Why You Need a Water Filter (And What Kind I Think You Should Get)

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I don’t like water. Never have. It’s bland and it’s flavorless. Its biggest crime is that it doesn’t taste like coffee.

I have lived in a state of extreme dehydration for years now. But recently, I’ve been on a mission to remedy that. The ultimate reason I’ve been reforming my wicked waterless ways is because of my daughter. I want to be healthier for her, so as she grows up I can offer her the best in word, example and deed. I can’t exactly push her water intake as a child while never taking a sip myself, can I? (I mean, I guess I can, but I’d prefer to avoid the douche-bag do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do parenting style.)

The second reason I’m pushing my water intake is because of my struggle with extremely dry skin and cracked heels. That is such a huge topic all on its own that I plan to follow up this blog post with more info on that particular issue later.

So moving on to my quest for more water! In looking up how best to hydrate myself, I stumbled upon this lovely little tidbit of information:

Pensacola has the absolute worst drinking water in the entire United States of America.

In a nationwide study of the safety of tap water in major cities, the Pensacola water supply was found to have 21 chemicals that exceeded health guidelines, including radium, lead, bezene and carbon tetrachloride.

After learning this information, I spent the rest of the week researching water filtration options and ordering the best water filter method for my home. I was in such a hurry to get my water filters, I even signed up for Amazon Prime for the two day shipping. Think I’m overreacting? (Probably.) But check out the full list of contaminants found in Pensacola’s water supply:

Barium (total), Chromium (total), Cyanide, Mercury (total inorganic), Nitrate, Nitrite, Selenium (total), Trichlorofluoromethane, 1,2,4-Trichlorobenzene, cis-1,2-Dichloroethylene, 2,2-Dichloropropane, Monochloroacetic acid, Dibromoacetic acid, Chloroform, Xylenes (total), p-Dichlorobenzene, 1,1-Dichloroethylene, 1,1-Dichloroethane, 1,1,1,2-Tetrachloroethane, Monochlorobenzene (Chlorobenzene), Toluene, Ethylbenzene, Alpha particle activity (incl. radon & uranium), Combined Uranium (pCi/L), Cadmium (total), Lead (total), Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, Heptachlor epoxide, MTBE, Total haloacetic acids (HAAs), 1,2-Dibromo-3-chloropropane (DBCP), Bromoform, Bromodichloromethane, Dibromochloromethane, Total trihalomethanes (TTHMs), 1,2-Dichloroethane, Carbon tetrachloride, 1,2-Dichloropropane, Trichloroethylene, 1,1,2-Trichloroethane, Tetrachloroethylene, Benzene, Alpha particle activity (excl radon and uranium), Radium-226, Radium-228.

OMGWTF?!?!??!?! I can’t even pronounce half the crap on that list, and I stopped Google searching what each one was and why drinking it is bad half way through the list because I was getting all twitchy. And this isn’t even the worst of it.

Most people don’t realize that federal law does not require tap water to be safe for long-term consumption. Only 91 contaminants are regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act, yet more than 60,000 harmful chemicals are found in drinking water in the United States.

Why is this allowed? Because the long-term risks of cancer and other health threats are balanced against the cost and feasibility of purification by each city. The current mindset is that the contaminants are fully disclosed to the public, therefore if you care about your long term health, you will take steps to filter your water to your liking. Your water does not have to be healthy. And in Pensacola’s case, it is decidedly not so. You can check out your local drinking water quality by visiting the EPA website here. 

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So! Are you convinced you need a water filter? Since I’ve spent more hours than I care to admit researching the different options when it comes to water filters, let me share my findings with you. Here’s a simple guide to the most popular methods of water filtration and why I think all but one method sucks:

Distilled Water

How It Works – This process passes water over a heated coil‚ causing the water to vaporize and become gaseous. The steam then rises and transfers to a cooling chamber‚ where it condenses back into a liquid. This process separates water from inorganic compounds like lead‚ calcium‚ magnesium‚ etc. and destroys bacteria.

Why I Think It Sucks – This process does not remove most organic chemicals, since they typically vaporize at a lower temperature than water and are transferred over with the steam. FAIL.

Reverse Osmosis

How It Works – This is a process that exposes water under pressure‚ to a semi-permeable membrane with a very fine pore structure. Because most inorganic contaminants are of a larger molecular size than water‚ the membrane rejects certain contaminants‚ minerals and a large part of the water.

Why I Think It Sucks – Because many synthetic chemicals like herbicides and pesticides are smaller molecularly than water, they slip through. FAIL.

Granular Carbon Filters

This is the most popular home filtration method. (It’s what is used in Brita filters.) Granular carbon filters remove contaminants by adsorption‚ which is the chemical or physical bond of a contaminant to the surface of the filter. Activated carbon bonds to thousands of chemicals, in fact it bonds to almost all known chemicals! Water runs around the carbon granules, and the bad joo joo in the water sticks to the surface of the granules.

