The Only Water Filters Worth Buying (and Why), According to Experts
When my husband and I purchased our home, it came with a water filtration system that was built into the kitchen sink. It was nice not to worry about the tap water or remember to fill a Brita pitcher. But not everyone has the luxury of a built-in water filtration system — and, to be honest, I wasn’t even entirely sure why we needed one in the first place. I mean, does it even really work? And what is it actually doing, anyway?
As it turns out, water filters offer several health benefits. By removing impurities, they provide cleaner and safer drinking water, reducing the risk of consuming harmful substances. Filtered water can improve the taste and odor, making it more appealing and encouraging people to drink more of it. Additionally, some filters retain essential minerals, like calcium and magnesium, which are beneficial for overall health.
But first, you need to know which contaminants are already in your tap water. You can search by your zip code in the Environmental Working Group’s Tap Water Database to find out which of the EPA’s biggest contaminants may be in your water. According to Logan Cox, assistant general manager of John The Plumber Niagara Falls, an essential aspect to look for in a water filter is its ability to target those specific contaminants. “Different filters employ various technologies, such as activated carbon, reverse osmosis, or distillation, to remove contaminants like chlorine, lead, bacteria, pesticides, and other harmful substances.” Cox also recommends checking if the filter you choose is certified by independent organizations like NSF International, which confirms (or denies) their effectiveness in removing specific contaminants.
Types of Water Filters You Can Buy
But even once you’ve figured out what contaminants are likely in your water, there are still lots of considerations when it comes to water filters. Here’s a breakdown of the type of filters Cox says to look for.
- Activated Carbon Filters: These water filters use activated carbon, which has a large surface area with tiny pores to trap and absorb contaminants. Activated carbon filters are effective in removing chlorine, volatile organic compounds, some pesticides, and chemicals that affect taste and odor.
- Reverse Osmosis (RO) Filters: RO water filters use a semi-permeable membrane to remove a wide range of contaminants, including dissolved solids, heavy metals like lead and mercury, fluoride, nitrates, and certain chemicals. The membrane allows water molecules to pass through while blocking larger particles and impurities.
- Ceramic Filters: Ceramic water filters typically consist of small pores that physically trap contaminants like bacteria, protozoa, sediment, and larger particles. They can effectively remove harmful microorganisms and improve water clarity.
- UV Filters: Ultraviolet (UV) water filters use UV light to disinfect water by inactivating bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms. They are particularly effective in destroying pathogens and ensuring microbiologically safe water.
- Ion Exchange Filters: Ion exchange water filters use resin beads that exchange ions to remove specific contaminants like heavy metals (like lead and copper), calcium, and magnesium. They work by replacing unwanted ions with more desirable ones, typically sodium or potassium.
- Distillation Filters: Distillation water filters involve heating water to create steam, which is then condensed to produce purified water. This process effectively removes impurities, including minerals, heavy metals, bacteria, and some chemicals.