Water Filter Guide: How To Choose A Water Filter That Works

Can’t figure out how to choose a water filter? Every day people buy the wrong filter and waste their money.

This easy water filter guide will make sure you save your money and your health. 

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Water Filter Guide: How To Choose A Water Filter That Is Best For You and Your Family

Water is the foundation of life. Without it, we cannot survive. In fact, fresh water is our most basic essential. We need to drink water everyday – and plenty of it for healthy hydration.

But statistics indicate that most Americans (95%) drink less than a quart of water on a daily basis when they should be drinking 2 or 3 times as much – at minimum.

During the warmer months, water consumption should increase to keep our bodies functioning the way nature intended. For folks who labor in the hot sun – like construction workers and landscapers for example, more water is required.

Up to 16 quarts a day – to stay hydrated and to help prevent the body temperature from soaring to a dangerously high level.

Is Fresh, Filtered Water Readily Available?

I think it’s fair to say that most of us would drink more fresh water if it was instantly available from the tap at home.

Sure, we could drink bottled water. But carting around a large bottle everywhere isn’t always practical.

And let’s face it – those plastic bottles can’t be good for the environment.

But for most people, drinking water straight from the tap probably isn’t ideal – and certainly not the best option.

Young woman washing her face at a water faucet. FullStrideHealth.com water filter guide on how to choose a water filter.
Got dry itchy skin? Can’t stand the smell and taste of your water? This guide will show you how to choose a water filter to fix those problems.

For some, tap water could be downright dangerous.

Just how fresh and safe is the water that flows into your home? It’s probably not as good as it could be.

The good news is that you CAN do something about it – and improve your water significantly.

In this article, we’re going to dive in and explore the benefits of using a water filter and the various options available.

Everyone has probably seen or heard about water filters of one type or another. And it’s not uncommon to see people using some form of water filter, like those pitcher-size units that fit inside the refrigerator.

If you’re not already filtering your water, read this article before choosing your device. And if you already own a “water filter” – is yours the best choice for you and your family?

Reading this comprehensive water filter buying guide can help you understand the different types of filtration available. It will help you make sense of the often confusing technologies used today to filter water from any source.

Ultimately, you’re about to discover how to choose a water filter for your home.

Why Water Filters Are So Important These Days

In today’s environment, the water supply is laden with impurities – some intentional, others not.

It doesn’t matter whether your home’s water is connected directly to a municipal water feed, or you get your water from a well. Chances are there are elements in that water that you’d be better off without.

Even collected rainwater comes with its own potential dangers. So if you want the best-tasting and safest water available, you need an effective water filtration or purification system in your home.

Municipalities everywhere deploy water filtration systems to “clean” the water that gets piped into its area homes and businesses. These systems take water from a “fresh water” source, like a lake and process it before it enters the distribution network of pipes and flows out of your taps.

Local officials often claim that your tap water is perfectly safe to drink, cook with and bathe in.

But does that mean your tap water is actually safe and clean?

Well, I suppose this depends on your definition of these terms. Sure, municipal tap water is typically filtered in a “water purification” facility before it reaches your home. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the water ripped into your house is without potentially harmful contaminants.

It’s not just the city I live in. The same is true for your city or town and every other municipality – large or small – for that matter.

When local authorities test the water quality, what they test as you might expect, is water that has just gone through the filtration or purification process. That’s before it enters the municipal distribution channels.

Results need to meet the minimum acceptable standard before the water is permitted to flow. But chances are your home is miles away from the filtration plant.

Therefore, the water that flows from your tap has traveled miles of pipelines to get there and that’s something that’s often overlooked in assessing the quality of a city or towns’ water. 

Testing only at the source of distribution doesn’t take into account the distance, age and condition of the pipes through which the water has to travel.

Municipally treated water has to travel a long way through before it reaches your tap.

In newer developments with a recently built water infrastructure, the water that flows from the tap may be identical to the water tested at the facility in terms of quality and purity. 

In newer developments with a recently built water infrastructure, the water that flows from the tap may be identical to the water tested at the facility in terms of quality and purity. 

It’s not unusual for water pipes to be multiple decades old.

It’s only logical to expect that any water traveling long distances through partially-corroded pipes would arrive in a less acceptable state than when it left the plant.

Young man standing next to a fire hydrant.
When I worked for the water department (no, that isn’t me in the picture) we flushed out the water mains twice per year to remove rust, sand, sediment, etc, from the water pipes.

This filtered water accumulates pollutants, including rust and debris picked up along the way.

These aging pipes provide an environment where microorganisms, bacteria, and viruses can thrive. Not exactly the result you expect when you turn on the tap – for any purpose.

Water flowing from your faucet may be discolored, or have a bad taste. It could potentially have a high degree of biological contamination too.

Unfortunately, many of these impurities are impossible to detect by sight or taste, hence the need to add your own water filtration system – whatever that ultimately entails.

It’s Also What’s Added Into Your Water Supply

Municipal water systems don’t simply filter the water – they also chemically treat it too.

