We’ve all heard how important it is to drink enough water every day; it helps your liver get rid of toxins, assists digestion, and tends to make your skin look clearer and less wrinkly. It’s also really refreshing when you’re thirsty.
But some of us don’t drink enough water for one good reason — it tastes funny. The simplest way around that is to filter the water you drink, as most "flavors" in water come from impurities. Beyond flavor, in many areas filtering water is a good idea, as it can contain a number of chemicals — most especially chorine, which is commonly used in municipal water supplies to keep germs at bay. While chorine in the amounts used in water supplies isn’t toxic, some health practitioners are wary of compounds formed when it combines with organic matter. And chlorine smells — and tastes — pretty offensive to most of us.
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Depending on where you live, your water might also contain agricultural chemicals, heavy metals, pesticides or nitrates. If you are in a town or city with a regulated water supply, rest assured that your water is being kept pretty clean — there are federal and state regulations about what and how much of it is allowed in water supplies. But that doesn’t mean that you might not want something even cleaner or tastier. Don’t be tempted to buy water — tests have shown that plenty of bottled water is no cleaner, toxins-wise, than what comes out of your tap and because it’s not subject to the same regulations as water supplies are, could even contain more chemicals than what’s free from the tap (and is much pricier than even a good quality water filter).
With that in mind, here some of the best water filters to try, even if you don’t own your own home.
Brita makes the well-known water pitcher filter systems, and these are ideal if you always want your water cold and if you are single; as soon as two people or more try to use one of these, it ends up becoming a water-waiting game to fill up two water bottles for a gym session or yoga class. (The volume of the standard sized pitcher is just too small – and it takes a good five minutes for another round of water to be filtered — to serve two people adequately). The upshot here is that pitchers are easily portable; you can take your water filter with you wherever you go.
Maeva filtered pitchers have an attractive European design. (Photo: Maeva)
Mavea also makes water pitchers, with the same drawbacks and advantages as mentioned above. Read through their filter options, which address specific concerns with different kinds of water issues. With a slightly more attractive, European design, this is a fridge-to-table pitcher that has an additional indicator that not only shows how much filter capacity is left, but measures water hardness and water volume.
Culligan's RainDisc showerhead filters water in a spa-like setting. (Photo: Culligan)
If you have a rental or temporary space and want to filter your shower water too (the skin is the body’s largest organ, and chemicals, especially chlorine, easily absorb into shower-warm skin), there are filters just for your shower head. The Culligan RainDisc showerhead with filter not only cleans your water, but also offers a spa-like waterfall head.
PUR water filters attach directly to your tap. (Photo: PUR)
PUR filters simply attach to your kitchen sink faucet and are relatively inexpensive. If you are renting a house or staying somewhere temporarily, this is a great solution. But for long term use, they can get annoying to use. The upshot is you’ll never ‘run out’ of water and if you like cold water from the fridge, you can just fill up a pitcher and keep it there, and not have to worry about waiting for the water to filter, as you do with the pitchers.
The bobble water bottle has a built-in filter. (Photo: bobble)
For the ultimate in portable filtration, the bobble is a well-designed (and fun to look at) solution. A reusable water bottle with a filter inside, it is ideal for those of us who travel a lot and for filling up at the gym or office. The carbon filter will last for about 300 bottles’ worth of water, which saves serious cash, and the environmental footprint of plastic bottles.
If you own a home or are planning on staying where you live for awhile, making the investment in a whole-house water filter is worth it for the long-term savings. This will filter all the water in your house, from showerheads and baths to kitchen and bathroom sinks and refrigerator doors or other water sources. 3M makes water filters on the industrial scale and have years of experience in this area. They also make home/residential units that require a bit of plumbing experience or an actual plumber to install. If you just want an under-sink unit for the kitchen, they make those too.
This story was originally written in May 2012 and has been updated with the latest information.