It may be time to purchase a water filtration system! Are you convinced yet? Look at the glass of water sitting on the table near you right now. Watch as your children fill up their water bottles to take to their sports practice. Think about the coffee you drink made from water from your tap. Look at the water buildup on the floor of your bathtub and the wall of your shower door.
You may pay attention to the food you ingest. You get plenty of exercise. Maybe, you do yoga and watch your weight. You pay attention to your stress level and enjoy a high quality of life. But are you paying attention to the water you are consuming? Perhaps it is time to think about your family’s water quality. High-quality water filtration systems are abundant on the market, and it is difficult to determine which one is right for you and your family. Read on to learn more about choosing the best water filtration system for you.
|Brita Large 10 Cup Everyday Water Pitcher with Filter
|Aquagear Water Filter Pitcher
|ZeroWater’s 23 Cup Dispenser
|Reverse Osmosis System
|APEC Top Tier 5-Stage Ultra Safe Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Filter System
|Reverse Osmosis System
|Woder 10K-Gen3 Ultra High Capacity Direct Connect Water Filtration System
|Counter Top System
|Royal Berkey Water Filter 3 Gallon System Bundle
|Portable Outdoor System
|Sawyer Products MINI Water Filtration System
Fun water fact: A relaxing bath uses up to 70 gallons of water. A five-minute shower uses 10 to 25 gallons.
Finding the Best Water Filtration System: Point of Use vs. Point of Entry Systems
Before discussing specific water filtration system reviews, it is essential to understand the types of system and the basics of how they work. The first way a unit is categorized is by where the system resides. Point of use systems are installed at the sink. Sometimes these systems sit on the countertop or sometimes they are installed under the counter. Filtered water pitchers are also considered point of use systems.
Point of entry systems are installed where the water line enters the home. These are sometimes referred to as whole-house systems.
One benefit of a point of use system is cost. This is the cheaper water filtration system.
There are numerous benefits for point of entry water filtration systems. First, they remove chemicals, toxins, and gases from all of your household water. Yes, gases like chlorine and radon enter your home as gas. This gas can aggravate breathing disorders such as asthma and allergies. Chlorine also makes its way into the fibers of your clothes and becomes residue on your dishes. Point of entry water systems remove chlorine, radon, arsenic and other dangerous chemicals and organisms from your drinking system, but for every other household product that comes in contact with your water.
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While there are many benefits to whole-house water filtration systems, this article will focus on points of use systems. Research elsewhere which whole-house systems can provide clean water from your bathtub to your dishwasher.
Fun water fact: If your toilet is continuously running, it can waste up to 200 gallons of water each day.
Types of Water Filtration Systems
Both point of use and point of entry systems can be subcategorized by the process used to filter your water. The three main types are ultraviolet, reverse osmosis and general water filtration. All three are available for both point of use and point of entry systems. Let’s learn more about them.
Ultraviolet Purification Systems
Ultraviolet water purification systems disinfect bacteria from the water. Simply stated, the way this system works is that ultraviolet rays destroy the DNA of little critters in your water. It also limits their ability to have little critter babies. This system is simple, safe, and environmentally friendly.
It rids 99.99% of your water of E. coli, cryptosporidium, giardia or any other types of bacteria and viruses. This method does not add any chemicals to the water. It does not affect the taste of your water. UV systems use very little energy, and the only upkeep is that you may need to purchase a particular light bulb for your system once a year. These water filtration systems do not filter your water of impurities.
Reverse Osmosis Systems
Reverse osmosis (RO), also known as hyperfiltration, cleans water by passing it through a membrane to remove contaminants. RO systems do not use any chemicals, and it leaves water free from minerals and other contaminants that cause your water to taste bad. The reverse osmosis process also removes chlorine, fluoride and other impurities.
There are some disadvantages of the reverse osmosis systems. The most common disadvantage is that it takes a lot of time. All the water is pushed through a semi-permeable membrane, and the process is slow. If you use a lot of water at once, there is a chance that you will empty the storage tank. The semipermeable membrane, or filter, can become clogged also. Filters need to be replaced periodically. The number of times depends on how much water is being used. Reverse osmosis filters need to be changed approximately once a year, depending on use and depending on the system.
Carbon Filter Systems
And finally, there are also carbon filter systems that remove larger particles like sediment and silt from your water. These systems also remove chlorine and some microorganisms. Water that has been through a carbon filter tastes better and has less chlorine than regular tap water. Some advantages of this system are that no chemicals are added to the water. The filters tend to be the least expensive out of all the water filtration systems on the market. One of the disadvantages of this system is that it does not remove sodium, nitrates, heavy metals, and fluorides. This type of filter does not protect you from bacteria and viruses in your water.
So, which is the best?
Because each type of water filtration system is unable to remove all contaminants, the better systems use several types of filtrations simultaneously to make your water as pure as possible.
Fun water fact: More than one-quarter of all bottled water sold in the U.S. comes from a municipal water supply. You could be buying tap water.
The Best Water Filtration Systems Available on Amazon
Because you want your family to have the cleanest, clearest water possible, you are researching systems currently available on the market. The following products can be purchased on Amazon and vary in price and type of system.
Fun water fact: In a year, the average American household uses over 100,000 gallons of water.
Water Filtration Pitchers
We will start with the most basic point of use water filtration system – water filtration pitchers. Water pitchers are easy to use. There’s no installation necessary. You can filter just your drinking water, so you do not have to spend extra money on purchasing filters to provide clean water to wash your socks.
The Brita pitcher uses a carbon filter to reduce the amount of chlorine, zinc, copper, mercury, and cadmium in your drinking water. Please note that not everyone’s water supply has these minerals in it, to begin with, but if they are present, the carbon filter will help remove them.
The Everyday Pitcher, Brita’s largest basic pitcher, holds enough water for the whole family to enjoy. The BPA-free container holds 10 gallons of water and will fit in most refrigerator doors. The pitcher comes with one water filter, and this needs to be changed every 40 gallons. For general use, that means a filter should last two months. The good news is that there is no guesswork on when this filter needs to be changed. There is an indicator on your pitcher giving you a cheerful reminder when it is time to purchase a new one.
Advantages of this system include the cost. The Brita pitcher is relatively inexpensive, and it will save you from purchasing bottles of water. One Brita filter costs the same as 300 water bottles. The replacement filters are very inexpensive.
One of the disadvantages of this water filtration system speaks more to the type of filtration system instead of this particular product. Carbon filters do not make your water softer because it does not remove calcium and magnesium carbonates that cause hard water. The product literature is also specific in saying that the filter removes chlorine taste and smells from the water. This must mean that not all the actual chlorine is removed.
A disadvantage of this water filtration system is the design makes it tricky to disassemble for cleaning. The pitcher does leak at times, and testing shows that the amount of substances that are filtered from this system does not fall into an acceptable level. This product is also not able to be returned to Amazon.
The product dimensions are 11.9 x 7.4 x 16.8 inches. The Brita pitcher weights 2.29 pounds.
