Water is one of the easiest things to consume to increase our health. Many people don’t drink enough water and they choose to ‘hydrate’ on other beverages such as tea and coffee, which are actually de-hydrating and require even more water to be drunk! The best way to stay hydrated is to drink 2-3L of pure, clean water daily.
One of the most common questions we get asked through social media or email is what kind of water filter do we recommend? Whilst we would love to give a set answer to everyone, we know that is almost impossible because water filters can range from $20 jugs to thousands of dollars for a full home filtration system and we respect that everyone has varying degrees of the type of financial input they want to invest.
So, we did our research and thought we would combine all the info we found to give you a buyer’s guide to water filters so you can hopefully arm yourself with the knowledge to buy the perfect water filter for you, your family and your home.
Why invest in a water filter?
Perhaps the most important place to start in terms of comparing water filters is learning what is in our water that we want to remove.
Our water, as a general rule of thumb, gets contaminated in two main ways they are: a) it naturally picks up contaminants from the environment in which it is stored or in which it has travelled, or b) chemicals are directly added to the water to make it ‘healthier’ for us.
Environmental contaminants can include:
- Bacteria and viruses – most pathogenic bacteria and viruses that are found in our water ways get there through contamination of human faeces, how lovely. However, some of these can also grow and reproduce in water and become part of biofilms which is commonly found in water ways and reservoirs.
- Protozoa:This group includes cryptosporidium and Giardia. These can cause severe illness, and parasitic infections in humans.
- Pesticides and herbicides: these leech into our water ways and are known to have a huge impact on our overall health!!
- Nitrate/nitrite: The main sources for these chemicals in waterways are sewage and fertiliser run-off. Nitrate can be converted to nitrite within the body and this is a known carcinogen and can also affect our overall health.
Added contaminants can include:
- Chlorine- is added into the water to help kill off the naturally occurring environmental parasites, bacteria and viruses. However, these chemicals can – depending on a number of parameters – react with naturally occurring organic substances in the water to form potentially harmful by-products, mainly so-called trihalomethanes (THM).
- Fluoride – This was first added into our water supplies throughout the 60’s in hopes to minimise tooth decay, however as with all things that have been nutritionally fortified over the years, it has started playing havoc with our health.
- Heavy metals such as lead and copper – these are usually found in places with hard water and older style homes with copper pipes. The metals leech into the water and can lead to an array of health issues if they reach toxic levels.
Activated carbon filter
What is it? Activated carbon filters are produced by super-heating dried coconut husks in a low oxygen environment, using a process called pyrolysis. The resulting heated husk is a purified form of carbon, containing large amounts of cellular sized surface area, negatively charged to attract positively charged toxins. Toxins in the water become attached to the husk’s carbon surfaces, thus creating a filter.
Pros: Carbon filters remove chlorine and THM’s, pesticides, and some bacteria, viruses and protozoa. These are widely available, can be very affordable and easy to install. They can range from jug filters, through to bench top filters and under sink filters too.
Cons: Carbon filters don’t remove heavy metals. This can be easily rectified by getting a water filter that has several filtering steps and uses different filtering styles. Nor do they remove fluoride. Carbon, water and trapped particles, left together in a sealed, low oxygen, environment, can allow anaerobic microbes to reproduce, especially when the filter is left unused for a couple of weeks- so they require regular cleaning to keep producing you healthy water.
Kinetic Degradation Fluxion (KDF)
What is it? KDF is a redox filtration method; it consists of a high purity copper-zinc formulation. These substances exchange electrons or bond with chlorine and other metals contained in the water to create harmless substances.
Pros: removes heavy metals and chlorine.
Cons: Ideally needs to be used with another filtration method, such as activated carbon to ensure removal of most nasties. Doesn’t remove fluoride.
Cartridge sediment filter
What is it: A cartridge sediment filter removes suspended particles from the water such as sand, clay, silt and organic material.