The most established and commonly used community-based water treatment additive is chlorine.

Yes, the same chlorine used to treat swimming pools is often added to the drinking water leaving the treatment plant and flowing through your pipes.

While the chlorination process does kill off some microorganisms found in the water, it also has a strong and distinctive smell and negatively changes the taste of tap water. But that’s not the only concern with chlorine.

Recent studies indicate that chlorine can interact with organic matter found in water to create carcinogenic compounds and that’s something that should be of real concern to every customer of chlorine-treated tap water.

Water filtering is vital for keeping out harmful parasites, bacteria, and other microorganisms from your drinking water. It helps to control and minimize these harmful contaminants.

One of the most significant contaminants that can be found in water is Cryptosporidium. It’s a parasite that is completely resistant to chlorine.

The only way it can be taken out of your home’s water supply is by mechanical filtration methods. Should this parasite get into your drinking water it can cause diarrhea and dehydration, as well as other health issues that could last for weeks.

But that‘s not all you need to be wary of with regards to your drinking water. It’s possible that your water supply could be contaminated with other chemicals, pesticides, and even heavy metals like lead.

Commonly used pesticides from a half-century ago (and since banned) contained heavy metals which don’t just go away. Heavy metals could be present in the soil that houses aging pipes. As those pipes break down, the opportunity is there for those heavy metals to leak into the water supply.

Another problem stems form the construction of the pipes themselves. The most common material old pipes were made from was lead. For years, lead pipes were used for plumbing.

These older pipes (and the solder used for making joints) still contain lead which can easily leach into water. Fortunately, lead and other harmful pollutants can be removed with a quality water filter.

These older pipes (and the solder used for making joints) still contain lead which can easily leach into water.

Fortunately, lead and other harmful pollutants can be removed with a quality water filter.

Old water pipes fail every year in my city. Repairing those water mains introduces dirt, sand, metal particles and more into the public water system.

A broken water main can permit sand, chemicals and other pollutants into the public water system.
A broken water main can permit sand, chemicals and other pollutants into the public water system.

Water Filter Guide: Different Water Filter Processes Do Different Things

You’ll find 4 different types of water filters designed for home use in the United States and elsewhere. Each type works in a different way and is generally more effective at targeting one (or more) categories of pollutants.

These different water filter types represent different processes and are therefore constructed out of different types of materials.

Following is a break down of the most common filter types and the materials used therein:

Activated Carbon

There’s no other household water filter more popular than the activated carbon filter. I’m sure it’s popularity is due to the low cost widespread availability.

Activated carbon filters are also easy to use. These filters feature activated carbon granules made from charcoal. This type of filter establishes a physical barrier to block out contaminants.

These filters have a porous structure that’s not too dense, so water flows through at a good pace. Built-in ridges help draw and trap chemicals through adsorption – a process where gasses and liquids become trapped by other liquids or solids they come into contact with.

Distillation –

In simple terms, distilling water means essentially boiling it to make it cleaner and safer.

But distillation type water filters boil the water in a more advanced way.

Instead of simply boiling it like you might boil water in a kettle, distillation actually captures steam released through boiling and condenses these cleaner water particles into a separate container.

CO-Z 110V FDA Approved Water Distiller. Get It Now – Click Here

Ion Exchange –

Ion exchange water filters are designed to make hard water softer by removing the minerals – calcium and magnesium – that make the water hard.

These filters are made from lots of zeolite beads that contain sodium ions. As hard water moves through the filter, the calcium and magnesium ions are drawn towards and trapped by the zeolite beads releasing their own sodium in the process and softening the water.

Reverse Osmosis –

Reverse osmosis water filtration units typically contain multiple filters including 3 distinct pre-membrane filters, a semi-permeable membrane filter, as well as a post-membrane filter.

Depending on the model, you might see additional filters as well.

The key element in the design of reverse osmosis systems is the semi-permeable membrane which stops even the tiniest and lightest of contaminants.

Only extremely small compounds can get past a quality reverse osmosis home water filtration system.

How Do Water Filters Really Work and What Are The Common Problems Of Each Type?

Every type of water filter we use is uniquely engineered to function in a specific way. Let’s take a look at how these water filters actually work to remove impurities and deliver clean, safe water.

Some reverse osmosis models also come equipped with a UV light feature, plus a unique filter that actually raises the pH level of the water, making it alkaline water. A lot of popular countertop pitchers with built-in filters produce alkaline water.

Activated Carbon –

Since activated filters work through adsorption, impurities are collected by the sponge-like surface of the filter as water flows through the device.

The activated carbon charcoal filter is effective in removing many common contaminants. But it’s ineffective at blocking any scaly build up of lime.

Another limitation of the activated carbon type filter is that it doesn’t block all contaminants.

This means that nitrates, fluoride, sodium, and microbes get through the filter unscathed and will show up in your drinking water unless they get filtered out by some other means.

While it’s effective at capturing particulate matter in the ridges of the charcoal filter – this very process clogs the filter. Once it’s clogged-up, the filter won’t be able to block any other contaminants that it otherwise would able to capture.

