Previously we discussed the ins and outs of water filtration, including an in-depth discussion of the areas of concern in drinking water and the means to remove them. In the final part of our blog series, we will discuss specific filter styles and why some are more desirable than others.
Many people ask about Brita pitchers for cleaning their water. A standard Brita pitcher only removes or reduces chlorine, mercury, lead, copper, cadmium, and zinc. It does not remove disinfection by-products (DBPs), bacteria like Giardia, medicines, hormones, and most other contaminants of concern in drinking water. While a Brita filter is a better choice than no filtration, for those concerned with clean drinking water it may be worth investing in an option with more thorough cleansing. Read more about Brita’s contaminant removal here: https://www.brita.com/why-
Filters built into refrigerators are popular as well. While these provide ease and convenience they vary widely in their capacity to clean water, with some providing very little benefit. In addition, it is imperative the filters are changed on a regular basis, and not changing filters in a timely manner can lead to contaminants in the overused filter being dislodged and put back into the dispensed water. Replacement filters can be quite costly, and regular replacement can often add up to hundreds of dollars per year. In addition, there is concern for the sanitary conditions related to the dispensers. In 2013, The National Sanitation Foundation did a study on the most germ-ridden places in the kitchen, and found “concerning levels” of yeast and mold growing on refrigerator water dispensers. In addition to the cleanliness factor, it is important to go on your manufacturer’s website and research what contaminants are removed by your particular model.
A popular, higher-end option is the reverse osmosis (RO) filter, which has some positives and some negatives. RO systems usually remove about 80% of fluoride and DBPs, which is desirable. They remove hexavalent chromium (also knows as chromium 6) which is the cancer-causing chemical of note in the Erin Brockovich movie. They remove many viruses and bacteria, and generally produce a very clean water. However, they also tend to be rather expensive, often need professional under-sink installation, and produce a significant amount of water waste (it is estimated that every gallon of RO water creates anywhere from 2 – 10 gallons of discarded waste water). In addition, RO filters clean the water so thoroughly that they remove the majority of minerals in the water, creating a slightly acidic, demineralized water. If using an RO system, it is recommended that you add minerals back in after filtration. There are inexpensive mineralization drops that can be added to each glass, or you can place a glass pitcher of RO water in the fridge and add the necessary mineral drops to the pitcher for ease of use.
A more affordable option than reverse osmosis, and one that doesn’t demineralize the water, is a standalone Berkey water filtration system. These are placed on your kitchen counter and do not need professional installation. The purification element uses physical filtration, adsorption/absorption, and ion exchange. You can read more about the processes used here: https://www.berkeyfilters.com/
This blog is meant to be a general guide to selecting the water filtration option that is right for you. For those wondering what we personally like, here in our Origins office we use the Berkey filtration system. Since we like their products so much, we are affiliates with the company. If you’re interested in purchasing a Berkley water system, further details can be found here: http://www.berkeyfilters.com/b