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Buying Water Filter: Anyone studied this here?
Old 12-29-2010, 02:24 PM   #1
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Buying Water Filter: Anyone studied this here?

I want to buy a water filter for my kitchen sink that filters out so much bad stuff as possible. I've looked on the net and at a brief Consumer's Report article and Amazon reviews, but there is SO much stuff it's confusing.
In the hope of eliminating time and wasted effort, I am asking if anyone here has done this homework already in the quest for the best water filter for the money? And what did you come up with?
When I looked at the Culligan brand filter and Pur filter on Amazon there seemed to be a bunch of complaints...hmmmm...?
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Old 12-29-2010, 03:29 PM   #2
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First things first.
Why do you think you have bad stuff in your tap water? Most people don't.

If you do, then you just need to look at the type of filter that will remove what needs to be removed.

Your local water utility can give you the average readings for your water quality, but those are just limit numbers mandated by the government. You can send a sample of your water to a reputable laboratory for an analysis that will tell you what's actually in it. I've used Ward Labs several times in the past, and I've been very satisfied with their analysis report.

Without knowing anything about your situation, I'll guess that the highest likelihood is that you just aren't happy with the taste of your water, and it's actually quite safe to drink.

If that's the case, then a simple carbon filter will remove the chlorine taste and you'll probably be happy with it.

But I do recommend getting a lab report before wasting money on filtration you don't need.
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Old 12-29-2010, 04:06 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Orchidflower View Post
I want to buy a water filter for my kitchen sink that filters out so much bad stuff as possible. I've looked on the net and at a brief Consumer's Report article and Amazon reviews, but there is SO much stuff it's confusing.
In the hope of eliminating time and wasted effort, I am asking if anyone here has done this homework already in the quest for the best water filter for the money? And what did you come up with?
When I looked at the Culligan brand filter and Pur filter on Amazon there seemed to be a bunch of complaints...hmmmm...?
Are you willing to spend a lot of money? Here is what we got for the motorhome which was so good that we got another for the house - faucet at sink and also filters the line to the fridge. Love it! It will even handle contaminated water - just in case there is a problem with city water, you know.
Seagull IV X-1F Purifier with Faucet - Water Purifiers and Water Micro Filters - General Ecology

In both motorhome and house we also have whole house sediment and carbon filters. Call us nuts for filtering all our water - but that's the way we like it!

Audrey
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Old 12-29-2010, 04:42 PM   #4
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Most urban areas have OK water. I am in the Los Angeles area. We add a PUR filter on the faucet and I think that is enough. Now if you live somewhere with bad water to start with then it is a serious undertaking to get pure water.
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Old 12-29-2010, 05:13 PM   #5
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Depends on what you're trying to get rid of.

Charcoal filtration units on the house inlet or individual faucets will get rid of most chlorine tastes/smells as well as dirt & debris. They can be pretty cheap depending on their construction & capacity.

Ion-exchange resin demineralizing water conditioners (also called "water softeners") will replace most of the minerals (calcium & magnesium) with sodium or potassium (your choice, you buy the appropriate salt) and prevent the crusty buildup around faucets, drains, tubs, & toilets. You use less soap and detergent (both laundry & dish). Everything gets dirty more slowly and is easier to clean. Adding "Iron Out" chelating powder to the salt tank will also get rid of the iron in the water, which can be an issue around Hawaii's red-dirt volcanic soil. They're probably $500-$1000 from places like Home Depot & Sears. GE & Kenmore are reliable brands.

Reverse-osmosis units filter the water through a membrane with very tiny pores to remove almost everything, including agricultural fertilizers & insecticides. These are used in sewage-treatment plants for "irrigation water" and some "toilet-to-tap" projects, so they work pretty well. They're also brought to the scene for disaster-relief and military field water supplies. However they won't remove all bacteria from the water, and most RO units have a "taste" that's usually neutralized with a charcoal or ceramic filter add-on. They're pretty expensive and waste a lot of water in the RO flushing process so they're usually just on kitchen sink faucets. Many "bottled water" companies produce their product from local tap water using this system. I don't know their pricing.

Some well water is acidic and needs a "neutralizer" filter which adds lye (sodium hydroxide) to adjust the pH. Otherwise the acidic pH eventually wreaks havoc on copper plumbing & fixtures.

The ultimate water-purification system combines a distillation plant (which essentially boils/vaporizes the water and then cools/condenses it) with a demineralizing filter (ion-exchange resin) to remove everything but two Hs to one O. It'll get clean water from a pig farm's settling pond. The resulting "Grade A" water is so clean that it hardly even conducts electricity and drinking it can actually deplete your body of minerals. They're the most expensive systems, but I've never heard of anyone using one in their homes.
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Old 12-29-2010, 05:35 PM   #6
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Hi Orchidflower

The best you can do is a distiller. See here Water Purification Products It's pricey and lots of work, but you do get pure water and nothing else.

