How Do You Determine What Is the Best Water Filter?

How Do You Determine What Is the Best Water Filter?

Posted by Kenton Jones on Jul 22nd 2022

When you're in the market for a home water filtration system, the number of options on the market can seem endless. Should you get a system that installs under your kitchen sink or one that sits on your countertop? And what type of filter should you look for?

The quality of your home water filtration system, in particular, is an important consideration to keep in mind as you assess your choices. This guide walks you through your various options and will help you figure out what to look for in a water filter to select the best one.

Criteria for Selecting a Water Filter

Choosing a filter for your home drinking water system is an important one. The filter is the component that comes into contact with and traps pollutants, reducing the number of harmful contaminants that enter your drinking water. So you'll need an effective filter to ensure your household has clean, refreshing water to drink.

Below are some essential factors to consider when you're choosing a water filter for your home.

1. Water Quality

One factor to keep in mind is that water quality can change from minute to minute. You may have a certain quality of water one week when you test it, and the next week you might see contaminants in your water. That's why it's important to have a premium, high-performance filter that can treat the many contaminants that are being found in the water around the country and ensure your drinking water is always safe and healthy for your family.

If you are concerned about specific contaminants, these can also affect the filter you will need. For example, if you know you have an older home served by aging lead pipes, you will likely want a robust filter that can reduce lead concentrations. Or if you know you have high concentrations of disinfection byproducts in your water because your municipal water treatment system uses chlorine or chloramine as a disinfectant, you will likewise want to choose a filter optimized for reducing those contaminants.

To learn about your water quality and arm yourself with the knowledge to find the right water filter, you have a couple of options. You can test your water yourself for lead and other contaminants by purchasing a DIY test kit. Depending on their scope, these tests range from $30 to several hundred dollars. At home, you'll use vials and test strips in the kit to establish a baseline for the quality of your tap water. However, remember that water quality is fluid and can change weekly.

If you have municipally treated water, you'll have the option to look at the Consumer Confidence Report that your city or town is required to make available. From that report, you can learn what contaminants have been found in your water and at what levels.

Once you know the composition of your tap water, you can use that information to look for water filters that are effective against those specific contaminants.

If your home has well water, another alternative is to have professional water experts test your water for you. If you take this approach, you will gain a more comprehensive overview of the contaminants in your water, though you will likely pay a little more as well.

With this option, the water professional will send samples of your home's water to a water-testing laboratory. There, lab technicians will evaluate your water's composition to discover what contaminants are present and in what concentrations. This method can be expensive, as each test you ask for has an additional cost. However, this option is the best choice if you suspect your tap water may contain contaminants that leave no visible or otherwise noticeable traces and can only be detected in a lab.

2. Capacity

The size of your home, how you use your water, and the types of contaminants you want to filter out will affect what filter you need. For example, you might need a point-of-use filter at your kitchen sink that filters out more contaminants than a filter you use for your shower.

To start, consider the daily activities your household performs that require filtered water. For example, do people in your household want to filter contaminants like chlorine out of their shower water and bathwater? You can purchase a point-of-use showerhead filter. Or do you just want filtered water for drinking, washing fruits and vegetables, and cooking? A point-of-use filter for your sink will provide filtered water for your kitchen.

The answers to questions like these can help you start figuring out whether you need a whole-house system or a point-of-use water filter that can meet your specific needs.

3. Effectiveness

Consider the effectiveness of various water filters for the type of water you have and the areas in which you want to use filtered water. A filter designed to treat all the water going through your home will have limitations. Due to the necessity of a high flow rate, these filters are not able to remove as many contaminants as one that is used at point-of-use in your kitchen.

For instance, carbon block filters are effective against a tremendous range of drinking water contaminants, so they are ideal choices in many scenarios. However, carbon block filters perform less effectively at higher water temperatures, so if you want to filter the water you use for showering and bathing, an alternative type of filter, such as a KDF-55 filter, will likely be a better choice.

Additionally, some filters reduce only a few contaminants. Still, if those are the contaminants present in your home drinking water, those more modest filters will likely work well for you. However, for the most comprehensive protection, you may wish to choose an advanced filter that can reduce a wider array of contaminants, from lead and mercury to microplastics to “forever chemicals” like perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS).

Some advanced filters also act as purifiers to reduce the presence of microorganisms, such as bacteria and viruses. If you're searching for water filters that remove bacteria, look for a filter like Multipure's PureBlock filter, found in the Aqualuxe water purifier, which is certified to protect your drinking water against bacteria and viruses.

4. Ease of Use

Another essential consideration to keep in mind when you're choosing a water filter is how easy it will be to use.

How easy a water filtration system is to use often depends on the installation. For example, some filters connect to your main water line. All you have to do to use these systems is call a reputable plumber and have them installed. Afterward, you'll be able to have better-quality water free of particulate matter and chlorine throughout your home just by turning on the tap. You'll also want to have the filter changed about once a year.

Other filters require more sustained effort. For example, you might have a filter pitcher you must regularly fill with tap water. Or you might have a distiller or gravity filter with the same requirement. Filling these products with water is relatively easy — still, you must remember to do it, or you'll soon run out of filtered water. Below-the-sink systems that install directly into your plumbing at your kitchen sink free you from having this extra step in your list of things to do each day. Countertop systems that connect to your kitchen faucet are also excellent options.

5. Cost

Finally, the cost of various water filters is an important factor. Your budgeting should consider both the cost of the initial product and the ongoing cost of maintaining it with replacement filters. Though the cost of a drinking water system might initially seem to be on the higher side, its per-gallon or annual costs can make it affordable for any budget.

When you're considering the costs and benefits of a water filter, remember the substantial benefits of buying something that will meet your needs for the future, not just for the present moment. Purchasing a comprehensive drinking water system that can handle future changes in your water quality is much more cost-effective than buying a more limited product now and having to switch to another one a few years down the road.

