Does your tap water smell? While some people think a water filter is not necessary, others want one to have better-tasting tap water at home. It depends on where you live. In some areas, a water filter is necessary because drinking the tap water would be harmful. There are other places in the US where tap water is okay to drink. Drinking water in the US is treated, making it okay for people to consume, but some people still feel apprehensive about drinking it.
A good water filter will help make tap water safer to drink. It will remove contaminants and other harmful particles. This will make the water both safer and tastier at the same time. If you would like to invest in a water filter, there are some things that you should keep in mind.
When it comes to the best water filters, you should check the:
- Water Quality: a filter that does not improve the water quality is not doing its job. The best filter should remove contaminants, smells, and poor taste while keeping the minerals that are good for you.
- Rate of Filtration: A wise buyer will look at the maximum filtration rate. This rate calculates the amount of filtered water a filter can produce. You should look at how much water you use daily and how many gallons of filtered water the filter can produce. If your daily consumption is more than that filter is not for you.
- Contamination Removal: People buy a filter to remove contaminants from their water. To pick the right filter for you, you should have your water tested for contaminants. Once you know what is in your water, you can purchase a filter that will remove the contaminants.
- Installation: Be mindful of your budget. A water filter can be expensive because of what it does, and if it has remineralization cartridges, it will cost you more. Not only will you have to think about upfront cost but any additional cost that comes with it. This would be cartridges and electricity used by the filter. Some filters may be expensive upfront, but they could end up saving you money in the long run.
- Maintenance: Keep in mind that water filters will come with some type of maintenance. How much will depend on the filter, and you should read the guide that comes with your filter to know for sure. A more complex filter will require more maintenance and may require you to spend more money. The cartridges that come with the water filter will need to be changed, eventually. How often you should do it varies from filter to filter. If a filter requires you to replace the cartridge often, that may not be the filter.
The Best Water Filters of 2021
1. Travel Berkey:
- Not connected to a water supply
- Filters different kinds of water like river, lake and well
- Doesn’t need electricity to work
- May leak
- Does not have any NSF certifications
If you are in the market for a portable filter, then the Travel Berkey is your best option. It is also the most popular option for portable water filters.
They made it for portability. This system can handle up to 1.5 gallons, and it can remove heavy metals, viruses, drugs, bacteria, and inorganic materials.
One of the key selling features of this filter is that it does not need to be connected to a water supply, nor does it need electricity for it to work. All you have to do is add water to the top of the container, and the unit will do the rest. The water can come from a well, lake, or river.
Another great selling feature is when it is not in use, take it apart and easily store it somewhere else.
Components of the Travel Berkey can last for up to 3 years. This means that the filters can filter up to 6,000 gallons of water.
They built this unit for camping trips and any bumps and bruises sustained from traveling.
The one downside to this filter is it is not NSF Certified. But it has been tested independently, and these tests have proved that the filters in this unit do what it says it does.
Check here for the full line of Berkey Water Filters.
2. PUR Advanced Faucet Filtration System:
- Easy to install
- NSF certified
- Filters don’t last long
- Doesn’t work with every sink
PUR is a popular water filter brand. Their faucet filter is straightforward and can produce clean drinking water quickly. One of the best things about this filter is that it is NSF certified. So you can be sure that it does exactly what the company says it does.
The PUR Advanced Faucet Filtration System can remove over 70 contaminants. These include lead, mercury, some pesticides, and chlorine. The sleek chrome design will look better on your faucet than a plastic filter, and it is stronger too. With this design, the filter will look more like it came with your faucet than an add-on.
Some of the features that make this PUR filter an impressive addition to your home are the fast flow rate and the fact that it can be easily installed. You do not even need any tools to attach it to your faucet.
PUR Advanced Faucet Filtration System uses MineralClear filters, which means it can filter 100 gallons of water. This means that you will have to change the filters every 2 or 3 months, depending on the amount of use.
3. Clearly Filtered Water Pitcher
- Filter last for 100 gallons
- Removes over 270 contaminants
- Pitcher is made from 100% BPA free plastic
- If broken it can be replaced for free
- Does not let you know when the filter needs to be changed
- Not a fast filter
This pitcher is an impressive addition to any household. The Clearly Filtered pitcher can remove many different contaminants. It can remove chlorine, herbicides, PFAS, radiological, lead, fluoride, and pesticides.
