Pure water is the world’s first and foremost medicine – Proverb
Let me start by telling you that over the years I’ve used many water filtration systems. I’ve had pitchers, faucet filters, under the counter and countertop systems, and have even recently been purchasing reverse osmosis water, 100 litres at a time! Furthermore, I’m also diligent at ordering bottled water at restaurants and bringing home that pure spring water (yes, in glass) as an extra treat. I really thought I was making good choices. That’s until recently, in preparation for this article, I started investigating the best choices for drinkable water, and boy oh boy have I learnt a thing or two! Would you believe, the best place in this day and age if you want the most cost effective, fresh, clean, crisp drinking water on tap… is straight from your kitchen tap! With a purifier bolted on, obviously 😉
You see, municiple water contains chlorine to kill bacterias, and in some places they still add fluoride. Unless you’re living in a country where the tap water is safe to drink, your tap water will almost certainly include toxic metals (including lead and copper), VOCs and other organic compounds, such as pesticides, pharmaceuticals, fuels & fertilisers.
So you may be asking “But what about spring water and mineral water? Aren’t they the healthiest water to drink?”. Sure, if you are getting it straight from the source and have tested it. But even then they too may have the same impurities as tap water. And drilled wells almost always go through a purification process to remove all types of impurities, leaving you with a final product that isn’t quite the pure source you were thinking it was. On top of that, you make the right choice by purchasing them in glass bottles but then that doesn’t work out very economical in the long run. So you end up mostly purchasing bottled water in plastic containers, that unfortunately just leaks chemicals straight back into the now purified water. (I will cover plastics in the article, ‘Packaging and recycling… around and around we go’. )
Okay, so how do you get fresh, clean, crisp drinking water on tap at home?
Let’s take a look at the options that are available and you can decide which one is best for you based on your needs and budget.
Pitcher and Faucet Filters
Both the faucet filter and the pitcher filter water through an activated carbon filter, but as the names suggest, the pitcher is a portable jug whereas the faucet filter attaches directly to your tap. The end result is very much the same, however the faucet filter is slightly better.
– Reduces chlorine taste, heavy metals, organic impurities and pesticides.
– Low initial cost to purchase.
– It’s a plastic container! Even BPA-free is not a confirmed safer option.
– Replacement cartridges work out quite expensive in the long term.
– The filter is a breading ground for bacteria and needs to be replaced regularly.
– Does not remove fluoride, lead, VOCs
If you are just looking for a quick upgrade from tap water, the pitcher or faucet filters are great options. I would however suggest that you use a block carbon filter instead of an activated carbon filter as the water is in contact with the carbon for much longer resulting in better contamination removal.
Intermediate – Portable and On-The-Counter Filters
You are interested in something better, have a some capital to invest, but may be renting or not ready for a permanent fixture.
Gravity-fed drip Filters
Made up of two containers, the top one is filled with water and by letting gravity do the work, the water “drips” through the filter cartridge (called the Candle) into the base container. The cartridge itself is made up of a microporous ceramic outer shell and activated charcoal on the inside.
The difference between the ceramic and the stainless steel gravity-fed drip filter is their weight and size. Stainless steel, being lighter, come in bigger sizes and is easier to transport. However, the ceramic filter is better for those who are sensitive or allergic to chemicals.
– Remove 99.9% of bacteria and parasites.
– Excellent at removing chlorine, fluoride, heavy metals, pesticides, chemicals and herbicides.
– Many different sizes to choose from, including even smaller ones for outdoor activities such as hiking and cycling so you can filter water from rivers and lakes.
– Filter(s) only need to be replaced every 6 to 12 months.
– The water is filtered slowly (slow filtration is better) so the time it takes may be an issue for you.
– Size matters. Estimate how many litres of water you and your family will use per day. And not just for drinking, but also for cooking, washing fruit & vegetables and those hot cuppa’s. This will give you a good idea on the best filter size to get but as a result may affect your budget.
Brilliant for on-the-counter purification. Portable and low maintenance but can get pricey the bigger you go in the initial outlay and replacement filters.
The distillation process is basically boiling the H2O out of its contaminants. Whilst boiling the water, the steam is captured and then cooled, resulting in distilled water. This is then filtered through a carbon filter to produce the pure water.
– Compact, lightweight and easy to store.
– Removes heavy metals , bacteria, chlorine, VOCs, sodium, fluoride and arsenic.
– Filter cup only needs to be replace every 2 months or so.
– It takes a very long time to distill water. About 5 hours to get 19 liters.
– Needs a power source to operate.
