How-to Choose the Healthiest Kinds of Water
Top Water Filter Choices
Filtering water improves the taste and smell of water, often by reducing chlorine, which is added to kill harmful bacteria. Some filters can also reduce other contaminants such as lead, benzene, MTBE, chloramines, and PCBs.
There are many types of water filters as well as many types of water filtering technologies. Finding the “best one” depends on the amount of space you can afford to clear out for it, your budget, and the specific water contaminants in your area.
These are some of the top filters and ways to help you decide what best fits your needs.
Types of Filter Technology
Reverse Osmosis: This process pushes water through a semi-permeable membrane that blocks particles larger than water molecules. Reverse osmosis can remove many contaminants that have not been removed by activated carbon, including arsenic, fluoride, hexavalent chromium, nitrates and perchlorate as well as some parasites. Reverse osmosis does not remove chlorine or volatile organic chemicals. However, reputable units are generally coupled with good carbon filtration to ensure removal of these contaminants. Reverse osmosis filters are more effective at removing many kinds of contaminants, but are more expensive, require more maintenance, and require much more energy and water in order to function.
Activated carbon is charcoal that has been treated with oxygen to open up pores between the carbon atoms, which increases the surface area of the carbon, allowing it to absorb and trap contaminants. When the pores become full, the filtering stops and the carbon filter needs to be replaced. Activated carbon cannot effectively remove common pollutants such as arsenic, fluoride, hexavalent chromium, nitrate and perchlorate. Generally, carbon filters come in two forms, carbon block and granulated activated carbon. The former appears to be more effective. Carbon filters remove fewer contaminants than reverse osmosis filters but are less expensive and use less energy and water.
Types of Filters
Pitchers or large dispensers: These are typically fitted with an activated carbon filter that can remove contaminants and improve taste and odor. Many can reduce chlorine, lead, and mercury contamination. They’re easy to use, don’t require installation and can be stored in the refrigerator.
TOP PICK: Clear2O Water Filtration Pitcher
Faucet-mounted filters: Attach directly to the end of the faucet with an on/off switch. Faucet-mounted units can be convenient for households that drink more filtered water than a pitcher can hold. These styles typically use an activated carbon filter that can remove contaminants and improve taste and odor. Many can reduce chlorine, lead, and mercury contamination.
TOP PICK: Culligan Faucet Filter FM-15A.
Countertop filters: These typically sit on the counter, hence the name, with a line connecting directly to the faucet. A diverter valve allows you to switch between filtered and unfiltered water. You collect filtered water from an extra spout or faucet on the filter unit. Models use a range of technologies, including activated carbon and reverse osmosis. Effectiveness varies widely between models, but many on-counter filters will reduce a wide array of contaminants.
TOP PICK: AquaCera HCS Countertop Water Filter with CeraMetix Filter
Under-sink filters: These are mounted underneath the kitchen sink where they are fitted into the water supply line. Some models have a separate spout or faucet for water collection. Models use a range of technologies, including activated carbon, to reverse osmosis. Effectiveness varies widely between models but many under-sink filters will reduce a wide array of contaminants. These are ideal for filtering both drinking and cooking water.
TOP PICK: Whirlpool Reverse Osmosis Filtration System WHER25
Top Bottled Water Choices
Bottled water is easy and convenient, but there are many different kinds of water.
It's important to be informed about where your water comes from as many companies have been found guilty of filling their brands with regular tap water to increase their profit margins. Make sure to research and go for the brands you trust most.
Mineral Water: This water comes from a mineral spring that contains various minerals including salt and sulfur compounds. Example: Evian
Artesian Water: This ground water is confined under pressure between layers of underground rock called a confined aquifer. Artesian water rises to the top of the aquifer when a well taps the confined aquifer. Example: Fiji
Spring Water: This water is derived from underground formation from which water flows naturally to the earth’s surface. It must be collected at the spring or underground through a borehole feeding the spring. Example: Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water
Purified Water: Water produced by distillation, deionization or reverse osmosis. Example:
Other Factors to Consider When Choosing Bottled Water
Besides aesthetics, there are other factors to consider when choosing bottled water.
Bottled water usually comes in polyethylene terephthalate (PET) containers, which are generally considered safe. But when stored in warm temperatures, the plastic may leach chemicals into the water, which may lead to potential health risks.
In addition, plastic bottles are not healthy for the planet due to the huge amounts of fossil fuels that are burned in order to fill and distribute them. It takes three times the amount of water to produce a bottle of water as it does to fill it. Plus, plastic bottles take about 500-1000 years to decompose and are one of the worst known ocean pollutants.
The best bottled water to go for is one that is not made from plastic such as the reusable, stainless steel bottle that uses reverse osmosis technology such as Hydro Flask or Klean
At times when bottled water on the-go is an absolute must, look for brands with the NSF certification logo such as Ozarka, Culligan, Niagara, or Saratoga or choose a brand that uses glass bottles such as, but not limited to Eden Springs and Voss. While they may be pricier, you can wash and refill them at home for multiple uses and they help save our planet!