How to Make Your Drinking Water Safe

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In yesterday’s post I gave you a lot of information showing that the drinking water coming out of your tap may not be as safe as you thought.

Today I am going to talk about water filtration choices and will share my recommendation for purifying your drinking water and doing so on a budget.

Our history with water filtration is a long one.  It started years ago (too long :-)) when my husband and I first married.

I recall phoning the manufacturers of the different pitcher-type and faucet-mount water filtration systems to determine which type to buy.  We were renting at the time, so the cost of installing a large filtration unit either on top or under-the-counter just didn’t make sense.

1.  THE FAUCET MOUNT: We were living in Evanston, Illinois, and my research eventually led me to purchase PUR brand’s faucet mount filter.  It brought with it a nice set of credentials as it apparently had been endorsed and was used at the time by the U.S. Navy, if memory serves me correctly.  My husband was a part time youth minister at the time and one of the youth volunteers was married to a man who was a chemical engineer.  When I shared with him the conclusion that I had come to about purchasing our PUR filter, he echoed with enthusiasm what a great filter it was, stating that he had seen the research and thought it was the best filter on the market.

2.  THE COUNTER TOP: When my husband and I lived with his parents for a two year period just before our oldest son was born, we recommended that they buy PUR’s counter-top model.  The faucet-mount filter unit had proven itself to be heavy for some faucets, causing problems with leakage and other issues and additionally the counter-top model was less expensive to use.  So PUR seemed to be quite the favorite in our family.

3.  MULTI-PURE CARBON: However, after moving to Oklahoma for my husband’s first tenure-track job as a professor, I became aware of Multi-Pure carbon filters.  They were more expensive initially, but the cost per gallon analysis showed that the Multi-Pure was a clear winner.

So, after again doing extensive research into the amount of and types of contaminants that various filters on the market, we made a change.

And Multi-Pure had a great deal at the time wherein one pre-purchases 10 filters (10 years’ worth) and the filter housing is then provided for free, resulting in a significant savings.  We were then locked in for 10 years, but I felt confident in our choice.

Fast forward three years.

Our eldest had then been diagnosed with autism and I was having some physical symptoms that were quite worrisome.  I had been reading on and off about reverse osmosis, distillation and alkaline water, but was quite confused and could just not come down on one side of the issue or the other.

However, it came to the point where I felt that in order to do the best for our family, I simply needed to make the best decision that I could.

So I got on the phone again and spoke with a few “experts” in field and perused the internet looking for answers.  I interviewed experts on the phone regarding the pros and cons of distillation versus reverse osmosis and additionally read articles and spoke with several people regarding alkalinized water.  I truly agonized over this decision for a long time.

I already felt that I was a bit excessive in taking my super-duper carbon-filtered water with me everywhere, but I really wanted to get the fluoride and other “undesirables” out of my family’s water.

There are many articles and resources that I could point you to, but here is the “distilled version” (pun intended).

Now, all of this information can get a bit murky, so here are some more articles to read if you would like.

1.  The first is on mercola.com and is on the dangers of drinking distilled water.  In a nutshell, the article shows that distillation removes all minerals from the water and since minerals are crucial to ones health, this method of purification is not healthy.

2.  The second article is written by Gene Franks, the owner of Pure Water Products.  He discusses reverse osmosis technology and compares it with distilled water in a no-nonsense manner that is very typical of his business style.  To avoid keeping you in suspense any longer, our family chose to go with Pure Water Products and a reverse osmosis system that they recommended.

4.  REVERSE OSMOSIS:  To be fair, even once the decision to get a reverse osmosis was made, we still had to decide which type.  They are sold all over the place and there are different types and different prices.  But if you read Mr. Franks’ article, you will see part of what made going with his company an easy decision to make.  He took a good bit of time on the phone with me to walk me through the pros and cons of his system versus the others that I had been contemplating and well, his reasoning was easy to follow, he made a lot of sense and he was not pressuring me into anything.  In fact, I was considering a water softener as well, but he talked me out of it! :-)

We purchased a reverse osmosis system that uses our multi-pure carbon filter as one of its filters (we had already pre-paid for these and Gene said that they were a great filter and we should save money and keep them) and then we put a remineralizing cartridge on the filter as well.  We additionally purchased a whole house filter to remove chlorine and sediment as the negative health effects of chlorine in water are something that I wanted to avoid.

Now, I do not receive any financial compensation from Mr. Franks for referring people to his company.  I just think he does a great job and would like to help others “wade through” the deep murky waters of making your drinking water safe.  It took us a lot of time and stress and I hope that I have helped to reduce both of these for you.

