Faced with the vast array of home drinking water filters, it seems like an overwhelming task to decide which one filter is best for “me and my family”. Not only are there many different approaches to filtering, each with it’s pros and cons, but there are also so many different models within each category. If we take just the category of carbon filters, for example, there are some 2,500 models of filters manufactured by more than 500 companies.

My purpose in this article is to begin to solve the puzzle for you and suggest a way to proceed in finding the one filter that will best serve you and your family. By reading this article you will begin to clarify your philosophy of drinking water. You will understand the major approaches to filtering drinking water. Finally, you will have a clearer idea of what your particular needs are in filtered water.

What Is Your Philosophy of Drinking Water?

There are three basic philosophies that people have when they approach the question of drinking water, drinking water filters, and the level of purity they desire.

The first approach says, “Our tap water is basically safe. All I want in a filter is something that will improve the taste, odor, and color of my drinking water.” If this is your approach, you will likely need a pitcher filter, if there are one or two people in your household or a faucet filter for a larger household. Both of these solutions are relatively inexpensive.

A second class of people will say, “I want to know specifically what are the contaminants I need to be concerned about, or I already know I am concerned about this, this, and this contaminant.” If this is your approach to drinking water pollution, you will do research to identify the contaminants which exceed the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) standard or you might run water tests of your own and identify other pollutants of concern. Then you will look for a filter that removes these specific contaminants.

A third group of people will say, “I want a filter that removes 99.9% of as many contaminants as possible. In this way I know that I am covered for anything that comes down the pipe!” If this is your approach, you are looking for a filter that will filter down to 0.5 microns and are certified to remove the widest range of all contaminants possible. For you, cost is secondary; safety and “peace of mind” are primary.

What Kind of Filter Do You Prefer?

A second way to narrow down your search of drinking water filters is to understand the major approaches to filtration as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each. There are four major approaches that I will highlight.

 

  • Distillers operate on the principle of turning water to steam and then condensing that steam to water once again. It leaves behind all the impurities, except VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). In this process of removing all impurities it gives you perhaps the purest water. However, it also removes healthy minerals and is a slow process. It’s also somewhat costly depending on the cost of your electricity.
  • Reverse Osmosis involves forcing water under pressure through a membrane whose pours are large enough for water to pass through but too small to allow other contaminants to pass through. It removes impurities almost as completely as distilling water, and removes the healthy minerals as well. Disadvantages include the slowness of the process and a typical use of 3 to 10 gallons of water for every gallon filtered.
  • Carbon Filters use activated carbon to filter out a wide range of contaminants. There are small and inexpensive carbon filters which simply coway product emove bad tastes, odors and colors and not a lot more. On the other end of the spectrum, there are larger countertop or under counter sophisticated carbon block drinking water filters that give incredibly pure drinking water.
  • Ultraviolet Filters use ultraviolet light to destroy all microorganisms or waterborne disease from your drinking water. It is particularly valuable in killing chlorine resistant cysts. It’s limitation is that it doesn’t remove other contaminants and therefore is the kind of purifier that is combined with other kinds of drinking water filters
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