The Low Down On Green Living
May 4th, 2009
About a year ago, we installed a reverse osmosis water filter in our home. We weren’t particularly concerned about any specific contaminant, but just wanted to make sure we were drinking and cooking with safe, clean water. In this last year, we’re not as happy about the water filter as we thought we’d be. First of all, we don’t have the correct pressure in our household pipes to adequately pump our water through the filter system, so the water practically trickles out. We leave a pitcher under the faucet to let it fill while we’re doing other things. Second, reverse osmosis filters waste about 3-4 gallons of water for every gallon of filtered water it creates. That’s not very efficient! And lastly, we’re a bit dismayed that the filter takes out all the good and beneficial minerals like calcium, potassium and magnesium. We have other friends who add natural sea salt back into their water to make up for that, but we’re not willing to drink salty water.
So that leaves us with a system that wastes water, removes the stuff we want, but basically gets rid of all the stuff we don’t want - not very ideal. We keep coming across counter top gravity water filters that may be a great alternative though. They’ve been around for a number of years, but either just weren’t all that well-known or most likely, weren’t marketed very well. Gravity or drip water filters rely on the same principle that your Brita or Pur water filter uses, but on a larger scale. They sit on your counter top or a stand exactly like your water cooler would, and many of them look beautiful too. You simply pour water from your sink in through the top and let gravity power the filtration process.
If you haven’t already done so, test your culinary water with a test kit to determine what kinds of contaminants you’re dealing with - maybe you don’t need to filter your water at all. The main contaminants you’re looking to remove are:
- Chlorine and chloramines
- Volatile Organic Compounds (pesticides, herbicides, etc.)
- Heavy metals (Lead, Mercury, Aluminum, Cadmium, Chromium, Copper)
- Bacterial and viruses (Giardia and Cryptosporidium)
- General Sediment
Once you know what you’re dealing with, you can choose your filter better or upgrade for specific contaminants. Chlorine and VOCs are some of the most harmful toxins, so make sure your filter can take care of those.
One of our favorite gravity feed water filters is the OVOPUR, by Aquaovo. It’s sleek, egg-shaped counter top design is beautiful and functional all at the same time. The activated carbon, quartz, copper and zinc filter will last 4 months or up to 530 gallons of water. It is constructed from a white lead-free porcelain and would make a beautiful addition to anyone’s home. They also make a smaller version called the Ovobar.
Doulton has been making water filters for years now and has a number of different models from stainless steel to ceramic or stoneware counter top filters. The British Berkfield model has two SuperSterasyl self-sterilizing ceramic elements made from diatomaceous earth, silver and activated carbon. This filter should last about 6 months and can be cleaned by hand if it gets dirty with sediment. While the Berkfield looks a bit too much like a coffee urn for us, we really like their Jade Stoneware Model, which filters up to 6 gallons a day.
Our other favorite is the beautiful terracotta filter by Stefani, which not only filters your water but also naturally cools it by evaporation. There are a number of different models available, but our favorite is a French Provence inspired design, which will last for 6 months or 300 gallons of water. The granular activated charcoal filter is made from coconut shells and a KDF media are made in Brazil. Stefani may not be producing this exact model anymore, but they have many styles for sale on their website.
Prices for these counter top water filters range anywhere from $189 to $620, and additional filters cost anywhere from $59 to $180. Reverse osmosis systems are about the same price as a gravity filter, but when you factor in the fact that these filters don’t cost any money to run like a traditional reverse osmosis filter, they don’t take away the beneficial minerals and they don’t waste water, the gravity feed system seems like the better choice. These gravity feed water filters are so efficient and effective that they are being used in third world countries to provide safe drinking water to those that have no access.
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