Oh, and did I mention that Pure Water Products’ prices are really good?  Besides the information available on alkalinized water units being sketchy at best, they cost approximately $1,200 on the low end.  That’s a lot of money to put down for something that may or may not be beneficial to your health.  I think we paid about $250 for our unit from Pure Water Products.  And that included free shipping!

Costco also carries some reverse osmosis units that Mr. Franks said were worth considering, but some of those have expensive replacement cartridges. Typically I drive a pretty hard bargain and go for the lowest price, but in this case, I considered Mr. Frank’s expertise really something worth paying for.  If you call him I think you will too :-).

In a post in the near future we will discuss selecting water bottles so that you can carry your clean pure water around with you in a healthy and fun way.  See you then!

How have you chosen to purify your water?  Or if you haven’t already, what do you think you will do?

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  1. Thank you for your interesting and practical blog. I have a question about the class of water filters using carbon filters (like the Berkey water filter I’ve seen reviewed on similar health and whole foods blogs). Can you share the pros and cons of this type of water filter vs the reverse osmosis?

    • Hi. I have been meaning to re-do this post for awhile — and I will. In a nutshell, the Berkey and other carbons will not take out everything. They significantly reduce contaminants, but they do not completely remove them. One of the contaminants that I am really concerned about right now is Chromium 6. I contacted Berkey and they do not know if their filter removes it or not. It is a very problematic cancer-causing chemical. RO is, in my opinion, the best choice, but you need to add minerals in on the back end. I hope that helps.

  2. Cheeryshirley says:

    Adrienne ~ Just read this disturbing post! Sigh. We are currently using Aquasana and having the carbon filters mailed to us every 6 months. We, like you, researched extensively and this came within our price range. Previously, I did have a reverse osmosis, but the upkeep was high and it did not taste very good…but, that was back in the late 80′s. I, also, had a huge distiller…loud, humid, and couldn’t put out enough for my “drinking habit”! :) How much are the reverse osmosis machines now? Are they high up-keep? I do not even remember how they worked :( But, with my insecticide poisoning and my husbands Multiple Sclerosis, water is very important to us! Wouldn’t it be wonderful to just turn on the faucet? Sigh. I wonder if Aquasana’s filtering system is adequate? Thanks for all your work and research! Cheeryshirley

    • Hi Shirley! Sorry that this post isn’t the greatest. I really need to redo it. Anyway, I would call Mr. Franks at Pure Water – he’s really good with this stuff. His are very reasonable and there is another from Watts that is reasonable, but Mr. Franks said you need to be careful b/c some of the Watts ones are “no waste” water (which makes the rest of your water even dirtier) and some have really expensive cartridges. The water passes through membranes. I love it and have a remineralizing cartridge on the end. I think it was about $275. He would know about the Aquasana I would think. He can also tell you the upkeep price. We have a carbon filter on our (maybe he could do the same w/ your Aquasana) and so we only replace the RO filters every 2 years. If you remember I’d love to hear what he says.

  3. Cheeryshirley says:

    Oh dear! I didn’t mean your writing was disturbing…it was the facts! I am so very weary of being “duped” and not knowing who to trust or where to turn! Tired of being poisoned with “food grade” water/food/products/lotions, etc! We will be talking to Mr. Franks soon and will definitely let you know what he says. Thank you for always taking the time to help us out! :) Anxious to know if Aquasana is O.K.! Cheeryshirley

  4. Cheeryshirley says:

    You know, I just realized that I subscribed to your RSS feed a bit back and it doesn’t come through…would love to get your new posts! I’ve read many of your older ones to my husband and we both enjoy them and appreciate the incredible research you’ve done and are willing to share with us to help us on our way! Looking forward to your e-book on soaking…do you still soak? Still thinking about that one…:) I have to be very careful! Thank you, Cheeryshirley

    • Shirley, I haven’t written since this past week due to a ton of issues going on here……I hope to have a post up on Wed and my linkup will go live tomorrow and I will have a post live on Thurs as well. That might be why you aren’t getting anything in the feed? Just check to see if there are posts and if those aren’t showing up in your feed then we can try to figure that out. Yes, I do still soak, but personally I am off grains now. So I am soaking my nuts and seeds. I am soaking grains for the rest of the family. I think it is very important. I’ll be writing more about it in the future.