This filter is very good Aqua-Pure Water Filters : CUNO, Incorporated It is pricey for a filter, has to be installed and needs a separate faucet but filters out more stuff than any other.

As Nords pointed out, reverse osmosis filters are the best. Very common in Latin America. They consume 3-5 gallons for every gallon you consume and are expensive, but are the best at removing stuff that shouldn't be there and leaving sweet tasting water.

Countertop carafes and faucet mounts will take out some stuff, mostly chlorine and stuff, but won't remove all the stuff modern living has managed to introduce into our water supply.
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Old 12-29-2010, 05:49 PM   #7
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Braumeister has it right: have your water tested, and check with your city water department.

In some areas of the country with really atrocious tap water (much of southern California and Texas, or well water anywhere) you may indeed want an elaborate softening-plus-reverse-osmosis system like Nords describes, but these are the exceptions. In most places sediment removal plus carbon filtration is all you need.

Tap-mounted units are cheap but tend to leak and get in the way of sink use; counter-top units are better. There are a lot of snake-oil salesmen in the water filtration business; avoid any systems sold by your (unlicensed) friends and neighbors a la Amway and anyone who doesn't have NSF certified filtration that filters below 1 micron. Everpure/Culligan is one good place to start; for counter top units PUR bought at Costco is pretty good.

Distilled or RO water has no taste and is NOT the best thing to drink. Mineral in water taste good and are good for you, as long as they're within reasonable limits. Those mineral-free waters also brew a lousy-tasting cup of tea or coffee, in case that matters to you (I spent many years spec'ing water filtration systems for coffee bars nationwide).

Spend the least you can to do the job, looking at both initial cost and replacement cartridges. Most city water departments are pretty proud of what they deliver, and rightly so, but what comes out of your tap depends on the condition of the pipes going to and in your house, so do spend the money to test.
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Old 12-29-2010, 06:04 PM   #8
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Here in France you can buy, to my constant amazement, concentrated hydrochloric acid, for one Euro a litre, in any supermarket. I dilute it one to ten and use it to clean anything where limescale has accumulated. Shower head: ten minutes immersed in dilute HCl. Outside of aquarium where water drops run down: paper towel dipped in dilute HCl, wear rubber gloves if it's a long job. Kettle/coffee machine: run a cycle with extra-dilute HCl.

This won't help for major appliances, but it keeps our small stuff in perfect working order. I'm just amazed that you can buy anything as dangerous in the supermarket.
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Old 12-29-2010, 06:07 PM   #9
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We know a lot of people that use reverse-osmosis filters in their motorhomes (for all water use!!!), and some in their houses for drinking water.

We decided NOT to try reverse-osmosis to filter our drinking water because of the waste water issue but also because of the removal of the minerals in the water that help it taste good as well as being important nutrients. Plus DH says that it's tough to know when the membrane develops defects that means it's not doing it's job/can't be trusted. Distilled water would have the same lack-of-minerals/taste issues.

In the motorhome - the additional waste water would have been a major issue.

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Old 12-29-2010, 06:24 PM   #10
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If you have really bad tap water, consider just buying bottled water. It is much more convenient and requires no maintenance.

I second all of the above comments.

Distillation is a really big hammer. It takes a lot of energy for a little water. It is usually confined to waste water volume reduction. The navy used to have 'small' units on submarines (e.g., the USS Blueback, now permanently at OMSI in Portland), but everything else is filtration+IX+RO now for high quality water. Please note that filtration & IX & RO all require proper operation and maintenance or they die. If you want to start somewhere, a whole-house filter plus charcoal filter is a good place to start. Don't forget to change the elements out on a schedule recommended by the manufacturer or installer.
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Old 12-29-2010, 07:35 PM   #11
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One thing to keep in mind with the RO type of filter is that it also filters out the fluoride in the water which is important from a dental standpoint, especially if you have children.
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Old 12-29-2010, 07:42 PM   #12
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We're just off the ocean and on a well, and have a water purification system for our water, but use a reverse osmosis system for drinking water and making tea. Our regular tap water isn't too bad, but has a significant iron taste and smell sometimes. Contrary to what people have said here, our water tastes wonderful, and makes a great pot of tea. It does have some wastage, but we don't use it that much (1 gallon/day maybe) so it's not a big deal. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it for city water, since it is pretty expensive to put in. But where we are it's an excellent choice.
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Old 12-29-2010, 09:16 PM   #13
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As others have said, getting your water tested is the first step. If you are on a municipal water supply, it's almost certainly free of pathogens, and the most likely problem would be trace chemicals (to incl remnants from chlorine treatment) and possibly some unpleasant taste from the chlorine itself. If you are on a well, you could have all kinds of issues. We are on a well, and I installed a water softener ("ion exchange") for all the indoor water, then for the drinking water I have sediment filters, a carbon filter, reverse osmosis (with "polishing filter") and UV light treatment. I only did all this after getting the water tested, and after making some cost/benefit analysis of possible problems.