Type of filtration: Point of Use, Carbon Filter
Amount of water cleaned before replacing filter: 40 gallons
Cost: $ ($=approximately $25)
The Aquagear Water Pitcher claims to remove over 2000% more contaminants than the Brita pitcher. I don’t know how that math works, but it sounds as if it is a big claim. The system uses a five-stage filter with micron pores to remove fluoride, lead, chromium 6, chloramines, mercury, and chlorine. Again, this does not mean that your water supply has these contaminants. Residents in Flint, Michigan used the system. It reduced the lead and copper from the drinking water. In fact, the lead levels were reduced from 4 times the EPA limit to undetectable levels.
The literature for this water filtration system also claims that it leaves calcium and magnesium in the water, which reverse osmosis units strip out during purification. The filter is made in the USA and can clean 150 gallons of water each.
There is a lifetime guarantee for this product. If the filter pitcher ever breaks, the company will replace it for free. The filter can be recycled as the company will send you a postage-free envelope to return it to the company. The pitcher is BPA free. Aquagear said an independent lab tested the product, and this is the percentage of each substance that was removed.
- Fluoride (90.06%)
- Chlorine (99.9%)
- Chloramine (99.9%)
- Chromium 6 (99.4%)
- Lead (99.9%)
- Mercury (97.8%)
- Arsenic (99.8%)
- Copper (99.7%)
- Over 50 VOCs including trihalomethanes (99.0%)
One of the advantages of this water filtration system is the cost. Like the Brita, this is an inexpensive solution to treat water. The pitcher does not leak, and the water tastes great.
There are several disadvantages of this pitcher. Some independent tests show that the filter does not remove as many substances as it claims. Tap water tastes of chlorine again after a couple of week’s use. The filter is also incredibly slow. One would think this is a good thing because that may mean that the filter is working as it should. The filters are expensive to replace. In fact, the filters are over 70% of the cost of the original unit.
The Aquagear measures 11 x 10.8 x 5.5 inches. It weighs 2.6 pounds.
Type of filtration: Point of Use, Carbon Filter
Note: The company literature says this is a five-stage filter, but it never calls it a carbon filter.
Amount of water cleaned before replacing filter: 150 gallons
Cost: $$ ($=approximately $25)
The last water “receptacle” on our list. It is less of a pitcher and more a receptacle because it has a spigot the water runs through as the container sits in the refrigerator. ZeroWater also sells traditional pitchers from the same link. The traditional pitchers come in a six-cup, an eight-cup, and a 10-cup variety. Customers also have the choice of colors for the pitchers. Choose from blue and white, clear and white, or stainless and black. The price does not seem to vary for different colors. The price varies by size of the product. The spigot can be used with one hand.
Similar to Aquagear, ZeroWater uses a five-stage filter to purify the water. The company describes this as a carbon filter that uses ion exchange technology. It says that 99% of the fluoride is removed from the water and the ion exchange removes 99.6% of total dissolved solids. The company literature says the product removes the chlorine taste from tap water, and that it removes aluminum and lead that may contaminate water while in the pipes. It also removes or reduces the amount of copper, iron, zinc, hexavalent Chromium, mercury, chlorine, and hydrogen sulfide in tap water.
The Zero Water systems come with a total dissolved solids reader attached to the pitcher. The TDS reader also doubles as an indicator light telling the user when the filter needs to be replaced. The indicator light runs on a 1.5-volt button cell battery. The spigot is positioned at the bottom of the container to make sure all the filtered water can be used before refilling. The company has donated products and filters to cities struggling with water quality like Flint, Milwaukee, and Pittsburgh.
Here is how the Five-Stage Filtration System in the Zero Water system works.
Stage 1: The tap water runs through an activated carbon infused micro cloth. During this stage, dust and rust are removed. These contaminants may have made your water appear cloudy.
Stage 2: The water filters through a multi-layer system using carbon and an oxidation reduction alloy. During this stage, other suspended solids are removed.
Stage 3: The water spends time in a distributor that maximizes contact time. This stage removes organic contaminants, pesticides, herbicides, mercury, chlorine, and chloramine. During this stage is when bacteria is stopped from growing.
Stage 4: The water goes through a comprehensive ION Exchange array. This step removes inorganic compounds such as metals, nonmetals, and radiological contaminants.
Stage 5: Finally, the water runs through a non-woven membrane to remove fine particles. This final stage removes any other suspended solids.
The advantages of the ZeroWater system is that the container is solidly built. The spigot works well and does not leak. It does take time for water to filter through to the receptacle, but that is the nature of water filtration.
There are several disadvantages to the ZeroWater system. When using a new filter, it takes several days before the water tastes pure. After that point, things are dandy until the reading on the TDS monitor starts to increase. If you don’t replace the filter at this point, the water running through the system is actually worse than the original tap water you started with. Not only do the contaminants increase, but the water begins to taste sour.
The ZeroWater 23 Cup Dispenser measures 15 x 5.9 x 11 inches. It weighs 3.97 pounds.
Type of filtration: 5-Stage Filter
Amount of water cleaned before replacing filter: Not clear
Cost: $ ($=approximately $25)
Fun water fact: Residents of the U.S. use 400 billion gallons of water each day.
The Best Water Filtration System: Reverse Osmosis Systems
The Apec system is a point of entry system that is installed under the sink. It uses reverse osmosis to filter and purify water. It was designed and is assembled in the USA. The Apec system removes 99% of contaminants from tap and well water. Even though it says it removes thousands of contaminants, the ones most people care about (arsenic, chlorine, lead, fluoride, heavy metals, bacteria, and viruses) are on the list.
Apecs uses double carbon blocks in their filtration system. The extremely large carbon block surface maximizes water contact time to guarantee water purity and multiplies the lifetime of filters and the membranes. The system comes with a lead-free faucet plus certified tubing and parts that will not contaminate your water. The leak-free quick connect fittings require no extra lock clips to seal leaks. The pipe size is ¼ inch.
This system fits under the sink (usually the kitchen sink) and does not require any electricity to run. There are two different filter sets. The first one (Stage 1-3) is usually changed every six to 12 months. The larger filter should be changed every two to four years. This, of course, depends on the amount of use it receives.
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The first stage of the system removes dirt particles and rust. During the second phase, the water is run through a carbon block. This removes chlorine, strange tastes and odors, cloudiness, volatile organic compounds, and other chemicals. During the third stage of the filtration, the premium quality carbon block removes residual chemicals, tastes, and odors. The four-stage is the high rejection reverse osmosis membrane. This removes 99% of contaminants including arsenic, lead, fluoride, and heavy metals. The last stage is the refining coconut carbon filter. The video below shows a breakdown of the process:
The four-gallon pressurized tank holds three gallons of water when it is full. The Apec unit should clean 45 gallons per day. The product and rinse water ratio is 1:3. This means that filtering 10 gallons will cause 30 gallons to be used, but this depends on how hard the original water is that will be running through the system. An optional kit is available for purchase that will filter the water running into the refrigerator as well. The unit is available for purchase that will clean either 50 gallons per day or 75 gallons per day.
The APEC Top Tier 5-Stage Ultra Safe Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Filter System measures 16 x 5.2 x 17.5 inches and weighs 25 pounds.
Type of filtration: Reverse Osmosis
Fun water fact: The plastic industry reports that it takes 6.3 gallons of water to create 17 ounces of plastic. I have no idea why they use such odd ratios, but I don’t want to do the math to figure out how much plastic 10 gallons of water would help create.