  5. My husband and I have been researching this exact issue since moving to our new home. There is chromium 6 and barium in our water here and I have a toddler and am looking to become pregnant again soon. We looked into the RO with remineralization, however we were unable to find one that was NSF or otherwise certified so that I was confident that it didn’t put other unwanted substances back into the water after the RO took them out. Another concern that I have with remineralization is that often times there are only 3-4 minerals it adds back in. However, there are far more trace minerals that our bodies need. So, for now, we are drinking very expensive bottled water that contains minerals and comes in BPA free bottles. I would much prefer to find a good filter to remove the specific things we have, while keeping our minerals. Doulton was another option, but alas when we asked for certification or proof that they removed the barium they were unable to provide us with this. This is the first blog I have ever posted on, but this is truely a frustrating topic.

    • Hello Wendy.

      I encourage you to stick around. I didn’t ask for certification of RO but I understand your concerns and I was concerned about the remineralization myself. One idea is mineral drops added to the water. I wonder about that. I also am looking into another filter so stay tuned :-). I’ll check into the barium. Good detail work!

  6. I purchase RO water at a local health food store for 39 cents a gallon. I have two 3 gallon plastic jugs which sit in a stone crock on the counter. I’ve been doing this for about 7 years. The store is conveniently located and I think keeping the water in plastic for a few days before I drink it (some of the time it’s sitting int the crock) is reasonable. It’s filtered right there as it goes into the customer’s bottle.

    • Just a note – I would make sure you are using OK plastic for storing your water as some is 1 time use only plastic and can leach BPA. Also, I think my RO cost (for replacement of membranes) is only about 11 cents per gallon so it might really be worth it for you to get a filtration system in your home. :-).

  7. Mmmm…thanks for your note, but I am only one person, so the cost of $3 per week is way less than I’d ever spend buying and maintaining the system. The plastic jugs are a “7″ (number on the bottom) Of course I’d rather use glass but I can’t lift them. I have Aquasana filters on the shower. The thing that escapes me is how do I filter the bath water? A does not make a one-size fits all spigot filter. Hmmmm….

    • You could fill up the bath w/ your shower head :-). I think you might be right on the expense of the system. You could always call Pure Water Products and ask what they think. They are very honest there and won’t try to sell you anything you don’t need. :)

  8. Hi Adrienne, thank you for this post. I’ve been looking into water filters also and am overwhelmed by all the options, so thank you for doing the research!

    Regarding remineralization – I’ve read the arguments against distilled water, but I’ve also read that the minerals in water are so trace and readily available in a normal diet that it shouldn’t be of concern. What are your thoughts on that?

    Thank you again! I’m glad to have found your website.

    • I’ve heard the same things. For right now I am content w/ the RO w/ remineralization. I am looking at another option as well, but am just not sure. I think we just have to pick one and be good for it for now.

  9. I was wondering if anyone knows a good place to get your water tested besides the state. I thought Dr Mercola had one on his site but I looked and couldn’t find it.

  10. Your water post and links have been the most informative and easiest to understand. I’ve gotten my children to like drinking clean water. Buying bottled water wasn’t the long-term plan. A few months ago, I was looking for a water filter for my kitchen. Then started reading about water ionizers. Then about reverse osmosis. It became very confusing thing. There was so many brands too. I haven’t gotten a thing yet. Thank you for writing this!

  11. Hi, Adrienne!
    Do you know something about water pitchers? Which one do you think is the best? I am really confuse with all of these water filters. I got Brita couple of months ago, but was reading it’s not very good choice.
    Thank you!

    • I don’t really like them b/c they tend not to filter out that much. When I got my first filter years ago I got a faucet mount for that reason. Would you consider that?

      • I have a “Zero Water” water pitcher. The manufacter claims that for the first 500 gallons or so it leaves you with 0 ppm. There’s a little testor that comes with it that’s supposed to make you have warm fuzzies that the product is removing junk.

        Whatever, it gets rid of the sulpher smell (Florida “Panhandle”) and probably costs about $0.36 per gallon.

  12. Hi, Adrienne! I know this is an old article, but I remembered it while looking at a Big Berkey, and I think you just saved me a bunch of money here! I looked at Pure Water Products site, and I do believe it is the better deal, especially as I can purchase a siphon filter at a later time for emergency use if necessary (and it costs less than 1/4 of the Berkey and is smaller and more convenient to boot!

    I do have a question, though. I am looking at the 3 under-sink units, and I am curious as to which product you purchased. Obviously it’s been a few years, so the prices may have gone up a bit with inflation, but I just can’t determine which would be best. I do plan to call and talk to them, but just wanted to know which option you went with.

    Thanks!

    • How much is the Berkey? I thought it was about $250 and the RO is about the same price….am I wrong?

      I purchased one that was sort of custom as I had a carbon filter already…speaking of which I need to call and get a new one of those – thanks! Please tell Gene I referred you if you call them. I don’t get a commission, but he would appreciate it- thanks!