Since any blockage renders the device far less effective, those carbon filters need to be changed frequently.

Distillation –

From the outside, the process of distilling water seems like the ideal option. Distillation boils the water and produces steam. Once this steam cools, it condenses back to a purer form of water which collects in a separate container.

One problem with this method is that water boils at a lower temperature (212 degrees F) than many contaminants found therein.

What this means is that any contaminant not converted to steam remains in the original container. That’s a good thing because we only want clean water making its way through the process.

But unfortunately, some contaminants boil at a temperature lower than the boiling point of water.

As a result, the condensed steam will also contain any pollutant that boils at or below the BP of water.

This problem is solved by using a carbon filter.

12 gallon steam distiller uses a carbon filter to remove residual contaminants. Get yours today – Click Here Now

Ion Exchange –

With ion exchange filters, calcium and magnesium contained in hard water are drawn towards the zeolite beads of the ion exchange filtration system. In return, these filters release sodium ions into the water.

Calcium and magnesium are major elements in lime-scale build-up. When calcium and magnesium are removed, the water will be softer and have a better taste.

However, the sodium released will be present in the water, and can make it taste salty. That can be problematic if you dislike the new taste, or you’re on a salt-free or low-sodium diet.

Reverse Osmosis –

Reverse osmosis typically deploys 5 separate filters – sometimes more.

Its first line of defense is to filter out any rust, dust, debris, and any other contaminant that could damage the Reverse Osmosis membrane inside.

Usually the second filter of a reverse osmosis system is a carbon filter to remove harmful chemicals like chlorine, fluoride and others.

The third filter (also carbon, but in a somewhat denser and less porous format) is designed to capture small particles. This helps ensure that the water is as contaminant-free as possible before it reaches the inner membrane.

Next up is the reverse osmosis membrane.

This one blocks contaminants based on size, molecular weight, and the ionic charge they carry.

It is believed that somewhere between 95 to 99% of water-borne contaminants will not get past the filtration at this point.

reverse osmosis diagram

Finally, the last (fifth) filter removes any bacteria, viruses, and left-over chlorine that may have escaped earlier filtration. This filter takes care of any bad smell or taste left lingering in the water.

Sorting Out The Options:  How To Choose A Water Filter To Suit Your Needs

Shopping for a water filter for your home can be a challenge, given the number of different types, brands and models.

What you need to know is that there is no “one size fits all” solution. Each and every quality water filter is capable of removing some of contaminants found in water.

In fact, most filters are quite good at removing a specific group or category of contaminants. On the other hand, these same filters are not so good at removing other impurities, often missing them entirely.

This is due to the different composition of each contaminant and the difficult challenge of trying to filter them all out.

Check Your Water First

Your first step is to get an accurate analysis of the water flowing through your taps. To find the best solution for you means understanding the problem as it exists.

In reality, the degree of quality, of water, varies considerably. So you must test it to find out what elements are present that you’d like to eliminate. That’s the first step – testing your water quality. Don’t simply accept what local officials claim.

To find out for yourself, you need a test kit.  Not only will this reveal important information about what’s lurking in your water supply, it will also lead you to the best water filter for your home.

Here’s the best way to quickly and accurately test your water. It works with simple test strips and with any source of supply, including municipally sourced water and well water.

It’s important To Know What You’re Looking For

“Water quality” simply refers to the concentration of contaminants within it. It may include (but is not limited to): chlorine, discoloration, hardness, bacteria, viruses, pesticides, nitrates/nitrites, and heavy metals.

Another important factor is the pH of your water, which can also impact its quality.

The reason municipal water is treated with chlorine is that it serves as a disinfectant. But chlorine has a strong odor and it ruins the taste.

Lots of people are saddled with hard water. Hard water causes the build-up of scale.

It often also contains harmful levels of pesticides, nitrites and nitrates. These can be dangerous to the health of anyone, particularly children.

Water that is too acidic tastes bad. It also accelerates the corrosion of pipes and fixtures, further impacting your water in a negative way.

How A Test Kit Helps

It’s crucial to understand what’s in your water before you can take the most effective measures to improve water quality. That’s why you’ll need a quality water test kit.

We’ve recommended one – the best in our opinion – but other test kits are available at your local retailer or online.

Water testing kits feature multiple strips that change their color based on contaminants present.

This kit includes everything needed to send a water sample to a laboratory for analysis. Click Here

Pass on any test kits with only a single strip. Most of those only test the water’s pH level. That’s important – but only part of it.

Look for a test kit with separate strips for common contaminants including chlorine, hardness, bacteria, pesticides, nitrates, nitrites, lead or other heavy metals.

Read Instructions First

For best results always read instructions. Every test kit comes with directions, and each brand is a little different.

What is particularly important is to know up front exactly how long you need to place the strips in water, ideal water temperature, and exactly what each color indicates.

Test Your Water

Once you’ve got a good handle on the directions provided, it’s time to test your water.