Again, where do they come up with these names? Maybe the people in charge of naming their products are paid per letter. (I kid) The Woder system can be used with municipally treated water and well water, but it will last longer with the municipal water. The instructions also warn to not use with salty or softened water. It connects for use only with cold water for drinking. The Woder system lasts for 10,000 gallons (which for regular use is three years).
You don’t need to call your plumber to install this system. The company says it can be installed in five or 10 minutes. Just look how easy it is in this video:
It comes with a filter, head with a built-in valve, an inlet hose that has a 3/8 female compression by ¼ standard pipe thread, and an outlet hose with 3/8 m compression by a ¼ standard pipe. Easy peasy! It promises to rid your water of lead, heavy metals, chlorine, chromium 6, mercury, volatile organic compounds, and carcinogens. It leaves your water odor free and tasting right.
Unlike reverse osmosis filters, the Woder system leaves minerals your body needs. Reverse osmosis systems put out “dead” water or water that is free of these nutrients.
What essential minerals does the Woder system leave in the water? Why is this important? It is vital because these minerals are essential to your health. It leaves in calcium to help build healthy bones and teeth. Calcium also helps in nerve transmissions, muscle function, and hormone secretion. It leaves in potassium, which controls the electrical activity of your heart. It also helps build proteins and breaks down those yummy carbs.
While too much sodium is not ideal, your body does need some of it. It helps to stimulate nerve and muscle function. Sodium also maintains the balance of fluid in the cells and supports absorption of other nutrients. Magnesium supports 300 biochemical reactions in your body and supports muscle and nerve function. It also builds strong bones and boosts immunity. Phosphorus, also found it water, produces proteins and repairs cells. Chloride, usually consumed as salt, plays an important role in the production of digestive juices in the stomach.
Besides keeping essential minerals in the water, the Woder system also keeps your skin healthy. With cleaner water, your skin will feel naturally softer, smoother, and more beautiful. Your dishes will also be cleaner because the watermarks from regular tap water will have disappeared.
Some negative aspects of the Woder water filtration system have to do with the water pressure. The flow rate on this system is two gallons per minute at 65 psig. There is an immediate difference in water pressure after installation, and it becomes problematic within just a few months. Changing the filter may fix this problem, but some may have a difficult time finding the filter.
The Woder unit measures 3 x 3 x 15 inches. It weighs 2.75 pounds.
Amount of water cleaned before replacing filter: 10,000 gallons
Cost: $$$$ ($=approximately $25)
Fun water fact: Sorry, this is not a fun fact at all. In fact, it is disconcerting. Approximately 748 million people in the world do not have access to a healthy source of drinking water. Find out more at the end of this article on what you can do to help those in need of clean water for their daily use.
The Best Water Filtration System: Counter-top Systems
Even though this discussion will be about the three-gallon system, please note that the system also comes in 1.5, 2, 3, 4.5, and 6-gallon sizes.
The system includes the following: an upper and lower stainless-steel chamber, two purification elements, two wingnuts, two washers, one priming button, two fluoride, and arsenic reduction elements, stainless steel lid with handle, spigot, and a rubber gasket to protect the base. The unit is made of highly polished AISI 304 stainless steel. It is made and assembled in the USA and comes with a warranty. Even though the system comes with a warranty, the warranty becomes void if the unit is used for water that was previously treated with a water softener.
There are two different types of filters within the system. The black filters are made of a solid carbon block and work to absorb the impurities in the water. They filter up to 6,000 gallons per pair before replacing. The ceramic filters are will last up to 1,000 gallons per pair at peak efficiency, but will still provide some filtration for a long time after that because it is an ultra-fine screen.
The different elements within the Berkey system last for a different number of gallons. Each black Berkey Element is designed to purify approximately 3,000 gallons of water before needing replacement. Two of the elements in a Berkey system will purify approximately 6,000 gallons of water before replacement is recommended. The outside of the unit can be cleaned up to 100 times using a Scotch-Brite pad. Each set of two Berkey PF-2 Elements are good for 1,000 gallons of use.
This system also comes with a stainless-steel BPA free water bottle with rubber grips. The water bottle is 10.5 inches tall, 2.5 inches wide and holds 24 ounces.
The unit can be paired with a stainless-steel wire stand with non-skid feet. This allows the unit to not sit directly on the counter. You can also purchase a water-level spigot so you can see how much is in the filtration system at all times. This spigot is made of glass and is also available on Amazon.
The 3-gallon system actually holds 3.25 gallons of water. It is designed for home use, but can also be used during outdoor activities or unexpected emergencies. Use this system with municipal water, well water, and untreated raw water. Yes, you can get water from lakes, streams, stagnant ponds, and any “unsafe” sources. You can use the Berkey system while traveling in areas where available water sources are considered unsafe.
The Berkey system removes pathogenic bacteria, cysts, and parasites entirely and also take out harmful chemicals such as herbicides, pesticides, and volatile organic compounds. I’m not sure what volatile organic compounds are, but I sure am glad I’m not drinking them. The system also removes organic solvents, radon 222 and trihalomethanes. It also reduces nitrates, nitrites and unhealthy minerals such as lead and mercury. Like the last system, it removes all the undesired chemicals, but it keeps in the healthy minerals your body needs. For some reason, this system is not available in California or Iowa. California, I can understand. But Iowa?
The Berkey system seems to do as promised, but the instruction book needs to be rewritten. Instead, look for videos online to help with the system set-up.
The Berkey unit measures 26 x 13 x 12 inches. It weighs 12.76 pounds.
Amount of water cleaned before replacing filter: 3,000 – 6,000 gallons
This is the most expensive of the systems on the list, but don’t be too concerned about the number of dollar signs listed above. This system is more expensive than the pitcher-type systems that can be placed in the refrigerator, but still very affordable. Also, keep in mind the amount of water that can run through the Berkey system before a filter needs changing. Cheaper systems may only be cheaper because the company understands they will be making their money from selling filters for the lifetime of their products. This is similar to the razor industry. Have you purchased replacement heads for razors recently? Sheesh!
Fun water fact: The World Health Organization says that at a minimum, each person needs two gallons of water per day.
The Best Water Filtration System: Portable Water Treatment Options
There is one system on our list that is for the outdoors enthusiast, it is the…
The system is sold as a single unit, or as a two pack or four pack. It is designed for outdoor recreation such as hiking and camping. It can also be used for international travel when you are headed to an area not known for having the purest of drinking water. Also, keep a Sawyer system in your emergency preparedness kit. The system is made in Florida.
The filter is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and weighs just two ounces. It attaches to a drinking pouch, disposable water bottles, or your hydration pack. You can also use the straw to drink directly from your water source. What fun is that? Amaze your friends by leaning into a stagnant pond and enjoying a drink of water.
The Sawyer system removes 99.9999% of salmonella, cholera, e Coli, and bacteria. It also removes protozoa such as giardia and cryptosporidium.
The filter can work for up to 100,000 gallons of water. The system includes a mini-filter, a 16-ounce squeeze pouch, a 7-inch drinking straw, and a cleaning plunger.
