Water, water everywhere. And not a drop to drink.
Choosing the best water purification system.
That’s what this post is about.
Something that should be simple.
I have spent more time than I wanted, looking for a reliable alternative to my AQUASANA Counter Water Filter; which, underneath their cloudy claims, is not NSF certified. They are California certified but that certification shows they remove very few contaminants, about the same # as a cheap $20 faucet water filter would. Namely Aquasana doesn’t remove Mercury, and Fluoride.
Now, Some people want fluoride in their water, and that is fine… more power to you, I personally don’t want it in my water. (To preemptively ward-off the fluoride lovers/cult who always pops up when people dare question not having fluoride in their water, if you want my stance on fluoride, do a search on my blog and you’ll find a post I wrote specifically on fluoride).
Anyhow so I’ve been looking at a ton of choices in the last 24 hours. I’m compulsive that way. It really is staggering, how difficult it is to find a certified product that does something as simple as remove Mercury and Fluoride as well as bacteria, and other contaminants.
I’ve learned enough in the last 24 hours, to earn my PHD in the subject. And the main thing I’ve learned… is there is no really good alternative. Well let me correct that there is one good alternative theoretically, but not practically.
A reverse Osmosis system with a Solid carbon Block filtration stage. That’s it, over all the other systems… loose carbon filter, ultraviolet systems, gravity systems, and just reverse osmosis systems… the solid block RO is the holy grail.
But before pulling the trigger I like reading the comments of people who didn’t like a product, so I surf the review sites. Specifically for reviews of A Solid Carbon, Reverse Osmosis water filtration system.
Most of the time you can discount consumer placed online/shopping reviews, particularly the negative ones. They are typically posted by idiots (usually with only one comment or only negative comments) complaining about slow shipping, or the fact they didn’t read the description correctly and want to blame the product for their illiteracy. Reading a lot of reviews I would say 90% of the time… negative posters are not the sharpest knives in the draw.
However you occasionally get the other 10%. An informed, consumer/fan written review.
Specifically I stumbled across just such a negative review in regards to the water filter ($330+) I was considering buying. His review was well written, straight to the point, and clear on the reason he didn’t like it. Basically he stated that his RO tank that held the freshly purified water… was actually a plastic that was leaching into the water.
That was his guess.
But is it accurate? Well since I’m in my compulsive mode I decided to find out. The short answer is yes.
The container that virtually all ROs (Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration Machines) utilize is an internal plastic liner. Now that’s not as horrible as it sounds because in the better tanks, the lining is made out of a type 5 plastic called Polypropylene. It’s the best plastic and the only one that does not significantly leach into water over time. (for your information most bottled water uses the cheaper plastic that breaks down 1/in sunlight and 2/overtime. So that water you’ve been storing in plastic jugs for the apocalypse, either move it to glass quickly or toss it out).
So that’s the good news. It is possible to get a tank with a relatively safe liner.
Here’s the bad news. Inside of that liner is a bladder that the water is held in and comes in contact with. It’s made out of Butyl. A component of something you don’t want in your water , which is MTBE, basically a fossil derivative, not much different then what they use to make dolls and tires out of. Now MTBE in no way shape or form should be anywhere near water.
So the question is: how safe is Butyl by itself to house water and act as a container for your expensive filtration system? The answer: There is no documentation, I could find regarding water and over time exposure leaching with Butyl.
However if that’s what is in the tank that was negatively reviewed, and most peoples’ RO tank, that could explain that stale/plastic taste that some RO users report. The plastic of your very water filter, is contaminating the water you’ve just filtered.
It’s so disheartening, here I am not a scientist, but with just a cursory look and cursory research, I can determine that someone spending good money for the quality of their water, perhaps would not want that compromised by plastic and petrol byproducts, that are going to leach over time, into the very water they’ve spent a good sum to purify.
From $40 faucet system to $500 Ro/Solid Carbon systems it’s almost laughable how each one is designed with a point of failure, to ultimately defeat the very reason you’re getting it. These companies, should all be ashamed.