One key selling point of this filtered pitcher is that it comes with a lifetime guarantee. This means that if the pitcher breaks down, then you will get a replacement. They made the pitcher from BPA plastic, and the filter should give you about 4 months of usage needing replacement.
4. Big Berkey Gravity Water Filter:
- Perfect for Emergencies
- Filters last for a long time
- Not a fast filter
- Not NSF certified
You may have heard about this filter. It is one of the most popular gravity-fed countertop water filters. It is also one of the most commonly used gravity-fed filters on the market. It comes in a variety of sizes, and rusting is never a problem because it is made from stainless steel.
The Big Berkey uses two elements to purify the water. These elements can handle 6,000 gallons of water, and then they will need to be replaced. This means that you probably won’t have to replace the filters for at least 3 years. This is what makes it one of the best. If you want it to last even longer, you can add two extra filter elements, but it will cost you extra.
This system can remove heavy metals like arsenic, lead, drugs, inorganic minerals, and chlorine. The Big Berkey does not just filter water but purifies it as well. It does this by removing viruses, bacteria and reducing the number of protozoa in the water.
Another element that makes this a great water filter is portability. It is great for an emergency. You do not need to connect it to a water source, nor does it need electricity to work.
5. SpringWell Whole House System
- Some parts have a lifetime warranty
- 6 month money-back guarantee
- Low maintenance
- Parts have been certified
- May be hard to install
If you want a whole house water filtration system, then this is one of your best options. With this system, you get a 6-month money-back guarantee, so if it doesn’t live up to what the company promises, then you can get your money back. This SpringWell filtration system removes high-level contaminants because of the type of filter this system can remove heavy metals, chloramine, PFFAS, herbicides, chlorine, pesticides, and much more.
This filtration system has 4 stages. Because of this, the water spends more time with the filter ensuring that contaminants are thoroughly removed from the water. Not only is it thorough, but it can also last a long time. This SpringWell system can produce 1 million gallons of filtered water before it needs to be replaced. That being said, the system comes with a sediment pre-filter that needs to be changed every 6 months. If you have basic plumbing knowledge, then you should be able to install it without incident. If not, then you should hire a plumber.
6. LifeStraw Go:
- Meets NSF standard 42
- Filters may not last a long time
- Doesn’t have NSF certification
If you are more outdoorsy, you may be in the market for a water bottle filter. Well, the LifeStraw Go is one of the best water bottle filters you can find. It is made from BPS-free plastic and can be used while on the go.
This water bottle has a two-stage filter system with the first being activated carbon. In this stage, the odor is reduced, and some contaminants, including chlorine and pesticides, are removed. The second stage involves a membrane micro-filter that will remove parasites, microplastics, and bacteria.
The con to this system is that the activated carbon filter will not last as long as the membrane. The activated carbon filter will last for 26 gallons, while the membrane can last for 1,000 gallons.
One major selling feature is that this water bottle can be used to filter well, river, lake, and tap water.
7. Clearly Filtered Under the Sink System:
- Easy to install
- Filters last for a long time
- Removes a lot of contaminants
- Meets NSF standards
- May lower your water pressure
This under the sink system has a 3-stage filtration system. A major selling point is the number of contaminants this system can remove. This system can greatly lower or remove completely over 232 contaminants. Flouride, PFAS, drugs, pesticides, and lead are among some of the contaminants that this system can remove.
The filter cartridges can last up to 15 months and are easily replaced. You can find replacement cartridges on Clearly’s website.
One of the big selling points of this system is how easy the installation is. Even though it is an under-the-sink system, you only need a hex wrench to install it. The instructions are easy to follow, and it should take you, at the bare minimum, 10 minutes to complete.
8. AquaBliss High Output Shower Filter:
- Snap on installation
- Filter with more than one stage
- Adds minerals to shower water
- Filter can be clogged if the water contains a lot of chloramines
- Not NSF certified
When people think of water filters, they mostly think of filters for drinking and cooking water. But some contaminants in water can be harmful to our skin and hair. AquaBliss High Output Shower Filter is one of the best shower head filters on the market.
