The tap water that comes out of your faucet is perfect. Get a filter or be a filter. Which of these two sentences are more true? Both are partially true. In many places, tap water filter does not taste good. In other places, tap water has tiny amounts of substances you would not want to drink – and over a lifetime might have an affect on you.
There are many kinds of potential problems in tap water. Even if your city provides good water, it has to travel a long way through old pipes on the way to your house.
I use a whole-house ten micron sediment filter to filter all water going into my house. I change the filters every five months, and they are filthy and red-colored, because of the rust and dirt in the water. When you use a whole-house filter, shower heads and faucet screens don’t clog. Whole-house filters are separate from drinking water filters.
All reverse osmosis water systems require both sediment and carbon pre-filters. All filters need to be changed. Plan on changing sediment and carbon filters every six months or sooner, and reverse osmosis membranes every 2-3 years.
It’s best to buy a dissolved solids meter, and test your water every month to make sure the system is working right. Pure water will measure zero parts per million of dissolved solids. Tap water will usually measure at least 200 parts per million.
Don’t get a liquid chemical test set, get a $25-$50 portable battery-operated tester with a LCD readout. These cheap meters only show the total dissolved solids in water – they do not tell you what is in the water.
Water filter systems and replacement filters are available on eBay and Amazon, and many other places – even retail stores.
The hardest parts of installing water filters are connecting to the supply side of the water into your house, connecting to a drain line for the waste water, and installing a clean water faucet onto your sink. The rest of a water filter installation is easy.
You may need a plumber, or to buy a system where they will install it for you. The best systems have clear plastic casings, so you can see how dirty the filters get. The best systems also use standard-sized replacement filters, so you don’t have to buy tiny, expensive, and proprietary filters.
Reverse osmosis water filters require both a sediment and a carbon filter in front of them, to screen out the dirt and most of the junk, before the water enters the reverse osmosis filter.
A sediment filter blocks particles larger than five or ten microns. That’s an improvement over tap water, but it does not help the taste, or filter out tiny or dissolved nasty stuff in the water. The next step is a carbon block filter.
Almost all carbon block filters are activated. Activation is a process where high pressure steam is passed through coal to purify it so that it becomes almost pure carbon. Carbon is the fourth most common element in the universe, and is needed for life. Carbon makes an excellent filter, especially when extruded into a solid block.
Activated carbon block filters strain water to trap much more particles than a sediment filter can. Activated carbon filters have a positive charge to attract chemicals and impurities. As the water passes through the positively-charged carbon, the negatively-charged contaminants are attracted and bound to the carbon.
Activated carbon block filters strain out sediment, dirt, bacteria, algae, chlorine, some pesticides, asbestos, and much more. They filter sub-micron size particles, making quality water that tastes good.
The water passing through activated carbon blocks still has some particles, chlorine, nitrates, fluoride, and other dissolved junk. The next step for the best quality water is a reverse osmosis filter.
Reverse osmosis filters force water through 0.0001 micron-wide holes, through semi-permeable membranes. Long sheets of membranes are sandwiched together and rolled up around a hollow central tube in a spiral.
The reverse osmosis filter removes 99% of the remaining junk in the water. It takes almost everything out, even the calcium and magnesium in the water. Most often a small carbon filter is used after the reverse osmosis filter, to improve the taste and catch a bit more of that 1% of junk the reverse osmosis filter lets go though.
Even after sediment, carbon block, and reverse osmosis filters, water is still not perfect. Chloramines and metal ions, while reduced, may still be in the water. For this reason, some systems include a final deionizing (DI) filter.
DI filters are usually cartridges filled with plastic-like resin crystals that grab the remaining ions in the water. After the DI filter, the water is very pure.
Reverse osmosis water filters generate waste water, and they produce only a few drops of clean water per minute. For this reason, most reverse osmosis systems have a storage tank to accumulate water. All reverse osmosis systems have a drain line for waste water, that is “wasted”. The waste water can be used for plants, dumped down the drain, etc.
Ultra-pure water can grow algae very easily. When you take chlorine and other nasty stuff out of water, tiny microbes and sunlight can combine to make a perfect environment to grow harmless algae.
The quality of water filtered this way is cleaner than even distilled water. Some people think pure water tastes flat. Some people add a tiny amount of sea salt to pure water. For me, no salt is needed, pure water tastes like water should.
The Internet has baseless scare stories about how ultra pure water is dangerous. Hogwash. If you inject pure water, it may hurt you. Drinking pure water does not hurt anyone unless they are fasting.
The instant that pure water hits your mouth it’s no longer pure. Nothing is better for making coffee, cooking, and ice cubes, than using pure water.
My observations over 20 years show that pets, plants, and people really like it. When growing sprouts – with pure water, I found they grew twice as fast as with tap water.