Why I Think It Sucks – This type of filter does NOTHING for straining out bacteria. They are worthless in terms of virus and protozoa, which aren’t adsorbed by the granules and just continue on their merry way through the filter and straight into your mouth. Yum yum! Plus, many chemicals that WOULD be adsorbed by the granules can make their way through the filter without being adsopbed if not exposed long enough. DOUBLE FAIL.

Carbon Block Filters (What I Recommend You Use)

How It Works – A carbon block filter is made of the exact same stuff a granular carbon filter is made up of… only it’s in solid block form.

Why I Think It Rocks – It works with the same method of chemical bonding through adsorption, but it has the added element of mechanical straining.

When water is pushed through the solid carbon block, it is FORCED to slow down and increase the contact time with the carbon, allowing the carbon bonding to take place to remove the chemical pollutants like toxins, pesticides, trihalomethanes, chlorine, bad tastes, odors, etc.

And whatever is missed by adsorption – like bacteria and protozoa and heavy metals like lead – are then strained out by the pore size of the block. Basically, it’s like trying to put a basketball through a hole the size of a ping pong ball. The pores in the block of carbon can filter particles down to sub-micron size. That filters dirt, sediment, rust, algae, bacteria, microscopic worms, cryptosporidium and asbestos. And because of the density of the solid carbon block, there is no room for bacteria to grow so this type of filter does not become an incubator for them.

This type of filter is so hardcore, they’re known as survivalist filters. They are what wilderness backpackers use to purify bacteria infested waters on trails. For added safety, you can put a couple drops of chlorine or bleach in your water to kill off bacteria gathered in a stream, and then it run it through the filter. The filter then removes the chlorine and bleach and dead bacteria and your bacteria infested spring water is now safer and tastier than your Pensacola tap water. Uhhh, WIN.

Best part is? They are super affordable! Since Jonathan and I are going to be moving around quite a bit in the future, we can’t really invest in a whole home filtration system. So instead, we’ve purchased a pitcher style carbon block filter (made with BPA free plastic!) for less than $25 and a sports water bottle carbon block filter for less than $20. So far, we are extremely happy with our purchases and will be using our bottles on upcoming camping and hiking excursions!

Do you use a water filtration system? If so, what kind do you use and why? Talk me people, my blog is so much more fun when the empty void I send this drivel into talks back. 😉

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Gingi Freeman
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Gingi is a photographer, cosplayer, amateur chef, crazy cat lady, anime otaku, bookworm, generic geek, world traveler, conservative Christian, homeschooler, devoted military wife and stay at home new mother of two little girls.

Gingi blogs about anything and everything that is relevant to being a supermom, stay at home wife, homeschooler and geek girl! You can contact her at gingifreeman@gmail.com or via the contact form on her website at www.domesticgeekgirl.com

Gingi Freeman

Gingi is a photographer, cosplayer, amateur chef, crazy cat lady, anime otaku, bookworm, generic geek, world traveler, conservative Christian, homeschooler, devoted military wife and stay at home new mother of two little girls. Gingi blogs about anything and everything that is relevant to being a supermom, stay at home wife, homeschooler and geek girl! You can contact her at gingifreeman@gmail.com or via the contact form on her website at www.domesticgeekgirl.com

23 thoughts on “Why You Need a Water Filter (And What Kind I Think You Should Get)

  • 26 November, 2013 at 10:02 pm
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    Wow who thought there was a city with worse water than hanford?

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  • 26 November, 2013 at 10:19 pm
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    I have used the Brita pitcher and i do so because i love the taste of the water but after reading your post I immediately bought the one that you suggested. In fact i didn’t even finish the post I just went straight to buying what you suggested. It is kind of scary that you have so much influence in my life. lol First i did the foot soak that you suggested and now I bought a water pitcher. I do so respect you though and I honor your concern for your lovely daughter. I don’t think you would ever steer anyone down the wrong path.

    Reply
    • 26 November, 2013 at 10:27 pm
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      Awwww thank you!!! Yeah, I was just GLUED to my computer screen once I discovered all this info! My husband was laughing at me because he was like, “I knew this all along.” And I’m like, “THEN WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME?!?!” Lol. I’m glad I can be an influence… For good I hope!! 😉

      Reply
  • 27 November, 2013 at 2:07 am
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    I personally love water and think of it as a gift from the gods. I am blessed to have it in abundance and around me whenever I need it. It quenches my thirst and I just love gulping it down. I love how it is the only drink that lets me taste my food without changing its original flavour, it does not corrupt the food.

    I don’t drink tap water though, only spring water. My gran hated water too, and so did a colleague I had in uni (had so e physical issues because she would NEVER drink water).

