Author Topic: Best Low Cost Water Filter  (Read 5066 times)

freeazabird

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Best Low Cost Water Filter
« on: April 24, 2014, 02:13:20 PM »
Hi. I buy a lot of bottle water and want to stop this practice. What's a good water filter to buy? Are Britas OK? I want something that will stand the test of time.

furrychickens

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Re: Best Low Cost Water Filter
« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2014, 02:32:31 PM »
I've lived in a couple places where I couldn't stand the tap water. Brita or PUR filters in the pitcher were the best options. I haven't had great luck with the faucet mounted ones.

geekette

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Re: Best Low Cost Water Filter
« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2014, 03:14:40 PM »
Brita's fine.  Although our tap water's great 11 months of the year, in March the town switches to chlorine, so we use a Brita then.

Milspecstache

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Re: Best Low Cost Water Filter
« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2014, 04:39:05 PM »
I'm on well water that is from a very shallow well (28' or so) so we filter all drinking water.  Since this adds up to gallons per day, we bought a Berkey water filter which paid for itself within a few months (by replacing all the jugs of drinking water we had been buying).  This thing produces better water than any I have ever tasted and the filters never get old.  You just scrub them with a toothbrush and rinse them off and keep going.  Have now had it for over 3 years and still using the same filters!!!

Here is one source (search to find cheaper):
http://www.bigberkeywaterfilters.com/berkey-water-filters/berkey-filter-systems.html

Had Brita filters before this and hated them.  They would only work for a while and sometimes they would dump charcoal into your water.  Also very expensive (in the long run) due to having to keep replacing the filters.

snyder66

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Re: Best Low Cost Water Filter
« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2014, 04:58:29 PM »
I'm thinking about a Berkey as well.  I have Brita and they taste OK.

mlipps

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Re: Best Low Cost Water Filter
« Reply #5 on: April 24, 2014, 06:38:13 PM »
I have a Brita pitcher. Its been around a few years so I think kthey're fine durability wise. I use Target brand filters which are about half the price of name brand.

scottydog

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Re: Best Low Cost Water Filter
« Reply #6 on: April 24, 2014, 06:43:32 PM »
We use a faucet-mounted Brita filter and it works well.  The battery died years ago, and it's not replaceable, so I just write in my calendar to change the filter every 4 months.  At that rate, the replacement filters add up to about $60/year including taxes (although I've had to do some shopping around to find the cheapest replacement filters).  We live in a neighbourhood in which the city recommended that we filter the water to eliminate minute quantities of lead, and the Brita is adequate for that.

Roughly 4-5 years ago I had a problem with the piece that mounts to the faucet and I called Brita to complain, and they mailed some metal connecting pieces to me.  Although I no longer remember the exact problem, I clearly remember being skeptical that their suggestion would help -- it didn't seem directly related.  Luckily their troubleshooting protocal was correct; it's been fine ever since.

freeazabird

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Re: Best Low Cost Water Filter
« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2014, 06:43:56 PM »
Thanks for the feedback.

zataks

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Re: Best Low Cost Water Filter
« Reply #8 on: April 24, 2014, 10:49:21 PM »
This topic always gets me riled up; I'll do my best to keep it cool. 

Disclosure:  I am an American drinking water treatment and distribution operator.

Why are you buying bottled water?  Is it for aesthetics; that is, you have a problem with the taste/odor/color of your tap water?  Or are you concerned with your safety?  If the latter, look at http://www.mde.state.md.us/programs/Water/Water_Supply/ConsumerConfidenceReports/Pages/programs/waterprograms/water_supply/ccr_links/baltimore.aspx and find your relevant Consumer Confidence Report.  It is rare that you will find a public water system in America that is not producing water that is safe to drink.

Are you buying bottled water so you can have it on the go because you are such a bad-ass athlete that your hydration demands are greater than most other mortals?  Look into any number of reusable bottles.  They come in all shapes and sizes and materials.  Plastic, metal, leather, whatever you want.

I really recommend just sacking up and embracing the taste of tap water--most tap waters are high in mineral content that is good for you.  It has different flavor because of the minerals in it that bottled water is lacking.  It is also much more heavily regulated and monitored than bottled water which is regulated like other beverages, eg soda.  Do you really want to drink something that is produced by and regulated under the same guide lines that soda manufacturers adhere to?