What's wrong with your water? Why do you want to treat it?
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Old 12-29-2010, 09:28 PM   #14
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One thing to keep in mind with the RO type of filter is that it also filters out the fluoride in the water which is important from a dental standpoint, especially if you have children.
Assuming you live in an area that fluoridates the water in the first place...

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Here in France you can buy, to my constant amazement, concentrated hydrochloric acid, for one Euro a litre, in any supermarket. I dilute it one to ten and use it to clean anything where limescale has accumulated. Shower head: ten minutes immersed in dilute HCl. Outside of aquarium where water drops run down: paper towel dipped in dilute HCl, wear rubber gloves if it's a long job. Kettle/coffee machine: run a cycle with extra-dilute HCl.
Dishwashing detergent isn't much better from the other end of the pH scale, as is drain cleaner. I was surprised to find out how corrosive they can be.

Our first water conditioner (1997, in our rental) cost $675 and a monthly $5 40-pound bag of salt. We had a leaky O-ring at the 10-year point that cost under a buck to fix. The resin tanks are supposed to "wear out" after a decade but we haven't noticed any problems. Maybe at the 20-year point I'll be ready to start over.

Our second water conditioner (2003, in our home) cost $450 plus less salt (more efficient metering).

In exchange for the cost of the salt I don't have to scrape or dissolve minerals out of anything. We use an Oxygenics shower head that doesn't accumulate mineral deposits. Showers, tubs, & sinks wipe down clean. No problems with washing-machine inlet filters or dishwasher deposits. I've never had to clean out a faucet. Coffeepots... I've never cleaned the boiler part although the carafes get pretty scummy with coffee/tea deposits. Toilets swish clean with a brush, although a couple times a year I have to scrape out the accumulated calcium-uric acid compounds deposited around the water line.
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Old 12-29-2010, 09:32 PM   #15
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Here in France you can buy, to my constant amazement, concentrated hydrochloric acid, for one Euro a litre, in any supermarket... I'm just amazed that you can buy anything as dangerous in the supermarket.
Here in the US, we can buy the same concentrated HCl solution in 1-gallon jugs (~4 liters) in hardware stores or swimming pool supply stores. The common use is to pour into residential swimming pools to lower the pH.
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Old 12-29-2010, 10:27 PM   #16
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Haven't studied this. But remember one time when the water from the faucet was coming out yellowish and wasn't able to go to the store and buy water. So, out of desperation of thirst, I ran the faucet into a pitcher with a filter (Brita brand, I believe). The water filtered out totally clear. Yes, I did go ahead and drink the water and didn't have a bad taste at all. I'm still alive to drink another day.

I much prefer the filter in pitcher type than the ones that connect to the faucet.
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Old 12-30-2010, 09:16 AM   #17
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I much prefer the filter in pitcher type than the ones that connect to the faucet.
Interesting. I lived in a place where we had a pitcher-type filter. The tap water was just fine without it, so I never was able to gauge how effective it could be.
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Old 12-30-2010, 11:30 AM   #18
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Well, I am sold on having the water tested--after I try and fight with the city Water Dept. to get some information from them (fat chance on finding anyone that actually knows but I'll try).

I just want to clean up the water if it's bad for drinking. My son sent me an article on bad water in this area and is pushing me to not drink it from the tap, so I thought I should check this out. Don't want to die from drinking water pollutants...yeeech!
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Old 12-30-2010, 01:28 PM   #19
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Most places I've lived, the local water supplier is required to send you the numbers annually, showing how they met or didn't meet federal/state standards for a number of pollutants.

It's of limited value, since they average many readings during the year, and often those readings are taken from various places in the system.

Get a good lab analysis and you'll know where to go from there.

Does your water taste OK?
Is it cloudy at all?
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Old 12-30-2010, 01:39 PM   #20
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Not cloudy but not a hot taste. My main concern is those unseen, unknown pollutants that cause cancer and other ugly things as I understand that water in my area is not the best. I don't want to start growing extra arms and legs..haha!
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