Submerge each test strip in a container of water and hold it there for the recommended time period.

Next, lift the strip out of the water and shake off any excess water.

Allow for the correct waiting period and then compare the color of each strip to the color chart provided.

Assess The Quality of Your Water

For best results, it’s important to pay attention to the details. Typically, each strip has multiple indicators. Therefore, it’s important to compare the right indicators to the chart provided.

The color of the test strip is a strong indication of the presence and concentration of the relevant impurity and whether it’s at a dangerous or acceptable level.

Should any result indicate a hazardous level of contaminant, you’ll want to double-check your findings by testing your tap water a second time. This helps to minimize the possibility of error.

Using Your Senses

You shouldn’t rely on a test kit alone to accurately assess the quality of your drinking water.

Engage your senses and you’ll uncover additional information related to your water.

It’s the only way to completely analyze exactly what is flowing from the faucet.

Skilled engineers who routinely examine water samples include smelling, tasting, and getting a good visual assessment of each sample of water before revealing their results.

Using your senses to test water quality is part of the FullStrideHealth.com water filter guide on how to choose a water filter.

I don’t recommend using your senses in place of a proven test kit. For the most accurate and detailed information – use both methods.

What Your Sense of Smell Can Reveal

it’s important to smell your water because any odor you detect could indicate a specific contamination issue.

If you detect strong odors similar to liquid bleach, it’s a clear indication that your nearby water treatment plant uses chlorine to disinfect the water supply before it reaches end users.

It’s important to conduct a chlorine specific analysis from freshly-drawn tap water. The reason is simple. Leaving an open container of treated water can permit the chlorine inside to dissipate into the air.

If the scent you’re picking up from the test sample of water smells anything like rotten eggs, it’s a strong indication that unwanted bacteria have proliferated on route from the treatment plant to your tap.

Be sure to test both hot and cold water. Try filling a container of water and change locations – to another part of your home. Wait for ten minutes – then take another sniff. If the sulfur-like odor is still there – you’ve got a water problem.

This kind of contamination is probably occurring within your municipality’s water distribution pipeline network. But if the odor is gone, it’s highly likely that the bad smell must be coming from your drain.

What this means is that a thorough cleaning is necessary. If your smell test exposes an earthy musty or earthy scent, it could be from any organic matter that is in the process of decomposing.

Test again by taking a container of water to another part of your house. Wait a few minutes and then smell it again. This will help you determine if it’s coming from the water supply – or your drain. While this smell is less than pleasant, it’s largely harmless.

Taste – Testing

If your sample water tastes off – even a little – do not consume it. Should you pick up any metallic taste, it might indicate a high level of minerals – or a low level of pH.

The smell test above is a sure indication of the present of chlorine. But you can also recognize it by taste.

Salty-tasting water could be a sign of sulfates or chlorine ions. Compounds like these could indicate industrial waste or irrigation drainage that’s leached into the soil, directly impacting the water supply.

Using Your Eyes To Assess Water Quality

Fill a glass cup or bowl from the tap and then lift it so natural or direct light shines through the water receptacle. Look for floating particles or water that appears cloudy. Obviously, the clearer and cleaner your water – the better.

Particles of a reddish-brown or orange color are a telltale sign of rust somewhere in your pipes, or possibly your plumbing fixtures.

If your water runs through a hose, you should know that chlorine can cause the rubber to break down, resulting in small particles of the same color showing up in your water sample.

Clarity is important too. Cloudy water or white/off white particles are a surefire indication of “hard” water. Hard water develops when an excessive quantity of calcium and/or magnesium carbonate gets into the water.

Use your eyesight to assess color. It’s a good idea to allow the water to run for a minute or two through the tap before collecting a color sample. This allows any lose particles to pass through the pipe and fixtures.

Collect your sample in a glass container and then hold it to the light. Any discoloration could be an indication of contamination.

It may be difficult to pinpoint the source, since it could be from the water supply chain, rusty pipes inside or outside your home, something leaching into the water at some point along the way – or something else entirely.

Use your best judgment to assess any pipes and fixtures you can reach – including the toilet. Look for leaks and any build up of sediment. Any corrosion or accumulating matter in the pipes can get into your supply and create a poor quality of water.

Thoroughly clean or replace any damaged pipes – this alone can make a difference.

Ask Your Municipality For a Water Quality Report

If you draw your water from your city or town – this is important. Get in touch with your local municipality and request a print copy of their water quality report. All municipalities are required to regularly have their water tested – complete with a comprehensive report.

This gives you a starting point as it’s a reasonable analysis of the water that leaves the treatment plant. What this report will not take into account, are any factors that impact the water as it makes its way through city pipes and into your home.

Saint Paul MN water quality report. FullStrideHealth.com water filter guide, how to choose a water filter.
The Reporting Limit is the amount considered safe enough that it does not need to be reported. Effluent is the water after it has been treated and is what is sent to your home.

Knowing What Is In Your Water Can Point You In the Right Direction

Once you’ve gathered the various pieces of the puzzle, you’ll have a good idea of the contaminants present in your water supply. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll know what direction to move in to actually do something about it.

