On the hunt for the best water filters for household use? You’re not alone. And it’s not even a fad. In fact, water filtration to remove unpleasant odors and pollutants has been a concern for the human species since the very early days. Attempts to filter the natural life-giving liquid to make clean, safe, and tasty water can be dated back to as far as 6000 years ago.
Thankfully, the advent of municipal treated water has made it easier for most people to access to clean and clear water nowadays.
The problem is, there are vastly different interpretations of the word “clean”.
Is Drinking Water In Your Home Safe?
Water in most of the US is safe. To drink.
That’s what most of us believe anyway. There have always been concerns about the health risks of having chlorine and chloramine in the water, but these tend to be overlooked, as it seems to be a more sensible choice to put trust in state water experts.
After all, there are always very clear and strict standards to follow, and water has to pass the most rigorous tests before arriving at your home.
Ever since the Flint crisis started in 2014, however, alarms have been raised about the true safety of municipal water in the country.
It was found out that as of 2015, more than 20 million people were relying on community water systems that did not conform to health-based quality standards. At the same time, more than 2 million people may be getting their drinking water from private domestic wells with high concentrations of arsenic.
In total, that’s more than six percent of the population. Most of the US apparently isn’t all of the US, and anyone could very well be in the excluded part.
The question is, apart from arsenic, what can make the water unsafe?
The following substances and organisms have been found in tap water across the US:
- Disinfectants such as chlorine, chloramine, and flouride
- Hormones, pharmaceuticals
- Microorganisms, including Giardia, E. Coli, and Legionella
- Inorganic materials such as phosphorus, sulfur, cyanide, asbestos, mercury
- Volatile organic materials (VOCs) like styrene, benzene, and other carcinogens
Well water, which is the source of water for about 44 million people in the US, is not pre-processed. Consequently, it contains little to no disinfectants; however, the amount of heavy metals (especially iron) and microorganisms tends to surpass safe levels.
Well water also contains more large sediments, parasites, and other organic and inorganic materials.
In older buildings, the source of water pollution could be the pipes themselves. Lead-based pipes were used very widely in the US until the 1940s, and it was not until 1986 that the federal government banned the use of lead in water systems.
Can residential filters get rid of these contaminants? It depends.
Different water filtration materials are designed to tackle different types of pollutants in the water. For example, a carbon filter can be very effective at removing chlorine, but not lead or mercury.
Before getting a household filtration device, it’s important to determine what the filter should remove by getting your water tested.
The most efficient way is to contact a state certified lab in your area and send your water there for the examination. Here’s a list of the labs recommended by the American Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for every state or territory in the US.
You can also do the testing at one of the labs approved by the EPA to meet the proficiency testing criteria for the fourth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR).
Depending on the sort of pollutants you want to remove from the water as well as the point of installation (right on the faucet or under the sink, for example), and your budget, you may want to get something as simple as a pitcher or as complicated as a whole house filtration system. Check what type of water filter you need, and go from there.
To save you the time, we have listed out the best items in each category of water filtration devices. The picks are based on our personal experience with the products, reviews from Amazon customers, as well as the product’s technical features.
Best Water Filters 2018
Here is our list of the best water filter pitcher, faucet mount water filter, counter top filtration system, under sink filtration system, and shower head water filter on the market for your reference.
|Filter Name||Certifications||Our Pick as...|
|Brita Pitcher||NSF42||Best Water Pitcher|
|Wingsol Uncrackable||NSF||Best Faucet Mount Water Filter|
|APEC Countertop RO||-||Best Countertop Water Filter|
|APEC Roes-50 Filtration System||NSF & WQA Gold Seal||Best Under-sink RO Water Filter|
|AquaBliss Shower Head Filter||-||Best Shower Head Water Filter|
|Aquasana EQ-1000||-||Best Whole House Filtration System|
1. Brita Everyday Pitcher – Best Water Filter Pitcher
If you’re looking for a good water filter pitcher to get rid of toxic contaminants and the annoying chlorine taste in your drinking water, look no further than this Brita Pitcher.
Like all the other items in the Brita family of water filter pitchers, this pitcher is certified by the National Sanitation Foundation with NSF42. This means it is tested and confirmed to significantly reduce the amount of copper, cadmium and mercury impurities, chemicals in the water that threaten to cause serious health problems in long term.
To be honest, I was never able to really feel the presence of chlorine and heavy metals in the unfiltered water. However, as I boiled it (Asian tea drinker I am!), the burning chemical flavor always seemed to be magnified. It had some unpleasant taste even after cooling down.
Now I can tell a HUGE difference in the smell and taste in the water, as well as in my tea. After it goes through the Brita pitcher’s filter, the water becomes purer, healthier, and free of the chlorine smell. No more weird flavor even in the boiled water!
The pitcher comes with a filter, which should be replaced after 40 gallons of water. Luckily, you won’t have to measure the amount, as there is a sticker filter indicator to let you know when to replace the filter.