Most Brita and Pur water filters are activated charcoal filters (most often granular activated carbon) that do little in the way of making the water and 'safer'.  GAC will remove some biological constituents but, as mandated by federal law and often more greatly enforced by state primacy agencies, there is a disinfectant residual detectable in your drinking water so biological constituents are not really of concern.  The carbon filters will do wonders for taste and odor problems.  However, be aware that the T&O problems could be YOUR fixtures in your home and not actually a problem with the water coming to your residence. 

Charcoal filters will NOT stand the test of time.  There is not a filter in production for any use (residential or commercial) that can go without service.  Most residential (called point-of-use systems) are throw-away style while commercial filtration systems are either physically cleaned (often a reverse filtration "back-wash" cycle, pressure sluice, air-scrub, or chemical cleaning.  Or any combination of some/all of those). 

POUs are made to be throw-away and replace because if cleaning regimens were prescribed but performed poorly/incorrectly/too infrequently, the risk of drinking more contaminated water is present.  (Basically, a super-saturation or bacteria breeding ground can exist.)

Further, charcoal POUs can't really be regenerated/refreshed--even on a commercial level, carbon is most often a single use treatment that is replaced after so many gallons of throughput or a certain level of fouling.

The chemicals used for cleaning filters are expensive and dangerous--Sulfuric, citric, muriatic, phosphoric acids; bleach, sodium hydroxide.  All in commercial strengths.



TL;DR: If you're in America, do the Mustachian thing and drink the tap water.


RetiredAt63

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Re: Best Low Cost Water Filter
« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2014, 05:44:18 PM »
@zataks

When it is available I drink tap water.  One "good thing" I am seeing is more public drinking fountains (even in office buildings) that have a high tap, clearly labeled, so that people can refill their reusable water bottles.

I am on a well, so I run my drinking water through a filter.  If I were camping or had a shallow well, I would use one of the filters meant for surface water, as Milspecstache does - I have no desire to catch giardiasis or surface runoff diseases.  Not all of us are on municipal water systems. And some posters have mentioned using filters in areas where municipal water is suspect.  We are a world-wide forum and many of us travel, after all.

Also most of the discussion here has been focused on how silly it is to use bottled water unless there is a need.  As well, most posters have shown they know that activated carbon filters have to be replaced.  So I am wondering - Did you read all the posts or is this a standard response to discussions such as ours?

Mr. Frugalwoods

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Re: Best Low Cost Water Filter
« Reply #10 on: April 25, 2014, 05:47:51 PM »
Honestly, unless there is a medical reason you can't drink the water, maybe you should try a couple of weeks of tap and see if you get used to it?  At least at the end of the experiment you'll know if it is really is worth buying the filters.

zataks

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Re: Best Low Cost Water Filter
« Reply #11 on: April 25, 2014, 08:18:51 PM »
I did read the 7 posts before mine and all subsequent, as well. 

If you answer the questions I posed I can help determine what filtration system you legitimately need and what will best suit your capabilities. 

Why are you filtering your well water?  What sort of quality is it delivering?  What are the characteristics of the well; are you under direct or indirect influence of surface water (or hopefully not?)?
Well water seldom has greater safety concerns than surface water although may be higher in natural minerals.  However, unless extremely high in specific minerals (iron, arsenic, for example) should cause no adverse health effects.  Often calcium and manganese are a concern in ground water but only as they relate to hardness of the water, not for health concerns.

Charcoal filtration is not advisable for travel safety as it won't remove viruses.

You asked what will stand the test of time and also if Brita is OK, that is why I explained charcoal filters. 

Are you looking for domestic use then or for travel?  While there are systems that will work for both, it would likely not be cost effective to go with one system for both.  A system small/light enough to travel will not have the throughput longevity to be practical in domestic use while a home system is not feasible to travel with.  In general. 


For travel, look into Lifesaver Bottles/systems.  They're nanofiltration and highly effective.

For home systems look into a point-of-use reverse osmosis system.