When you first thought about adding a water filter or system to your home – what was the underlying reason? What did you have in mind when you initiated your search for a water filtration system?

For example, you may be dealing with a hard water problem you’d like to improve. Maybe it was the scent or taste you’ve been getting from your tap water that has bothered you the most.

For example, you may be dealing with a hard water problem you’d like to improve. Maybe it was the scent or taste you’ve been getting from your tap water that has bothered you the most.

The point I want to make here is that you are probably looking to solve a problem or make your water better in some way.

So, after doing your own water quality testing, are you still looking for the same solution only, or have you discovered another issue you’d also like to address?

How To Choose A Water Filter That’s Right For You

As you now know, each type of water filtration system is highly effective for some contaminants, and a flop at eliminating other problem elements.

So, it makes sense to really hone in on the specific water issues that would improve your water as much as possible.

The best filtration system for you depends on the following:

  1. The original issue you had with your water that you wanted to resolve
  2. The results obtained from you water tests
  3. Your available budget for a solution

The more you’re willing to invest into a workable solution, the more options you’ll have to choose from.

Available Types of Water Filters

Following is a list of the types of filters available for specific water issues.

Water Problem: Limescale Deposits

Lime scale buildup is a common water problem and it’s one of the easiest to correct. Several types of filters can be deployed to get rid of unsightly lime scale deposits on your faucet and fixtures.

Interestingly, you can resolve this with either low end or high end water filtration systems.

Budget Option

In-line filters are commonly used for sinks, coffee makers, refrigerators, humidifiers, dishwashers, ice makers and showers.

If you want a filter that connects to the shower head Click Here.

This ion exchange filter removes magnesium and calcium in the water (which causes those lime scale buildups) and exchanges them for the phosphate particles trapped in the beads of the filter.

It resolves your lime-scale problem.

They get the job done by softening the water at a lower cost than any other option.

Maintenance costs are also notably low.

Medium Budget Choice

Alternative Water Softener. iSpring ED2000 Whole House Salt-Free Electronic Descaler Water Conditioner

This water softener works electronically to remove any buildup. It’s a small device that doesn’t even physically touch the water.

This device simply fits onto the water feed pipe and provides computer-controlled electric impulses to deliver salt-free water softening.

Very easy to install. Nothing to replace. Requires an electrical outlet. Is only effective for 50 feet. Must remove iron from water before it gets to this item.

Another advantage of using this kind of device is that it doesn’t remove the calcium and magnesium from the water, so you will still get the value of having these beneficial minerals in your drinking water.

More Expensive (But Highly-Effective) Option – Whole-House Water Filtration

Previously shown water filters are single faucet filters.

So, if you want to get the benefit of fresh, filtered water from more than one tap in your home – you would need to purchase and install additional units as required. 

But a more efficient solution would be a water filtration system that was large enough and powerful enough to filter all the water coming into your home.

This one removes the minerals that harden your water, producing enough soft water at every tap in your entire house.

I highly recommend this for anyone on city water Click Here Now

Not only will the treated water leave no scaly buildup, it also tends to make your skin and hair look healthier and more vibrant after you shower.

Water Problem:  Bad Taste Or Odor

Once again, this is a common problem encountered by many, and one that offers multiple solutions too. You can choose between the following systems (with their varied price points) to remove the bad tastes or odors.

Low Budget Option

The most cost-effective way to get rid of a bad taste or odor in your water is to use an activated carbon filter.

Activated carbon is the oldest type of water filter around and has been used for generations.

They’ve improved significantly over time and now come in variety of sizes and capacities.

If a bad odor or taste is your primary concern – an activated carbon filter is a low cost solution to your problem.

Omnipure K2533JJ Inline Water Filter with Quick-Connect – Click Here

The most inexpensive of all activated carbon filters can be found in those pitcher-style filters. But you can also find them on faucet, countertop, under the sink, and whole-house filtration systems.

Medium Budget Option

You can choose a more advanced carbon filter like the Filtrete Maximum Under Sink Water Filtration System or go with a newer technology. Such as ozone.

Ozone water filters are affordable and work well for a lot of people.

What these filters are capable of doing is eliminating most contaminants in your source water, which also seems to take care of any accompanying bad odors.

This type of water filter can add a slight ozone smell and taste. But it really depends on the amount of ozone used in a particular system.

We recommend the A2Z Ozone Aqua-6 Multi-Purpose Ozone Generator for anyone looking for an ozone water filtration system.

Filtrete Maximum Under Sink Water Filtration System. Connects to your faucet. Also, available with a separate faucet. Great Choice – Click Here

Multi-Purpose Ozone Generator. Disinfects when nothing else will. Get yours here

Higher End Option

If you’ve got a little more money to invest in a quality water filter, you should take a closer look at a quality reverse osmosis system – from among our recommendations below.

Take a look at any water filter buying guide available – one that promises to evaluate the best all-around filtration systems today – and you’ll see that it always includes at least one reverse osmosis water purification system.