With a flip lid on the top, it’s easy and fast to refill the pitcher. It has a fairly big tank that can contain and filter 10 cups of water at a time. That’s 80 oz or 2.4l – about the required amount of water intake you need daily.
If you use a lot of water at a time, however, check this PUR 18 Cup Dispenser. Much bigger tank, and it claims to reduce 21 contaminants too!
2. Wingsol Faucet Filter – Best Faucet Water Filter
Designed to last for years to remove chlorine, lead, arsenic, and improves the smell, taste, and quality of your water, the Wingsol tap water purifier easily wins our vote for the best faucet water filter of 2018.
The Wingsol is on the higher end of the price spectrum, and you really get what you pay for.
The filter housing is one of the very few that are made of high quality stainless steel (304). Its lifetime is counted by the years, not the months.
On the hand, the unit feels sturdier, heavier, and a lot more solid than other filters, which are typically made of plastic. It is obviously superior in quality, immune to cracking or leaking.
The design is pretty simple and straightforward. It’s neat and compact, taking an incredibly humble space over the sink. The set is best installed over a large and deep sink, but it is also one of the best for short, low faucets or small sinks. Doesn’t feel like a bulk at all!
The device comes with 3 connectors and a clear manual, and requires no tool to install. It typically takes less than 5 minutes to connect it to your tap.
If they’re compatible, of course.
The water filter contains 5 layers of materials.
The outermost is a ceramic wall that removes bigger particles from the water. Depending on the water quality, this may require clean up after every 3 months.
After passing the ceramic wall, the water will then go through a layer of activated carbon, where chlorine, sediments, and volatile organic compounds are removed.
The third and the fourth layers of filtration media are KDF and Micronose, which are designed to filter out heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, and mercury. These materials are also highly effective in reducing bacteria in the water.
Finally, the water will be led through another layer of activated carbon to again improve its taste and smell.
The final result? Pure, nicely polished, fresh-tasting water to nourish your body with.
The filter set offers two options: unfiltered and filtered water, controlled via a switch on the direct tap. Filtered water comes out at a slightly slower flow, approximately half a gallon or 2 liters per minute.
The filter can last 200 gallons of water, or about 3 – 5 months. You may want to change it more or less frequently depending on the quality of the source water. Make sure you find the right filter cartridge when a replacement is needed!
3. APEC RO – Best Countertop Water Filter
With price, efficiency, and convenience taken into consideration, the APEC RO-CTOP wins hands down as the best water filter for countertop in 2018.
We probably don’t have to give more compliments to APEC’s RO systems – two of their larger filters actually made it to our list of the best under-sink filtrators of this year.
Four Stages Of Water Processing
With a more compact size, the countertop version is simplified to 4 stages of water processing.
Water will first run through a sediment filter with pores of 5 microns in size. To give you an idea of how small that is, the human red blood palette has a diameter of about 6 – 8 microns.
After the sediment filter, water will be processed at the second stage with activated coconut carbon, where a majority of VOCs, pesticides and herbicides, and disinfection by-products, including chlorine, are removed. It is then that the water is purified and got free of heavy metals and minerals via the third stage: the reverse osmosis.
The fourth filter cartridge offers a final aesthetic polish with activated coconut carbon to take away any remaining foreign smell/taste in the water.
One Minute Installation
Unlike the undersink version, the countertop filter is extremely easy to install: put it on the countertop, connect it with a standard faucet. Turn the faucet on, and voilà, out runs the purified water, tasting as crisp as from a bottle!
Without a tank to store water, the flow is not too strong. Nevertheless, it can make about 3 gallons every hour given that the original pressure is somewhere between 40 and 80 psi, which is more than sufficient for drinking and cooking purposes.
The system is bulkier than a typical simple filter like the Home Master, and it does take some space, but hey, at least you will never have to spend a single minute cramping yourself under the sink for drilling and screwing every time installation or replacement is needed.
Plus, you have the option to have a pretty nice case, which covers all the cartridges and make things a lot easier on the eyes. Unless you have too small a countertop to accommodate it, this system is really the way to go.
4. APEC Roes-50 Filtration System – Best Under-sink Water Filter
With its affordable price and the ability to remove 99% of arsenic, chlorine, lead, fluoride, heavy metals, and other contaminants, the APEC ROES-50 easily wins our vote for the best under-sink reverse osmosis water filtration system to buy in 2018.
PURIFIED WATER WITH 5-STAGE RO FILTER
The pureness of your drinking water is guaranteed with this APEC system – it comes with components certified against NSF/ANSI standards.
It removes up to 99% of lead, if there’s any in your water. 99% of a thousand other pollutants will also be taken care of, including chlorine, fluoride, arsenic, hormones, asbestos, bacteria, and viruses.
This is thanks to its 5 stages of water purification.
The first stage removes larger sediments, dust, and sand. The water then passes through 2 premium extruded carbon blocks, where chlorine, tastes, odors, cloudiness and colors are removed.
