Which Water Filter is Best for Me?
Are you trying to decide which water filter is best for you? First, and most importantly, you need to choose the one that will remove the most harmful contaminants. Second, the filter should perform reliably 24/7 so you and your family have access to clean and safe water the whole day.
What Are the Most Harmful Water Pollutants
Heavy metals, chlorine and disinfection by-products are the most dangerous water contaminants. Here’s a more detailed list:
- Trihalomethanes (THMs)
- Emerging contaminants (e.g. from pharmaceuticals, agricultural pesticides, cosmetics)
For instance, heavy metals are known to affect the brain, kidney and other organs. That’s why it’s always a priority to ensure that these contaminants are removed when choosing a water filter. Lead can result to neurological and behavioural effects. Arsenic (especially high levels of exposure) can lead to cancer (skin, lung and bladder).
Chlorine is the most common water disinfectant because of its effectiveness and low cost. However, chlorine can cause skin and lung irritations. After all, chlorine is very effective in killing bacterial cells. Human cells might also be affected by the chlorine (especially with daily contact and exposure).
Chlorine may also react with natural organic matter to form trihalomethanes. These disinfection by-products may cause adverse effects in the reproductive system. That’s why many filters now are being mentioned as having the ability to remove chlorine and its by-products.
Aside from heavy metals, chlorine and disinfection by-products, consumers are now also being aware of emerging water contaminants. These pollutants are often the result of our modern living and heavy reliance on chemicals (cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, agricultural pesticides and fertilisers). Each day these chemicals find their way into our water source and supply through our bodily waste, agricultural runoffs, washing and other normal daily activities. Although these contaminants are only present in trace levels, in time their full effects will be known through advances in analytical chemistry and toxicology.
Microbial Contamination of Drinking Water
Aside from chemicals, microbes can also find their way into our water supply through leaks, dirty plumbing and compromise in the point-of-use. Perhaps the pipes and tap have been exposed. Or the poor quality of water encourages microbial growth.
Whichever is the case, microorganisms (especially Cryptosporidium and Giardia) should be absent from your drinking water. For instance, Cryptosporidium may cause severe diarrhoea and dehydration. On the other hand, Giardia may cause abdominal cramps and bloating (diarrhoea in severe cases).
The presence of these microbes also signals worse issues such as poor sanitation and contamination by human waste. If those microbes are present, expect other microorganisms (which can be more dangerous) and substances to be also there.
How to Remove Water Contaminants?
You have different options to ensure clean and safe water such as:
- UV water treatment
- Whole house filtration
- Point-of-use water filtration
Distillation and UV water treatment are very effective in killing microorganisms. However, they can’t remove some or all of the chemical contaminants. In addition, they could be very expensive and require sensitive equipment.
That’s why many homes now have filtration systems instead. Whole house filtration systems (or filtering water at the point-of-entry) are usually installed near the water metre. The water gets filtered as it enters a residence. These are effective in removing chlorine and particulates.
A more thorough approach (which may be safer) is with a point-of-use water filtration system. It treats the water where you drink or use it. For instance, there are triple stage under sink water filters that purify your water before it comes out of the tap. There are also 5-stage reverse osmosis systems that can fit under almost any kitchen sink.
Aside from their effectiveness, water filters are also economical and practical. You may find quality units for less than $300 (with or without free installation). They are also compact and neat so you won’t have any worries about space.
How to Choose the Best Water Filter?
It’s true that you get what you pay for. If you want optimal effectiveness, it’s good to pay a higher price to get a corresponding higher value. You might find unreasonably cheap water filters but expect that they won’t give you the protection you need. Their filters and parts may not be up to the latest standards. Or, they will fail within a few months of use which will require you to buy another filter again.
Can you still find reasonably priced water filters? Absolutely. You can still find affordable under sink filters that are of high quality. However, you need to beware of filters that cost less than $100 and promise full filtration (removes all contaminants including heavy metals) as this is usually not the case. Filtration (especially reverse osmosis) requires the highest quality fittings, housings, pipes and membranes.
So how do you know if the filter you choose is of high quality? Here are a few tips:
- The parts should be made from US, UK, Canada or Australia
- Where the parts are made should be moulded onto them (not just stickers and labels)
- Choose a reputable seller, distributor and installer
For example, here at Filtap we have the highest quality under sink filters (twin, triple and 5-stage filters) that have undergone strict quality control measures. The housings and other parts of our water filters are made in US, UK, Canada or Australia. In addition, many residents and business owners in Sydney have already requested us to provide and install their water filtration systems.
3 or 5 Stage Filter?
The cost difference might be very low ($100 or less). But the 5-stage water filters have superior performance. The general rule is that the more stages a system has, the more thorough it is in removing contaminants (in exchange for additional costs).
For instance, here’s how a 5-stage filter works:
- 1st stage removes dust, rust and other particulates (removing the “big guys” first)
- 2nd stage removes chlorine (done by activated carbon-based filters)
- 3rd stage removes microparticles and most water contaminants (water is subjected to high pressure to pass through an ultrafine membrane)
- 4th stage removes fine grains and dust
- 5th stage ensures superbly smelling and tasting water
On the other hand, here’s how a triple under sink filter works:
- The first stage removes sediments, rust, dirt and mud
- The second stage removes chlorine, heavy metals and microbes
- The third and final stage removes bitterness, bad taste and unpleasant odours
The difference is that 5-stage filters have a reverse osmosis process (RO). It requires high pressure and an ultrafine membrane, which is why this technology is even used for commercial, industrial and other large-scale applications.
RO Water Purifier Disadvantages
RO water purifiers and other rigorous water purification systems still have their drawbacks. We’ll briefly discuss them here so you can make a better informed purchasing decision:
- Reverse osmosis removes all minerals (even the healthy and essential ones)
- RO systems waste water (up to 3 litres of water might be wasted for every litre of purified water)
- RO systems (and other filtration units) require regular replacement of filter cartridges
- Introduction of contaminants is possible in each stage of the process (which is why all parts should be of high quality)
These drawbacks still deserve some attention because they may have significant effects on costs and health. For instance, an RO system installed under your kitchen sink can increase your monthly water bill. Also, the removal of minerals could potentially affect your body.
Here’s the good news, the advantages still far outweigh the drawbacks. That’s because a quality RO unit will prevent you from getting more serious negative health effects (e.g. ingestion of heavy metals through the years). This will save you from hospitalisation and medical costs. Moreover, you’ll get more things done because water contaminants won’t disrupt your lifestyle.
It’s still a small investment compared to the benefits you’ll gain. It’s especially the case because the positive effects accumulate through the years. We drink water every day and we even use the water for preparing food and our favourite beverages. Imagine the amount of pollutants not ending up in your body because the filters removed them all.
Which Water Filter is Best for Me?
In summary, it’s recommended to choose either a triple under sink filter or a full reverse osmosis system. They remove most contaminants and ensure you’re only drinking clean and safe water.
They remove chlorine, disinfection by-products, heavy metals (arsenic, lead, mercury) and even microbes such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia. These filters will provide you daily and long-term protection against harmful water contaminants.
Aside from effectiveness, modern water filters are reasonably priced now due to engineering and material advances. In addition, they can fit under almost any kitchen sink. Space and economy are no longer concerns. You can now get a fully working water filter at a reasonable cost.
That’s why here at Filtap, we provide and install quality water filters at affordable pricing. For less than $500 or $300, you can have a water filtration system that will remove most contaminants. We also offer free installation and complimentary tap for a full setup.