Both are expensive and on a replacement schedule.  The RO will require remineralization systems (cartridges) after the permeation process.  If the system claims that's not necessary, it's not an effective system and not worth your money.
Also, both of these are last resort sorts of things.  If your well needs to be filtered with RO, it's time to hit a different aquifer. 


The benefit of not being on a municipal system is that you have far greater control of the wellhead and its protection as well as full ability to disinfect and flush your well at will. 

Remember that the water coming out of the drinking fountain is the same coming out of the bathroom sink.  Or the shower.  Or that fills the toilet.  You can fill a bottle anywhere, pretty much.


Re the discussion being about only buying bottled water if there is a need:  The need is (with the exception of severe, extenuating catastrophes) non existent in the developed world.  Marketing won.  In developing areas, it's a different story.


EDIT: I want to note, "filter" is used loosely here as reverse osmosis is not a filtration process, exactly.  It, in laymen's terms, has the same effect as filtration but is a chemical permeation process.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2014, 08:28:03 PM by zataks »

freeazabird

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Re: Best Low Cost Water Filter
« Reply #12 on: April 25, 2014, 08:40:40 PM »
Thanks for the feedback. I purchased a Brita.

Also, for those of you drinking tap water it is not always safe. I used to live in DC and was served with a letter apologizing for years of unacceptable water quality that was disguised as acceptable. However, on the other hand I used to live in Detroit which has some of the best water around. So it all depends on your location. I currently live in MD and the tap water tastes gross.

ketchup

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Re: Best Low Cost Water Filter
« Reply #13 on: April 25, 2014, 08:46:46 PM »
Brita is the way to go if your tap water tastes offensive.  That's what I used at school.  We currently use a fancy ZeroWater filter, which is stupid expensive ($16 per filter, doesn't last as long as a Brita), but has many different layers of filters and does a really good job to the point where it tastes like "purified water" from a bottle.  I don't like how it tastes, so I drink the tap water straight.  But my GF and her sister like the "purified water" taste, so we use the ZeroWater.  It's a compromise.  We used to buy way too much bottled water, so we're still way ahead.

zataks

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Re: Best Low Cost Water Filter
« Reply #14 on: April 26, 2014, 01:42:08 AM »
Also, for those of you drinking tap water it is not always safe. I used to live in DC and was served with a letter apologizing for years of unacceptable water quality that was disguised as acceptable. However, on the other hand I used to live in Detroit which has some of the best water around. So it all depends on your location. I currently live in MD and the tap water tastes gross.

Note the difference between acutely harmful and chronic toxicity.  An apology letter is probably for the latter; I would guess DC violated either secondary drinking water standards (standards not directly related to health) or exceed maximum contaminant levels for a (or some) given regulated contaminants.  A couple years ago (and really, every couple of years) a number of new regulations were passed reducing MCLs for many contaminants.  Some of these were reduced to double digit (10/30) parts per billion level. 
If DC were serving acutely toxic water, it wouldn't be an apology letter, it would be class-action litigation. 

Grats on finding a filter that will make you comfortable with your drinking water.  Make sure to follow break-in and use recommendations for it. 


fixer-upper

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Re: Best Low Cost Water Filter
« Reply #15 on: April 26, 2014, 03:35:44 AM »
Chop off a 1" piece of pine branch and stuff it into a piece of tubing.  Connect the other end to a funnel.

Sapwood does a remarkable job of excluding bacteria, and is free for anyone with a pocket knife and access to some tree branches. 
 
« Last Edit: April 26, 2014, 03:00:25 PM by fixer-upper »

mlipps

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Re: Best Low Cost Water Filter
« Reply #16 on: April 26, 2014, 07:42:07 AM »
http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/4166320/

Please, do tell me and the rest of my hometown about how municipal water is always safe. I'm under no illusions that a Brita filter would have helped with this or other contaimanants, but let's not pretend that things like this never happen in the USA either. I'll follow up in 40 years after I find out if I've come down with kidney cancer or not.

CarDude

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Re: Best Low Cost Water Filter
« Reply #17 on: April 26, 2014, 09:18:01 AM »
I remember reading something about how a large number of gastrointestinal issues could be linked to bad public water supplies. And I don't think I read it from a bottled water company.