Pros: reduces turbidity in water and removes earth particles.
Cons: can be slow, is usually combined with other filter styles such as activated carbon.
Ceramic water filters:
What is it? Ceramic filters are made from Diatomaceous Earth, a tiny fossil substance made up of silicon shells left by trillions of microscopic, one celled algae, called diatoms. As the top layer of ceramic material becomes clogged with contaminants they can be scrubbed off and flushed away, thereby creating a new layer ready for filtering.
Pros: They have a very small micron sized filter membrane which decreases the amount of microbes that pass through. Very effective on bacteria, viruses and protozoa.
Cons: the filtering process can be slow. Doesn’t remove fluoride.
Usually you will find ceramic filters combined with either KDF filters and/or activated carbon filters to ensure as most toxins as possible are filtered out and this can begin to increase the cost of these combination filters. However, some can still be purchased in the low hundreds.
Reverse Osmosis filter:
What is it? The term reverse osmosis means pressure is used to force water through a semi-permeable membrane so all those nasty contaminants cannot follow.
Pros: filters almost all contaminates, including up to 90% of fluoride.
Cons: can usually be getting up there in the price range and some require expert installation which can also increase the cost. Reverse Osmosis can remove some of the natural minerals from the water so often need to be combined with a re-mineraliser to ensure this doesn’t affect our health. Some RO filters come with inbuilt re-mineralisers others will need them bought separately.
What is it? They use a series of magnetically charged plates and a ceramic separator filament, as water passes between the plates, the magnetic field draws alkaline minerals to one side of the ceramic filament, and acid to the other.
Pros: water is filtered and alkalised. Acidic water can be used for skin care and household cleaning because it is a powerful antiseptic. Quick flow of water.
Cons: Each Ioniser will contain its own filtration method so it will be important to check what it uses so you know what contaminants are filtered out. Can be higher on the price scale and may require expert instillation.
What is it? Water distiller’s heat water to create steam, when it cools, or condenses, the result is purified water where any impurities are left to linger in the remaining hot water.
Pros: kills all living organisms and does remove most fluoride also.
Cons: removes all beneficial minerals from the water so will need to be combined with a re-mineraliser.
Water Filter Comparison Summary:
|Activated carbon filter
|· Removes chlorine, THMs, microbes, pesticides
· Range of available styles (e.g. jugs, bench top, under sink etc)
· Can be a cheaper option due to style choices
|· Doesn’t remove heavy metals or fluoride
· Require regular maintenance and cleaning
|KDF||· Removes heavy metals and chlorine||· Doesn’t remove fluoride
· Requires pairing with another filter style
|Ceramic water filters||· Very effective at filtering all microbes||· Can be slow
· Doesn’t remove fluoride
· Pair with another filter for total toxin removal.
|Cartridge sediment filter||· Removes sand, clay, rust, earth particles
· Reduces turbidity
|· Can be a slow release rate
· Needs conjunction with other filters.
|Reverse osmosis filter||· Removes almost all toxins including up to 90% of fluoride||· Can be higher up there on the price scale and can require expert instillation
· Can remove minerals so needs re-mineralising
|Water ioniser/alkalise||· Filtered and alkalised
· Quick flow of water
· Useful for skin and cleaning too
|· Individual filtration styles
· Can be higher on price scale and require expert instillation
|Water distiller||· Kills all living organisms and removes most fluoride too||· Removes minerals needs re-mineralising|
There are many different types of water filters on the market, many more than what we have discussed here however these are the most common ones that are found in drinking water filters. When potentially investing a large amount of money into something we understand you want to make the best decision, many water filters on the market use a combination of different filter styles to maximise the amount of toxins they remove. Fluoride is the hard one; most fluoride removing filters are higher in the price scale and require re-mineralising too, so keep that in mind if you purchase a fluoride-removing filter. No one filter removes all contaminants.
*Please note: Kultured Wellness has no affiliation with any water filter company.