  13. Will do! The Berkey is about $250. I was also going to add flouride filters, bringing it to about $280. The “Black and White” RO system looks to be about $370. I was talking about emergency water filtration, which the Berkey covers, but not the RO system. However on the Pure Water Products site, they sell a siphon-style emergency water filter for about $60, which is far more economical than the Berkey, and I do believe that over the long run, the RO unit would be much cheaper for home water filtration. Thanks for your quick response!

  14. Thank you for your great article, we invested in a water filtration system made bye Culligan it is called the Culligan AC-30 Good Water Machine. It has a Pre-stage Sediment Filter, Reverse Osmosis Filter, Post-stage Carbon Filters. Just wondered what your thoughts on these are? Thank you again for your article, I think it is an important thing to be concerned about in the overly chemical world we now live in.

  15. Do you recommend a whole house filter?
    Costco now sells them, have you done any research on them?

    Thanks for your time that you give to your bog, I love it!

    • Thanks! What kind of filter are you talking about?

      • Adrienne, we have multi-pure carbon. i figured i could always switch to multi-pure RO if i changed my mind. i worry often about the water since multi-pure doesn’t filter out the flouride and i have young kids, one with autism. We didn’t get the RO because the multi-pure guy brought an article with a study or theory (it’s been a couple of yrs, now) stating that RO causes cancer. He seemed honest since he’d make more $ off of the RO and encouraged us to get the carbon. i just signed up for their 10 yr plan, also; only cuz they said i could stop it at any time BTW (!). it sounds as if it’s cheaper to get them from multipure, anyway, from what u are saying?

        i’ve heard often how PH is so important and wondered if I’d ever research and decide I need to us another kind of water so it’s so confusing that i’ve just sat tight and stuck with the carbon. i’m in Phoenix, AZ, so it would be great to know how much flouride and other junk is in the water.

        i liked multipure’s certification process. i hate to make a big change if u are not settled on your decision, yet! pls keep us informed!!

        thx for doing this search. i always said that water is controversial. jees! i’ll contact Mr. Franks

        • You can stop it at anytime? How does that work? Do they give you a refund? I wasn’t told that. I have never heard of RO causing cancer. What was the reasoning? The removal of minerals from the water? I have a remineralization cartridge on my water system. That being said, I am looking at one other type of filter as well. If you talk w/ Mr. Franks, please tell him I sent you – thanks!

          • have you heard of Pi water? i went onto a yahoo group listing for asthma and one person said they or their son hadn’t had allergies or asthma since drinking Pi water.

        • I’m researching water-filters at the moment. I too, am interested to know why they said RO causes cancer? The guy that was trying to sell me RO said that RO produces acid-water. So, my guess, the link to cancer is that cancer cell thrives in an acid environment. That’s why you’re supposed to ‘alkaline’ your body. He said you could also add (buy) an ‘alkalizer’ to your RO to make it alkaline-water. Or just add baking-soda to save money, apparently it does the same thing. Our body/blood pH level needs to be slightly alkaline between 7.35 – 7.45, too akaline is also not good. You can google all this info.

          Adrienne, I’m interested to know whether you’ve done research on the “remineralization cartridge”? What’s in it? Is it wholefood based or something synthetic? The last thing you want is to add synthetic minerals into your water.

          I can’t make up my mind yet and I have question marks regarding all these extra “additives” (re-mineralization, alkalizer, etc) that we’re adding back into the water.
          Then, there’s the issue of plastic – storing the water in plastic (water reservoir part) and the ‘housing’ for the filter is also ‘plastic’, I asssume. Even though it is BP-A safe, we now learn that BPA can be swapped for BP-S, which is just as toxic as BP-A. (google Dr Mercola’s article).

          • I’m not sure about the remineralization cartridge–good question. This is what it says it includes: “calcite and coconut shell carbon “. Sounds good to me–what do you think?

  16. Thanks for the information! I’ve been doing research about whole house filtration and I look forward to speaking to Mr. Franks. Are you still happy with your system? Would you change anything? What kind of update to this post are you referring to? Much thanks!

    • Yes, I am still happy. We are considering another kind of filter but there are drawbacks either way. We just bought a softening system from him that doesn’t use salt. It isn’t installed yet. I’ll be posting hopefully soon on the other filtration but honestly, there are pros and cons of both.

  17. Hi Adrienne, I came across your website by searching for how to make rice milk, and then found your article on water filter. I am struggling with the choice too, thank you for sharing. I haven’t seen your updated article come out yet, would you please share the other filter/brand you are considering?

