium, giardia, fecal bacteria, etc. This is done by a UV bulb that is recommended to be replaced annually.
Water filtration is a simple way to support your health, and there are many ways to do it. Regardless of which filtration system you choose, make sure you do your homework and get what’s right for your family’s needs. We are here to answer any questions you may have—contact c and j water today!