There are lots of reasons to use water filters. They can make water taste better, remove major and minor contaminants and purify water to the point where it is safe to drink. The downside: Water filters need to be replaced often, leaving you with a big hunk of material that may seem destined for the trashcan. Some water filters can be recycled without much effort. Others are harder to deal with. If you are considering a new water filtration system, it is worth checking with the manufacturer first to find out if its filters are recyclable. Below, we share information about a couple common brands (plus some water filter 101) to get you started.
Different water filters serve different purposesWater filters come in several different forms. The most common are filters that fit in specially designed pitchers or over the tap to improve the taste and quality of tap water. Those living in areas with arsenic in their water must have water filters, which are often mounted on the counter or under the sink. Backpacking enthusiasts or people traveling to different countries may have powerful portable water filters so they can drink water from lakes or wells without danger. If your refrigerator has a water and ice dispenser in the door, it will be equipped with a water filter as well. More than a dozen water-filtering technologies exist. Here are the ones homeowners are likely to use:
- Carbon, including carbon block and granulated activated carbon — Water passes through a block of carbon, which removes contaminants. Filters of different types and compositions can do anything from improving the taste of water to removing seriously harmful elements like lead and mercury.
- Ion exchange — Water runs over a plastic material that exchanges unwanted ions for more favorable ones. These are often used for “softening” water in areas where there is a lot of calcium or magnesium in the water.
- Reverse osmosis — This is what you need if you have arsenic or other dangerous compounds in your water. The filter forces water through a semipermeable membrane and stops everything bigger than a water particle. These types of filters can waste quite a bit of water, so they are not the best choice for everyone (especially those of us in drought-ridden areas).