    I will look into Pure Water Products. Wish they are NSF certified or WQA certified…What do you think of Pelican filter and softner combo?

    Thank you very much and your website is a great resources for moms!

    • I am looking at Berkey. I would call Gene at PWP and ask him about the NSF, etc. It is all really confusing. Ideally I would like to drink only high quality spring water but I can’t afford that.

      • Adrienne, thank you so much for your quick response. Mr. Franks responded quickly too, he said he has products with parts NSF certified but not the entire thing. I wait to hear his recommendation for my area.

        Have you looked at Pelican? The combo sounds really good, but it’s expensive and I don’t know if it’s really good.

        I did look into Berkey. Two things make me cautious (1) If it’s that good, why it does not seek being certified? (2) Amazon reviewer commented that Berkey sells Sprite’s shower filter at a higher price with no product label.

        Both Pelican and Berkey seems to buy domains on Internet. Once you searched they are there all time, which made the whole research hard. Thanks again for sharing and look forward to your new update!

        • Here is the reply from the Berkey dealer I am working with. Hope it helps!

          As for the certification, it’s simply a cost issue. To get certified and then with the yearly fee, NSF certification is very expensive for a small company like Berkey. So, the company simply chooses to publish test results from NSF and EPA certified labs to provide that level of testing confidence.

          As for the shower filter, this is not a Sprite shower fiilter. It uses KDF media though which is pretty much the indstry standard for shower filters.

  18. What is the name / brand of the remineralizing cartridge you use? Where can you come by these?

    • I bought it from Pure Water Products – the link is in the post – thanks!

      • Hi Adrienne, I was rereading your article as the mulitpure postcard just came in the mail asking if i want to stop or continue receiving filters. I also just noticed a white spot on my 6 yo son (with autism)’s adult tooth. darn it. i wanted to avoid flouride so badly but was talked into the carbon filter with the cancer scare and figured i’d prob do RO later and go back and forth and at least if i mixed it up I wouldn’t get too much or too little of things… If it weren’t for your article I’d order RO from Mulitpure right away but I think I’ll give Frank a call, (and knowing me that will confuse me more. lol). I also just tasted vortex water (structured water) from a women’s house and for $1500 she will never have to buy a filter, again. her whole house is now softened and uses no salt. not RO, so no water waiste, i believe. i feel rushed to make a decision, now, with my son’s tooth and have 2 other young children with baby teeth, still (and with the postcard from mulitpure). $1500 is a lot of money for me to spend the time researching if i’m in a rush, so i’ll likely go RO for now. I’ve started with aquaponics, so the structured water sounds ideal otherwise.

        lastly, Frank talked u out of a water softener but I read that u got one later? do u still feel his advice is mostly valid? thx!

        • Yes I do. When I talked w/ him first our city water was testing at a 6.5. Now, a few years later, it is at an 8 and we had to pay for a plumber to un gunk our toilets from water residue. I can only imagine what is going on in our water heater, etc. We have it installed now. I consider him to be very honest and the cost, plus install was less than what local salt softener companies wanted plus I don’t have to get salt. Ever! :).

          • I called Mr. Frank today. Maybe I’m confused He said he sold u a whole house filter. he told me to look up compact whole house filters. i did and the prices for filters and the smaller systems seem reasonable. that is mainly to take out chlorine he said. he said he does sometimes recommend water softeners for places like AZ, where I’m at. I didn’t know they have installations since they are in TX. that’s great to know! i’ll likely go with the 3 filter basic RO system with him and ask if there is a discount if i also buy a whole house system or water softener. I didn’t know u could test the hardness of water. we go through dishwashers pretty fast, but have a 5 yr warrantee, now, so might not be an issue otherwise. the RO system from multipure is too large to fit under our sink. the filters are so much more. i saw the research u did on essential oils and got to see your heart with the messiness of things. with that, I respect how u look at things and if u already did your research on this company, I think I’ll follow along here. oh, btw-he said he hasn’t heard of structured water and it might be one of the water treatments that he’s seen come and go but overall, he tried to not talk badly about it, just sticking to the facts of what he knows. seems like a good guy.

            • I did get a whole house but that was a Cl and sediment. I think I mentioned that. Is there something else you were wondering about? I agree – seems like a good honest guy. Take care :).

  19. Dee Johnson says:

    We have a Berkey and love it. There are extra filters (other than the black ones) that are white and will ‘filter out’ other contaminants like fluoride. When we had to use our city water, we got a set. Now that we are back on our well water, we removed them. I’m wondering now if we should re-install them. I wonder if the white ones take out the Chromium 6 you spoke of in the comment below. Thanks for the great info. :)