How I Chose the Perfect Water Filter for My Family

The world of water filters is confusing to say the least. There are so many options it’s staggering, not just different brands, but different filtration technologies and methods. What do we need to filter anyway? Flouride? Hard water? Pesticides? Anything and everything? It’s nearly impossible for the average busy family to filter (ha, get it?) the absolute storm of options and info available to find what it is they actually need.

Well I’ve been there too, I remember what it was like getting more and more confused and stressed when all I wanted was to give my family safe drinking water. It really shouldn’t be that complicated, isn’t clean water a basic human right!? After months of sorting through the endless products and trying all kinds of different things, I hope I’ve gotten enough experience now to help other families find the water filter they really need, without all the hassle.

Water Filter

Let’s Get Practical

The first thing we need to do is settle on what we really need from our new water filter. There are three common concerns with our home water supply that we need to deal with. The first is solid substances dissolved in the water, like lead or copper. The second is chemicals, like pesticides or fluoride. The third is the hardness of the water. Some water filters can solve all these problems, others can only filter out one or two.

Putting It to the Test

Depending on what you actually need, you could save some money by getting yourself a less capable filter. Although not as powerful, you would only be filtering what you actually need to have removed from your water. I recommend you test your water to find out what chemicals really are in there. If nothing else, it’ll give you peace of mind to know for sure what you’re dealing with. You can get a professional company to do this for you, or you can buy easy-to-use test strips and do it yourself like I did. Some test strips on the market aren’t great, but the ones I bought showed the same results as professional testing I had done a few months later, so I trust them!

My Favorite

Of course, some people need the works, they really do have awful water that needs total filtration. There’s plenty of great products for this case too, don’t worry. Personally, my water falls into this last category. Where I live, I’m surrounded by giant corn fields that get sprayed constantly with God-knows-what. Most of it apparently ends up in my well water, based on the chemical testing we did.

Pretty, but too bad about the chemicals they spray!

I knew we couldn’t take the unacceptable risk of harming our young children’s development with this nasty water they drink and bathe in. After trying less extreme options like Brita filters, I eventually went all in for the big stainless steel Berkey filter. I definitely believe this is the best home water filtration system overall. This thing is a tank, it filters EVERYTHING. You could even pour pond water in there (Ew) and get clean, pure water if you wanted! The Berkey water filter is the gold standard for water filters, unless you want to go all in for total peace of mind and get yourself a whole house water filtration system, which will filter your bathing water as well and make cooking with filtered water much more convenient.

Water Filter Types

The five basic types of water filters are the water filter pitcher, the faucet water filter, the countertop water filter, the reverse osmosis system, and the whole house water filter. Each type of water filter has its upsides and downsides.

Water Filter Pitchers

This is a pitcher which you fill up from your tap. The water is cleaned as it goes through the filter (usually carbon-based) in the pitcher, so when you pour water from the pitcher, it’s clean. Water filter pitchers are a great option if you just want to improve the quality of your drinking water a bit, maybe just remove that chlorine taste. Most people get the standard Brita pitcher, but I prefer the ZeroWater pitcher instead, since it does a better job filtering solids from the water.

Water Filter Pitcher

You can get water filter pitchers that truly remove all the chemical junk, but if you really need that much filtration firepower, I believe you’re really better off getting a full heavy-duty countertop water filter at least. The prices end up being comparable, and you’ll get more value and efficiency with the countertop model. However, if your water is already pretty good and you just want to make it taste a bit better, then go ahead and get a water filter pitcher. They’re the cheapest option by far, although the cost of filter replacements definitely adds up over time. If you’re interested in this option, I did a post reviewing the best water filter pitchers as well.

Faucet Water Filters

This kind of filter attaches right onto your faucet so that when you turn the faucet on, the water goes right through the filter into your cup! Sounds pretty convenient and it is, however for some reason you go through filters like crazy with these. They do work, but I’m not a huge fan. Some people swear by them, especially if you don’t have all that much nasty stuff to filter out of you water. If you just want a cheap way to improve the taste of your tap water, these might be the best option for you! I’ve written some more of my thoughts about the best faucet water filters here.

Faucet Water Filter

Countertop Water Filters

These are like miniature kegs that sit on your counter by your sink. You fill them up manually with tapwater, and it slowly filters through the heavy-duty technology in the middle of the keg. Use the spigot at the bottom of the keg to pour the resulting filtered water whenever you want.

