If you opt to filter your water at home (rather than buy it bottled), I commend you! It's less expensive for you and better for our planet to filter the stuff that comes from your tap.
Whether you already have a system and have been wondering how effective it really is or you're just starting to dip your toes in the water pitcher world, the number of options on the market can be overwhelming. How can you pick the best filter?
I asked a scientist — and former coworker — what she uses at home. If you're concerned about your water, I suggest following her lead.
2 Water Filters This Scientists Swears By
Dr. Birnur Aral, the Director of the Health, Beauty & Environmental Sciences Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute, uses two water filters (in a two-step process) to filter the drinking water in her home. First she uses the Aquasana Clean Water Machine. This slim one-gallon unit that sits on her countertop removes chlorine, chloramines, lead, asbestos, cysts, herbicides, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, and more in mere seconds.
Buy: Aquasana Clean Water Machine, $130
Next she pours the filtered water into a ZeroWater filtering pitcher, which she keeps in the fridge.
Buy: ZeroWater filtering pitchers, from $20
Why the double process? The first step gives her confidence that almost anything harmful that could possibly be in her tap water is removed, while the second one improves the water's taste.
Plus, 2 Other Key Things You Should Know About Water Filters
1. Not all filters are created equal.
Don't want to get the ones above? That's fine! Just know this: Some water filters merely remove things like chlorine to make your water smell and taste better, while others filter out harmful elements like lead, organisms, and pharmaceuticals. Experts advise that you find out what contaminants are actually in your water. That's what they do before deciding what type of filtration system they need for their own homes.
While you can get a water quality report called a Consumer Confidence Report from your local utility, it is even better to have the water in your home tested. Often water picks up contaminants from the pipes carrying it through the city or in your house. If you get your water from a private well, it is particularly important to have your water independently tested, as wells aren't regulated. Check with your state for certified labs.
Once you've done your homework and you're shopping for a filter, one thing scientists stress is that you should look for certification from NSF or another accredited lab — like the Gold Seal from the Water Quality Association — to be sure a product removes what it says it does.
2. You've really gotta change your filters.
Whatever device you decide on, be sure to change the filter regularly. Particles become trapped in the pores of the filter and eventually the filter becomes so clogged that it no longer works effectively. Be sure to use the cartridges that the manufacturer recommends. While a generic filter or one from another company may look similar in size and even seem to fit in your bottle or pitcher, even the smallest size difference could allow contaminated water to go around the cartridge rather than through it. When you notice that the flow rate is slowing down or that the water color is changing, you know it's time to change your filter.
Do you use a water filter? If so, which one?