That’s because reverse osmosis produces odor-free and great tasting water.

It is a more involved process of filtering water and it uses multiple filters to get the job done.

But the end result is what counts and a quality reverse osmosis filtration system delivers much better water.

You’ll notice that there are many different reverse osmosis systems including countertop, under the sink and whole-house water filters.

Here are our top recommendations:

Superb Taste, High Capacity Under Sink Reverse Osmosis. iSpring RCC7AK 6-Stages with Alkaline Remineralization. Excellent value – Click Here

Home Master TMAFC-ERP Artesian Undersink Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System. Less wasted water. Get Yours Now – Click Here

Water Problem: High Levels Of Bacteria

A high bacteria level in your water is something you don’t want to overlook. That’s why testing your water for bacteria is an important step.

If your test indicates a problem, you’ll want to be sure you install a water filter that will eliminate the problem before it reaches your glass or electric kettle.

Once again, you have some choices as there are plenty of water filters claiming to be capable of kicking off any problem bacteria.

Low Budget Option –

If you want a low-cost filter – consider a water distillation system.

Water distillation filtration operates by first boiling the water and then capturing the condensed steam boiling produces, into a separate container.

Sounds like an in-class science experiment – and it works beautifully.

Almost all water-borne bacteria are eliminated thanks to the high temperature reached through boiling.

VEVOR Countertop Water Distiller Click Here

Water distillation has proven to be an efficient method for getting rid of bacteria.

You choices are numerous with water distillation units being available in electric countertop, stovetop, or survival (fire) models.

Medium Budget Option

Ultraviolet (UV) water filtration systems are uniquely engineered to kill off any viruses and bacteria present in your water.

Numerous sizes of UV units are available, but readily available UV water filters that are both small and easy to install can be had affordably.

It’s important to remember though that with these, you’ll need an electrical outlet nearby.

With a quality UV water filter, water bacteria levels will drop significantly – even disappear completely – depending on the condition and source of your water.

The HQUA-OWS-6 Whole-House Ultraviolet Water Purifier Sterilizer (6GPM 110V Model, With 1 Extra UV Bulb) gets our highest recommendation. Click Here

High Budget Option

For the best quality results, you’ll want a water filter that combines the most effective technologies.

In this case, the combination of reverse osmosis filters and UV light filtration produces impressive results.

Mechanical filters weed out many contaminants as a primary step.

The water is then channeled through chemical filters and a semi-permeable membrane.

Following these processes, it then passes through the UV filtration process.

It’s this combination of filtration methods in one unit that produces clean, fresh water – straight from the tap.

Our Top picks include:

The iSpring RCC7AK 6-Stage High Capacity Under The Sink Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Filter System with Alkaline Remineralization.

This one helps to restore the water’s natural pH, producing superior taste.

We also recommend the iSpring UV Disinfection Water Sterilizer to be used with the reverse osmosis sytem.

iSpring RCC7AK 6-Stage Superb Taste High Capacity Under Sink Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Filter System with Alkaline Remineralization

This combination of reverse osmosis (above) and UV light bacteria disinfection (below), is the best you can do without spending thousands of dollars – Get yours now – Click Here

Use this iSpring UVF11A UV Disinfection Water Sterilizer Filterwith the iSpring reverse osmosis system shown above. Click Here

Some Water Filters Are Compact – Others Much Larger

It’s important to keep the water problem you’re trying to solve in mind at all times as you pursue the best possible solution.

When you’re clear on the condition of your water and why you want to acquire a capable filter, you’re less likely to be lured away by all the bells and whistles product manufacturers promise.

It’s important to understand which filtration systems are effective in certain situations. But there’s one more thing to consider as well. How much storage space are you willing to give up (and where) in order to house your water filter? Remember, water filters come in various sizes.


These compact water filters occupy very little space. In fact, you barely notice them.

In-line activated carbon, electronic, ion exchange, and even some reverse osmosis water filter systems are among the smallest available consumer models.


Naturally these water filters require more storage space than their smaller cousins – so you need to consider this before opting for your filter of choice.

It could mean that you’ll need to move things around just to make room for your new filtration system.

Medium-sized water filters include larger capacity reverse osmosis systems, as well as ion exchange, water distillation systems, and even ozone.

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The greater the water processing capacity of your chosen filter – the more space you’ll need to house it.

Some of these water filtration systems occupy significant space – so you’ll have to make room for them.

Some of the larger models are just too big to install inside a kitchen or utility room and are best relegated to the basement, garage, or shed.

These large-scale water filtration systems are mostly whole-house systems and include softeners, deionization units, and combination water purification systems.

At this point, you’re well-equipped with information.

You now know most of what you need to know to choose the best water filter system for your specific needs – and that of your family.

But what if you have more than one issue with your water?

That’s why it’s good to have at least a basic understanding of how water filters work. You want to be certain that any system you buy is a sound solution for you.

Water Filtration Types And Technologies

It’s easy to get lost in a sea of technical details that may or may not be important to you.