This AquaBliss filter may be small, but it packs a punch. In this shower filter, you will find redox media, calcium sulfite, ceramic balls, activated carbon, and sediment filters. The combination of these will reduce the odors in your water as well as balance the PH levels and improve the water quality.
One of the key selling features is how easily it can be installed. This filter is compatible with all types of showerheads, like fixed, rain, and handheld. No tools are needed to attach it to your shower head. You just have to snap it on, and when you need to replace it, you can snap it off. It should last for up to six months.
9.Sawyer Gravity Filtration System:
- Last a long time
- Backwashing allows you to increase the flow rate
- Hanger used to hang the bag is rather small, which could be inconvenient
If you are in search of a backpacking gravity filter, then look no further, the Sawyer Gravity Filtration System. Much more portable than the Travel Berkey, the Sawyer filtration system is kept in your backpack and has a capacity of 1 gallon. If you are going camping or hiking, you don’t need to bring bottled water.
Even though this filter is small, it can still trap some of the smallest contaminants, such as protozoa, microplastics, and bacteria. This is a concern if you are filtering well, river, or lake water.
It is also easy to use. All you need is to hang the bag from a tree branch, connect the tube from the bag to the filter and then fill it up with water. This system can be used to filter at least 100,000 gallons.
Water Filter Buyer Guide
When buying a water filter, there are certain things that you need to consider. A manufacturer will promise that their filter is the best, but you need to know what makes a good water filter. That way you will know what to look for and what your filtration needs are before you decide.
What Are Your Filtration Needs?
Before you buy a water filter, you need to understand your filtration needs. Are you living in an area with contaminated water? Or does your household go through several cases of bottled water a month? Or maybe you are tired of buying water bottles when you are out and about?
There are different types of water filters depending on your needs. If you occasionally buy water bottles when you are at work or out and about, then a filtered water bottle would probably be the best option for you. You can use it when you are out, and it is more affordable. If having filtered water when you are traveling is a concern, then along with filtered water bottles, there are also travel filters and gravity filtering bags.
For your home, there are different types of water filters that you can buy. You could buy a water filtration pitcher or a countertop water filtration system. The countertop water filtration system is more expensive though.
If you are in the market for a water filter that is installed under the sink, it is a bit more expensive and can be difficult to install. While more expensive, they are convenient if you don’t have a lot of counter space.
If you are worried about there being a lot of contaminants in your water, then a reverse osmosis under the sink water filter would be the best option and the more effective option. But it is also a very expensive option.
You can also get a home filtration system that will filter the water in your home appliances. You can also install a water filter shower head, so you aren’t showering in contaminated water.
Ability to Remove Contaminants
The basic function of a good water filter is the ability to remove heavy metals, chlorine, lead, and VOCs. But to be the best water filter, a water filter has to do all of that and then some.
It may go without saying, but the more expensive the water filter, the better it is at removing contaminants. The most expensive water filter is a reverse osmosis system. These systems can remove up to 99% of any components that are not water particles. This means that this expensive system can produce some of the purest water. Reverse osmosis systems can remove many contaminants that other filters miss, like mercury, sodium, arsenic, selenium, nickel, cyanide, algae, and barium, among others.
This doesn’t mean that you have to get an expensive filter. Some of the best, more affordable filters can also be effective. The more affordable water filters usually effectively remove specific contaminants like hydrogen sulfide, chlorine, and zinc. And some can remove lead.
When it comes to choosing the most effective water filter, it is imperative that you know and understand what is in your water. In order to pick the filter that will remove the right contaminants, you need to know what they are.
Before you buy, you should get a water testing kit so you can know what contaminants are in your water. You should also know where it comes from. If your water comes from a municipal treatment plan, improving the taste and removing contaminants may your primary focus. While if your water comes from a well, a stream, or a lake, then removing bacteria and any viruses would be a priority.
In order to understand what type of water filter you need, you need to know your home’s water quality. To pick the right filter, you need to know what contaminants are in your home. This means that you need to know where your water comes from, the minerals that are in it, and the contaminants.