Fortunately, you are likely to find a range of practical options, from simple, cost-effective filters to more comprehensive models. With a little time and effort, insights from consumer magazines and NSF, and maybe a conversation or two with your local water professionals, you'll be able to find a filter that gives you refreshing, healthy tap water at a price that fits your budget.

Types of Water Filters

A few different types of water filters are out there on the market, so you'll need to consider their pros and cons before deciding which one best suits your household and its needs. Here are a few frequently encountered options.

1. Carbon Filters

Carbon filters are common in home drinking water systems because they are often effective against a wide range of contaminants. They can be made from many organic materials that have a high carbon content, such as coconut shells or charcoal.

Carbon filters do vary in their effectiveness. Some reduce only a few types of contaminants, while others handle a wide range, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs), PFOS, PFOA, arsenic, and lead.

Carbon filters generally contain a specialized form of carbon known as activated carbon. Activated carbon is considered “active” because it has been processed in a way that increases its adsorptive properties.

Activated carbon is highly porous and intricate. A single teaspoon of activated carbon contains more surface area than an entire football field. It also has a slightly positive charge that allows it to adsorb contaminants — that is, it attracts the contaminants and causes them to stick to its surface.

Carbon filters generally come in two main types — carbon block filters and granular activated carbon (GAC) filters. Granulated active carbon filters contain loose carbon. They are effective at reducing certain specific contaminants, such as VOCs and pesticides. They are often used in addition to other products to give treated water a final filter and boost its quality.

As their name suggests, carbon block filters consist of a dense, solid block of compressed carbon. Because a carbon block filter compacts so much carbon into such a small space, it is highly adsorbent, and it is generally effective at reducing a substantial range of contaminants.

Multipure uses state-of-the-art carbon block filters to give you the peace of mind of knowing you're providing your family with clean, healthful water. They contain activated carbon, which allows them to adsorb contaminants easily. They also provide highly effective mechanical filtration against contaminants.

Multipure solid carbon block filters reduce a wide range of contaminants, as tested and certified by NSF. They reduce the concentration of more than 85 different impurities commonly found in drinking water, including contaminants like:

  • Arsenic
  • Asbestos
  • Chlordane
  • Cysts
  • Disinfection byproducts (DBPs)
  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE)
  • Microplastics
  • PFOA
  • PFOS
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
  • Toxaphene
  • VOCs

2. Reverse Osmosis Filters

Osmosis happens when water moves across a membrane from an area with more dissolved particles to an area with fewer dissolved particles. This process often happens in cells in the body so that they maintain equilibrium with their environment.

Reverse osmosis forces water through a membrane from an area of high solute concentration to an area of low solute concentration. That way, all the dissolved impurities in your water remain on one side and the clean water flows through to the other side.

As the water flows through a reverse osmosis system, it passes through a semipermeable pre-filter that filters out any contaminant particles larger than water molecules. It then flows through a post-filter that filters out any lingering contaminants that may have slipped through. The contaminant particles remain trapped behind the membrane while the filtered water flows into a holding tank, ready for use.

Reverse osmosis systems often use either thin-film composite (TFC) filters or cellulose triacetate (CTA) filters. Of these two types, TFC filters are more effective at filtering more contaminants. However, they are also more susceptible to damage from oxidants like chlorine. So most reverse osmosis systems also contain activated carbon pre-filters that can reduce chlorine levels before the water reaches the TFC filter.

Reverse osmosis filtration systems are strong choices in many cases. They can handle many impurities, including arsenic, lead, bacteria, and viruses, so they are good choices for tap water that contains high concentrations of these contaminants. Reverse osmosis water filtration also takes all the minerals like calcium, potassium and magnesium out of the water.

However, they are generally much less effective against contaminants like VOCs and chlorine, which can slip through or block and damage the filter, so they are not right for all drinking water compositions. Reverse osmosis systems are also inefficient, wasting four to seven gallons of water for every gallon they make, so they may not be good choices for households trying to reduce their water consumption. In addition, the storage tank holds a limited amount of filtered water, and it can take hours to make more.

3. Ceramic Filters

Ceramic filters are ceramic cylinders or domes that contain tiny pores. The minuscule pores admit water while preventing dirt and other contaminants from entering.

Ceramic filters are generally effective at reducing concentrations of bacteria and other contaminants. However, they are less effective against viruses or chemical contaminants.

Ceramic can also be susceptible to bacteria and algae growth. When algae or bacteria begin to colonize the filter, they clog the tiny pores and reduce filtration effectiveness. For this reason, some ceramic filters have a special silver coating that inhibits algal and bacterial growth.

One of the advantages of ceramic filters is that they can last for several years as long they do not break or crack — unlike carbon and other filters, which often require yearly replacement. However, their ineffectiveness against viruses and chemical contaminants means they may not be the right choice for all residences.

Choose a Dependable Water Filter From Multipure

When you need a quality drinking water filtration system to give your home clean, great-tasting water, make Multipure your trusted source. Multipure systems' convenience, unrivaled filter performance, stringent third-party certification, and impressive capabilities mean they provide excellent quality and value for your home.

Our filters treat polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which are particularly tough to remove, as well as "forever chemicals" like PFOA and PFOS. Multipure also offers water filtration systems that effectively remove harmful microplastics and other emerging compounds. These small particles are difficult to measure and filter out, yet water filtration systems from Multipure efficiently remove these and many other impurities from your drinking water.

Water from Multipure is just pennies per gallon. It tastes great, keeps you hydrated, and enhances your health with its cleanliness and quality. Contact us today to learn more about providing healthful water in your home with a Multipure filter and drinking water system.