My first experience with truly terrible water happened in a tiny little town that was barely a blip on the map. The town motto, in fact, was “Don’t blink! This town is bigger than you think!” The water left a rusty red residue in the shower and smelled so strongly of sulfur that you’d wonder if you were cleaner before you washed your hands or after. Unfortunately, as it was a rental home, the only kind of water filtration system we were allowed to use was a carbon-based pitcher unit that we kept in our fridge for drinking water.
Our next worst experience happened two moves later in a respectably sized town of 100,000 people. The first few encounters with the locals there showed their priorities: 1. “Dija hear that they’re building our third Walmart??” and 2. “Where are you planning on buying your water?” The water there tasted just terrible, but again, as we were renters, our only option was to use the water-purifier pitcher because we didn’t want to pay for filtered water by the gallon from one of the many filtration kiosks around town.
Two moves after that, we got a letter in the mail from our local water supplier advising that the tap water not be given to infants younger than 1 due to an unsafe level of particulates. If you have had any experiences like these, you might be left wondering what you can do to make your water safe if your well or water supplier isn’t cutting it.
Whether you own your home or are renters, there are several options available that will make your drinking water better all around. There are many benefits to water filtration systems including:
- Safer water: Water filtration systems can remove contaminants such as bacteria, parasites, dirt, and other debris that were either missed in the municipal filtration system or picked up along the way to your house. Additionally, it can remove chemicals that aren’t necessary for your daily diet, such as excess sodium, chlorine, and magnesium.
- Healthier body: Water that is free of chemical pollutants can leave your hair and skin dry and flaky. Some research has even shown that unfiltered water can exacerbate problems with dandruff and eczema. Using filtered water throughout your house can improve your hair’s luster and your skin’s ability to retain moisture.
- Save money: Switching to a whole-home water filtration system can end up saving you significant money in the long run. When you think about how much you spend on bottled water, the dollar signs add up quickly – especially if that is your only source of drinking water. While the upfront cost of some water filtration systems can seem pretty expensive, the maintenance costs are typically low, which can result in your breaking even much sooner than you thought you would.
- Use less soap and water: Hard water is laden with chemicals and particulates that prevent your soap from doing its job well. This can result in soap that doesn’t lather or get things as clean as you want. You end up using more soap and water to get the results you feel comfortable with, which costs you a lot more money. Additionally, non-filtered water can cause soap scum that requires expensive cleaning supplies and a substantial amount of elbow grease to remove. Filtered water doesn’t have that problem, so that money stays in your wallet.
- Tastier water: Some water processing plants add chemicals to their water during the filtration process that can make your water taste terrible. Home filtration systems can remove the bad taste and leave your water crisp and clean.
- Protect the environment: By not buying bottled water, you are contributing to a better world. All of those plastic bottles will most likely end up in a landfill somewhere, so by opting for a home water filtration system, you are making the clean choice.
Common Filtration Systems
So which system should you use? There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to that question, as there are several different options.
Reverse osmosis is a highly effective solution for people who are extremely sensitive to pollutants. It works by forcing unfiltered water through a semi-permeable membrane using high pressure. The good water is then used, and the remaining water is discarded. While this method is very good at cleansing the water of bacteria, parasites, and other pollutants, it wastes a significant amount of water.
Our personal water-purification pitcher used this technology on a small scale, but it is available for larger scale use. At its most basic, water flows through the activated charcoal where the tiny pores absorb pollution. It doesn’t require electricity to run, which makes it a prime candidate for people on a budget. While it does do a good job improving appearance, smell, and taste of water, it doesn’t remove any inorganic substances, salts, or minerals that may be affecting your water.
Ceramic filters have the same element as carbon filters of using small pores to filter out pollutants, but they can also be treated to kill bacteria, mold, and other nuisances. They also don’t require electricity as they’re gravity-driven, but they’re slow, bulky, and can’t kill viruses in the water.
Small Scale Filters
There are some small scale filters available out there if you don’t need all of the water in your house to be purified. Tabletop purifiers, showerhead filters, under-counter filters, and faucet filters are all good, relatively low-maintenance ways to purify small amounts of water at a time. These methods often limit the flow of your water to how fast they can process the water, but they are good alternatives to whole house filtration systems.
Water filtration systems – whether small scale or whole house – can significantly improve many aspects of your life. Be sure to research the different systems to see which will be the best fit for your home, or talk to a certified plumber to get your specific questions answered.