You should research where your water comes from and then take a sample to a lab. The lab should be able to test the water and tell you everything that is in it. While the water is being tested, you need to research whether your water comes from a private well or a municipal treatment plant. You should also have some understanding of the amount and types of minerals that are in your water.
You should also figure out what the common contaminants in your water are. And if there is anything specifically that you want to remove.
Attributes to Look for in the Best Water Filters
Type of System
All filters are not created equal. The type of filter that is right for you depends on where in your home you want the water to be filtered. If you want the water from your kitchen faucet to be filtered, then you could get a filter for the faucet, reverse osmosis system, a filtered water pitcher, or a countertop system. There are many different system types that you can choose from. These systems include:
- Filter for Faucet: This filter is attached to the spout of your faucet. This means that it can remove contaminants from your water as it is coming out of the faucet. You can use this water for drinking or cooking. They are inexpensive, which is why they are popular.
A filter for your faucet is convenient and easy to install. That being said, it can slow down the flow of the water, and if you have a low faucet, it might not work.
- Countertop System: If you want to clean your water without having to constantly fill up a water jug or pitcher, then a countertop system might be for you. This system is connected to your faucet. It is relatively small, and sometimes a countertop system may come with its own faucet. When you turn on the faucet, the system will purify your water. While the filter system works fast, it is more costly than a faucet filter. It also takes up some counter space.
- Water Filter Pitcher: This low-cost pitcher is one of the most commonly bought water filters for a household. People like them because of their portability and affordability. Usually, a water filter pitcher has two parts. The filter is in the top half of the pitcher, right in the middle. The filter is probably filled with activated carbon. Water is poured into the top half to be treated, and then it drops down into the lower level of the pitcher. When you pour it into a glass, the water will come from the lower level.
- Showerhead Filter: This filter is installed on your showerhead to filter the water that comes out. There are some products where the filter will come with the showerhead. If you live in an area where the water is high in chlorine and fluoride. These two components can make your skin dry and irritate it if you have sensitive skin. While this type of filter can remove some contaminants, improve skin, and hair and is inexpensive, it will also slow down the water flow.
- Under the sink Water Filter: A water filter that is installed under the kitchen sink can remove bacteria and other contaminants from your water. This will make your water smell and taste better, so it is safer to use. These bulky systems can handle more water than a countertop system, and it’s faster. While this system can handle more water and filter out more contaminants than some of the other devices, it is also more expensive and difficult to install.
- House Water Filter: If you live in an area where drinking tap water is not a safe option, then a whole house water filter system is your best option. These systems are usually installed at the water tank connected to the main pipe. This means that it can filter the water before it is sent to different areas of your home. This system is expensive and needs to be professionally installed. That being said, it does remove many contaminants, saves you money in the long run, and filters water for every area of your home.
- Water Softener: While this isn’t a filter, it can still be used to remove calcium and magnesium.
- Filtered Water Bottle: A filtered water bottle is a portable water filter that can be taken anywhere. It can filter faucet water or water from other sources.
How Long Will it Last?
How long a filter lasts varies. It depends on the type of system that you pick. A lot of the filtration systems use the same filters, and because of this, you would think they have the same lifespan. But they don’t. While they may use the same filters, there is still the size and the design of the filter that makes the difference. Below you will find the most popular types of filtration systems and an estimate of how long they last. Now, this is just an estimate. Filters and water softeners can last longer.
- Water Softener: Water softeners can last up to 20 years, but they may need a lot of maintenance during that time.
- Water Filter Pitchers: These pitchers can last up to 2 months.
- Showerhead Filters: This filter can last up to 6 or 7 months.
- Water Bottle Filter: A water bottle filter can last up to 2 months.
- Reverse Osmosis: The RO membrane can last up to 5 years. Extra filters can last up to 6 or 7 months.
- Faucet Filter: A faucet filter can last up to 2 months.
- Backpack Filter: This type of filter can last from 2 to 6 years.
- Whole-House Filter: A whole-home filter can last anywhere from 2 to 6 months.
- Countertop Filter: This filtration system can last anywhere from 3 to 8 months.
