When it comes to home drinking water filtration, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. With literally hundreds of different contaminants that you could be facing, you need to have your water thoroughly tested if you want to be 100 percent sure to not miss anything. Once you have a list of contaminants present in your water supply you can choose the best treatment method accordingly.
Of course, we understand that doing one’s own testing is just not feasible in all cases, for example if you don’t have the budget. In this case, we recommend you take a look at your annual water quality report which your utility has to provide for free. Testing for the report might not show the full picture, but it’s still better than a shot in the dark. You can browse for your report here.
If that isn’t possible either, your best bet is to get a water filter (system) that removes a broad range of pollutants: Heavy metals, VOCs, disinfectants and their byproducts, perfluorinated chemicals, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, herbicides, semi-volatile compounds, radiological elements, and microorganisms (not really necessary when you’re on municipal water). Personally, we would opt for either the Clearly Filtered pitcher or the under sink filter, or the AquaTru countertop RO system. All 3 have been tested for the removal of dozens upon dozens of contaminants with solid results.
Best Way to Filter Tap/Well Water for Drinking
· The most common contaminants in municipal drinking water are chlorine/chloramine and their disinfection byproducts. Catalytic carbon is the best filter media for chloramines. For chlorinated waters, activated carbon does the trick. Both activated and catalytic carbon will also eliminate most VOCs.
· In case there’s lead in your water – the heavy metal was used as a building material for pipes before its ban in 1986 – you should opt for reverse osmosis drinking water purification or activated/catalytic carbon combined with KDF-55.
· Furthermore, many municipalities add fluoride to their water. Now, water fluoridation is a controversial topic. We leave it up to you to decide if you want to do anything about it. Just know that if you want to remove fluoride from your water you can use reverse osmosis, anion exchange or activated alumina adsorption media, and distillation.
· Arsenic: More than 100 million Americans received water with arsenic exceeding California’s public health goal between 2015 and 2017. The best treatment option for arsenic is reverse osmosis or ion exchange technologies.
· Simply put, chromium 6 is everywhere which is really concerning. Preferred filtration technologies are reverse osmosis and iron exchange.
· PFAS, or per- and polyfluorinated substances, include more than 3,000 synthetic chemicals that can have serious health effects even in low dosages.”. What can you do about it? Filter with reverse osmosis and/or carbon.
· If you have radioactive elements in your water you might need to install a whole house water filter as some of them volatilize from shower or bath water.
· And lastly: Nitrate. The highest concentrations can be found in tap water or private wells in agricultural areas. RO is the most effective treatment method.
Systems with NSF Testing & Certifications
Manufacturers can make contamination reduction claims about their products all day long. But only NSF or EPA standardized testing and certification provide proof. Thus when you’re shopping for a drinking water filtration system look out for performance data sheets or other lab testing data.
Most important are the following NSF standards: 42, 53, 244, 401, P473, and 58 (RO systems only).
Filtering Speed + Filtered Water Storage Capacity
Depending on the size of your family, a smaller filter might not be able to meet your drinking water demand. The result: Long waiting times. If you want to avoid such a scenario double-check that the product you’re eying filters water fast enough or comes with an adequately-sized storage tank.
Cost: Initial vs Long-Term
Some drinking water filter systems seem surprisingly affordable at first. But they turn out all the more expensive in the long run – think replacement filter cost. Replacement filter capacity and cost is definitely something you should consider.
Installation and Maintenance
All filter systems are quite easy to maintain. For example: While filter pitchers can be assembled in a matter of minutes, whole house units require proper inlet and outlet connections which may involve plumbing. So if you’re not exactly handy around the house and you’re unwilling to pay a plumber to do the work for you, a whole house water filter might not be ideal.