Testing Water Filters

Natural Baby Mama Toxins, Water, Water, Your Home

 

There has been a lot of talk about water filters. Trying to decide on the best filter for your house and your water is tricky. How do you know it’s going to work like a company says it is going to. Our closed group decided to pool funds and test a few water filters. If you just want to skip to the recommended filter please read my post about what I recommend.  The companies tested were (see bottom of post for discount codes from these companies):

Friends of Water (FOW) – this is the filter system I have had for about 4 years. We have a whole house filter and an additional under the kitchen sink filter for added fluoride removal. As I understood it, a whole house system will not remove all the fluoride so an additional filter in your kitchen is needed.

FOW doesn’t make their own filter but they buy from different companies. This is what I liked about FOW. They are able to go out and get what they feel are the best filters available. FOW offers two types of fluoride filters. One is bone char carbon which contains animal bones (all carbon filters use bone char) heated up to a high level to remove any contanimants. The other filter they sell is Activated Alumina which doesn’t have any animal products if that is a concern for you.

Pure Effect (PE) – this company was brought up in the closed group. PE makes their own filters here in the USA. They use components from mostly the USA. The pieces that are from China aren’t touching the filters. They make sure everything is lead free as well. I like that they can customize the filter to be what they feel is the best filter. They only sell bone char carbon filters as they don’t feel the Activated Alumina filters as well.

We tested two different water sources before and after filtration. The first is my own water in the Seattle area. I actually went ahead and bought a carbon filter and paid out of my pocket for a third test because I was curious about the results between the activated alumina and the carbon for the FOW system. I removed my whole house filter so that we were only testing under the kitchen sink filters.

The second test was water from the Boston area with the PE Countertop Ultra carbon system.

Again, both tests are for the kitchen systems only. The FOW filters were brand new and the PE filters were about 4 months old.

I didn’t test a Reverse Osmosis system because it depletes the water and leaves it “dead”. If you have an RO system you need to be adding minerals back in. I also am not ok with the amount of water it wastes. Also, I am equally not ok dumping waste water back into our water supply with higher levels of toxins. For that reason, on this round of testing, I did not test an RO system.

At the bottom of this post is a list of the approximately 275 things we tested for in the water. We tested with Kar Lab’s which is a certified lab. For most people fluoride and lead are important contaminates to remove. Chlorine is another people are concerned about removing. You can’t mail off a sample to test for chlorine as it doesn’t stay in the water long enough. There are home kits you can buy to sample chlorine. Also keeping in good minerals that your body needs is also important. I’ll post each system below only with the items that didn’t come back as none detect. So if you don’t see the chemical or mineral listed below each system then that means it came back as ND.

The comparison results are compared to the unfiltered water which was drawn the same day as the filtered water was drawn. All units are mg/l (ppb i.e. parts per billion) unless otherwise noted. ND equals non detect. Remember these are parts per billion so when you see .5 or .02 that’s in ppb so we are talking relatively small numbers.

I’ve been told multiple times that getting testing errors with water can be common.

I am not a water analysis expert. I am listing everything that was given to me so that you can make your own informed decision. I wish I could upload the excel file (it would have saved me many hours as well) but it was not possible.

If you don’t want all the details and are only curious about my recommendations just skip over this next section down to My Thoughts.

My FOW under kitchen sink with an Activated Alumina fluoride filter (Seattle Area Water).

Good:

Calcium went from 9.5 to 8.2, so 86.32% of the calcium stayed in the water

Magnesium total increased 100% from .4 to .8

PH stayed about the same from 7.4 to 7.5

Potassium, total increased from .1 to 2.3

Zinc increased from ND to .02

Bad:

Bacteria, coliform – positive. It doesn’t give an amount just that it is present. On a side note I contact my water district about this because it is present in my unfiltered as well and they said that they test daily around our area. They have had one positive reading in 10 years. They felt this could be a testing error. They did come out to my house and noticed that my chlorine level was a bit low on the street. I’m going to follow up with a local lab and test again because I am not ok with this.

