A quick guide to choosing the best water filtration for your home.
Radioactive drinking water sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie. But as the saying goes, truth is often stranger than fiction. Within the past 2 years, U.S. regulators identified 56 new contaminants in drinking water, including pesticides and radioactive materials. Many of these are directly linked to the onset of disease. People exposed to these newly found chemicals may be at risk for health problems, including cancer, reproductive disruption, liver disease, and more, according to the Guardian.
Sadly, the headlines only reinforce this sentiment. High levels of PFAS chemicals in community water systems, E. coli-infected public drinking water, and limits placed on water usage throughout certain areas of the U.S. all reinforce just how precious—and essential—clean drinking water really is. And the danger of it becoming an increasingly scarce commodity.
Even as we face the challenges, we’re armed with good news: there are more viable options for creating healthy drinking water with home water filtration systems than ever before—it just takes a bit of research and a clear understanding of what your goals are. Here at Brondell, we’re committed to solutions that work: sustainable, effective, and easy-to-implement ones. It’s a good feeling to know that you can enjoy the cleanest possible drinking water right from the faucet—no hauling jugs of water from the trunk, or disposing of endless bottles on recycling day. One quick installation, and you’re set. (Just don’t forget to change your filters!)
A range of water filtration systems
Let’s explore your options, and why you might choose them.
If you’ve begun your research at all, you’ve probably noticed that there are a lot of options. And in many ways, the notion of which one is the “best” is relative; water filtration systems do offer varying levels of effectiveness, and may filter out different types of contaminants, some of which may matter more to you than others (or may affect you more given the area that you live in). For instance, some families feel strongly about filtering out allergens, which have a direct effect on their well-being. Others are primarily concerned with fluoride. There are also other factors, like how much water you’ll need regularly, how much effort or maintenance you want to put into your filtration system, as well as considerations like water waste and budget.
Finding the right filtration system for you starts with understanding your priorities.
Water filtration options at a glance
Pitcher Filter: Single stage, carbon filter Filter lifespan: 2 months (standard filter) Contaminant removal: reduces lead, chlorine, asbestos, benzene, particulates and other contaminants
Faucet Mount Filter: Two stage, carbon filter Filter lifespan: 4 months, or 100 gallons Contaminant removal: Removes lead, chlorine and mercury
Countertop Filter: Three stage carbon block filtration technology Filter lifespan: 6 months Contaminant removal: Reduces industrial chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, turbidity, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and bad tastes and odors. Reduce harmful chemicals like atrazine, chlorobenzene, trihalomethanes, methoxychlor, endrin, 2,4-D, benzine, DBCP and aesthetic chlorine
Under counter Filter: Single, three or four stage Filter lifespan: 12 months Contaminant removal: Reduces industrial chemicals, heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides, total dissolved solids (TDS), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), microorganisms, and bad tastes and odors. Reduce harmful chemicals like fluoride; atrazine; hexavalent & trivalent chromium; chlorobenzene; trihalomethanes; methoxychlor; endrin; 2,4-D; benzine; DBCP; pentavalent arsenic; barium; radium; cadmium; lead; and aesthetic chlorine
Note: Make sure your water filter is Water Quality Association (WQA) certified. This organization assesses the effectiveness of water treatment filters through rigorous testing. So anytime you see their certification on a product, you’ll know that its claims are proven to be accurate and reliable
A starting point: pitcher perfect
The most approachable way to improve your drinking water at home.
Perhaps the quickest and cheapest method of turning your tap water into safe drinking water is with a water filter pitcher. They require no installation and are very user-friendly (even your kids can use them easily).
Pitchers work by straining a very small amount of water through a filter, usually activated carbon, and storing it in the lower half of the pitcher. Many popular brands like Brita, Pur, and ZeroWater claim benefits like lead reduction, heavy metal removal, even the elimination of all dissolved solids. It’s important to look for NSF or Water Quality Association certifications to confirm that such claims are valid, and ensure you aren’t buying an inferior product.
The upsides: They’re an inexpensive starter option and very easy to use.
The downsides: They don’t really produce enough water for more than one or two people at a time and take a while to refill. Because they rely on a single filter to do all the work of particulate extraction and odor elimination, the filters are likely not as effective as multistage filtration options.
A step up: faucet mounts
A two-stage filter with more water volume than a pitcher.