Countertop water filters can filter much more water at a time than water filter pitchers can. They tend to filter the water much more thoroughly as well, and their filters usually last a good deal longer. This is the right option if you’re really serious about cleaning up your water, not just improving the taste (which a countertop water filter will do perfectly well as well). I feel pretty strongly about which is the best countertop water filter, so I did a pretty in-depth post about it.

Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration Systems

Next up we have the reverse osmosis system. There are various configurations for these, but most typically they are installed underneath your sink, where they filter your water before it comes out of your faucet. These things are serious, they’ll definitely clean your water, if you get a good quality one. On the plus side, you won’t have to worry about pouring dirty water into your countertop filter, or filling up your Brita pitcher, since the reverse osmosis filtration occurs before the water exits the faucet, meaning that whatever comes out of your faucet is already clean and pure. The convenience of this feature is a big selling point to a lot of people, and I can certainly sympathize with having one less chore to do!

On the negative side, reverse osmosis systems can be a bit cranky – as a full-fledged plumbing system they also require some expertise to install in your home. I’ve had some experience with trying to find the best reverse osmosis water filter system, so I wrote a more detailed post about it.

Whole House Water Filtration Systems

Finally, the most professional grade, heavy-duty option is the whole house water filtration system. As the name suggests, when you get one of these installed for your water supply, every faucet, showerhead, etc in your house is going to have pure filtered water pouring out of it, trouble-free. This is by far the most convenient option, once you set it all up. You’ll definitely need someone who knows what they’re doing to install your whole-house filtration system, but once it’s working, you are gonna love it.

Whole House Water Filter

Our house, now with filtered water!

There are a few systems that are better than the others, so I wrote another post where I say which I believe are the best whole house water filter systems. A few of our friends have these, and I must say it is pretty nice not having to worry at all about how clean the water is, or having to remember to fill up the countertop water filter like I do at home. However, the countertop water filter is cheaper and really it’s at least as effective as the whole-house filtration system. My Berkey water filter is actually much more powerful than the standard whole house filter! I’ll gladly give up a little convenience for that peace of mind I get from having total protection for my family and myself.

Water Softeners

If you suffer from dry skin or hair, you may want to look into water softeners too. You can get some nice combination units that filter and soften your water at the same time. I definitely notice a difference for my skin when I bathe in hard water compared to soft, pure water. Soft water is much gentler on the skin, and a lot healthier as well. Hard water dries your skin out, and makes you look haggard and older. Over a long enough period of time, showering in hard water seems to have long lasting effects, and you start to lose that youthful glow, as your skin gets dry and ashy. Yikes!

Water Filter Care

It’s pretty easy to take care of most water filters. I haven’t had to do a thing for my Berkey in two years, no replacement parts or anything! If you buy a high quality water filter there really isn’t much you’ll have to do. Getting a whole house or reverse osmosis filter installed takes a little time but once it’s installed it’s hassle-free. You just have to replace the filter every 9 months or so and that’s usually pretty easy. Pitchers do need their filters replaced pretty often, that’s the one downside, and the reason I went for a countertop water filter myself.

At the End of the Day

Always remember, whatever water filter you buy is gonna be better for your family’s health than no filter at all! That being said, I definitely found some water filters were a lot better than others. They’re much easier to use, higher quality, and do a better job filtering the gunk out of the water. And that’s what we really care about when you get down to it!

Is this the best water filter to remove pharmaceuticals?

Pharmaceuticals in the water supply are a huge problem in America. Some of these drugs are toxic or carcinogenic, but the main risk is to children’s hormones. The drugs that have found their way into our drinking water are nearly always hormone disruptors, meaning that they destroy healthy hormone levels in the human body. When this happens to the developing body of a child, the effects are serious and permanent. There is an epidemic of feminized men and women with higher rates of breast cancer because of the female hormonal effect of many of these pharmaceuticals in the water. These pollutants are known as xenoestrogens, some of the worst offenders come from birth control pills that find their way into the water supply. The Environmental Working Group has information on how to avoid these chemicals in other aspects of your daily life, but if you want to avoid the main route of exposure to these drugs, you need to filter your water. The best water filter to remove dangerous pharmaceuticals is the Berkey countertop water filter.

Since there are so many different types of pharmaceuticals with different chemical structures, and since many of these chemical compounds are very small and difficult to remove by normal means, I knew I needed a water filter with serious filtering power. When I found that there were chemicals in my water supply, my research led me to the Big Berkey water filter to protect my family. The Berkey can remove pharmaceuticals and other chemicals which are just a few microns wide – that’s incredibly small, 200 times smaller than a grain of salt. Most water filters, like Brita pitchers and others can’t do this. To remove pharmaceuticals, you need the best.