This is how it works. Attach the filter and straw onto the included 16-ounce reusable squeeze pouch to drink directly from the filter or squeeze the water into a water bottle. You can also attach the filter and straw onto most disposable water bottles. It screws right on! The filter/straw unit can be attached inline on your hydration pack, including Camelbacks. No adapters are required for this. More adventurous folks can drink through the straw from your source of fresh water. Take a drink and wave to the fish at the same time.
The Sawyer system works with absolute micron filtering technology. This means the filter is comprised of tiny u-shaped microtubes that allow the liquid to enter into their core through tiny pores. There are so many of the tiny tubes that it allows the filter to have a fast flow rate. This allows the water to be enjoyed immediately. There are no worries that the water will become re-contaminated after the filtration process has worked.
The proprietary element of Sawyer’s water filters is comprised of tiny ‘U’ shaped micro-tubes that allow water to enter into their core through tiny micro-pores. The high number of those tiny tubes and their surface area allows the filter to have one of the fastest flow rates in the world. This high flow rate eliminates the need to store water, reducing the possibility of water contamination after the filtration process. Please note that the Sawyer filter does not remove chemicals, dissolved solids, or viruses. This should be fine to use in most high adventure areas though as hopefully these sources of water are purer than the Hudson River.
Sawyer makes other travel systems that remove chemicals, pesticides, and heavy metals.
If you plan to keep your filter for a long time, backwash and sanitize the filter after every use with the plunger that comes with the system. Also, sanitize the filter before and after prolonged storage.
One of the more common problems with the Sawyer system is a malfunction with the O rings. This seems to be an issue with the mini Sawyer system but not the larger versions.
The Sawyer unit measures 5 x 5 x 8 inches. Even though the literature says the system weighs two ounces, I’m not sure what the two ounces includes. Does that include the pouch and straw? What about the plunger? If you are going to be backpacking, even a few ounces make a difference.
Amount of water cleaned before replacing filter: 100,000 gallons. In other words, you could get a lifetime of use from this product.
Cost: $ for one of the filters.
Fun water fact: Let’s pretend that all of the water vapor in our planet’s atmosphere fell as water at once and spread out evenly over the surface of the earth. It would only cover the globe with about an inch of water.
So, which of these is really the Best Water Filtration system?
The answer to that question depends. As far as the water pitcher goes, customers seem to like the Aquagear Water Filter Pitcher. The water that runs through the Aquagear system tastes excellent, even though the water takes time to work its way through the system. The pitcher is easy to clean, and it comes with that handy monitor that tells you when it is time to change the filter. There’s no more guesswork!
If you are concerned about contaminants in your water, consider purchasing a reverse osmosis unit. Those suffering from health crises may find it necessary to remove all the “extras” out of your water. If that’s the case, consider purchasing the APEC Top Tier 5-Stage Ultra Safe Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Filter System. Be aware that while it filters out contaminants, it also filters out the needed minerals in the water. Consider taking mineral supplements to overcome this problem. Also, be aware that the filters for this unit can be pricey compared to other options.
People also love the Royal Berkey Water Filter. The system is pricey and takes a lot of counter room, but people love the taste and purity of the water it filters. Plus, the filters are amazingly accurate enough to leave in the minerals your body needs while it removes contaminants out of the water. Isn’t that amazing? If it were up to me, I’m not sure I would have even discovered how to make fire.
For those of you who are outdoor enthusiasts, consider purchasing the Sawyer systems. You may consider purchasing the larger systems instead of the mini until the company is able to fix the problem with their O rings. You wouldn’t want to depend on this for your only water supply, and then find yourself in the backwoods with a broken system and no other water on you.
Fun water fact: Turn off your faucet! Since the average faucet releases 2 gallons of water per minute, you can save up to four gallons of water every morning by turning off your faucet while you brush your teeth.
Other costs to consider
No matter what system you purchase, become a vigilant consumer. Check other reviews. Pay attention to other costs of the filters. Pay attention to how much water is used to produce filtered and sanitized drinking water. Your water bill may increase after purchasing a system.
Also, find out what type of system is really necessary for your area. Pay attention to your local water supply report that comes out each July. Be aware of possible issues of your water. Remember, not all contaminants have a funny taste or smell. You could be ingesting harmful substances without even realizing it.
If you do purchase a system, be vigilant in changing the filters when suggested. Neglecting them can allow mildew to grow, defeating the purpose of trying to purify your tap water, which was probably cleaner before it passed through a mildewed filter.
Fun water fact: Ninety-seven percent of the water on Earth is salt water.
The Best Water Filtration System: Whole-house systems
Even though this article does not cover them, you may consider purchasing a whole-house water filter system. There are different considerations to keep in mind while buying a whole-house unit. One of the most significant differences is that the unit will filter all the water your household uses. This includes water that runs through your dishwasher, your clothes washer, your showers, your bathtubs, your ice maker, and your bathroom and kitchen faucets. Your whole-house system needs to able to keep up with these demands, especially during peak times. Know how much your household actually uses to ensure adequate water flow through your unit.
Another aspect to consider when buying a whole-house system is how often you have to change your filter. Some whole-house filters come with a 100,000-gallon filter. Others come with a 1,000,000-gallon filter. Make sure you check the price of the replacement filter before you install a system in your home. No one wants sticker shock when purchasing a needed filter for their system. This doesn’t mean you should go cheap on your filter or water treatment unit. The more expensive the filter, the better the quality of water you will receive. The best filters will block anything larger than 0.35 microns. One micron is one-thousandth of a meter, so that is pretty small.
How do you know if you need a whole house water filter instead of a smaller system?
There are several things to consider. You may want to purchase a whole-house filter if your water has high bacterial contamination. You also may need a larger unit if your water has a weird taste or smell. If you see small particles floating around in your water, this could be affecting your appliances. Also, consider a whole-house system if you don’t feel comfortable with the yearly report you received from the water treatment plant.
Fun water fact: It takes 2.6 gallons of water to make a sheet of paper.
Is it hard to install a whole-house water purification unit?
Whole-house water purifiers are not difficult to install, but some people who are inexperienced with DIY projects might want to call for professional help.
Here’s how you do it:
- Turn off the main water supply and drain the system.
- Choose the new location for the filter and mark it. Keep in mind you’ll have to change the filters constantly so choose a location you can reach comfortably.
- Cut the pipe using a pipe cutter.
- Install the compression nut and plastic/brass fittings according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure you use Teflon tape on the fittings.
- Install the filter with the “in” and “out” ports facing the right directions.
- Turn the filter’s inlet valve off and turn on the main water supply. If there aren’t any leaks, turn the inlet valve on. Check for leaks again. You might have someone else assist you during this process.
Every time you need to change the filter, don’t forget to turn the inlet valve off during the process. Clear as mud? Search for a YouTube video on how to install your particular unit. For some reason, YouTube is chock-full of instruction videos similar to this.
Water fun fact: It takes 39,090 gallons of water to manufacture a new car. I would love to know how this is determined.
How to Install an Under the Counter Water Filtration System
- Turn off the water at the cold-water shut-off valve.
- Disconnect the water line from the shutoff valve by loosening the nut and removing the tubing.
- Place the filter unit on the side of the cabinet wall closest to the cold-water line. Mark your location for the mounting bracket.
- Drill the screws in half-way. Make sure there will be enough room to change the water filter easily.