    You are doing well in making that effort though, so many things depend on it. Things we don’t even imagine, like our tendons, our bowels and such things.

    The changes you must be feeling from dehydrated to hydrated must be interesting. 🙂

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    • 27 November, 2013 at 2:44 pm
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      The things I’m noticing now that I’m drinking water are weird. Lol. First, I have to pee. ALL. THE. TIME. Second, I notice now when I’m not drinking water my lips get chapped and my mouth gets really dry. I also get headaches when I drink water. I heard that’s because my brain is literally getting re-hydrated? SCARY. I also don’t eat as much. And when I drink water, my stomach has been getting distended? But I heard that’s because I’m probably gulping air when I drink it and should try drinking through a straw to combat that?? Hahaha.. who knew I’d have to “learn” how to drink water?!

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      • 27 November, 2013 at 2:54 pm
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        Looooool! Hehehe, learning to drink water. 🙂 Yeah it makes sense that you might get headaches, your blood vessels are probably wider, and you might even be suffering from liquid retention, watch out for that if the pain does not stop.

        The pee part might be annoying, but hopefully your bladder will get used to more liquid in it? Dunno. Anyhow, you peeing more might be annoying but it is important for your kidneys, very important, it keeps them healthy, prevents kidney stones from forming, and helps you eliminate toxins or unwanted substances from your body.

        I hope you get used to these changes soon and master the art of sipping water ;).

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        • 27 November, 2013 at 3:01 pm
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          LOL, I feel like we should be doing a “learning to drink water” montage, all martial arts style.. Me being the “grasshopper”…
          “When you can drink this water without gulping it and getting a headache.. then you are a master, grasshopper!”
          lol… my imagination gets away with me sometimes. 😉

          Reply
          • 27 November, 2013 at 3:03 pm
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            “You are the empty vessel Grasshoppa, let the wata fill you, let the water become you… Be one with the wata Grasshoppa.”

          • 27 November, 2013 at 3:04 pm
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            ROFLMAO… oh my gosh, you win so hard….

  • 27 November, 2013 at 12:15 pm
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    It is expensive but Berky is awesome! It gets out everything. I don’t want fluoride in my water (it can allow heavy metals in your brain and change your behaviors). So I love it. We even poor our bottled water into it. A cool experiment, you can put colored water or add food coloring to your water and dump it in it and it will pull it all out. Anyways, drink that water! We need it to lose weight lol. <3 And kudos to being a healthier example for your child.

    Reply
    • 27 November, 2013 at 2:45 pm
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      Yeah, I think we’re going to invest in a countertop Burky when we get stationed… which version do you have?? And yes! I’ve been good on my water consumption ever since we bought the pitcher.. how are YOU doing?! 😉

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      • 27 November, 2013 at 3:09 pm
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        We have the clear blue counter top one. I am doing good! I am drinking a lot of water. Although I did splurge and got a Virgil’s Cream Soda…:p

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  • 24 May, 2014 at 8:37 pm
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    We live out in the country and have well water. I wonder if that is safer/cleaner than city water?

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  • 18 December, 2015 at 7:00 am
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    Hearing, or maybe reading, about articles on water pollution and how safe is the water we drink right now made me grab a water filtration system. I didn’t have issues with our water sources but it’s better safe than sorry. I feel safe now with our Berkey. Great publish, by the way!

    Reply
  • 16 June, 2016 at 6:23 am
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    Hello Buddy,

    I just love water as it is essential to live a life. I have read your article, very nice share. We all know that drinking contaminated water is becoming a problem for everyone. But I have never used Carbon Block Filters, I will surely try this. thank you so much.

    Reply
  • 17 June, 2016 at 2:30 pm
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    Your given information is really helpful and I learn lot of new things about the water filter. I just trying to find the best one of my newly made house and your information helped me lot.

    Reply
  • 8 September, 2016 at 7:08 pm
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    Thanks so much for the great advice! I think it is really difficult when trying to do the best most cost effective treatment for something as important as water. I think you do a great job in explaining why you like your water filter!

    Reply
  • 26 September, 2016 at 11:24 pm
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    I’m glad you explained exactly how the carbon block filtration process works. I have heard of that type of filtration before, but I have never quite understood how it gets rid of the pesticides and toxins in your water. Thanks for your opinion on why this is the best type of filtration to use! I will take that into account when I actually start shopping around for a filtration system.

    Reply
  • 28 October, 2016 at 3:26 pm
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    I have Berkey at home and it’s the best for me. Our family is enjoying the clean and delicious water coming out from it. Nevertheless, thank you for this great post!

    Reply
  • 15 November, 2016 at 4:48 am
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    Okay if you say me, How do Diercon outdoor portable water filters filter outdoor river,lake water to drinking water immediately?

    Reply

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