Although most of the harmful substances in water sources are removed by the water companies, significant amounts remain. The Centers for Disease Control and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have warned anyone with compromised immune function to talk to their doctor before drinking tap water. A number of water industry organizations have also advised all HIV patients to, at the very least, boil tap water before drinking it.

The surest way of making sure we are drinking the cleanest, contaminant-free water possible is to invest in a water filter of some kind. Although home water filters, different from water softeners, may seem expensive at first, in the long run they are a very cost effective way of providing our families with pure drinking water. The alternative of buying bottled water will likely be more expensive than installing and running a quality water filter.

Below, read about some types of water filtration systems, including the advantages and disadvantages associated with each:

carbon filrter

Carbon Block, Activated Carbon Water Filters

Carbon Block, Activated Carbon Water Filters are generally plumbed into the house water supply, usually on just one tap—typically in the kitchen. Carbon block filters are more expensive than granulated types, but offer greater filtration and usually require replacement less often.

Pros: Relatively cheap, filters last longer than granulated and offer greater filtration.

Cons: Requires plumbing in; doesn’t remove bacteria, heavy metals, some radioactive contaminants, asbestos or fluoride.

Ceramic Carbon Water Filters

Ceramic Carbon Water Filters are comprised of two parts: ceramic and carbon. These filters usually come as a cartridge that sits under the sink in the kitchen and is plumbed into the water supply; the filtered water is then sent to a counter top tap.

Pros: Low cost, good filter life, effectively removes large amount of contaminants.

Cons: Some plumbing required; doesn’t remove fluoride, some heavy metals, viruses and very small microbes.

ceramic filter
water softener

Reverse Osmosis Water Filters

Reverse Osmosis Water Filters are generally considered to be the most effective form of water filtration available. The running costs are roughly the same as for the solid carbon/ceramic filters. RO systems are available either fitted to a single tap or plumbed into the main water inlet pipe, delivering filtered water throughout the house.

Pros: Highly effective filtration, running costs reasonable, whole-house systems available.

Cons: Initial cost, plumbing work required; all minerals are removed, so supplements are required to replace minerals with nutritional value.