- Connect the unit to the plumbing connection. Consider discarding the plastic tubing that is included in most kits and instead purchase flex lines from your local hardware store. These lines are easier to work with and don’t break as often as the old plastic tubings.
- Thread the brass fittings that come with the kit onto each side of the filer cap. Use Teflon tape to make sure there are not any leaks.
- Tighten the fittings but don’t over tighten. Thread one flex line onto the fitting marked “in” and another onto the fitting marked “out.”
- Hang the unit on the assembly that is on the side of your cabinet wall. Tighten the screws on the assembly.
- Connect the flex line that leads from the in fitting to the shutoff valve. Connect the flex line that leads from the out fitting to the threaded faucet stem.
- Slowly turn on the water supply.
- Check for leaks. Release any trapped air with the pressure relief button. Take care of any leaks immediately. They will not go away on their own.
Does this sound too complicated? Search YouTube for a video that shows how to install your particular unit. Make sure you have all the necessary tools and supply lines at arm’s length to minimize disruption to your household.
How do you change a whole-house water filter?
Changing the filters can vary between models, but most follow the same principle.
- When you have to change the filter, turn off the water filter’s inlet valve.
- Screw off the filter. Be careful of collecting any dripping water.
- Clean the inside of the filter using a clean, dry cloth.
- Insert the new filter and tighten it up using a filter wrench.
- Turn the inlet valve back on.
- Allow the water to run somewhere through your system for at least 10 minutes for the filter to activate and before you drink the water.
Fun water fact: It takes 924 gallons of water to produce 2.2 pounds of rice.
How to change the water filter for an under-the-sink system
- First, shut off the water supply the runs through the system. Turn on the faucet that runs from the system to relieve the pressure.
- Loosen the filter by hand or by using a filter wrench. Keep the filter upright because it may be full of water.
- Remove the filter and the housings.
- Check the systems O rings. Clean them and see if they need to be replaced. Do not put in the new filter without the O rings.
- Check the old filter for sediment. If there is a lot of sediment in your system, you may consider adding an additional filtration device that the water runs through before arriving under your sink.
- Clean the filter holdings with warm soapy water and a scrub brush. You will need to complete this process in another sink that has running water. Replace the filter with a new one.
- Open the water shut-off valves and allow the pipes to refill. Allow the water to sit in the system without being used for thirty minutes. Turn on the faucet and let it run for ten minutes before using it for drinking.
Fun water fact: The average human body is made of 50 to 65 percent water.
How do you pick a water treatment system?
Whole-house or point of use? Reverse osmosis or carbon filter? Portable or not? There are a plethora of systems available. It’s overwhelming to know where you should begin. Here are questions to consider: Do you want to treat just your drinking water or do you want to treat all the water coming into your home? Consider all of the uses of water within your home. Do you have issues with washing your clothes with your current tap water? What about your showers?
Things to consider if you receive your water from a well
Do you receive your water from a private well? Here are steps you may want to consider. Adding chlorine will kill all bacteria and viruses, but then consider removing the chlorine with a pre-use filter. The pre-filter will remove the big chunks of organic matter from your well water before it enters the pipes of your house. Use a carbon filtering system on the kitchen tap water.
Things to consider if you receive your water from a municipal source
Do you use municipal water? Municipal water sources are compromised daily by storm runoff or broken water pipes. Many people using city water are concerned about the fluoride added into the system. If this is the case for you, consider using reverse osmosis and carbon filtering to remove fluoride from your family’s water source.
If you have someone in your family who is prone to asthma or respiratory illness, your priority may be removing chlorine from your water. Consider purchasing a pre-use filter that removes chlorine from bathroom water and your washing machine, as well as kitchen water.
Learn about your plumbing system. If your home was built before 1998, there is a chance that your pipes could contain lead. These pipes, when corroded, can enter your drinking water. If this is the case, you need a pre-use system to remove the toxic lead from your family’s drinking water.
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What’s in your water? This is where your annual water report plays an important role. If you know what contaminants are in your water, you can better understand what type of system will best serve your family. Visit the EPA website to find your local water report. Also look for certified systems by visiting the WQA Gold Seal or NSF International websites.
The Cost of the Best Water Filtration System
Do you still need help in determining which type of system is best for your family’s health and budget? Here is a breakdown on the average price of the types of each system. We will also discuss the pros and cons of each type.
The least expensive water treatment option is the water pitcher filter. You can purchase one of these items for between $20 and $50. This is the least expensive option, and water pitcher filters reduce the number of contaminants consumed. The negative aspect of this type of system is that pitchers do not remove as many contaminants as other systems. It also needs replacing periodically. Many of these pitchers only hold between 10 and 12 cups of water, which means if you have a large family, you will constantly be refilling the pitcher.
Portable water filters, similar to the Berkey, are a little more expensive. These systems, which cost around $150 to $300 provide clean water for a small family. The benefit of this system is that it cleans water while keeping in minerals that your body needs. One of the negative aspects of systems similar to these is that the filters need to be replaced periodically.
Reverse osmosis units sell between $150 to $300. These systems use a high-pressure pump to force water through a semi-permeable membrane. These units can remove contaminants from a lot of water – usually the whole house. Reverse osmosis units remove bacteria and viruses, and they can also make sea water drinkable. One of the negative aspects of the reverse osmosis units is that they also remove the minerals within water, leaving the water “dead.”
Reverse osmosis units use a lot of water as well. For each gallon of clean water, three other gallons are disposed of during the treatment.
Ion exchange systems are usually inexpensive. At only $50, they remove inorganic materials from the water. Ion exchanges leave potentially harmful organic substances in the water, which is a detriment to this system.
Carbon filters are easy to install, cost between $200 and $300 and remove many substances and chemicals from the water. Carbon filters also provide what many describe as the best tasting water because it removes odd tastes and odors. The negative side of these systems is that you are continually changing the filters. If the filters aren’t changed regularly, the water quality becomes more polluted than the regular tap water. These do not remove the fluoride in some cases as well.
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Distillation systems are easy to install as well. They work similar to the real water cycle found in nature. The systems boil the water and then collect the water vapor as it condenses. They cost between $150 and $250, and there is not the added cost of purchasing filters several times a year. The water left is clean of pollutants, but the process takes a long time to go through. Minerals are also stripped from the water.
As mentioned, most of the water systems described in this article can be installed by do it yourselfers.
In more complicated situations, such as the installation of reverse osmosis systems, you may need to hire a plumber. You also may need to hire a professional if your home is older and does not follow standard plumbing practices. Plumbers vary in cost depending on the area but be prepared to pay on average $45 to $65 an hour. The installation of a whole-house water system may take between two and three hours.
Fun water fact: It takes 3,962 gallons of water to produce 2.2 pounds of beef.
What about hard water? Is that fixed using a filtration system?
Some homeowners’ biggest concern about their tap water may be regarding the hardness of the water instead of the contaminants or taste of their water. It’s embarrassing to pull out a wine glass for a visitor to see the glass covered with sediments that look like dirty white chalk. Hard water generally occurs in inner-city areas or homes located in places with high temperatures and low rainfall. Many of these homes are built in areas that have a high mineral content in the soil. The two main elements causing this problem are magnesium and calcium.