Fluoride decreased 16.67% from .72 to .60. Not an acceptable result in my book.

Others:

Alkalinity (as CaCO3) was reduced 9% from 22 to 20

Aluminum – none detected – I’m making note of this because their was some concern that activated alumina can add aluminum to the water which it did not.

Bicarbonate (as CaCO3) was reduced 9% from 22 to 20

Bromodichloromethane reduced from 4.3 to none detected at less than 0.5

Carbonate (as CaCO3) went from 0.05 to 0.06 – an increase of 0.01

Chloride was reduced 11.5% from 2.6 to 2.3

Chloroform reduced 89.76% from, 42 to 4.3

Conductivity increased 6.5% from 61 to 65

Corrosively, Ryznar Index increased .9% from 10.6 to 10.7

Hardness decreased 6.3% from 25.4 to 23.8

Hardness (gpg) decreased 6.67% from 1.5 to 1.4

Iron, total removed from .02 to ND

Orthophosphate was ND at less than .1 unfiltered and increased to .2

Silica was reduced 27.67% from 4.7 to 3.4

Sulfate increased 150% from 2 to 5

Sulfur, total, by ICP increased 200% from .6 to 1.8

Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) increased from 40.9 to 43.6 (6.6%). TDS is a measure used in RO systems. They use it to show removal levels. You want TDS in your water otherwise if it is zero then that is what is considered “dead” water

Trihalomethanes, total reduced 90.65% from 46 to 4.3

Turbidity removed from 1.34 to ND

 

My FOW under kitchen sink with a Carbon fluoride filter (Seattle Area Water). Paid personally by me.

Good:

Calcium increased from 9.5 to 9.6

Magnesium total increased 50% from .4 to .6

PH stayed the same at 7.4

Potassium, total increased from .1 to .3

Zinc increased from ND to .02

Bad:

Bacteria, coliform – positive. It doesn’t give an amount just that it is present. On a side note I contact my water district about this because it is present in my unfiltered as well and they said that they test daily around our area. They have had one positive reading in 10 years. They felt this could be a testing error. They did come out to my house and noticed that my chlorine level was a bit low on the street. I’m going to follow up with a local lab and test again because I am not ok with this.

Fluoride decreased 44.44% from .72 to .40. Better than the Activated Alumina but still not an acceptable result in my book.

Others:

Alkalinity (as CaCO3) stayed the same

Aluminum increased from ND at less than .05 to .07

Bicarbonate (as CaCO3) stayed the same at 22

Bromodichloromethane reduced from 4.3 to none detected at less than 0.5

Carbonate (as CaCO3) stayed the same

Chloride was reduced 11.5% from 2.6 to 2.3

Chloroform reduced 89.52% from, 42 to 4.4

Conductivity increased 3.27% from 61 to 63

Corrosively, Ryznar Index stayed the same

Hardness increased 3.9% from 25.4 to 26.4

Hardness (gpg) stayed the same

Iron, total removed from .02 to ND

Orthophosphate ND

Silica was reduced 6.38% from 4.7 to 4.4

Sodium ads. ratio, adjusted increased 50% from .04 to .06

Sodium adsorption ratio increased from .09 to .11

Sodium, total increased from 1 to 1.3

Sulfate increased 50% from 2 to 3

Sulfur, total, by ICP increased 83.3% from .6 to 1.1

Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) increased from 40.9 to 42.2 (3.178%). TDS is a measure used in RO systems. They use it to show removal levels. You want TDS in your water otherwise if it is zero then that is what is considered “dead” water

Trihalomethanes, total reduced 90.43% from 46 to 4.4

Turbidity reduced 8.2% from 1.34 to 1.23

 

My FOW Whole House water filter PLUS Activated Alumina Under Kitchen Sink filter (Seattle Area Water) paid for months prior to this testing by FOW.

