The 21st century is all about choice, and when it comes to choosing a water filter or filtration system, there is certainly no shortage of options out there. Carafe style filters, inline filtration systems, under sink models, it can be enough to get your head in a spin.
Here, we offer some guidelines on the points you need to bear in mind and the checks you should make to help you choose the water filter that will best serve your needs and those of your family.
Check your local water supply
There has been plenty of media coverage about problems in the nation’s water supply and instances of contamination. That’s no surprise – bad news is great for selling newspapers. But try not to get caught up in the hype. EWG has compiled a database of 30 million water quality reports. All you have to do is enter your zipcode into their online tool and you can see exactly what the water supply is like in your area – along with the contaminants that are likely to be at the top of your hit list when choosing a water filter.
The tool will also tell you whether your local municipality uses chloramine or chlorine in order to disinfect the water. It will be one or the other, and either performs an important job in killing bacteria. But before you drink it, it’s certainly preferable to filter these chemicals out – aside from any health considerations, they give the water an unpleasant taste.
The other thing you will need to check is whether your water contains fluoride. The question of fluoridation is a controversial one, and everyone has their own opinions on whether it does more harm or good. But if there’s fluoride in your water and you fall into the “no” camp, then you’ll want a filter that will remove it effectively.
Critically assess vendor claims
The water filtration business is a competitive one, and you will come across some manufacturers who make extraordinary claims. Make sure they back them up with scientific evidence. For example, Big Berkey has become a household name because it publishes all its third party test data on its website, and shows how the results compare with other filters on the market. That sort of transparency is important, and is far more compelling than vague claims to “remove all contaminants.”
Don’t forget the minerals and trace elements
In point of fact, filtering out 100 percent of everything and leaving you with just H2O is not going to do you and your family any favors at all. The water we drink is a primary source of those essential minerals that keep us healthy and maintain everything from an effective immune system to strong bones to a healthy and regular heart rate.
The idea is to ensure the water filter you use selectively filters out the unwanted contaminants while leaving those health-giving essential minerals right where they are.
Do the math
Water filters are far more cost-efficient than buying bottled water, as well as being the vastly more environmentally responsible choice. However, don’t just assume that any one you select will save you money. Some cheap filters can seem just too good to be true, but you discover there are hidden costs when it is too late. Find out how long a filter lasts, what the process is for replacing it and what that is going to cost you.
Also, check regarding water consumption. A filter that needs an occasional backwash is fine, but think twice about ones that waste large amounts of water every day. Remember, water is a precious commodity, and it will only become more so in the years to come.
Go to the well
Do you have your own well? Chances are, everyone tells you how lucky you are having such a fresh and natural resource right in your own backyard. They are probably right, but there is an old saying about what happens when you assume.
You have no way of knowing what is happening underground, and anything from organic matter to industrial waste in subterranean water courses can find its way into your natural supply. Get your water tested professionally, and then you know for sure what sort of filtration you need, just the same as you do with water from the municipal supply.
You can study all the public data in the world and read up about different products on 100 supplier websites, but there is nothing to beat real world experience. Talk to family and friends to find out what sort of water filters they are using. Be sure to ask about maintenance costs, filtration speed and how the water really tastes. Ultimately, when someone has been using a particular filter for months or years, that is the best recommendation of them all.