If you have followed this discussion closely, you will have learned that there are only a few water purification systems that remove magnesium and calcium, and those are the reverse osmosis units and condensation units. Also keep in mind that even though magnesium and calcium cause water to build up on your glasses and appliances, they are also minerals that are important for your body’s health. Water softeners use salt and ion-exchange resins to remove magnesium and calcium from the water. These resins have a coating of sodium solution that forces magnesium and calcium ions to migrate out of the water and reach active sites on the resin where they are replaced with sodium ions.
What if you have hard water that is contaminated as well? You will need something more than a water softener. However, if you seem to have additional water quality concerns like the lousy taste or waterborne pathogens, iron staining, bacterial contamination, and chlorination, softening systems will fail to deliver excellent results.
So, the short answer is, if you use a reverse osmosis system, which removes minerals and contaminants from the water, this will make your water somewhat softer. It may not alleviate all your hard-water issues though.
If you want to run a water softener and a water filtration system, pay attention to your products’ warranties. You may void a purifiers warranty if it is continuously working to remove salt from your system that you added intentionally to soften your water.
Fun water fact: In developing nations women and girls are primarily responsible for collecting water; on average, 25 percent of their day is spent on this task.
We often don’t think of it until something goes wrong. When that happens, it becomes headline news, and government agencies become involved. It’s something that we all take for granted. I’m talking about safe, pure drinking water.
How safe is our drinking water?
Most Americans enjoy quality drinking water without even thinking about it. We turn on the tap, and there it is. For some, turning on the tap gives cause for hesitation. How do we know that what is in our water bottle is the healthiest water for our family? Are unseen pollutants floating in our water? What if there is something dangerous lurking in our iced drinks that we don’t even know about? What is that funny taste? Why does my water smell like a swimming pool?
And then we hear about Flint, Michigan, where high lead levels made their drinking water unsafe and virtually undrinkable.
And then we read reports from USA Today that says 63 million people have been exposed to unsafe drinking water at least once in the last ten years.
Is the water that we give to our children the purest that it can be? Millions of American households are turning to some form of water filtration system to ensure that we are keeping hydrated with the safest water possible.
Before we discuss the best water filtration systems available, let’s learn about how our ancestor’s dealt with this health concern.
Fun water fact: There is more water in the atmosphere than in all of our rivers combined.
The history of drinking water in the U.S.
All civilizations began near clean drinking water. It was one of the necessary requirements when choosing a location to settle, and that concern did not change for centuries. In the United States, original inhabitants and early settlers drank from untreated fresh water rivers, lakes, and streams. As inhabitants moved west and homesteaded, it became necessary for wells to be dug, and someone gifted in water witching would survey the area to find the best area to dig.
But there were plenty of Americans left in cities, and they began to grow. When disease hit, residents of cities died of cholera and typhoid. Initially, medical experts assumed it was the “bad air” that spread these diseases, but in 1854, John Snow established a link between such disease and contaminated water. Even though it took a while for other scientists and public officials to become convinced that clean water was essential, water treatment began spreading throughout the next decade. Much like any new government systems, it took much convincing that such a thing was needed. It was a slow-growing process.
It took longer for government agencies to insist that wastewater was treated. Originally, wastewater was discharged into natural bodies of water because it was believed that the large capacity of clean water would self-purify the lakes, rivers, and oceans. It sounds preposterous to us today, but raw sewage and other wastewater with soaps and detergents were released into our natural bodies of water. This went on for decades. It wasn’t until the 1970s that the majority of Americans questioned this practice. It was then that the environmental consciousness of Americans awoken.
Originally, water quality was in the hands of state and local governments. If local politicians were not concerned about water quality, then nothing was done about it. Even though the federal government enacted an act in 1948, called the Federal Water Pollution Control Act it didn’t change the water standards. The Act was amended in 1965, establishing a uniform set of water quality standards and creating a Federal Water Pollution Control Administration authorized to set standards for drinking water and wastewater. The Environmental Protection Agency, created in the 1970s, established control over policing the safety of water.
Finally, in 1974, the Safe Drinking Water Act was adopted to regulate public water systems. This law specified a number of contaminants that must be closely monitored and reported to residents. If those contaminants exceeded a certain amount, something more must be done before the water is considered safe for consumption. From then on, federal, state, and municipal governments for safety and compliance with regulations have monitored drinking water systems. But do we trust those systems and guidelines? Do we trust the people running those systems?
After the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 was passed, scientists studied drinking water quality. The study found that there really was not a lot of information available on drinking water quality. Their initial study confirmed that there are some concerns over water in the United States. The report showed that water sources included cryptosporidium, lead, perchlorates, and pharmaceutical substances. Those of you not up on chemistry and microbiology will be amazed to know that cryptosporidium is a parasite that causes diarrhea. Perchlorates are a naturally occurring and manufactured compound that has an adverse effect on the health of individuals. Even after the guidelines were written, water quality was still an issue for households across America.
Even though the EPA enacted the Consumer Confidence Rule of 1998, which requires most public water suppliers to provide consumer confidence reports, also known as annual water quality reports, to their customers, many are concerned about what is coming out of their tap. The report, mailed to anyone connected with public water by July 1 of each year, is supposed to tell where your drinking water comes from and what is in it. Many probably throw the report away unopened. Some may look at the report, but may not be able to decipher the technical descriptions. Those who are able to interpret the report . . . go out and buy a water treatment system.
When was the last time you looked at your water quality report? Do you even remember receiving it? Was it one of those envelopes that you meant to open, but then ended up throwing away while purging through your pile of papers?
Visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s website to find your report.
Fun water fact: It takes 2,641 gallons of water to manufacture a pair of jeans.
Water filtration vs. water purification
It is important to note that there is a difference between water filtration and water purification. Water filtration systems typically get rid of more impurities than other methods of cleaning water. This is because commercial water filters are designed to work with municipally treated water. Filtered water does not remove calcium, zinc, and magnesium. It does remove contaminants such as pesticides, mercury, lead, and heavy metals. Filtered water does not remove viruses from your water. Filtering systems reduce the amount of chlorine and other chemicals found in your municipal water. Filtered water helps your water taste and smell better. An example of filtering water is boiling or running the water through a carbon filter. Filtered water does not mean that the water is entirely free of contaminants and safe to drink.
Water purification is a chemical process. Biological contaminants, viruses, chemicals, and other materials are removed from water during purification. Some systems purify water by adding chemicals like iodine or chlorine to water. This method removes harmful substances, but more chemicals are left in the water. Additionally, some water purification systems like reverse osmosis remove beneficial minerals like magnesium and calcium from the water.
Before you purchase a system, it is essential to understand what you are really receiving. Don’t assume that running your water through a pitcher in your refrigerator will remove every contaminant. Read on to learn more about water filtering and purification.
Fun water fact: On average, an American resident uses about 100 gallons of water per day.
Best Water Filtration System: What are we worried about?
Why should we worry about our water? Doesn’t it go through a system to remove all impurities and toxins before coming through our tap? Doesn’t our government care about our health and want what’s best and healthiest for our families? This article is not meant to scare you, but some toxins have been found in our drinking water. Here are some of them that can be found and what affects they can have on our health.