If you’re hoping for something a little more accessible that won’t take up room in the fridge or require time for a reservoir to refill, the faucet mount is a quick and easy DIY option. It installs easily, and offers a continuous flow of filtered water that doesn’t depend on anyone else remembering to fill the water pitcher after they use it. It can be very convenient for simple tasks like washing fruits and vegetables, filling a pot for cooking, or just grabbing a glass of filtered drinking water.
The upsides: easy to install, unlimited water availability
The downsides: The filters on faucet mounts may not boost filtration or effectiveness much more than pitcher filters. As they collect sediment, they can also become heavy—weighed down by calcium, contaminant build-up, and residual water saturation. Since many are made to be lightweight, plastic parts may quickly be compromised.
An ultra-easy DIY: countertop filters
Advanced filtration options without any complex installation.
If you don’t love the idea of installing a reverse osmosis tank, or perhaps have a landlord who isn’t game for it, you’ve still got options that can provide more volume and ease of use on a day-to-day basis. Countertop water filters filter water right at the sink connection, using a T-valve and an adjoining hose. With a countertop reverse osmosis filter, the freestanding reservoir sits on the countertop. Depending on the model you select, countertop filters can use different filtration systems from single-cartridge carbon filters to three-stage sediment, carbon block, even nanotrap water filters. With the push of a button, our Cypress Three-Stage Countertop Water Filtration System dispenses great-tasting water that’s treated with carbon block, nanotrap, and composite plus filtration.
The upsides: easy to install, moderately priced, and simple installation
The downsides: requires countertop space
A seamless fit: under counter filtration systems
A comprehensive solution for the cleanest drinking water on tap.
Under counter reverse osmosis systems are self-contained, customizable filtration systems that come with their own faucets and multistage filters (usually between 1 and 4 stages, depending on how advanced the filtration system is. The more filtration stages, the purer the water is that comes out of your tap). While there are many different water filter systems
If you know that high-quality water—and an abundance of it—is a high priority to you, it’s likely worth investing in an under counter water filtration system. They require installation and a larger investment than the simpler options listed above, but the vast majority of people say it’s entirely worth the effort. This is especially true for reverse osmosis systems that install under the sink, like our Coral Three-Stage Under Sink Carbon Block Water Filtration System—more on that below.
On the market to try out and test, we recommend going with at least a three-stage filter, which usually includes a sediment, pre-carbon, and carbon block water filtering system. Multiple layers of filtration is a simple, effective way to ensure purer, cleaner, and better-tasting drinking water every day.
Typically, a water filter system is installed under the sink, either attached to the cabinet wall like the Capella or free-standing like the Circle, and linked to a separate faucet on the washbasin. The way you install your system will vary based on the type of sink that you have, but many sinks come standard with soap dispensers which can be replaced with the specialized faucet. Some sinks even feature die-cast groves which can be drilled out to make room for the new faucet. Occasionally, the fitting is a little more complex. If that’s the case, we recommend consulting a certified contractor or interior designer you trust before beginning the installation process. You may be able to install the system yourself, or find a certified professional on TaskRabbit to do it for you.
A word on reverse osmosis
One of the most popular, and effective ways to purify water at home.
Commonly referred to as “RO” systems, reverse osmosis filtration systems are probably the most powerful filtration system engineered for the common home. RO systems completely strip water of all particulates, contaminants, chemicals, carcinogens, and dissolved solids. They work by forcing water through a semipermeable membrane and effectively separating the water from all kinds of things that may be suspended in it: lead, arsenic, and emerging contaminants like DEET as a few examples.
Since the RO membrane is so selective in what water passes through it, much of the water that doesn’t make the cut becomes contaminated wastewater. With many systems, this can cause a large amount of water waste — in many cases, a ratio of 20 gallons of wastewater to one gallon of filtered water. (Kind of shocking, right?) There are RO systems that filter water at a much more efficient ratio. The Circle is about 10x more efficient than traditional RO systems, and the Capella is 20x more efficient (or about a 1:1 ratio of one gallon of drinking water per gallon wasted), making it one of the most efficient systems on the market.
RO installation may vary depending on make and model, but these systems are predominantly under counter with their own faucets just like the other aforementioned under counter systems. All RO systems require a wastewater outlet as well, be it through your sink’s drainage system or into your lawn for compost.
Just knowing that you’re taking steps towards safer drinking water is a great feeling. No matter which option is right for you now, the good news is: you can always upgrade, or get a second filtration system if you need it. You can learn more about healthy drinking water through the Water Quality Association and by following us on social @brondell_inc