The 10 Best Water Filters
This wiki has been updated 31 times since it was first published in May of 2015. Whether you're eyeing the tap suspiciously in the wake of the latest contamination scare or simply want to deal with unpleasant tastes and smells, our selection of filters includes countertop options, multistage systems, and portable versions that promise to improve the flavor and quality of your drinking water, remove potentially harmful substances, or even adjust the pH to your liking. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
January 01, 2020:
While there wasn't a lot of turnover from our last ranking to this one, we feel that the changes we made were important ones, especially the upgrade to the Apec Top Tier Supreme from the standard Top Tier, as the Supreme offers a better duty cycle with the ability to filter 25 more gallons per day. That's particularly important for big families, especially homes with hungry teenagers and active home chefs.
We also saw fit to remove the Camelback offering from our old list, as it's designed for use with a hydration bladder of a specific brand, making it a far less viable option for the majority of consumers, especially since it doesn't come with the bladder in question, necessitating an additional purchase before it can even be used. We replaced this with a much more universal option in the Mitsubishi Cleansui, which has a very effective microfiltration cartridge, as well as a big, nine-cup capacity.
In our special honors section, you'll find a pair of whole-home models that are designed not to merely filter the water at your kitchen sink, but to intercept and filter all the water coming into your house. That means you'll see filtration for everything from your pasta faucet to your shower head.
AquaOx Whole House This industrial-grade model is designed to install next to the water main leading into your home. It's available in regular and extra-large sizes, the latter of which can process up to 30 gallons per minute, and boasts a lifespan of more than 3 million gallons. Despite its capabilities, its installation is actually rather simple. aquaoxwaterfilters.com
Pelican Whole House UV This four-stage model requires a lot of space to set up, but once it's in place, it can process your entire house's water supply. It has a five-year service life, and comes with a limited lifetime guarantee to ensure everything works properly. The largest of the company's offerings is capable of serving a home with as many as six bathrooms. pelicanwater.com
The Risks Of Hard Water
If this hard water makes it through the pipes, it causes scale to accumulate on taps and sink faucets.
Whether drinking, washing dishes, or making coffee, daily life requires water. Problems occur when the water running through a home is considered hard water. In America, the sources of both tap and bottled drinking water include rivers, lakes, streams, ponds, reservoirs, springs, and wells. As water travels over the surface of the land or through the ground, it dissolves naturally-occurring minerals and, in some cases, radioactive material, and can even pick up substances resulting from the presence of animals or human activity.
Tap water that is considered hard is filled with undesirable elements such as calcium, chlorine, magnesium, iron, and sediment matter. These minerals and sediment can cause damage to a house's plumbing, appliances, dishes, and the health of its occupants.
Without a water filter or water softener, hard water begins to build up in the pipes it travels. This can cause inconsistencies in water pressure and clogged pipes which may burst if left unaddressed. If this hard water makes it through the pipes, it causes scale to accumulate on taps and sink faucets. This scale is made up of charged minerals, which adhere themselves to the metal tap as the water exits.
Hard water can also cause issues with dishes. The high mineral content of hard tap water prevents liquid dish soap from producing suds by binding with the soap molecules, creating a thick slime that is difficult to lather. The minerals are also more difficult to remove from laundry, leaving sheets stiff and causing clothing to wear down faster.
The body can suffer from the effects of hard water, as well. Water that has not passed through a water filter contains particles from not only minerals, but from heavy metals, organic compounds, chlorides, and even low levels of pharmaceutical medications. All these particles can toll the kidneys, contributing to kidney stones.
Drinking Tap Water
As easy as drinking a glass of tap water seems, it can actually be a health risk. The levels of arsenic in drinking water in the United States are especially high. Arsenic is known to cause cancer and other serious health problems. It is found naturally in the rocks and soil of the earth, though this is not where contamination occurs from. Drinking water can be contaminated by arsenic compounds found in pesticides, preservatives, electrical additives, and glass. People can be exposed to arsenic from food and the work environment, though the easiest avoidable source is in drinking water.
Filtration processes like reverse osmosis remove up to 99 percent of particulates such as these.
Drinking tap water also exposes the body to pharmaceutical drugs. Prescription and over the counter drugs alike are released in small amounts in patients' urine or simply flushed down the toilet. Many water processing plants treat water to remove government-mandated chemicals and organic matter such as bacteria. This water is then reintroduced into the water cycle.
The problem with this is that many pharmaceutical drugs remain in the water. The World Health Organization estimates that only 50 percent of these drugs are filtered out with water treatment processes like chlorination. Filtration processes like reverse osmosis remove up to 99 percent of particulates such as these.
Unfiltered water can also contain heavy metals like aluminum, which has been linked to liver disorders, learning disabilities, and degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Studies have shown that aluminum contributes to brain disease by producing oxidative stress in the brain tissue.
Benefits Of Using A Water Filter
The best way to avoid many of the negative health impacts associated with tap water is to use a water filter. Water filters can provide pure, clean drinking water while also saving users money and time.
Most filters are simple to set up and use, and are economically and environmentally sound.
Equipping the home with high quality filtered water keeps the body healthy. Water filters remove heavy metals such as lead and aluminum; preventing them from entering the body. Water produced from a filter also removes organic contaminants such as bacteria and chlorine by-products. Water filtration can reduce the risk of gastrointestinal diseases by removing parasites like giardia from drinking water.
Water filtration also removes fluoride. While fluoride has been associated with oral health, it is actually linked to a number of health problems such as a weakened immune system and impaired cognitive function in children. Researchers of this meta-analysis found strong indications that fluoride can adversely affect brain development in children.
Water filters also save money. Water produced from filters can cost pennies per gallon. This is a drastic savings when compared to bottled water. Most filters are simple to set up and use, and are economically and environmentally sound. Filtered water is also superior to plastic bottles, as plastic water bottles are not biodegradable.
As the population of the United States goes through plastic bottles at a rate too high to be immediately recycled, much of this consumer plastic ends up in landfills. Drinking water from an in-home filter immediately reduces plastic use, which is a benefit for both the drinker and the planet.