– An expensive first option if you’ve never used a filter system before
– All natural trace elements are removed, leaving it tasting “flat'”, and the water can be very acidic
There are many conflicting opinions on water distillers. If it is an option you are considering, I would highly suggest doing some more research as it may very well be the perfect option for you. Taking into consideration that you will need to get your minerals from fruit & vegetable or mineralise and alkaline the water (slices of lemon help), but you will discover that other filtration methods remove all trace elements too.
Counter top Filtration system
The counter top filter system is the easiest domestic filter to install. Simply attach the tube to your kitchen faucet and you are done. Depending on whether you choose a single, double or triple filtration system, the water will go between 5 to 8 filtration stages, removing contaminants, bacteria, fine sediments, VOCs and chlorine.
– Lightweight and easy to install.
– Filters only need to be changed every 6 months to a year.
– Single and triple filters allows you to add different filters to get much better quality water, reducing most contaminants and sediments.
– They don’t clog as quickly or as often as pitchers and faucet filters.
– Unless you have the counter space, the more filters you have, the more cluttered your counter will get.
– You can’t upgrade your system i.e. if you purchased a single filtration unit, you can’t just add on a second or third.
Counter top filter systems are compact, and easy on the eye. The multiple filter systems are getting better and better, with even a filter cartridge that removes fluoride available now. If you are interested in the triple system, then go for it, because you’ll want to take it with you when you move.
Advanced – Above & Under The Counter Filters
If you are ready for a bigger commitment, don’t have the time to fill up containers, have a larger upfront budget, and aren’t moving anytime soon, then this is for you.
Reverse Osmosis Filtration System
Water is pressurised through a semi-permeable membrane which restricts organic compounds such as inorganic solids (salts) from passing through, only allowing clean water molcules to pass through to the other side. The water then goes through a series of pre and post filtration treatments to get to the final pure water product.
– There are both above and under the counter systems available.
– Effectively remove contaminants, chlorine, fluoride, and will remove VOCs if a carbon block filter is included.
– Minimal maintenance of cleaning and sterilized, one a year and cartridges can be changed every 1 to 1 and a half years.
– Wastes a large portion of the water that runs through the system, generally two to three times more than it produces.
– Systems can be prohibitively expensive.
– Natural occuring minerals are also removed, including calcium and magnesium
– Under the counter systems take up quite a bit of cupboard space.
– May need a handyman to install it if you’re not DIY savvy.
I personally loved this system when I had one. We had a two tank setup so even when the municipal water was restricted, we had enough drinking water. They have however evolved quite a bit from the simple systems they were a decade ago. Now, instead of just stripping everything out of the water, both the bad and the good, you can now add filters to add all the goodness back in. Unfortunately, this is not a cheap system to install but is really low maintenance moving forward.
Water Ionizer System (Alkaline Ionizer)
Ionization is a water purification process also known as “electrolysis”. This is accomplished by using negative and positive electrodes that split the hydrogen and oxygen in the water. As a result, the water siphoned off the cathode side will have an increased level of hydroxide, resulting in a higher pH, making it more alkaline. The water siphoned off the anode would have increased levels of hydrogen making it more acidic.
Filters are then added to remove chemicals and contaminates just like the other filtration systems mentioned above.
– These systems are said to balance the body’s pH by drinking the alkaline water.
– Apparently, the ionized water micro clusters are smaller in size than in tap water, which permeates the cells of the body more easily, hydrating the body better than other waters.
– The acidic water can be used for household cleaning.
– Gadget lovers will love fiddling with the settings, adjusting the pH levels to their tastes and switching between acidic and alkaline water.
– Unfortunately, there are no longtime studies supporting the above physical benefits.
– This is on the higher end of the water filtration budget scale.
Even though there are many claims on the overall health benefits of ionised water, there are many who disagree on the validity of these claims. Perhaps contact a specialist and get some ionised water to try out for yourself. Ultimately, you’re going to have to go with your gut… literally. Would I personally drink high alkaline water all day everyday? That would depend on everything else I’m putting into my body. A high alkaline diet in general isn’t good for everyone, and you shouldn’t drink ionised water near mealtimes, with prescription medication or with certain supplements.
THE ULTIMATE – Whole House Water Filtration System
When you know exactly what you want and are ready to make a full blown commitment. But that is another full article on its own…
So, I know it’s a mouthful and a lot to take in and think about. Take your time, and go do your own research. It isn’t a choice of one way or the other. One system may completely fill your needs, or you may want a combination of water filters for different purposes. The idea is to start somewhere.. and start enjoying your very own fresh, clean, crisp drinking water on tap!
Nature is about balance – not extremes