A few months prior FOW paid for a water test for my whole house system plus under kitchen sink with Activated Alumina since I was concerned about aluminum. At the point of this test my fluoride filter was about 7-8 months old. I later realized that it should have been replaced a few months prior. I had tested fluoride several times at a local lab and got a ND reading. This test wasn’t as comprehensive but I wanted to include results that might be of interest:

Calcium increased 12.6% from 9.5 to 10.7

Magnesium increased from .04 to .46

Strontium went from ND at less than .01 to .029

Zinc increased from ND at less than .02 to .021

Alkalinity (total as CaCO3) increased 27.27% from 22 to 28

Hardness increased 14.17% from 25.4 to 29

PH stayed the same at 7.4

TSD decreased from 40.9 to 29 (29.1%)

Fluoride decreased 28.57% from .7 to .5. See above, my fluoride filter needed to be replaced. I had previously tested at it showed ND at 1 and 3 months in on the filter. To be noted, replace filters on time!

Chloroform reduced 99.95% from 42 to .019

 

PE Carbon filter Countertop Ultra (Boston Area Water)

Good:

Calcium increased 126.45% from 12.1 to 27.4

Fluoride removed all from .72 to ND. This is a great result.

Magnesium total increased 125% from 3.2 to 7.2

PH went from 7.9 to 7.5

Potassium, total increased 78.57% from 2.8 to 5

Zinc increased from ND to .02

Bad:

Bacteria, coliform – negative (both unfiltered and filtered)

Others:

Alkalinity (as CaCO3) increased 5.4% from 37 to 39

Aluminum ND

Bicarbonate (as CaCO3) increased 5.4% from 37 to 39

Bromodichloromethane reduced from 8.5 to none detected at less than 0.5

Bromoform removed from 1.2 to ND

Carbonate (as CaCO3) decreased 55.5% from .27 to .12

Chloride increased 100% from 97.5 to 195

Chloroform removed all from 19 to ND

Conductivity increased 80.97% from 431 to 780

Corrosively, Langelier Index increased 11.1% from -.9 to -1.0

Corrosively, Ryznar Index decreased 3.09% from 9.7 to 9.4

Dibromochloromethane removed all from 6.8 to ND

Hardness increased 126% from 43.4 to 98.1. I thought this was a strange result.

Hardness (gpg) increased 128% from 2.5 to 5.7

Iron, total removed from .02 to ND

Nitrogen, nitrate increase 66.67% from .3 to .5

Orthophosphate removed to ND from .3

Salinity increased 82.71% from .214 to .391

Silica was reduced 45.2% from 8.4 to 122

Sodium ads. ratio, adjusted increased 20.8% from 2.69 to 3.25

Sodium adsorption ratio increased 7.6% from 4.05 to 4.36

Sodium, total increased 62.15% from 61.3 to 99.4

Sulfate increased 44.4% from 9 to 13

Sulfur, total, by ICP increased 45% from 3.1 to 4.5

Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) increased from 289 to 523 (80.97%). TDS is a measure used in RO systems. They use it to show removal levels. You want TDS in your water otherwise if it is zero then that is what is considered “dead” water

Trihalomethanes, total removed all from 36 to ND

Turbidity stayed the same at 1.34

Other Tests that readers have done on their water (shared with me and given permission to share here):

FOW Whole House filter with Under Sink with Activated Alumina (Santa Cruz Area):

We did not have an unfiltered water test but I was able to pull the data below from the city water testing report.

