On the fence about whether or not to invest in a home water filter? Whether you’re considering a fully integrated system, or just a simple pitcher filter, here are five areas where a filter can make a substantive difference to your daily life.
1. Taste (or more accurately, smell)
As reported by LiveScience, research suggests that up to 80 percent of the flavor we’d normally put down to taste, actually comes from smell (really, the whole olfactory system.) This is why colds and congestion can have such a dramatic effect on the way foods taste.
Among the 10,000 or so odors we’re able to detect, chemical compounds frequently stand out as off putting and unnatural. While effective at safely deactivating potentially harmful parasites, the chlorine and ozone that many water treatment plants use often remain (in trace amounts) in faucet water—and for those with a keen sense of smell, these flavors can really stand out.
The primary design function of most home water filters is therefore to remove the most pungent chemicals and compounds from drinking water. A decent quality carbon filter is able to remove potential flavor-ruiners, by absorbing contaminants to activate carbon’s huge surface area. But, always check individual products for their specific credentials and NSF certifications.
2. You live in a building built before 1986
The EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) prohibits the “use of any pipe, any pipe or plumbing fitting or fixture, any solder, or any flux, after June 1986, in the installation or repair of (i) any public water system; or (ii) any plumbing in a residential or non-residential facility providing water for human consumption, that is not lead-free.”
This is great news when it comes to having confidence in the safety of your drinking water, but as you may have noticed, while the act prevents installation and repair, it doesn’t require the replacement of preexisting lead hardware. This means that, if you live in a building with pre-1986 plumbing, which hasn’t undergone an extensive refit, it’s likely that some elements of your water system will still contain lead.
Unfortunately, the risk of lead is most apparent to still-growing children, and there is no safe consumption level of lead for anybody. Add to that the fact that you cannot see, taste, or smell lead in drinking water, and you may conclude that it’s time to take the purity of your water into your own hands.
While some certified carbon filters are capable of removing lead, copper, and other heavy metal contaminants, if you have serious concerns about the safety of your water, you may want to look into multi-stage filters, which combine carbon cartridges with more industrial mechanisms, such as a reverse osmosis membrane, or ceramic filtration.
3. Peace of mind
Below the worrying thought of lead contamination, there’s a whole range of less-concerning pollutants and contaminants that can creep into your tap water. These materials may not present an immediate risk to health, but it can nevertheless be unsettling to think that your family is ingesting excess copper, magnesium, chlorine, nitrates, and algae alongside their recommended daily water intake.
Any NSF-certified filter is capable of removing these low-level solubles. But bear in mind that it is possible to go too far in the quest for water-purity! A high-level reverse osmosis system, for example, is so effective in filtering out materials down to fractions of a micron, that it will also remove potentially beneficial minerals such as calcium and potassium. Considering many are willing to pay a premium for these salts in bottled spring water, getting them as part of your tap supply seems like a win-win!
4. To supplement a wellness lifestyle
In 2019, the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine published a paper discussing the importance of establishing routines and habits in the pursuit of healthier and more beneficial lifestyles. The paper recommends that, for long-term adherence to positive behaviors, healthy routines should be established slowly, incrementally, and consistently.
As the paper states, a key part of forming these habits is “the consistent repetition of the behavior,” meaning that you’re more likely to keep up a routine if it includes a daily action or responsibility. Here, water filtering fits in perfectly as a component of a wellness regime. Just like a morning yoga class, vitamin supplementing, or a commitment to only buy takeout on the weekends, filtering water for you or your family is a mindful behavior, contributing to greater awareness and self-care when it comes to what you choose to consume.
5. (4 and ½) You just like the idea
To be honest, you don’t really need a reason to buy a water filter. For the majority of people, there’s no immediate need to decrease the mineral content of your tap supply or to stop trusting your local water source, or a risk to health if you don’t remove excess metals.
Instead, it’s worth recognizing that the desire for purer, cleaner water is a highly natural human instinct. Even if there’s no specific reason for extra filtering, having daily access to a personal filter is likely to add a small boost of enjoyment to your everyday experience. Plus, simple filters are inexpensive and easy-to-use devices—so instead of looking for a reason why you should be filtering water, maybe the question is, why not?