Fluoride was added to our drinking water in the 1940s to help promote healthy teeth, and it continues to be a debate today. While adding fluoride sounds like a noble endeavor, it may not be in actuality. Fluoride is a neurotoxin and an endocrine disruptor. This can harm the thyroid gland and the pineal gland. Some studies have shown that fluoride can cause damage to tooth enamel. It is used in rat poison and is considered a hazardous waste product by the Environmental Protection Agency. Some U.S. cities have removed fluoride from their public water systems. Check your local water report to see if fluoride is used in your area. Read more about it to see if this is a chemical you approve of for your family.
If you have spent any time at a public swimming pool, you are familiar with chlorine. We all know the smell and have seen the effects of it on our swimming suits and hair. Chlorine is added in our drinking water during the purification process, but it is a reactive chemical that bonds with water. Chlorine can cause respiratory problems and damage cells. It can also cause memory loss and impair your balance. It has been identified as the leading cause of the cancer of the bladder. Chlorine is also associated with breast and rectal cancers, asthma, premature aging of skin and birth defects. Does that make you think twice about visiting your local pool for a refreshing swim?
We all know to stay away from mercury. It makes me shudder to think about my husband playing with the jar of mercury as a child that his chemist grandfather kept in his lab. Mercury is extremely toxic and can cause brain damage, blindness, nerve damage, cognitive disability, impairment of motor functions, headaches, weakness, muscle atrophy, tremors, mood swings, memory loss, and skin rashes. And yes, it has been found in water supplies.
The residents of Flint, Michigan know the effects of having lead in their water. All of America was shocked to see that such a huge public health crisis could happen in this modern age in an American city. Lead was the primary toxin in Flint’s water system, and it found its way into the water because of the use of corroded pipes. Lead is toxic to almost every organ and affects children the worst. Exposure to lead can cause developmental issues, stunted growth, deafness, behavioral problems, learning disabilities, and brain damage. It can cause premature birth. It has been linked to several types of cancer and damages the cardiovascular, digestive, and reproductive systems. Lead has also been linked to autism. And yes, it is found in America’s water supply.
Industrial chemicals, such as polychlorinated biphenyls, also have made its way into our water supply. Even though they were banned back in the late 1970s, they are very slow to break down and are still found in the environment. PCBs cause cancer and affect numerous body systems. They are colorless and odorless. You won’t know if it is there unless you read your annual water report.
Another industrial chemical, arsenic, is dangerous to the water supply. You may not know that arsenic also occurs naturally. There have been reports of natural arsenic poisoning individuals even before industrial waste was even considered an issue. It is an odorless, tasteless poison that can cause cancer. It causes other issues in your body like diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Arsenic is also connected to several types of cancers and blackfoot disease. Arsenic is odorless, tasteless and a poisonous element well-known to be extremely carcinogenic.
Would you like to drink rocket fuel and other chemicals used to make explosives? Then great news for you! The Colorado River has been contaminated with these chemicals, and they are called perchlorates. This chemical attacks the body’s thyroid.
Again, just because something occurs naturally, it doesn’t mean that it is healthy or good for you. Dioxins are released into the atmosphere when something is burned. It doesn’t matter if the substance that is burned includes grassland or coal. Dioxins from forest fires, cigarette smoke, and burning coal can land in our water supply. Dioxins cause cancer. It also affects almost every body system.
DDT, or Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane, was used as an insecticide in the 1940s. My mother-in-law talks about running behind the truck during the summer that sprayed out what she now thinks was DDT onto the city streets to control the bug population. Even though DDT helped combat disease spread by insects, it was banned in the U.S. in the 1970s because of the effects it was having on the environment and our health. DDT causes reproductive problems and liver damage. It also causes cancer.
Other pesticides, like HCB, also have been banned, but it still rears its ugly head even years after it has been officially used. In the 1950s, hundreds of people died after being poisoned by this substance. Thirty years later, it has shown up in the breast milk of women living in the area. Who knows how long this substance will be lurking in our groundwater and surface water?
Still used today, Dacthal (dimethyl tetrachloroterephthalate, or DCPA) is an herbicide that contaminates soil and thus our water sources. This herbicide damages the adrenal glands, kidneys, liver, thyroid, and spleen. And yes, it is still being used.
Gasoline additives such as MtBE (methyl tertiary-butyl ether) can harm our water supply as well. MtBE has been linked to problems with fetal development. It can cause seizures and kidney damage as well.
Most of the contaminants discussed so far are from industrial and agricultural pollution, but pharmaceutical drugs have made their way into our drinking water too. Unbelievable as it sounds, the drugs make their way into our water supply through the urine of individuals taking those drugs. The urine is flushed and goes through treatment before released into the water supply. Traces of antibiotics, psychiatric medicines, and painkillers have been found.
As we have learned from arsenic, just because something occurs naturally does not mean that it is good. Chromium is found naturally in rocks, plants, soil, volcanic dust and even animals. It is an odorless and tasteless metallic. The EPA considers Hexavalent chromium as a carcinogen, but there are no government regulations for hexavalent chromium in drinking water. As we have learned, government agencies are slow to move. It takes years of study and a solution to a problem must be found before something is done.
Fun water fact: At one drip per second, a faucet can leak 3,000 gallons in a year.
What else is in our water if you don’t use a water filtration system?
So how safe is our water? Even though Americans enjoy some of the cleanest tap water on Earth, millions of Americans still drink tap water that is dangerous to their health. And they may not even realize it. The problem is that new chemicals have infiltrated our tap water, and it takes time for the effects of those substances to be tested and treated. The EPA hasn’t added any new chemicals on the list to be monitored since the year 2000. It is a slow-moving process to add a new chemical to the list.
We haven’t even eradicated all of the dangerous chemicals that we know about! Chromium-6 was detected in the drinking water supplies of more than 200 million Americans. In 2016, a study found unsafe levels of polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in the drinking water of six million Americans. And then there is Flint.
What is most concerning are the number of pollutants that make it past water-treatment plants. Even though these are excellent individuals who care about their jobs, when humans are involved in the process, there is a chance of error. Yes, treatment plants go through the process of filtering or killing unwanted elements in our water, but sometimes things happen that are out of their control.
Fun water fact: Collectively, South African women and children walk a daily distance equivalent to 16 trips to the moon and back to fetch water. And I get irritated when my internet runs slowly. This certainly should put things in perspective.
Where does our drinking water come from in the U.S.?
Where does our water come from in the US? It depends on where you live. Many of the residents of our larger cities rely on rivers and lakes, or surface water, for their water supply. Studies have shown that this surface water is more susceptible to pollution as opposed to groundwater. Rocks and soil usually naturally filter groundwater. Even though groundwater is still treated, it does not have the same number of contaminants as surface water sources. Where do you receive your water? Discover the source of your water my looking up your water report linked to the EPAs website.
Fun water fact: The first water pipes in the U.S. were made from hollowed logs.
How is our water treated?
What does the water treatment process look like? There are usually five steps that treatment facilities go through before delivering the water through your tap.
The first part of the process is called coagulation. The untreated water is mixed with alum that forms small, sticky particles called “floc.” Floc attracts bits of dirt and other debris in the water. (There is discussion online on whether or not alum is safe in drinking water. Most experts believe that in small quantities that it does not affect our health.)
