Unnatural chemicals find their way into most people’s water supply. Scientists believe these chemicals are involved in cancer, low testosterone, and brain damage. Many water filters only remove some of the common contaminants, but our goal is to filter them all out, leaving you protected, healthy, and strong!
This article goes into all kinds of details about water filter types, all the contaminants you need to remove, and how each water filter removes the contaminants. If you just want to skip to our recommendation, we like the ProOne Countertop water filter best of all.
What We Want To Filter
- Manmade Chemicals (like pesticides, which lower testosterone)
- Plastics (tiny microplastics increase risk of cancer, BPA lowers testosterone)
- Pharmaceuticals (Scientists found drugs in 80% of American water)
- Hormones (like estrogen)
- Metals (such as lead, mercury, and aluminum – all of which are neurotoxic)
- Chlorine and chloramine (left over from your municipal water treatment plant, but they can be harmful to you)
- Excessive nitrites and nitrates (Too much nitrite and nitrate can get into your water from fertilizers on farm fields. Scientists believe that excessively high nitrites and nitrates can lower testosterone and cause other damage to health)
- Fluoride. (Fluoride was added to the water supply to stop cavities, but many people believe that it does more harm than good, as some studies find that it lowers IQ.)
- We’re not going to try to filter bacteria and viruses though. Your public water treatment plant already removes bacteria and viruses from your water supply, so we are not concerned with that here, and these water filters are not designed for that job. Removing pathogens from dirty water as a backpacker or as part of an off-the-grid lifestyle is a different topic.
Which brands are recommended and reliable?
Unfortunately, some brands of water filters are NOT as good as they claim to be. We only recommend brands that have been lab tested, and seem to be trustworthy. Ideally the brand’s customers notice a genuine difference in their health from using the filter! Finally, we need to know if the water filter’s technology (the filter “media”) really does have the capability to remove what they say.
These brands seem trustworthy and make filters that remove nearly everything.
Formerly known as ProPur. This is our number one recommendation. Even their water filter pitcher removes fluoride! They have a showerhead, pitcher, and a countertop water filter. They have good reviews, and they give us good reason to trust them. They publish their lab results very clearly. One thing that make us trust them is that their lab results are not impossibly perfect. Some other water filter brands claim results that are simply not possible. ProOne does not engage in this untrustworthy behavior. That makes us believe that their very good lab results are genuinely real!
|Image||Product Details||Installation||Removes Aluminum?||Removes Pesticides?||Removes Fluoride?|
|ProOne Traveler+ Stainless-Steel Gravity Water Filter System||Countertop standalone||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|ProOne Water Filter Pitcher||Pitcher||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|ProOne ProMax Brushed Nickel Shower Filter||Showerhead||Yes||Yes||Yes|
This is our second best recommendation. They are very good as well! They have a water filter pitcher, an under-sink unit, a filtered water bottle (cool product!), and a refrigerator filter. People say that their customer service is fantastic. Their filters have the ability to remove everything from the water. The only issues are that a few people complain about the external design of their water filter pitcher, and that the filters don’t last extremely long. But the performance of their filters is great. Here are their lab test results. (Link)
|Image||Product Details||Installation||Removes Aluminum?||Removes Pesticides?||Removes Fluoride?|
|Clearly Filtered Water Filter Pitcher||Pitcher||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottles||Water Bottle||?||Yes||Yes|
|Clearly Filtered Triple Stage Kitchen Faucet Filtration System||Under-Sink||Yes||Yes||Yes|
AquaCera makes countertop water filters, an under-sink model, and a whole-house water filter. Their lab results are very good: (Link) Everything about them seems good, and they are considered trustworthy by some influencers. Our only issue is that we don’t have more reviews and information about them, making it hard to make a judgment so far. They do look good on paper though!
