Best water filter?
April 3, 2012 5:32 PM   Subscribe

I want to start filtering my tap water with those things that screw onto the faucet or those pitchers you fill up with water. What is the best (in terms of actual badness removed) thing I could run to Costco, WalMart, Target, or similar and pick up tonight?
posted by jsturgill to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Go to consumersearch and search for water filter for a nice survey of all the various review sites.
posted by metahawk at 5:40 PM on April 3, 2012

All the screw-onto-faucet things tend to turn into a leaky pain in the rear, are only compatible with certain faucets, etc. I found my hand was always hitting them inadvertently. I don't see much good in them.

If you cannot find an acceptable pitcher unit, strongly contemplate getting an under-sink unit like the Kenmore Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water System (usually around $180). High marks generally for reverse osmosis systems for "badness removed." I installed ours in the basement, and piped it to several drinking water taps around the house, the refrigerator, etc. It has been a hassle-free way to have good drinking water throughout the house, though it was a bit of work to pipe it all around. The kit supplies are for a single tap, and it is mostly intended to be used that way, but it works fine for us.
posted by jgreco at 6:07 PM on April 3, 2012 [4 favorites]

what are you looking to remove from the water? Minerals, chlorine, bacteria? Here's a CDC webpage on household drinking water treatment, and one with specific info on choosing a filter that will remove cryptosporidium.
posted by k96sc01 at 6:51 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I'm in Fresno.

(That site isn't one I actually use for information. It just happens to be the first result for 'fresno water contaminants.')

I suppose I'm most interested in removing any chemicals and such.
posted by jsturgill at 7:18 PM on April 3, 2012

+1 on the R/O unit. It is the way to go for cleaning up drinking water.
posted by sandpine at 7:23 PM on April 3, 2012

Don't bother with an expensive unit. Use a Brita filter. Most drinking water is very safe, and thus the need isn't usually worth an expensive unit. Plus, the biggest problem with filters under the sink or even in pitchers is that people forget to change their filters. The filters then get gunked up and grow bacteria and can cause more problems than they ever solved.

Something like a Brita filter is easy to change, and will make your water taste better if you have taste or odor issues.
posted by ldthomps at 7:26 PM on April 3, 2012

You want the Pur 3-stage filter. It's what I use for my well water, which is contaminated with a dozen different scary things. The 3-stage filter is rated to remove all of them.
posted by ErikaB at 7:42 PM on April 3, 2012

I'll go against the grain and recommend you get a glass bottle with a lid, and fill it up with cold tap water and keep it in the fridge. By the time you use it the next day it will taste amazing, the chlorine will have dissolved, andy you'll be sitting pretty and never have to worry about filters or drip percolation or anything else.

I use a Lorinda bottle picked up from a euro-grocery store, it has its own lid and people always think it's exotic water because it says 1885 on the bottle. The lemonade itself was disappointingly sweet and syrupy, but the bottle cost all of $5.
posted by furtive at 8:40 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah, the answer to this question depends entirely on what exactly it is you're trying to filter out. Different brands are better at certain contaminants than others. The first step to this is getting the water quality report for your area, and then testing the water in your home.

But realistically, there is nothing wrong with your water, at most you'll be filtering for taste, so it matters very little which filter you get.

If you care about recycling, Brita filters can currently be recycled if you have a drop off location near you. If you don't, you can mail it back to them, but that seems wasteful/inefficient. Pur says they're working on something similar but as far as I know hasn't happened yet.

Otherwise I'd get one based on local prices for filters.
posted by danny the boy at 8:48 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

I use a New Wave Enviro 10 Stage Water Filter System which screws onto the faucet easily. Have not had any leakage problems and it makes the hard water taste better to me. Bought it at the food co-op but Amazon and Whole Foods has 'em too
posted by a humble nudibranch at 10:49 PM on April 3, 2012

PUR filters. I have mine as part of a built in faucet. If you can't do that then I suggest a pitcher. Costco sells the filters in large packages.
posted by jadepearl at 11:30 PM on April 3, 2012

I've used a Brita pitcher for over a decade. It works for me. I grew up with deep aquifer water, and when I lived in Chicagoland I was drinking treated lake water (that had developed a so-called "potato-ey" tinge, thanks to the zebra mussel problem). Worked just fine, water tasted great.

I have been contemplating moving up to a sink filter, but it seems a bit much even for me.

The basic thing, though, is that this is for taste preference. Water, in the US, is highly regulated if it comes from municipal systems, and 99% of the country has water that is perfectly safe. Those who do NOT have safe water generally know about it (almost always). Many cities, as with the link you gave and my own city, post their water quality results online, and this can be misleading to some who expect their water to be 100% pure instead of showing various ppm (parts per million) readings. But again, this is regulated to the point that threshold levels must be disclosed.

Keep in mind, also, that hardly any home or DIY system is capable of removing many really dangerous contaminants.

So your water's safe; you just want it to taste better. That's fine. So use the consumer product that feels right for you.
posted by dhartung at 12:20 AM on April 4, 2012

As a counterpoint to the "your water's safe" bandwagon, I encourage you to google "Milwaukee cryptosporidium". While only 104 deaths were attributed to this outbreak, about one out of every two residents served by the water treatment plant in question fell ill, many quite seriously.

The addition of a filter can be an additional safety net. We do these sorts of things all the time. One extra layer to prevent somebody else's screwup from impacting us.
posted by jgreco at 5:58 AM on April 4, 2012

Let me be a voice *against* the "just get a pitcher" argument. We used to do that, and (1) we were always refilling it, because the filter section takes up a third of the volume of the pitcher (imagine how much water you drink in the summer!), and (2) it would get gross and slimy pretty quickly. When we switched to a faucet unit, we got two inexpensive glass jars for the fridge (no more chemicals leaching from the pitcher) and we could keep plenty of water with nothing growing in them -- I'd say we clean them out every few refills, but more "because we should" than because they're ever getting noticeably slimy. I just put a"change filter" reminder on my calendar for 3 months from whenever I do a replacement and that seems to work out fine.

We use the Pur system, which required an adapter for our faucet, but the latest models seem not to develop the screw-area leaks as fast as the older one (which lasted us 5-6 years anyway). I imagine that the under-sink variety ups the convenience, but we already have a garbage disposal down there and didn't want the extra plumbing and so forth. This works just fine (at least up until frakking gets going upstream of us, at which time we may have to reconsider!)...
posted by acm at 7:06 AM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'll go against the grain and recommend you get a glass bottle with a lid, and fill it up with cold tap water and keep it in the fridge. By the time you use it the next day it will taste amazing, the chlorine will have dissolved, andy you'll be sitting pretty and never have to worry about filters or drip percolation or anything else.

Chlorine needs air to volatilize. If there's not enough air in the lidded container, the chlorine remains. The reason it might not be as noticeable to the nose or tongue is because the water is cold. A procedure more likely to remove most of the chlorine would be to leave an open container of water out on the counter, then chill it after 24 hours (cold also inhibits volatilization).

However, Fresno historically has had poor water quality due to nitrates, industrial chemicals, and pesticides. I would probably invest in a reverse osmosis filter if I lived in Fresno. Charcoal filters don't remove nitrates, though they can remove some pesticides.

As far as things you screw on the tap or pitchers: they both are the same thing generally, just a different delivery system. A Brita filtration system uses the same technology whether you attach it to the faucet or stick it in a pitcher. As long as you follow maintenance instructions, they will behave about the same way. In which case, you need to decide which one you would find easiest to use and maintain.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:11 AM on April 4, 2012

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