How To Choose A Water Filter

Drinking water filters have a lot of components. Read this comparison list when deciding which one is right for you.

By: Katherine Lawrence

Choosing the right water filter for your living situation can be an overwhelming experience. Will the 3-stage water filter or a reverse osmosis water filter be better for your needs? How about a countertop water filter? There are a lot of factors to consider when you’re doing the research.

Some people might decide it’s just easier to stick with bottled water. But believe it or not, bottled water may actually be less safe than tap water due to lack of regulation. Research shows that tap and bottled water contain harmful toxins such as lead, mercury, and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s), which are organic chemicals like herbicides, pesticides, and industrial solvents. All of these pollutants are proven to have negative compounding long-term health effects. Plus, plastic water bottles aren’t great for the environment.

To help you determine the best water filter for your home or apartment we have created this comprehensive guide. Learn what questions to ask before you start looking, the difference between each type of filter and, ultimately, how to figure out what kind of water filter you need.

The best way to guarantee the purest drinking water is by investing in a drinking filtration system. The following guidelines and considerations on water filters will help provide the most informed option.

How to choose a water filter if you rent

If you rent your house or want a water filter for your apartment, it’s important to select a drinking filtration system that can be easily installed and removed so it can be taken to any residence old or new. There are countertop filtration options that do not require any type of permanent installation and pitcher filters that can rest on your countertop or in your refrigerator. Additionally, many of our under sink water filter are straightforward to install and can be relocated, as needed.

How to choose a water filter if you own a home

If you own your home, you’ll have the freedom to choose, including a more permanent solution like a whole house water filter. Some water filtration options, like whole house and reverse osmosis systems, may warrant professional installation, while others make for relatively easy DIY projects. Most of these systems will have a dedicated faucet that’s included with the purchase of the system. It’s also important to consider where you want your clean water to come from. If you’re only looking to have filtered water in your kitchen, then an under sink water filter will do the trick. However, if you want clean, filtered water from every tap in your home, you’ll want to shop for a whole house system.

household water consumption

The estimate for how much water an average household uses depends largely on the number of people residing in the home. Break it down by determining how much water we should drink each day. For a household size of 2 people drinking the recommended ½ gallon of water per day, it equates to over 360 gallons of water per year. To compare, this is 3,000 bottles of water per year – over $3,560 of store bought bottled water!

The average cost per gallon for a drinking water filter is only 9 cents per gallon. Compare that to an average of $16 per gallon for bottled water, and the cost-savings of investing in a drinking water filtration system seems like a no-brainer.

what do water filters remove?

So what’s the next step when asking ‘what kind of water filter do I need?’ To figure out what contaminants are actually present in your water! Check your municipality’s mandatory Consumer Confidence Reports to get a good idea of what to look for, or enter your zip code into the EWG’s Tap Water Database to really hone in on what you need to filter out.

Once you know the contaminants you want to remove, look for a system that uses the right kind of water filtration media.

There are several different types of contaminant-reducing media:

  • Activated Carbon: Reduces pharmaceuticals, herbicides, pesticides, and VOCs.
  • Catalytic Carbon: Targets chlorine and chloramines.
  • Ion-Exchange or Reverse Osmosis: Eliminates heavy metals like lead and mercury and remove fluoride.
  • Absolute Sub-Micron Mechanical Filtration: Captures asbestos and chlorine resistant cysts like cryptosporidium and giardia.

Contaminant reduction improves as the water stays in contact with the media for a longer period of time. In other words, not all filters are created equal.

Reverse Osmosis Filters

One of the most controversial ingredients found in tap water is fluoride. In the 1960s, the United States Public Health Service (PHS) recommended that fluoride be added to tap water to prevent tooth decay. Fluoride is now provided to public drinking water in approximately 3 out of 4 U.S. homes. Only a reverse osmosis system will remove fluoride from your drinking water.

Reverse osmosis (RO) is a process of separation that uses water pressure to force water through a semi-permeable membrane. Think about it like pasta getting caught in a colander. The semi-permeable membrane retains solid contaminants on one side while allowing water to pass on to the other side. This membrane is effective at removing anything that is bigger than a water molecule.

The reverse osmosis process removes fluoride, sodium, sulfate, nitrate, iron, zinc, mercury, lead, arsenic, chloride, and cyanide, along with a few other water contaminants. Because RO systems are effective at removing solids from water, they also demineralize the treated water. RO systems remove healthy minerals such as calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Without these minerals present, the water can become acidic. The Aquasana OptimH2O® Reverse Osmosis + Claryum® filter, on the other hand, includes a remineralizer that adds back in those healthy minerals your body craves and restores pH. Not to mention, it removes more than 5x the contaminants than other RO systems, including 95% of fluoride and mercury, 97% of chlorine and arsenic, and 99% of lead and asbestos.

Under Sink Drinking Filters

Unlike many other filters, all of Aquasana’s under sink drinking water filters have been tested and certified to meet NSF Standards 42, 53, 401, and +P473. They all feature Claryum® selective filtration, which effectively reduces toxins such as herbicides, pesticides, cysts, asbestos, volatile organic chemicals (VOCs), pharmaceuticals, chlorine-resistant cysts like giardia and cryptosporidium, all while retaining beneficial minerals, including calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Aquasana’s line of under sink filters includes the Claryum® 2-Stage, the Claryum® 3-Stage, Claryum® 3-Stage Max Flow, and the Claryum® Direct Connect.
Aquasana drinking water filtration removes up to 99% of lead & mercury

Countertop Water Filters

The Claryum® Countertop and the Clean Water Machine are also tested and certified to NSF/ANSI Standards 42, 53, 401 + P473. But they also have the added benefit of not requiring permanent installation or fixtures, so they are easily transportable and great for the average home renter.

NSF International: The Gold Standard of Water Filtration Testing

Before making a purchase, it is important to know the health benefits of any drinking water system. It should pass NSF/ANSI standards including Standard 42 for aesthetic effects and Standard 53 for health effects. NSF standard 42 establishes a minimum requirement for the point-of-use systems to reduce aesthetic contaminants such as chlorine, chlorine taste and odor, as well as particulates that may be present in drinking water. NSF standard 53 sets the parameters for POU systems designed to remove health-related contaminants such as lead, mercury, Cryptosporidium, Giardia, volatile organic chemicals, methyl tertiary-butyl ether, and other harmful contaminants from drinking water. Note that the NSF 53 certification does not mean that all of these contaminants are tested – manufacturers can choose any of them to test to get this certification, so be sure the list includes VOCs, lead, mercury and any other elements you want to ensure your filter tackles.

which water filter is best for you?

Choosing the best water filter ultimately comes down to what specific contaminants need to be filtered from your water, where you want to install your filter (or perhaps you don’t want to install anything), and your budget. If you still need help selecting the perfect water filtration solution for your home, contact us and we’ll be happy to help.