The truth is that ultra-pure water is missing minerals. If you get calcium and magnesium in your diet, you are more than ok. Ultra pure water has no lead, copper, barium, or other garbage.
Water filtration systems have become a standard fixture in most kitchens today, especially as more and more scientists and health professionals report that most if not all of our drinking water supplies are contaminated with human-made pollutants, including not just municipal systems, but wells, lakes, rives, and glaciers. Unfortunately, bottled water has been shown to have its own host of problems, including serious health and environmental effects. However, while a good water filtration system is the best way to ensure healthy and safe drinking water, it’s not enough to install just any filter in your home. Though the purpose of any water filtration system is to improve the quality and taste of drinking water, there is a wide range of filters available, each with varying costs and effectiveness. The process of planning a kitchen renovation is a perfect time to consider the different water filter options. Some of the most popular filters are explained below to help you choose the best water filter for your home.
Reverse osmosis is one of the most effective filtration methods available today. Even though the process has been known for over 100 years, it wasn’t until the 1950s that the U.S. government developed it as a way for the Marines to desalinate water to make it drinkable. By way of brief explanation, “regular” osmosis occurs when molecules pass through a permeable membrane to equalize the concentration of molecules on both sides. As its name implies, reverse osmosis is when the opposite occurs. Instead of equalizing the concentration of substances on both sides of the membrane, water pressure pushes pure water on one side of a membrane, leaving a concentration of pollutants on the other.
Reverse osmosis typically also employs two carbon filters and/or other pre-filters, which work to remove a wide range of dangerous contaminants, including lead, mercury, and arsenic. Reverse osmosis is also effective at removing virtually all pharmaceutical drugs, coliform bacteria, E. coli, percolate, VOCs, viruses, fluoride, chlorine, chloramines, herbicides, pesticides, cryptosporidium, THMs, and MTBEs. In fact, while typical faucet or counter top filters are 1 stage filters, meaning they have only 1 basic carbon filter, reverse osmosis systems typically offer a 5 stage filtration system. Furthermore, while countertop filters have a 1-5 micron rating, which means contaminates smaller than 1 micron (such as asbestos, insecticides, may not be filter out), a reverse osmosis filter typically holds a micron rating of.0001. While reverse osmosis systems can cost more upfront, their filters only need to be replaced once a year, whereas counter top filters need replacing every couple of months.
Although reverse osmosis effectively removes an impressive array of unhealthy contaminants, it can also remove important minerals that contribute to taste and health of water, including magnesium, calcium, and potassium. Some researchers suggest these important minerals are also found in common foods and are therefore not needed in drinking water. Other health professionals, however, report that long-term intake of de-mineralized water can be unhealthy and can lead to mineral deficiency and/or an unhealthy level of acidity in the body. Additionally, reverse osmosis generally requires between two to three gallons of water to produce one gallon of purified water, which some experts consider wasteful.
Other Popular Water Filters
Other popular filters include water filter pitchers, which are very easy to use and have a low initial cost. Water pitcher filters typically can reduce lead, copper, chlorine, and chlorine by-products. However, while any filter is better than no filter, pitcher filters are probably the least effective filters for their cost, especially considering that filters will need to be replaced every few months. Some pitcher filters may also be slow and prone to clog. Because pitcher filters have such a short life, they may not be practical for a family of four or more who might consume a couple of gallons of water a day.
Filter faucets or filters installed directly on the faucets are also popular because, like pitcher filters, they are very easy to use. Filter faucets are usually easily placed onto the head of a faucet, and they conveniently allow a person to switch from filtered to unfiltered water. Most filter faucets effectively remove lead, pesticides, sediments, and chlorine. However, because they typically use a similar type of filter as a water pitcher, the filter needs replacing often and filtering can be slow.
Another popular type of filter are counter-top water filters, which hook directly to the faucet after the aerator is removed. Counter-top filters provide a level of filtration higher than a water pitcher or filter faucet because it uses a combination of carbon filters and other filters. Counter-top filters are also less likely to clog than a pitcher filter or a filter faucet. They also allow a large amount of water to be filtered without having to alter any plumbing.
Similar to counter-top water filter, under sink filters can filter large amounts of water. However, unlike counter top filters, they don’t take up valuable counter space and instead attach to pipes under the sink. They are also typically more effective than pitcher types of water filters because under sink filters offer a two-step filtering process. However, under sink filters require modification to the plumbing (sometimes by a professional) and drilling a hole through the sink or countertop for the dispenser, which may mean longer installation time than other filters. They also take up room under the sink.
Kitchen renovation can be an exciting and creative time. As you consider which type of water filtration system would work best in your kitchen keep in the mind the following tips. First, you may want to either have your water tested or you may want to refer to your local annual quality report to ensure your water filter is removing contaminants specific to your drinking water supply. Second, your water filter should be certified by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF), and, third, to ensure the life and quality of your filter, your filter needs to be maintained according to manufacture recommendations.