Our mission here is to simplify these details so you can more easily understand and assess the options available, in order to make a more informed decision.

Here we will supply a simple and brief description of each type of water filter, along with the accompanying pros and cons.

Guide To Comparing Water Filter Systems and Processes

Activated Carbon

One of the oldest water filtration methods – first used by the Ancient Egyptians – is activated carbon.

One of the oldest water filtration methods – first used by the Ancient Egyptians – is activated carbon.

The key to activated carbon is the process of adsorption – where water molecules get blocked by the porous structure of the water filter’s carbon substrate.

Carbon filters are widely used everywhere, likely due to their effectiveness and low cost.

Activated carbon from charcoal is a time-tested way to remove any bad smell or taste coming from your water. These filters are responsible for removing chlorine, sediment, and volatile organic compounds (also know as VOC’s).

But where activated carbon filters fall short is in the removal of dissolved inorganic compounds, various salts, and minerals.

Two types of carbon filters are available – powdered carbon block and granulated activated carbon (GAC) filters.

Typically, block filters are more effective at filtering simply due to their larger surface area.

Many block filters have the added advantage of extra layers creating a more thorough filtration process.

A few of these activated carbon filters also have silver layers built-in for blocking bacteria from getting through and preventing it from growing.

Granulated activated carbon water filters are available in multiple sizes, depending on your preferred use.

Finer granulated charcoal actually has a smaller active surface area compared to a carbon block. That’s because the water can flow around the granulated charcoal (called channeling) instead of being forced thru the charcoal, as when in the block form.

After a period of time, every carbon filter on the market loses its filtering efficiency as it fills up with pollutants. And so for optimal performance, carbon filters need to be changed frequently.

Even if you don’t use a carbon filter for a while, like while away on vacation – you’ll still have to change the filter. Why?

Because colonies of bacteria can fester inside the filter – even on those filters treated with silver. So, it’s important to pay attention to the manufacturer’s guidelines regarding frequency of change and follow through accordingly.


  • Readily available
  • Effective at removing bad or weird scent or taste
  • Works well at removing chlorine and sediment          
  • Low cost


  • Does not soften the water
  • Bacteria can grow in filters therefore the need to be changed often

Ion Exchange Filters

Ion exchange filters deploy a series of beads charged with hydrogen and hydroxyl ions.

Whenever metallic ions make contact with the filter, hydrogen gets released.

It exchanges hydrogen for the metal, which remains trapped in the beads.

Anions present in the water are exchanged with hydroxyl ions.

These two elements – hydrogen and hydroxyl – work together to produce mineral-free water.

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Water softeners work in similar fashion by exchanging salt for the calcium and magnesium ions found in the water.

These minerals get trapped by the filter, triggering the appropriate amount of salt to be released, which in turn makes the water much softer.


  • Softens the water giving you cleaner glasses and silverware
  • Produces softer skin while creating less soap scum
  • Removes harmful metals from water


  • Usually these filters are large units that require more space
  • Gives your water a slightly salty taste

Hybrid Water Softener and Water Filter

The best of both worlds. One system to soften the water and remove that awful chlorine taste, and odor. Also, removes sediment and lead.

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One of the most basic ways to filter water is by distilling it. When water is boiled, it produces steam. This condensed steam is then channeled into a separate container.

Whatever contaminants remain in the original container never go beyond this point. So what you’re left with is cleaner fresh water.

Unfortunately, some contaminants have a lower boiling point than water. So these get transferred through the steaming process and remain in the filtered water. Fortunately, most distillers have a carbon filter to remove them after distillation.


  • Low cost option
  • Small and less cumbersome unit


  • Some pollutants escape the filtration process, and need to be filter out with a carbon filter.
  • Helpful minerals in the water are also removed

Reverse Osmosis

What make reverse osmosis so effective at filtering water are the multiple filters utilized to eliminate harmful contaminants.

In most cases, the first step is mechanical filtration to remove sediment particles. Then by two stages of (usually) carbon filtration to remove more sediments and all chlorine.

The water then flows through a semi-permeable membrane, which is followed by another carbon filter treatment.

In some cases, reverse osmosis units also include UV filtration and re-mineralization – giving you superior results in many cases.


  • Effective at removing up to 99% of common water-borne contaminants
  • Capable of producing lots of clean water on a daily basis


  • Water tastes bland when no remineralization process is built into the system
  • Requires lots of water to process, creating more waste than with other methods
  • Can be expensive

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Ultraviolet (UV) Light Water Filtration

This is an excellent option when your water source contains a high bacterial level. This type of filter kills most of the common bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms – creating a sterilization-like effect on any treated water.

On the downside, UV units alone (without some additional filtration) aren’t typically an ideal solution, because UV filters alone won’t block other contaminants.

So, these filtration systems work best when combined with one or more additional filters – like a charcoal filter, for example.


