Is a filtered water pitcher enough to remove all contaminants in your home’s water? Do whole home water filters really improve your water as much as they say? The differences in water filters are vast and dependent on what’s in your water. Before looking at any water filtration system, homeowners should test their water and understand what filtration stages are needed.
We compare the top water filtration systems and show you what filters are best depending on the contaminants and type of water supply.
What Water Filter Does Your Home Need?
The type of filtration and method of water filtration depends on the contaminants of the water, your water pressure, your budget, the specs of your home’s water supply, and other preferences. For example, if you want filtered water in every faucet of your home, then you may want to invest in a whole home filter.
Activated Carbon Filters
Also known as activated charcoal, these filters use a form of carbon that has been mixed and maximized to increase the number of pores within them. When used to treat your water, contaminants are trapped inside of the activated carbon’s pores.
It’s also one of the most popular filter cartridges. Most filtration systems have at least one activated carbon block, as it is able to remove microscopic traces of toxins, as well as organic compounds and chlorine.
It doesn’t require electricity to work, and it’s pretty inexpensive. However, activated carbon filters don’t remove everything. Larger particles like minerals, salts, and dissolved inorganic matter requires other filters. This is why you typically see activated carbon in a multi-stage filtration system.
Many home filtration systems also have a ceramic filter stage. These ceramic filter elements have small pores that trap anything that is larger than the pore size. These ceramic filters are also treated with silver to eliminate bacteria and prevent mold from contaminating your water. Like activated carbon, it doesn’t require electricity, and it’s essential for removing bacteria and protozoans from your system.
Reverse Osmosis Filtration
In comparison to other water filtration systems, reverse osmosis water filters are preferred due to their ability to remove 99.99% of all toxins from water. In this method, water is pushed through a membrane that has extremely tiny pores. While water can run through the membrane, almost all contaminants are prevented from passing through.
Purified water is then collected in the storage tank while the contaminants are removed and flushed away. As a whole system, reverse osmosis is typically a third-stage filtration step that ensures any heavy metals, harmful VOCs, and other microscopic bacteria has been removed from your water.
For very health-conscious households, a reverse osmosis system may be the best option. However, these do have a tendency to waste water and require high water pressure.
Ultaviolet (UV) Water Filters
For those with well water, life can be a daily battle of weird tastes and odors. A multi-stage filtration system with a UV filter is the best option to prevent contaminants when you have a well water system.
UV filtration uses light to purify water through a glass element. As water moves through the element, all living organisms are killed by a powerful UV light. It can kill viruses, bacteria, and parasites before it ever enters your home if you get a whole home filtration system.
However, UV filters do require electricity and won’t remove any other non-living contaminants, such as hard minerals, fluoride, or lead.
Do you have hard water problems? You may have noticed your skin and hair feels dry, while your dishes may have water spots after going through the dishwasher. Clothes may also suffer and become like sandpaper to the touch. These are all symptoms of hard water in your home.
Water softeners are add-ons to water filters that change the alkalinity of your water and remove hardness, thus leading to health benefits for your skin and hair.
Types of Filter Systems and Their Benefits
In addition to different filters and cartridges, there are also a range of water filtration systems with different benefits. Here is a guide to which system you should pick for your home based on your needs, possible contaminants, and water supply setup.
Under Sink Water Filters
For those in need of powerful water filtration for their cooking and drinking water, under sink water filters offer amazing benefits. These are easy to install right under your kitchen faucet and typically have a second faucet that dispenses continuous filtered water for drinking and cooking.
These systems typically have 2 to 4 stages of filtration including a sediment filter, activated carbon filter, ceramic filter, or reverse osmosis filter. They are capable of removing most toxins from the water, including traces of lead, arsenic, chlorine, and fluoride.
If you aren’t concerned about contaminants in your shower or washing machine, then under sink water filters are a more budget-friendly option that can improve your health dramatically.
Whole Home Water Filters
Some homes have issues with contaminants flowing directly into the home from contaminated water supplies. They may experience higher instances of chlorine, bacteria, viruses, VOCs, and other toxins. If you want to improve the overall health of your entire household, then the best choice is a whole house water filter system.
These systems are much larger and typically attach to the water supply before water ever goes to your faucets, fixtures, and appliances. With multi-stage filtration, these systems typically remove the most contaminants from your water supply.
Well Water Filter Systems
Whole home water filtration systems for wells are the best options if you have contaminated water. Typically, the main problem is living bacteria, viruses, and other organisms that cause diseases. To filter out these problematic toxins, you’ll need a well system with a UV filter.
Other Filter Types
Countertop and Faucet Filters
These are standalone filters that you can attach to your faucet to filter out a large number of contaminants. These typically only reduce the number of toxins and traces of major chemicals, such as fluoride and chlorine. Faucet filtration isn’t typically enough to remove large amounts of toxins.
Water Filter Pitchers and Fridge Filters
Usually these include one activated carbon filter that can reduce most contaminants in your water, but if you have major problems with bacteria, cysts, arsenic, pesticides, or toxic well water, then these filtration systems won’t help you as much as a multi-stage filtration system.