AquaCera’s countertop water filter
ZeroWater makes water filter pitchers and an office water cooler. The brand’s trust and labs are good and we like how they operate! However the filter doesn’t last a very long time and replacements aren’t cheap. But the filter does seem to remove everything, which is good! Their lab results: (Link)
ZeroWater’s Water Filter Pitcher
AquaBliss is on our list for their showerhead water filters. They get great reviews and they are technically capable of filtering everything but fluoride. Of course, because of the fast flow rate, a showerhead filter probably can’t remove 100% of each contaminant, but it is way better than nothing! AquaBliss is very focused on removing chlorine, and they seem to do a great job of it. They use calcium sulfite for this task, which is a great choice. Do keep in mind that if you have a sulfite allergy, you may want to be careful with this though. For everyone else, AquaBliss has information here about why you probably don’t need to worry about the sulfite. One issue with AquaBliss is that we can’t find sufficient lab test results for them.
The AquaBliss Showerhead Water Filter
Water Filter Types
Reverse Osmosis removes absolutely everything from water. This is great, but it is also wasteful, expensive, and can even cause health issues because it actually removes GOOD minerals from the water too!
You can get a whole house reverse osmosis system so that your drinking and shower water are both totally pure. But this is extremely wasteful because you are needlessly filtering your dishwasher water, washing machine water, etc.
If you do get a reverse osmosis system, it’s better to get one that installs under your sink and only filters your drinking water. Then you can get a special (not reverse osmosis) showerhead filter. That way you will be protected without being excessively expensive and wasting water.
Water Filter Pitchers
You can pour yourself a drink right out of a water filter pitcher. This is convenient, but it is a bit of a hassle to have to fill the pitcher just about every day. A good water filter will usually take quite a while before the water is ready to drink as well. For those reasons, water filter pitchers can be a bit inconvenient. They are a good option for travelers, but a large, countertop water filter makes more sense for most people.
Countertop Water Filters
We refer to two different types of countertop water filter. One of them attaches by your sink, and the other is a large unit that sits on your counter. With the latter, you can filter several gallons at once, and then draw your drinking water right out of the unit as you need it. Because of the large capacity, you won’t have to fill it up too often or wait for water to be ready to drink. This is more convenient than a small water filter pitcher, but it is usually more expensive. In the long run, it may be cheaper though, because countertop water filters often have longer-lasting filters than water filter pitchers, which sometimes need their filters replaced frequently.
Showerhead Water Filters and Skin Absorption
Unless you get a whole house reverse osmosis system, you will want a showerhead water filter along with your drinking water filter. It is important to filter your shower water, because chemicals are very easily absorbed from hot water on your skin! You might actually absorb more harmful chemicals through your skin than through your stomach. This study found that the VOC chemicals absorbed from a bath were 1.5x more than the VOC chemicals absorbed from drinking half a gallon of water.
Heat and being wet increase skin absorption (just like in a shower).
One scary fact is that skin chemical absorption is much higher through the genitalia than it is through other skin. Does that suggest that chemicals in shower water will have even more of an endocrine disrupting effect than drinking water, causing low testosterone and high estrogen?
Removing The Contaminants
Only some water filters use technology (which is called the “filter media”) that can remove all the contaminants.
Here is a simple list of contaminants and the filter media that removes them:
These are removed by Activated Carbon.
Metals, such as Lead, Aluminum, and Mercury
These are removed by Ion Exchange Resin, including by KDF.
This is removed by Bone Char, by Activated Aluminum (not recommended), or by a special type of Ion Exchange Resin.
Nitrites and Nitrates
These can be removed by KDF or by another special type of Ion Exchange Resin.
Chlorine and Chloramine
These can be removed by Catalytic Carbon, KDF, Vitamin C, or Calcium Sulfite.
Putting It Into Practice
- So you need Activated Carbon to remove chemicals/plastics/hormones
- Then you need KDF or the right kind of ion exchange to remove heavy metals and nitrite/nitrate.
- Then chlorine is removed by your Activated Carbon if it’s in the form of Catalytic Carbon, or it’s removed by KDF, or Vitamin C, or Calcium Sulfite.
- Finally, flouride is removed by Bone Char, Activated Aluminum, or by the right ion exchange.
- That really only leaves lithium, which is hopefully not a problem in people’s water yet. When it becomes an issue, we will have to find something that filters it out!