The Berkey water filter is effortless to use, there’s no maintenance required in my experience. No difficult installation like other water filter types, and I’ve only needed to replace the internal filter about every 12 months. I love knowing that my family is protected, and it really is effortless as well!

I don’t have one of these, but I’ve heard good things from friends of mine about the AlexaPure water filter as well. The AlexaPure has similar filtration to the Berkey, so it should be capable of removing pharmaceuticals as well. It’s also a bit cheaper, which is always a plus! 🙂

Here’s the best water filter to remove Chromium 6

Chromium-6 is a very dangerous chemical that contaminates a huge amount of America’s drinking water. I was shocked when water tests found that there’s Chromium-6 in the water that I and my children drink. The best water filter to remove Chromium-6 is a countertop water filter, since smaller water filters like Brita pitchers aren’t as effective as the small micron carbon filtration technology found in a high-end countertop water filter.

My Personal Favorite

I chose the Berkey countertop water filter to remove the chromium 6 in my households water. The Berkey is stainless steel and so well made – I’ve never had to do any maintenance except for changing the filter once a year, which is very easy. It also removes all the other dangerous pollutants and bacteria in the water. Some people have even used their Berkey water filter to purify pond water!

Another Great Option to Get Rid of Chromium-6

The other high quality countertop water filter that removes Chromium-6 is the AlexaPure. This filter can purify water just as well as the Berkey but it’s a bit cheaper.

Protect Yourself, Filter Your Water!

By the way, you can check this great map from the Environmental Working Group to see if your area has Chromium-6 in the drinking water. Good luck!

Looking for the best water filter to remove fluoride?

Fluoride is one of the most common chemicals found in our water, because the government puts it there. They say they do this for our health, but many studies have shown that excessive fluoride is harmful for mental health among other things. It’s not even clear that fluoride is good for your teeth, which is their supposed reason for fluoridating the water. Most Americans don’t even get to choose if they want fluoride in their water or not. Well, now there’s a way to choose – get a water filter that can remove fluoride. One of the major reasons I have a water filter is to remove the fluoride from my family’s water.

Countertop Fluoride Water Filters

Fluoride isn’t extremely easy to remove, unfortunately. You need a powerful water filter, your Brita water filter pitcher won’t really do the job. A high quality countertop water filter sends the water through its porous ceramic filter, which is sharp enough to remove the fluoride molecules. My favorite countertop water filter is the Big Berkey filter.

The Berkey water filter requires barely any maintenace – I only have to replace the filter about once a year. Amazing! This filter can handle up to 15 gallons of water a day, perfect to remove fluoride from the water needed for a big family’s day. Berkey’s water filter not only filters fluoride, it also removes lead, chlorine, pesticides, and everything else!

Another Great Water Filter to Remove Fluoride

The other good water filter for removing fluoride is the AlexaPure. I have a Berkey myself, but I’ve drunk water from the AlexaPure at friends’ houses and this water seems great as well. They tell me they’ve had it tested and found the fluoride to be gone.

 

The AlexaPure is typically a little cheaper than the Berkey, which may cause some lower quality, but it definitely is capable fo filtering water just as well as the Berkey. Both filters are great, but if you’re short on cash I would go with the AlexaPure. If not, well I love my Berkey!

Here is the best water filter to remove bacteria

Removing bacteria from water is hard to do unless you have a really powerful water filter. Although good for improving the taste of your water, most water filter pitchers like the Brita won’t remove bacteria. Reverse Osmosis units and whole house carbon filters are great products and they will remove a lot of bacteria, but not enough to really put your trust in. If you really want to purify water and feel secure knowing that you have removed virtually all bacteria from it, you need a countertop water filter.

My Favorite Water Filter for Removing Bacteria

The Berkey water filter can handle 15 gallons of water a day, perfect for the needs of my 4 kids. Not only does the Berkey filter out nearly all bacteria (you can purify pond water with it if you want, seriously!) this filter also removes flouride, lead, chlorine, and pretty much anything that could possibly be in your water. My family is safe and protected from harmful bacteria because of this great water filter.

I love this filter, it does it all. I can’t recommend it enough. Protect yourself now!

Another Great Choice to Get Rid of Bacteria

Another excellent water filter that removes bacteria is the AlexaPure. Some friends of mine have this water filter and they swear by it. Personally I like the Berkey most of all, but the AlexaPure certainly does a fine job as well. It’s also usually a bit cheaper than the Berkey!