Chromium, hexavalent removed all from .05 to ND

Copper removed all from .4 to ND

Iron removed all from less than 20 to ND

Lead removed all from less than 2 to ND

Molybdenum, total removed all from 2.1 to ND

Strontium, total removed 99.92% from 245 to .2

Chloride reduced 13.23% from 31 to 26.9

Fluoride removed all from .2 to ND

Hardness increased 6% from 183 to 194

Nitrogen, nitrate removed all from .27 to ND

Sodium reduced 97.13% from 30 to .86

Sulfate reduced 6.8% from 88 to 82

Turbidity removed all from .1 to ND

TSD from 325 to 341

Calcium after was 59.4

Magnesium, total was 11

Potassium, total was 2.5

PH 8.1

FOW Under Kitchen sink with filters for nitrates, arsenic, no fluoride (Arizona – bad water):

We have no test for unfiltered water so again I pulled the city data to include in the numbers below.

Arsenic removed all from 2.9 to ND

Barium removed all from .0407 to ND

Calcium reduced from 82 to 44

Chromium removed all from 3.1 to ND

Copper reduced 88.24% from .17 to .02

Lead reduced 99.57% from 1.4 to .006

Lithium, total .06

Manganese, total .015

Rubidium .023

Sodium reduced from 90 to 84.3

Strontium, total .2

Sulphur 1.7

Bacteria, total coliform – positive

Fluoride .32 – stayed the same, no fluoride filter in system so this is to be expected

Nitrogen, nitrate removed all from 7.7 to ND

Hardness 138

PH 7.5

TDS 555

 

My Thoughts:

There is a lot of data and knowing that these are moving targets makes it hard. We had more tests from FOW than the singular test from PE (where the water wasn’t all that bad).

The PE under kitchen filter did a fantastic job of removing fluoride and if that is your main concern then this is your system.

The FOW whole house and under kitchen sink does a good job when combined with each other. It is a more expensive system than the PE under kitchen sink. PE also offers a whole house system that you could combine with an under kitchen sink.

I like that FOW offers a filter that doesn’t use animal bones. I personally have a hard time with that one. That being said, removing contaminates is my number one priority.

The two systems are a bit different. My FOW under the kitchen sink hooks in to my faucet. So all cold water coming out is filtered. PE has a separate water spicket at your sink. PE has stated this slows the water flow and allows better removal rate of contaminates since it is going through the filter slower. You also won’t have to change filters as frequently as you are only using it for driving and cooking purposes (not washing hands or dishes).

If I didn’t have any filters and only wanted an under the kitchen sink I would go with PEI see a huge value in whole house filters plus under kitchen sink filters. It’s removing contaminates, including chlorine, from your showers, baths, water for brushing teeth, etc. I think either FOW or PE would be a good choice for a whole house system. Remember with a whole house you will need to have an under kitchen sink to get the fluoride removal that is needed.  However, since PE does a better job at removing fluoride, if I was starting over I would buy a PE whole house and under kitchen sink filter.  Bottom line:  PE would be my choice for a new install.  At this point, I’m not going to change over my whole house but most likely will buy PE replacement filters for my under kitchen sink.  I’m doing one more round of testing on my water to see how long my filters are lasting.

PE has a Disinfect system that intriguing to me especially after getting a positive bacteria result.

It’s also a good idea to test your own water to make sure your system is working for you and your water.

 

The direct links for both water filter companies discussed here are:

Pure Effect

Friends of Water has offered this group 5% off – mention Natural Baby Mama to receive the discount.

Give them a call and talk to them and decide what will work best for you and your home. Everyone’s water and situation is different. I feel that both have provided me excellent information. Igor from PE is literally available all the time with any questions I have had and I love that!

 

Which products to buy:

Friends of Water:

FOW will customize what is needed for your water. I have the whole house system plus an under kitchen sink with a wide spectrum plus an additional fluoride filter. If you go with FOW I feel that you need both systems. An under kitchen filter or a whole house

 

Pure Effect:

Their most popular system is their Pure Effect Ultra UC.