So here are the simple combinations that will get rid of just about everything:
- Activated carbon + KDF Ion Exchange + Bone char
- Activated carbon + KDF Ion Exchange + Activated aluminum (But we don’t recommend this because a form of aluminum gets into your water and this is probably bad)
- Activated carbon + multiple Ion Exchange media + Vitamin C
- Activated carbon + multiple Ion Exchange media + Calcium Sulfite
The best water filter brands use one of these combinations to get as close as possible to removing ALL contaminants.
Here is a detailed list of filter media and what each type removes. If you don’t need to go in depth, just scroll past this.
|Filter media||Micro-plastics, BPA, phthalates||Chemicals (Pharmaceuticals, Pesticides, Hormones, VOC's, PFAS)||Chlorine, Chloramine||Flouride||Metals (lead, aluminum, mercury)||Dissolved solids||Nitrites & Nitrates||Bacteria||Viruses||Lithium (as an element vs as pharma - "lithium salts" should be clarified)|
|Reverse Osmosis||Yes||Yes||Yes (due to the activated carbon step in the process before RO)||"85-92" of flouride is removed, but lower quality brands may only remove 50%||Yes||Yes||Yes (maybe only 60-75% though?)||Yes||Yes||Likely|
|Activated Carbon ("can be made from coal, wood, or coconut shell. Coconut shell is the most expensive and effective form")||Mostly - and it looks like carbon block form is the best for the very small microplastics||90% of pharmaceuticals,|
VOC's, herbicides, pesticides,
"most man-made chemicals" & yes it's pretty good at removing estradiol too ("powdered activated carbon is best - https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40710-014-0005-y/tables/1 ) - Removes PFAS but it varies. Average of ~70% removal
|Yes to both,|
however possibly it's only "Catalytic carbon, a new advanced activated carbon product, is designed to adsorb chloramines" However, "Granulated Activated Carbon (GAC) filters can remove 70-90% of chlorine from water, but they have a limited capacity to do so. They tend to clog and fail particularly quickly in hot water (such as your shower) when exposed to chlorine." Looks like it's only hot water that's a problem though.
|No||No||Not appropriate for this||No||No (although very tight carbon blocks may do some good)||No||Not as an element, as a salt though?|
|Bone Char||?||Some, and not atrazine||No||Yes!||Many|
|No||"Organic chemicals such as VOCs, pesticides and herbicides, organic cysts, nitrates, fluoride, viruses, arsenic, pharmaceuticals and other substances aren’t best handled by KDF filters."||This one specifically removes chlorine (KDF (but which one?) removes "from 80–50% [of chlorine] as the volume of water increases")|
or according to another site, KDF (possibly all subtypes) "removes 99.9% of free chlorine"
|No||"up to 98% of" heavy metals such as copper, nickel, chromium, lead, & mercury. KDF removes aluminum. Looks like it removes all metals.||No||99.9% (which KDF?)||Probably not fully||I don't think so||Could be?|
|KDF-85||No||"Organic chemicals such as VOCs, pesticides and herbicides, organic cysts, nitrates, fluoride, viruses, arsenic, pharmaceuticals and other substances aren’t best handled by KDF filters."||KDF (possibly all subtypes) "removes 99.9% of free chlorine"||No||Removes Iron,|
and "up to 98% of" heavy metals such as copper, nickel, chromium, lead, & mercury. KDF removes aluminum. Looks like it removes all metals.