Method Used to Filtrate Water
There are many different types of filters, but most of them use the same filtration method. Some of the most popular filtration methods are as follows:
- Switching Ions: In this method, calcium and magnesium ions are replaced by sodium ions. This exchange helps prevent the formation of scale. After the exchange, the calcium and magnesium ions are removed, and the missing sodium ions are replaced.
- Distillation: This method is one of the oldest methods used for filtration. For this method, a distiller is used. Water is heated until it vaporizes. Then condensation happens, and the vapors become liquid again. This method is one of the best methods and produces some of the purest water because most contaminants can’t vaporize like water. So when the water vapors liquify, the contaminants are not present.
- Water Conditioning: This is an alternative to the water softening method. This method changes the structure of calcium and magnesium ions so they can’t stick to surfaces. This stops these ions from sticking to surfaces and creating limescale. This method can be done in a few different ways. Template Assisted Crystallization or electronic descaling.
- Reverse Osmosis: In reverse osmosis, water is forced through a RO membrane. The RO membrane is semi-permeable which means that it only allows certain molecules to pass through. The molecules that are not allowed through are discarded by being pushed through the waste pipe. The molecules that are allowed to pass through are the small water molecules. This filtration method is both effective and expensive.
- Adsorption: This method utilizes activated carbon, carbon block, or carbon filters. With this method, contaminants are trapped in the filter that contains the activated carbon. These filers can be found in many different filtration systems. It is one of the most effective ways to remove contaminants like chlorine and lead.
Rate of Flow
The flow rate of a water filter is something that you want to consider. For some filters, the flow rate is not an issue. This is because their flow rate depends on the water pressure in your home. A faucet filter, whole-home filter, and under-the-sink filter have the support of your home’s water pressure to ensure that the water flow rate is fast.
But countertop filters, water bottle filters, and gravity filters do not have that support. Because of this, their flow rate is much slower. So when you think about buying a filter, keep this in mind, the type of filter you buy will dictate the flow rate.
Also, the older the filter, the slower it may become. The filter can become clogged because of sediments, and the flow rate will slow down. This will mean that you need to replace the filter.
How Much Does it Costs?
While buying a water filter can be expensive, it doesn’t have to be. And the cost could be worth it. No matter what your budget is, there is a water filter out that will suit your needs. When purchasing a water filter, keep your budget in mind. Water filter systems are divided into 3 categories when it comes to price. There are low-cost, mid-price, and high-cost. A low-cost water filter will cost between $20 to $200, while a mid-price water filter will cost between $200 and $600. The water filters in the high-cost category will cost you anywhere from $600 and up.
If you want a countertop or under the sink unit, it will be in the mid-price range. While they may be more expensive, the filter will not need to be replaced as often.
Filters for your faucet, water bottle filters, and water filter pitchers are in the low-cost range. And while getting them is more affordable than the other options, you will need to replace the filter more often.
The more expensive options may cost more upfront, but you may not need to replace the filter’s components as often.
Installing and Maintaining a Water Filter
The type or difficulty of the installation process largely depends on the type of water filter you choose. The easiest types of systems don’t need to be connected to your plumbing system. These systems include:
- Water Filter Pitchers
- Water Bottle Filters
- Countertop Filters
- Gravity Filters
Faucet water filters and showerhead filters are usually easy to install. A faucet filter is attached to your faucet easily. A shower head filter is attached to the showerhead in your bathroom without any tools.
Installing some systems may be a bit more difficult than others. Filters will need to be installed by either using tools or by a professional. Under the sink, systems need are connected to your home’s cold water line. While whole-home systems need to be attached to your home water tank.
In order to really be the best water filter, it needs to have certain certifications. Two common certifications will tell you whether a water filter is good or not.
Almost everyone knows about the NSF certification. NSF International will test and certify water filters. They test them to make sure that they live up to their claims. NSF can check for chlorine and lead removal. So if you get a water filter and it has an NSF certification, you can believe that it does what the company has claimed.
Water Quality Association or WQA is an independent trade company. This not-for-profit association represents the water treatment industry and ensures that companies keep up with professional standards. If a water filter has a WQA certification, then you can be sure that the manufacturer has high professional standards and professional expertise in what they are doing.