The filter I think is intriguing is their Pure Effect DISINFECT . The DISINFECT system is more expensive than the Ultra UC. This system uses UV light & a 0.05 Micron UltraFiltration Membrane to physically block all known bacteria and most other organisms (per PE). After getting a positive bacteria test in my unfiltered and from my under kitchen sink FOW system I have my eye on the DISINFECT system. Igor from PE says this:

“We’ve been seeing more people starting to purchase the DISINFECT Series for the following reasons:

1. To protect in case of water treatment center failure.

2. To provide an extra layer of redundant and protection against the chlorine/chloramine resistant microorganisms, please see this NYT Study:
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/27/science/a-quest-for-even-safer-drinking-water.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

3. In the event of hacker infiltration of our water supplies.”

 

About the testing labs:

I decided to go with Kar Labs after someone in the group had used them. Their turn around time was quick and you don’t have to pay for return shipping. This was actually why I went with them – the savings from shipping was significant. However, after getting the results and comparing them to my previous test with National Testing Labs that FOW paid for, I can now tell that National Testing Labs goes down to much lower values. I had to pay $60 to return my water test though. So for the amount of testing this group was doing it would have been an additional $240 just in shipping fees. Going forward if I test again, or if you want to test your water, I would recommend going with National Testing Labs to get the lowest detectable limits you can.

 

Items tested for by Kar Labs:

1,1,1,2-Tetrachloroethane
1,1,1-Trichloroethane
1,1,2,2-Tetrachloroethane
1,1,2-Trichloroethane
1,1-Dichloroethane
1,1-Dichloroethene
1,1-Dichloropropene
1,2,3-Trichlorobenzene
1,2,3-Trichloropropane
1,2,3-Trimethylbenzene
1,2,4-Trichlorobenzene
1,2,4-Trimethylbenzene
1,2-Dibromo-3-chloropropane
1,2-Dichlorobenzene
1,2-Dichloroethane
1,2-Dichloropropane
1,3,5-Trimethylbenzene
1,3-Dichlorobenzene
1,3-Dichloropropane
1,4-Dichlorobenzene
1-Chlorobutane
2,2,4-Trimethylpentane
2,2-Dichloropropane
2-Butanone
2-Chloroethylvinyl ether
2-Chlorotoluene
2-Hexanone
2-Methylnaphthalene by 524.2
2-Nitropropane
4,4′-DDD
4,4′-DDE
4,4′-DDT
4-Chlorotoluene
4-Methyl-2-pentanone
Acetone
Acetonitrile
Acrolein
Acrylonitrile
Alachlor
Aldrin
Alkalinity (as CaCO3)
Allyl chloride
Alpha-BHC
Aluminum, total
Antimony, total
Arsenic, total
Atrazine
Bacteria, E. coli
Bacteria, total coliform
Barium, total
Benzene
Beryllium, total
Beta-BHC
Bicarbonate (as CaCO3)
Bismuth, total
Boron, total
Bromide
Bromobenzene
Bromochloromethane
Bromodichloromethane
Bromoform
Bromomethane
Butachlor
Butyl acetate
Cadmium, total
Calcium, total
Carbon disulfide
Carbon tetrachloride
Carbonate (as CaCO3)
Cerium, total
Cesium, total
Chlorate
Chlordane, alpha
Chlordane, gamma
Chlordane, trans nonachlor
Chloride
Chloroacetonitrile
Chlorobenzene
Chlorobenzilate
Chlorodifluoromethane
Chloroethane
Chloroform
Chloromethane
Chloroneb
Chloropentafluoroethane
Chromium, hexavalent
Chromium, total
Cis-1,2-Dichloroethene
Cis-1,3-Dichloropropene
Cis-Nonachlor
Cis-Permethrin
Cobalt, total
Color
Conductivity
Copper, total
Corrosivity, Langelier Index
Corrosivity, Ryznar Index
Cyclohexane
Cyclohexanol
DCB
Dacthal
Delta-BHC
Dibromochloromethane
Dibromomethane
Dichlorodifluoromethane
Dieldrin
Diethyl ether
Diisopropyl ether
Dysprosium, total
Endosulfan I
Endosulfan II
Endosulfan sulfate
Endrin
Endrin aldehyde
Erbium, total
Ethyl acetate
Ethyl methacrylate
Ethyl t-butyl ether (ETBE)
Ethylbenzene
Ethylene dibromide
Etridiazole
Europium, total
Fluoride
Gallium, total
Gamma-BHC
Germanium, total
Gold, total
Hafnium, total
Hardness
Hardness (gpg)
Heptachlor
Heptachlor epoxide
Heptane
Hexachlorobutadiene by 524.2
Hexachloroethane by 524.2
Hexane
Holmium, total
Indium, total
Iridium, total
Iron, total
Isobutyraldehyde by 524
Isopropanol
Isopropyl acetate
Isopropylbenzene
Lanthanum, total
Lead, total
Lindane
Lithium, total
Lutetium, total
M-and/or p-xylene
Magnesium, total
Manganese, total
Mercury by EPA 1631
Methacrylonitrile
Methoxychlor
Methyl cyclopentane
Methyl formate
Methyl iodide
Methyl methacrylate
Methyl t-butyl ether (MTBE)
Methylacrylate
Methylene chloride
Metolachlor
Metribuzin
Molybdenum, total
N-Amyl acetate
N-Butanol
N-Butylbenzene
N-Decane
N-Nonane
N-Propanol
N-Propylbenzene
Naphthalene
Neodymium, total
Nickel, total
Niobium, total
Nitrobenzene by 524.2
Nitrogen, nitrate
Nitrogen, nitrite
O-Xylene
Octane
Orthophosphate
P-Isopropyltoluene
PCB Aroclor 1016
PCB Aroclor 1221
PCB Aroclor 1232
PCB Aroclor 1242
PCB Aroclor 1248
PCB Aroclor 1254
PCB Aroclor 1260
PCB Aroclor 1262
PCB Aroclor 1268
PCB Aroclors, total
PH
Palladium, total
Pentane
Phosphorus, total, by ICP
Platinum, total
Potassium, total
Praseodymium, total
Prep, 1631
Prep, VOA
Prep, VOA
Propachlor
Propionitrile
Propyl acetate
Rhenium, total
Rhodium, total
Rubidium, total
Ruthenium, total
Salinity
Samarium, total
Scandium, total
Sec-Butylbenzene
Selenium, total
Silica
Silver, total
Simazine
Sodium ads. ratio, adjusted
Sodium adsorption ratio
Sodium, total
Strontium, total
Styrene
Sulfate
Sulfur, total, by ICP
TPH by GC-gasoline range
Tantalum, total
Tellurium, total
Terbium, total
Tert-Amyl methyl ether
Tert-Butanol
Tert-Butylbenzene
Tetrachloroethene
Tetrahydrofuran (THF)
Thallium, total
Thorium, total
Thulium, total
Tin, total
Titanium, total
Toluene
Tot. diss. solids, estimated
Toxaphene
Trans-1,2-Dichloroethene
Trans-1,3-Dichloropropene
Trans-1,4-Dichloro-2-butene
Trans-Nonachlor
Trans-Permethrin
Trichloroethene
Trichlorofluoromethane
Trichlorotrifluoroethane
Trifluralin
Trihalomethanes, total
Trimethyl-o-acetate
Tungsten, total
Turbidity
Uranium, total
Vanadium, total
Vinyl acetate
Vinyl chloride
Volatile TICs
Water Test Kit-Anions
Water Test Kit-Metals (MS)
Water Test Kit-Metals (OES1)
Water Test Kit-Pest/PCB
Water Test Kit-VOCs
Ytterbium, total
Yttrium, total
Zinc, total
Zirconium, total

 

Disclaimer:  I use affiliate links at times. It doesn’t cost you any more but does help support my time running my blog and this page. Other affiliate links might get you a discount which is a win, win! I appreciate you supporting my links as a way to help me offset my time by bringing info to you. I will never be swayed financially, and I will only post products and companies that I would, and do, personally use for my family.

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