The Most Important Thing

As long as you filter your water one way or another, you’ll be alright. Both these water filters are great, it really comes down to personal preference. The Berkey is a bit higher quality in my experience, but also a bit pricier. The AlexaPure is a great water filter too, and it can filter everything that the Berkey can just as well. Good luck!

I discovered the best water filter to remove sulfur

The easiest way to get rid of that disgusting sulfur smell in your water is to buy a reverse osmosis filter that goes under your sink. However if your shower water smells like sulfur as well, then you should get a whole house water filter so that you can purify all the water in your house. I have a whole house water filter because I want to protect my family form the other contaminants in the water like atrazine and lead.

My Favorite Reverse Osmosis Water Filter to Remove Sulfur

The iSpring 5-stage model is my top reverse osmosis system to remove sulfur. It’s effortless to install, you won’t need a plumber or anything. Say goodbye to that gross sulfur taste and smell!

The iSpring is really effective, and higher quality even than more expensive reverse osmosis systems that friends of ours have. It doesn’t just get rid of sulfur, it is capable of removing 99% of all other contaminants – the result is seriously pure water. We even fill our dog’s water dish with water from this filter! 🙂

Healthy Marcus the Pup!

Whole House Water Filters Protect All Your Water from Sulfur

If you want to go all in and remove sulfur from all your house water, including the shower, you need a whole house water filter. Without a doubt, the best whole house water filter is the APEX GAC System. We swear by this filter. With a 5 micron filter (that’s serious filtering power!) this whole house water filter removes everything, including sulfur, chlorine, flouride, chloramines, and everything else you can think of. I just love this filter, it feels good to know my whole family is protected at all times. All our water is safe and clean, from the faucet to the shower because of this great little product!

I Found the Best Water Filter to Remove Calcium

The best bet to remove calcium from your water is a reverse osmosis system. While whole house water filters will remove calcium as well, they are usually a good deal more expensive than reverse osmosis water filters. The best water filter I found to remove calcium from my water, is the iSpring 5-stage model, which I found extremely easy to install. It is very satisfactory for removing calcium – the first thing we noticed was how much easier the dishes were without that awful calcium buildup!

The iSpring is also a good deal cheaper than other reverse osmosis water filters, but I’ve found it to be even more effective than others that some of my friends have. I really love this water filter. Removing calcium is the least of what it’s capable of, it also purifies our water from lead, flouride, pesticides, and everything else that ends up in our water supply these days. We even make sure to fill our dog Marcus’s water bowl using this filter!

The one and only!

Are you looking for the best water filter to remove chloramine?

Many water treatment companies in the US treat their water with chloramine (also known as monochloramine), a chemical disinfectant. Unfortunately, toxic chloramine has been shown to have bad effects on people, even in small doses. Chloramine irritates the lungs, causing asthma and pneumonia and damages the digestive system. Most water filters cannot remove chloramine since it is added to the water by the water treatment plant itself. However, there are a few very powerful water filters that can remove chloramine.

Get Rid of Chloramine

Berkey water filters have a high enough quality carbon filter that they are capable of removing chloramine, as well as nearly every other contaminant found in the water supply.

My favorite water filter, without a doubt. This big stainless steel tank will be your family’s best defense against chloramine, flouride, and everything else.

The Berkey water filter filters 15 gallons a day, perfect if you have a big family like me. I love this filter, our family is protected from chemicals, bacteria and pollutants, and I barely have to maintain it at all! Win-win.

AlexaPure is Great Too!

The other filter on the market that can remove chloramine is the AlexaPure model. Personally, I love the convenience of my Berkey, but friends of mine who own the AlexaPure are big fans of it as well.

The AlexaPure is great, it removes chloramine, lead, flouride, and anything else you can think of.

The AlexaPure can do everything the Berkey can, removing chloramine like nobody’s business. The AlexaPure is typically a little cheaper than the Berkey, but excellent quality as well. No choramine, and no excess cost, you can’t beat that!

Protect yourself!

Both the Berkey and the AlexaPure countertop water filter are perfect for removing chloramine from the water supply. Either one will do the job, the most important thing is that you act now and protect yourself from the toxic effects of chloramine in your drinking water! The only problem with these countertop water filters is the fact that they won’t filter your shower water as well. If you want total protection of both your drinking and shower water, you should get a whole house water filter. Nonetheless, countertop water filters will do the job very well and I highly recommend them!

This is the best water filter to remove lead

With high profile cases like Flynt, Michigan in our minds, lead tops the charts for scariest water contaminant. Lead causes cancer, harms our brains, and lessens our lifespans. Lead isn’t as easy to remove as other pollutants like chlorine, but still there are excellent water filters available to remove lead from your water.

