The water coming into your home isn’t always as clean as you would like it to be. In fact, water can sometimes contain harmful contaminants such as industrial PFCs, deposits from pharmaceutical companies, heavy metal compounds, and pesticides. As shocking as all of this sounds, the good news is that you can safely remove such impurities with a quality water filter.
Whether you are looking for a simple filter to clean up your drinking water or a more serious filtration system such as reverse osmosis which operates as a multi-stage water filter to remove almost all contaminants from water, there are a lot of choices. Let’s look at how to narrow the selection down.
Choosing the best water filter can be difficult. There are so many on the market that it can be a daunting task unless you know a bit about what to look for when making your selection. Water filters come with many different filtration levels and price ranges. You need to select the one that best suits your needs and your budget.
The first thing you need to determine is what you need to filter. Do you merely want to filter the water you drink or do you want to filter all the water coming into your house?
To answer that question, ask yourself what sort of contaminants may be in your water. Several factors can determine this information, like:
- How close do you live to industries that may be putting out harmful toxins?
- Is your water provided by your municipality or do you have your own well?
- How old and what kind of pipes make up your plumbing system?
Consider the questions above and then evaluate what sort of pollutants may be coming into your home water supply. If you receive your water from a municipal supply, you may periodically get a report listing any contaminants they detect in their water or you can request one. If your water comes from a well, testing can be done to determine any contaminants that may be present.
Here are some common contaminants found in home water supplies:
- Lead – Originates from old pipes and plumbing fixtures
- Arsenic – Occurs naturally from rocks and soil containing arsenic leeching into waterways, volcanic emissions, forest fires, manufacturing activities, mining, improper paint disposal, and other such activities
- Farming – Chemicals such as fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, and animal excretions
- Pharmaceuticals – Byproducts from the manufacturing of drugs, pollution from drugs flushed down toilets by individuals and medical facilities
- Perchlorates – This harmful anion can occur naturally or be manufactured. It leeches into waterways and only recently was regulated by the EPA.
- Pathogens – Viruses, parasites, and bacteria left behind by improper treatment of water by suppliers
- Cleaners – Bleach, ammonia, and water treatment chlorine by-products
- Fluoride – Added by many water suppliers as part of “dental health” measures
- Radioactive materials – Runoff from gas and oil facilities or occurring naturally
Depending on the area where you live, you may have some, all, or none of these in your water. The simplest and cheapest way to find out is to read the most recent report from your water company or test your water with a simple home water test kit. If you feel you need a more substantial report, you can also send samples of your water to a professional lab or hire a professional to come out and test your water. This can be costly, so you should only do so if you feel a serious need for it.
Once you understand what sort of contaminants you may be dealing with, you can decide what kind of filter you require. There are many different types of filters to consider.
Faucet filters are a cheap and effective solution to filter your drinking water. They remove the most common contaminants from the water exiting your faucet and are easy to install.
Refrigerator filters hook up to the water and ice dispenser system on your refrigerator. They remove contaminants and sediment from water entering your dispensers. They are a little more difficult to install than a faucet filter, but you can DIY the installation with the right tools and instructions.
The chlorine utilized in the process of disinfecting your water can remain after treatment. When showering, this chlorine can then be absorbed through your skin or ingested. Using a shower filter can remove chlorine and any other contaminants. It can be self-installed.
Whole House Filter
If you feel a need to filter all of the water coming into your home, you can have a whole house filter installed. This type of filter is installed at the point of entry for your water supply so that all of the water in your home is filtered.
Under-sink filters are installed beneath a kitchen sink and provide filter water through a special faucet that provides only filtered water, leaving the original faucet to provide unfiltered water.
Each of these water filtration systems uses different methods for removing common contaminants with varying results. The typical methods for filtration are as follows:
- Ion Exchange
- Reverse Osmosis
- Mixed methods
You can find more information on how each of these filtration methods works and what they filter on the CDC website, along with much more information on water filtration methods that may pertain to your particular situation.
So, the answer to the question of which water filter you should use boils down to what contaminants you need to remove, whether you need them removed from all of your water or only your drinking water, and your budget. The smartest way to approach the purchase is to find out what contaminants are in your water supply and then select a filter that removes any that you feel are harmful to you and your family.
There is no need to over-filter your water, thus removing particles that are doing no harm to you or additives that are beneficial to your health.