  • Kills off bacteria and viruses
  • Some units are small enough to easily fit anywhere


  • Doesn’t affect minerals or chemicals
  • Uses electricity so you need to set up close to an outlet
  • When used solo (without other filtration) particulate matter and other contaminants can get through

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Mounting Options: How To Choose A Water Filter That Fits Your Home

You’re now well-versed on the major types of water filters work and what they are best used for. Now it’s a matter of deciding on a method of installation that will best serve your needs.

Under the sink installation – This has become one of the most popular choices, since it hides the unit under the kitchen counter where it’s out of the way.

This saves on counter space (which is particularly important in smaller kitchens) and keeps prying eyes away.

Countertop Installation – For smaller water filters, this is a solid option. You simply set the filter on your counter, next to the kitchen sink.

To some, they might not look great out on display. But at times, having the filter within reach is helpful and it shows visitors you care about your water and don’t just automatically accept the “safe” rating of the city provided water flowing into your home.

Faucet Mounted – 

Faucet water filters can be installed directly on the faucet. You just need to remove the faucet’s aerator and connect the faucet to the filter.

Pitchers or Dispensers

One of the advantages of using this type of filter is that you can place them anywhere.

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10 Top Benefits Of Having A Quality Water Filter

  1. You Get Superior Smell and Taste – It doesn’t matter whether you get your water from the municipality or a well. “Raw” water can smell and taste pretty bad. Most water filters we recommend remove both foul odors and tastes.

2. You Get Cleaner, Healthier Water – With numerous contaminants removed, the water you get after quality filtering for both drinking and cooking, boosts your overall health.

In the case of a whole-house system – you also get cleaner safer water for showering or bathing. With potentially harmful chemicals, bacteria and other contaminants eliminated, you end up with clearer, safer, healthier water.

3. It’s Good For The Environment – Filtered water on tap saves you from buying cases of plastic bottles, or large jugs of water.

Filtering your own water is a more environmentally-friendly option.

4. Plastic Leaches Chemicals

Bottled water is supplied almost always in plastic containers that contain BPA, a dangerous chemical that can potentially leach into the water, leading to a variety of health issues. 

You’re far better off without plastic water bottles!

Woman drinking bottled water

5. Filtering Your Drinking Water Costs Less – Sure, purchasing a highly-effective water filter is a large investment initially, but over the long haul, you’ll actually save a lot of money you would otherwise spend on bottles of water.

6. Better For Kids – As children are developing, they are particularly susceptible to some common chemicals found it tap water including nitrates and nitrites. It’s not uncommon for these compounds to leak into municipal water supplies and wells.

7. Take Control of Your Water. A capable filtration system wipes out common toxins – of which there may be more than 2100 known types identified in water. Filtering your own water reduces the risk.

8. Chlorine-Free Water – Among the most annoying chemicals used to treat water is chlorine. It smells and tastes like bleach. No wonder several illnesses have been linked to chlorine in water.

9. Better Looking Skin And Hair – Look and feel your best with glowing hair and skin – thanks to the healthier water you can have at every faucet with a well-designed and proven-effective, whole-home water filter.

10. Chemical-Free Water – Often, the dangers lurking in your water are impossible to see with the naked eye. But there’s a real possibility that various dangers like pesticides and heavy metals exists in the water flowing to your home.

The only way to lower the risk of ingesting these harmful pollutants is with a water filter of your own.

Is Water Filtration The Same As Purification?

Water filtration systems deploy one or more filters to remove a degree of contaminants in the water. While numerous contaminants can be removed through filtration, others get past the process. Therefore, filtered water is not pure water.

With water purification systems – some of the better ones (distillers, reverse osmosis) are able to eliminate 99% of the contaminants found in water. While some consider this water to be as pure as can be, it’s important to remember that helpful minerals in the water also get removed through the process.

So the best options provide optimum filtering and purification – while adding beneficial minerals back into the water. The benefits of alkaline water.

Final Comments On How To Choose A Water Filter

The reality of today’s world is that a reliable water filter of some kind in your home is more of a necessity than a luxury. It doesn’t matter whether you rely on well water or municipal water.

Whatever the degree of water quality entering your home – it can always be improved.

Buying a recommended water filter might seem expensive. But over time, you’ll see how it can pay off in multiple ways.

For example, you’ll no longer have a need to buy bottled drinking water – though you will have to change your filters regularly. You’ll have fresh, clean water – right from the faucet.

And remember, water filter systems aren’t just for drinking water.

You’ll be able to use clean, safe water for food preparation and cooking.

With a whole-house unit – you can  shower in filtered water and enjoy healthier, more vibrant skin and hair.

If you have children in your home, it’s even more important to have at least one quality water filter available.

The dangers to kids of are numerous and real. But a reliable water filter – like the ones we’ve recommended here – can go a long way to minimize any potential danger.

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Water Filter Guide: How To Choose A Water Filter That Works
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Water Filter Guide: How To Choose A Water Filter That Works
Confused on how to choose a water filter? This water filter guide shows what to look for and what to avoid. Save money, feel better, and stay healthy. Easy!
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Full Stride Health
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