So what does that leave us?
Well, unless you know someone who can design you a safe tank, to more than likely include the filter containers, everything solid stainless steel, inside and out, a bladder-less system, or a bladder made of something that won’t leach into the water, well until that happens you’re spending a lot of money on a flawed system.
Distillation would be a good alternative, but even the Distillers that say ‘American made’ are made in China. And China’s quality control being what it is, the distiller will probably have an aluminum interior and add more contaminants than it removes. In addition almost none of the distillers are certified in any way, so you have only the manufacturers word it’s even effective.
Getting water devoid of additives you don’t want, in a supposedly developed nation, should not be this difficult. It shouldn’t be impossible, and 24 hours of research later… all I can say is… it largely is.
Unless you have the filter built to your specifications by a company you trust, or you are handy enough to build it yourself… you are relegated to drinking little better than tap water, regardless of your choice of filter.
Well, following my own advice I’m going to look for that certified stainless steel Distiller and or RO/Solid Carbon filter, or make it.
It can be a project for my next 24 hours. 🙂 (unless someone here has discovered the holy grail of filters, and if that’s the case drop me a line).
Well hope all this has helped, at least save you some running around, and maybe clarify your choices. Till later, be well.
excellent post – did you ever find a solution?
I’ve been stuck on choosing a water filtration (that also filters out chloramine) for a long time. Which system did you end up getting?
Hi Emilie, yeah it’s a search that still goes on. The distillers I’ve used before had quality issues that added more problems than they claimed to solve. For the tap I currently use Pur, just because the filters claim to leach out Mercury which is something other filters tend to ignore. But it is not a solution I’m happy with as the Pur filter’s leave in Fluoride. A distiller I’m planning to try due to its claimed stainless steel construction and use of a glass container (as opposed to plastic containers that leach into the water) and its high positive reviews is Megahome Countertop Water Distiller, Stainless Steel, Glass Bottle. Once I’ve tried it, I’ll post my review, either positive or negative. Thanks!
I recently installed the APEC RO system. What I have found is that you can bypass the tank entirely and have the filtered water come out directly into a glass jug. This should work for all RO systems.
1. Turn off the tank valve. This will put the RO in the same condition as if the tank is full, ie, water cannot be pushed to the tank line anymore.
2. Open the RO water faucet. This will drop the pressure in the RO unit and water will come in from the input line and go out in the RO faucet after all the filter steps.
3. Put a glass jar/carboy and let the water fill up (it’ll be slow, but not as slow as you would think).
This procedure is listed in the manual as one of the troubleshooting steps, so it’s not a hack but an officially supported method. I even called the manufacturer (excellent support) and they confirmed it’ll work in this manner.
If you are concerned about the tank, the best solution is to install the RO system without the tank (or install with the tank but don’t use it, or use it infrequently) and simply use a large glass jug to hold the water manually on demand. It’s slightly more work but I think this will provide you with the best quality water without any potential risk associated with the tank and its material.
If you choose to install the RO system without the tank, make sure you terminate the tank line securely (as to not produce any leaks in the future as the line will be under pressure). One solution would be to use the provided tank valve (without the tank) as a secure way to terminate that line (with the valve closed). But do open the valve and flush out some water in the line periodically.
If you install with the tank but don’t use it, make sure you use/flush out the tank periodically. The basic idea is don’t have water sitting idly in one place for extended period of time.
3 years later, have you found that holy grail of water filters?
I haven’t unfortunately. The solid block filtration systems still have all the questionable components mentioned, as well as being expensive. So these days, depending on the water quality, I use a layered approach. A faucet water filter, boiling, pitcher water filter, and when traveling a UV sterilizer. Hope this helps.
Hello. I found your post on Amazon. I’ve been looking into RO sytems for a bit.
Question: Most RO systems include a post filter – which filters the water as it goes from the tank to the faucet. Wouldn’t this filter out most, if not all, the butyl and other plastics leached from the tank into the water?