After the pre-filters, the water will pass through the reverse osmosis membrane with holes as small as 0.0001 micron, and become purified. It is then polished again with a post carbon filter before going out of your faucet with the quality of expensive bottled water.
MAXIMIZED FILTER LIFE
With 3 stages of pre-filtration, the water has become very clean before it even gets to the reverse osmosis (RO) membrane. That is why the APEC RO membrane and the post filter only need replacing after 2 – 4 years – you can see some money saved on replacement.
Other parts of the filtration system last up to one year, as do in most other RO systems. You can change it a little sooner or later, depending on the quality of the water in your house. The PP pre-filter has a clear housing, allowing you to see the sediments removed from your water and building up. You will always know when it needs changing!
PROBLEM: WATER IS TOO PURE
There are occasional complaints about this product leaking or not working properly, but the company seems to be very responsive and offers replacements almost immediately. The number of 5-star rating on Amazon, almost 90%, speaks for itself.
The only major problem with the APEC ROES-50 system is that it is so effective it filters out not only toxic heavy metals, but also minerals that are important to your body. It’s an excellent water softener, but it won’t increase the alkalinity of your water, as the more expensive RO systems in this list do. No way a deal breaker, but if you’re looking to also make your water more alkaline, the Home Master or APEC pH+ might be better choices.
Given what you want is only to purify your water, it is the best system out there.
5. AquaBliss Universal – Best Shower Head Water Filter
You have no related health problems but are experiencing skin irritation and hair loss? Install this water filter for shower head.
I never thought of chlorine water as the culprit when I found more of my hair falling onto on the floor each day. (I was luckily among the people that don’t suffer from skin itchiness caused by contact with unfiltered water). But I’m generally healthy and was under no major stress.
Some suggestions from a friend, and a google search confirmed my need for a good shower head filter.
This AquaBliss is one.
The filter is a compact tool covered by a sleek cover shell. Inside the shell is a filter that provides three-stage filtration, which ensures pollutant reduction on various water temperatures.
Be it a hot shower or a cold refresh, you can be assured this filter will remove a large amount of the annoying chlorine, heavy metals, pesticides, and other contaminants in the water before it contacts with your body.
In fact, a majority of users stated on Amazon they noticed the difference on their hair and skin immediately after the first uses!
Installation of this item is a piece of cake, and no additional tool is needed. Except for a plumper tape, which the manufacturer has thoughtfully included in the package. Be your shower head of a fixed, rain or handheld type, the item’s universal connections will match with it.
Replacement of the filter cartridge is just as easy. You don’t have to change it often though: a replacement every six to eight months would be sufficient to ensure the best water quality.
Such a simple solution for hair loss!
6. Aquasana EQ-1000 – Best Whole House Water Filter
With a filter, a water softener, and one UV to destroy microorganisms, the Aquasana is the best whole house water filtration system for both tap water and well water.
A filter that lasts a decade
Yes it does! If you’re a family of three with average water usage, the EQ-1000 filter will last up to 10 years.
So, while it seems to cost a lot more upfront, it’s a great investment in long term. Even with the prefilter(s), post filter, and electricity cost added, the package is still a cut-rate deal.
We should also give a shout out to the efficiency of the main filter in removing weird odors. In fact, most users experience an immediate improvement both in the taste and smell of their home water.
That is thanks to the advanced filter that comes in the set. It’s made of highly effective filtration materials including copper-zinc, minerals, and activated carbon. Combined together, they reduce not only chlorine but also a wide variety of other contaminants, from simple algaes to bacteria, pesticides, and water-soluble heavy metals.
Note: the filtration system is not NSF certified. However, it is tested against the standards by an independent lab. It uses the same components and media as the Aquasana EQ600, which is certified against NSF/ANSI standard 42.
A salt-free softener (descaler)
Called a softener, but this water processor in the Aquasana system is actually a descaler.
What this descaler does is to alter the structure of minerals in the water to protect the pipeline as well as other household appliances. It doesn’t actually remove the minerals, but works to significantly reduce the building up of scale and corrosion.
Unlike a salt based softener, this descaler is very low-maintenant. It’s also a lot cheaper, and it doesn’t add sodium into your water. If your water contain very high amount of harmful mineral, however, consider adding other gadgets to aid with water softening.
Kills 99.99% of microorganisms
The feature that makes this Aquasana system the best choice for many well water users is no doubt the extra UV light purifier.
Well water most of the time travels from rivers down in the earth directly to your tank with all the worms, germs, and viruses in it. After the filtration process, most of these are already taken care of. However, you need a final kill to make sure the water is free of all the harmful microorganisms.
And that’s what the UV light is for.
Installed as the final stage of the water processing system, the UV purifier comes into effect when the water is already clear of larger sediments. It kills over 99% of viruses and bacteria, including the deadly e. Coli that is often found in water from private wells.
To households using municipal water, hard minerals and microorganisms are less of a problem. The descaler and the UV light can’t possibly hurt, but there’s no need to spend on an overkill either. You’d probably be better off with the version without those gadgets.