During the next step, sedimentation, the floc and dirt sink to the bottom, and the cleaner water goes to the top.
During Filtration, the “clean” water passes through a series of filters designed to clean out smaller particles. These filters are often made of sand, gravel, and charcoal. This process is supposed to mimic the natural soil filtration process that usually keeps groundwater pure in nature.
The water is then disinfected with chlorine or other chemicals. Remember, filtering only removes particles from the drinking water. Chlorine kills the creepy crawlers that can’t be seen. After chlorine is added, the water is stored to let the chemicals work. Bacteria and viruses are removed during this process.
From there, the water enters our homes through a long series of pipes.
Fun water fact: Nearly 1.8 billion people worldwide drink water that is contaminated with feces.
What causes the EPA concern?
The water treatment process sounds like a thorough, safe system. In most cases, water treatment facilities produce a safe product for consumption. But the Environmental Protection Agency is still concerned.
In areas where the water is highly contaminated, some of those dangerous substances mentioned earlier are more likely to enter the water supply. Other treatment plants may have been poorly built or maintained. Sometimes our water may become polluted by illegal or accidental spills or stormwater runoff. As mentioned before, some of the chemicals used in the water treatment process have also been found to be problematic.
According to the EPA, there are still substances that we need to be concerned about in our drinking water.
Lakes, rivers, and streams are home to a wide variety of microbes. Microbes include bacteria, viruses, protozoa, fungi, and parasitic worms. They cause infection or disease. They are mainly a problem in rural areas where manure from livestock affects the water supply.
Besides chlorine, disinfection byproducts such as bromate, chlorite and haloacetic acids can be found in our drinking water. These substances occur as a result of a chemical reaction occurring in the water purification process.
Even if the water is sanitized and purified at the water treatment plants, that doesn’t mean you have clean water. The water arrives at your home after traveling through miles of pipes. Inorganic chemicals such as arsenic, lead, and mercury from corroded pipes and run-off, causes the EPA concerns.
One of the most common worries of the EPA is organic chemicals, which include synthetic chemicals from atrazine to xylenes. Although organic chemicals account for the most significant number of regulated pollutants, thousands more have yet to be regulated at all.
Even though the EPA is more concerned about organic chemicals, there is still concern over how radiation affects our water supply. Natural deposits of radium, uranium and other radioactive metals can affect our water supply.
Those living in the Midwest have probably felt the effects of fracking or injecting water and chemicals into deep fractures of rock. This process allows gas or oil to move to the surface easier, but some say it is causing the earthquakes Midwesterners have felt more often in the last few years. The EPA is also concerned about how fracking affects water quality because drilling companies do not have to disclose what they are injecting in the crevices during this process.
Are you concerned yet? Those running the EPA are concerned. You have read a list of many possible contaminants. You now know contaminants that concern those working for the Environmental Protection Agency. The question is now, what do you do about it?
Fun water fact: On average, a European resident uses about 50 gallons of water per day.
Should you just buy bottled water?
Bottled water is often little more than packaged tap water. If you are concerned about water quality, most bottled water will do nothing to alleviate your worries.
Some of the bottles used in packaging are not BPA free. BPA stands for bisphenol A. This is a chemical that has been used to make plastics since the 1960s. BPA affects the brain and blood pressure. It also affects the behavior of infants and children. Even if the water is purified and sanitized, if it is not in a BPA receptacle, it is still not safe for consumption.
Some people opt for a water delivery service. This does not mean you are receiving quality water, and it can be expensive. Plan on spending around $8 for a five-gallon bottle of water. A filtered water dispenser averages $50 and $100.
Fun water fact: There are around one million miles of water pipeline in the U.S. and Canada. This is enough to circle the globe 40 times.
Water During a National Emergency
Most Americans don’t like thinking about what happens during a national disaster. The fact remains that we don’t know what the future has in store. War, drought, famine, disease, and other national tragedies may affect the way we live our lives at some point in the future. It’s a good idea to have some sort of emergency plan in case disaster strikes. Besides having a supply of food, it is also important to think about your water supply. After all, you can only survive three days without water. Collect and store canned goods in your home. Pack a bug-out bag so you can leave quickly if disaster strikes. Keep all your important papers in fire-proof and water-proof cases that can be grabbed quickly in case of an emergency.
Preppers prepare for every scenario, but one thing they are concerned about is the future water supply. If a bomb is dropped, what will that do to our drinking water? Will we have electricity to run a filtration device if a natural disaster occurs? How will we get water if we shelter in place? Also, consider what you can take with you for your water supply in your bug-out bag? You won’t be able to carry enough water to survive for long.
Keep in mind, each person in your family needs about one gallon of water a day for drinking and hygiene. You can’t carry that much water if on the move. Filtration systems may become necessary, and buying them during prosperity will be much easier than buying a water unit when you need it. The Sawyer system discussed earlier in this article is an excellent unit to keep on hand, even if you aren’t a camper or outdoor enthusiast. The water purification units are relatively inexpensive and are small to pack. It is also a good idea to carry water treatment drops or tablets in the case of an equipment malfunction.
Fun water fact: The water found in the Earth’s lakes, rivers, streams, ponds, and swamps accounts for only 0.3 percent of the world’s fresh water.
Access to clean water in other parts of the world
Even though Americans enjoy a relatively safe water supply, this is not true throughout the world. March 22 is World Water Day; a day set aside to bring attention to the plight of others across the world that do not have access to clean water. We may take clean water for granted. We have an abundant supply of clean water for not only hydration, but also to clean our clothes daily, bathe daily, and we even have enough water that we can use it for sport and relaxation. Take a moment to think about the women and children who spend 25 percent of their time toting water from a source that may or may not be clean. Think about how difficult it would be to stay clean in such an environment. Many charities focus on water issues throughout the world. Consider donating to one of the following water charities.
Generosity.org is an organization committed to ending the clean water crisis in developing countries. This group has helped hundreds of thousands of people in twenty countries get access to clean water.
Pure Water for the World focuses on communities in Central America and the Caribbean. It provides families with the tools and education they need for sustainable water, hygiene, and sanitation solutions.
Safe Water Bright Future has a goal to assist children in Haiti and Honduras in having access to clean water.
Blood:Water is a nonprofit that partners with African grassroots organizations to bring clean water and HIV/AIDS support to citizens in eleven African countries.
Water for Good works with communities in central Africa to establish sanitation, improve agriculture, and empowers people to create sustainable clean water access.
Hope of Life International is a faith-based organization serving families in Guatemala. Your one-dollar donation will provide a child with clean water for a year.
We hope you learned about many subjects involving water and the best water filtration systems through reading this article. As a recap, remember to be aware of your local water supply. Pay attention to your local water reports. If you decide to use a water filtration system, become knowledgeable about what you are purchasing before you spend your hard-earned money on a system. Always change your filters regularly.
And finally, do not take your water supply for granted. Do not waste your available water. Make sure your sprinklers are not running if you received rain recently. Shut the water off as you brush your teeth. Water your household plants with the remaining water in glasses or water bottles sitting around in your home. Only run your dishwasher and clothes washer when the units are full. Purchase high-efficiency units and only use the minimum amount of detergent necessary. Enjoy living in a time when we have healthy, clean water at our disposal. Always remain thankful for that blessing.