|No||99.9% (which KDF?)||Probably not fully||I don't think so|
|KDF-C||No||"Organic chemicals such as VOCs, pesticides and herbicides, organic cysts, nitrates, fluoride, viruses, arsenic, pharmaceuticals and other substances aren’t best handled by KDF filters."||KDF (possibly all subtypes) "removes 99.9% of free chlorine"||No||"up to 98% of" heavy metals such as copper, nickel, chromium, lead, & mercury. KDF removes aluminum. Looks like it removes all metals.||No||99.9% (which KDF?)||Probably not fully||I don't think so|
|Nanofiltration||Yes||allegedly removes 99% of pharma and pesticides||Seems like 88% removal||Looks like pore size is too big to stop flouride||Yes (as they seem to be multivalent ions)||Yes||60% removal of nitrate ( http://www.ipcbee.com/vol17/44-L30009.pdf )||Yes||Yes||Doubt it|
|Ultrafiltration||Some||Allegedly pesticides, but I doubt it can remove others. Maybe only with an added carbon filter.||Allegedly yes, but that might only have been with an added carbon filter. - No, chlorine is way too tiny for this filter to stop it.||No||Apparently "Partial" for a lot of them||Yes||Not nitrates||Yes||Yes||No|
("The Aquasana AQ-4000 drinking water system is the only major manufacturer that uses this media.")
|Doubt it||Looks like ATS is always used mixed together with activated carbon, so for that reason it does remove VOC's, however it is not the ATS that is doing it, as far as I can tell. That's the impression I got from their patent.||only because of the activated carbon that is included with it||"only removes 40-60% of the fluoride"||"removes lead and heavy metals" - their website says it's great at removing lead and mercury. Patent implies it removes all heavy metals||Not appropriate for this||Doubt it||No||No||Could be|
|Ion Exchange Resin||No||Specialty ones can (specifically estrogen that I looked up)||No||The right one will do it||Depending on the resin, it could remove all metals, could only remove some, or could merely soften the water by removing calcium & magnesium||No||apparently some can||No||No||Could be|
|Activated Aluminum||No||No - actually, some forms might?||No||Removes 99%||Removes Arsenic,|
however Aluminum from the filter could get into the water so you need KDF right after it. "Activated alumina also removes selenite, fluoride, sulfate and chromate which may be other undesired contaminants in the water supply."
|No||No||No||No||Looks like yes! But is that only some forms of activated aluminum?|
|Vit C||No||No||only removes chlorine and chloramine i think? (but does it very well) - however chloramine is only used in 20% of the water and you can check to see if it is used in your area||No||No||No||No||No||No||No|
(however some people are sensitive to sulfites)
|No||No||99% of chlorine||No||No||No||No||No||No||No|
Some Extras – Avoiding Plastic
We advise using glass bottles and not plastic for drinking water, because of the threat of microplastic contamination. Consuming plastic typically disrupts your hormones and can produce cancer in the long run.
You should also consider a shower curtain that isn’t plastic. The hot steam of your shower can release chemical fumes from your shower curtain that you will absorb.
It seems that natural silica mineral water can slowly remove aluminum from our brain. Aluminum may be a cause of cognitive decline and even Alzheimers, according to this book by a biochemist.
Prevent Alzheimer’s, Autism and Stroke
A good source of silica is Fiji Water. The book recommends drinking one liter per day.
FIJI Natural Artesian Water, 16.9 Fl Oz (Pack of 24)
Some scientific proof: Silicon-rich mineral water as a non-invasive test of the ‘aluminum hypothesis’ in Alzheimer’s disease
For more information about filtering aluminum from your water, you can check our post about it here.
Why We Need To Filter Water
Filtering your water is very important nowadays. Due to our modern lifestyle, there are many unnatural chemicals in the typical water supply. These chemicals damage your body and your family’s bodies, contributing to endocrine disruption, degenerative disease, and probably even obesity. You should filter both your drinking water and your shower water, because chemicals are absorbed through your skin as well, especially in a hot steaming shower.
Many water filters only remove some contaminants, but our goal is to get as close as possible to removing them all, ensuring you and your family stay healthy. We want to block all the dangerous contaminants that get into the water. That means chemicals, microplastics, pharmaceuticals, hormones, chlorine and chloramine, and metals like lead. You also want to filter out excess nitrites and nitrates (usually from agricultural contamination). You also want your water free of bacteria and viruses, but your municipal water treatment plant probably covers that for you. Finally, many people want to remove fluoride from their water as well.
Filtering these contaminants from both your drinking water AND your shower water will be a big step towards healthy hormone levels and avoiding chronic damage to your body and brain.