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Choosing a water filter? Ask yourself these questions

14th May 2018 Print

Everyone seems to be buying water filters these days. The business is booming, and when you consider the reasons, you can understand why. For those who don’t like drinking tap water or are mistrustful of just what might be in it, the choice is either filtered or bottled water. 

Filtered means you have complete control over the water you are drinking, while also reducing your environmental impact. Bottled water is also hugely expensive and a filter is far more cost effective. Before you go out and buy the first water filter you see, however, here are some questions you need to ask yourself to choose the best one for you and your family.

1) Do you really need one?

What is wrong with what come out of the tap? Most of the time, very little. There are scare stories relating to contamination, but the truth is the UK has one of the best and safest water supplies in the world. You can use this water tracker to check the water in your area.

So does that mean a water filter is unnecessary? Not exactly. Just because your tap water is safe, that doesn’t mean it is tasty. Most of us know the stuff coming out of the tap can taste a little – off – sometimes. That’s because it has often travelled through miles and miles of pipe and can react with the coatings. Also, the small amounts of chlorine that it’s treated with can leave a little tang in the back of the throat.

2) Check what it filters

You might think a filter is a filter. If only life was that simple. There are different types of filters that work on different contaminants. This is one of the reasons bottled water can be such a rip off – it’s usually just filtered tap water, but you’ve no idea what sort of filter has been used. 

There are numerous testing laboratories out there, and in today’s global marketplace, the American NSF Certification is a good one to look out for. One of the reasons US-based filter companies like Berkey water filter are becoming so popular throughout Europe is that they happily publish their NSF certification and test results on their website so you can see exactly how effective their filters are. 

Another reason that particular brand has hit the headlines is that they are among the few filters that effectively remove fluoride from tap water. The whole fluoridisation debate is one that will run and run, but if it is something you feel strongly about, it’s a point well worth considering. 

3) What about replacing the filters?

It’s important to remember that the filter is a consumable component in your water filtration system. When choosing a water filter, make sure you check how long the filter lasts, how you go about replacing it, how much replacements cost and where you can buy them. Otherwise, you end up in that situation we have all seen with cheap deskjet printers, where the replacement ink cartridges can end up costing more than the printer itself.

4) Consider how much you need

You might surprise yourself with just how much water you get through. If there’s only one or two of you in the household, then a carafe style filter will probably suffice, but if you’ve got a houseful, it’s not going to cut the mustard.

One thing you don’t want to stint on is fresh, filtered water, but at the same time, there’s no point in spending more than you need to on something that filters more water than you are ever going to need. So it’s worth taking some time to understand your consumption habits, including the water you use for cooking.

5) How long does it take?

Related to the above, every filter should quote flow-rates so you will understand how long the filtration process takes. The reverse-osmosis and carafe style filters are generally the slowest, but there is so much variation between both types and manufacturers, you really need to look through the figures and understand for yourself. 

6) So is it worth it?

Ultimately, the growing popularity of water filters speaks for itself. There’s nothing wrong with tap water, but in this day and age, we do not expect to put up with drinking something if we really don’t like the taste. 

Supermarkets are offering ever-cheaper bottled water, with a budget range two litre bottle costing 20p or less. However, the provenance of this water is ambiguous, and worse, the environmental impact of all those plastic bottles is something we simply cannot continue to ignore.

Keeping all those factors in mind, opting for a water filter makes sense on every level. Just remember to ask the right questions in order to buy the most appropriate one for you and your household.