Countertop Water Filters

The usual Brita water filter pitcher that everyone has won’t remove lead. The best option is a big countertop water filter that will really filter the water through a high quality ceramic filter. There are two great options on the market. The first is the Big Berkey filter.

My favorite water filter, without a doubt. This big stainless steel tank will be your family’s best defense against lead, flouride, and everything else.

The Berkey water filter filters 15 gallons a day, which is great for a big family’s needs. It is also especially designed to remove lead with its ceramic-based filter. In my experience it’s been flawless. It’s virtually maintenance-free, I replace the filter once a year at the most. I sleep easy knowing that my health and my family’s health is safe and secure because of this great product!

The Competition

AlexaPure also makes a great water filter that removes lead. While I have a Berkey, and love it, I’ve heard nothing but great things about the AlexaPure model. Some friends have one of these countertop water filters and they love it.

A really fine water filter, the AlexaPure removes lead, flouride, and anything else you can throw at it.

The AlexaPure can do everything the Berkey can, it removes nearly 100% of the lead in the water. In addition, it’s usually sold for a little cheaper than the Berkey. If you’re a bit short on cash, this can be a big plus. Protect yourself from lead AND protect your wallet, what’s not to like? 🙂

Conclusion – Just Filter that Water!

To be honest, you can’t go wrong with either the Berkey or the AlexaPure countertop water filters. What really matters is that you get your water filtered, one way or another! In fact, if you want to be totally secure, and not have to fill up the Berkey or AlexaPure every few days, then you ought to look into the most permanent option of all, the whole house water filter. This is the gold standard of water filters, maximizing convenience, and total protection (it filters your shower water too!)

This is the the best water filter to get rid of chlorine

Fortunately, chlorine is not all that hard to remove from drinking water. Most good water filters use Granulated Active Carbon filters. These filters are sufficient to remove 98% of chlorine from the water, according to studies. For drinking water, the best water filter to get rid of chlorine is the ZeroWater pitcher, which is quite cheap as well. You can get more powerful water filters for your home, but all you need for chlorine is the ZeroWater, in my opinion.

Chlorine-free Showers!

However, if you are trying to remove chlorine from your shower water, you will need a Vitamin C filter. Carbon filters are not able to remove all the chlorine from hot, high pressure water like shower water. For this reason, the chlorine has to be removed a different way. Vitamin C filters have a solid block of Vitamin C in them. Then this Vitamin C reacts with the chlorine in the water to form an inert, harmless substance that washes away with no harmful effects. I’ve found that the Sonaki is the best Vitamin C water filter to remove chlorine from your shower water. You just screw it right into your shower head and it works immediately. I definitely notice much softer hair and skin from using my Vitamin C filter.

Is the water safe to drink in Erie, Pennsylvania?

My cousin Dave lives in Erie and I got to wondering how safe the water is at his house last time I was there. Most Erie residents will admit the water doesn’t taste great, but is there any really bad stuff in it? Turns out, yes there is and if you don’t have a good water filter, you’re being exposed to these pollutants!

There are five nasty chemicals in Erie’s drinking water that exceed the healthy levels. Every time you drink water in Erie, you are also swallowing these substances: haloacetic acids, trihalomethanes, Radium-226, Radium-228, and Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate. 

Haloacetic acids

At 13.61 ppb these were found to be two times higher than the healthy limit, significantly increasing the risk of cancer for those who are unknowingly consuming this industrial grade disinfectant.

Trihalomethanes

31.99 ppb was the level for this nasty piece of work, which is three times higher than it should be. This chemical also increases the chances of cancer.

Radium-226 and Radium-228

Radium is radioactive, similar to nuclear waste. Any amount of Radium in the water is a cause for concern, and testing found 0.47 pCi/L of Radium-228 in Erie’s water.

Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate

There was also 0.11 pCi/L of this chemical found in the water, which is 0.06 too high, considering that this pollutant can cause cancer and damage hormone levels (such as Testosterone).

Data from the Environmental Working Group’s excellent database.

Get a Water Filter, you owe it to yourself!

If you live in Erie, you need a water filter. This junk in your water is nasty and it increases your risk of cancer, and your children’s risk of poor development. There is also a serious amount of lead in the water in some parts of Erie, according to other tests done in the last few years. Get yourself a good quality water filter and you won’t have to worry when you drink Erie’s water. I got my cousin a high quality Berkey filter, now he doesn’t have to worry anymore about getting cancer or worse from his water!