by Utsav Sakhuja

My very first step to living an Organic, Eco-Friendly, Non-Toxic and Healthy lifestyle started by researching the very basic, yet most essential component, Water. Humans are composed of approximately 60% water and in order for us to function efficiently we must always be hydrated. The symptoms of dehydration range from, absent-mindedness, headaches, dry skin, constipation, dry mouth to mild nausea. In our high strung day-to-day lives this could simply be perceived as having an unpleasant day. However this is not the case, the daily intake of water for Women should be 91 ounces (about 2.7 liters) and for Men, 125 ounces (about 3.7 liters), 25 % of which could come from the food you consume if you have a healthy diet.

While researching water I found that drinking regular tap water would not suffice but in fact be detrimental to my well being in the long term. The municipal water supply potentially contains several pollutants like Pesticides, Bacteria, Chlorine, Nitrates, VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds), Heavy metals such as Copper, Iron, Lead, Mercury, etc. and the worst of all Sodium Fluoride- It was introduced to the water supply in Toronto (1963) in order to prevent cavities contributing towards healthy teeth. A lot of research has been done on Sodium Fluoride since and several countries have eliminated it from their water supply citing it as carcinogenic, the cause of dental fluorosis amongst many other health problems. However, several provinces in Canada including Ontario still continue to fluoridate the water supply.

The presence of all these toxins in tap water would prompt the use of bottled water as a solution. However reports conducted on the purity of bottled water have proven that it is almost no different than tap water, containing thousands of chemicals, endocrine disrupters and BPA while also being largely cost prohibitive and creating large amounts of waste, hence being an unsustainable practice.

The best way to obtain clean drinking water, that’s cost effective and sustainable, is to use filtered tap water. However not all filters are created equal. The plethora of water filters available on the market make the task of choosing one very overwhelming.

The few basic filter technologies available on the market are: –

1)    Ceramic and Mechanical filters– They have very small holes that block solid contaminants such as cysts and sediments, but do not remove any chemical contaminants.

2)    Ozone filters and UV filters– They only kill bacteria and other microorganisms.

3)    Deionization, Water softening and Ion Exchange filters– They remove or exchange ions in order to remove ionic contaminants and/or to soften water.

4)    Distillation filters – These heat and vaporize water thereby condensing the steam, removing bacteria, viruses and chemicals that have a boiling point higher than water. They do not remove many other chemicals.

5)    Carbon or Activated Carbon filters– They chemically bond with and remove contaminants in the water filtered through them, varying in effectiveness from simply removing chlorine to removing a wide range of contaminants. These filters include Fibredyne block, Carbon block and Granulated Activated Carbon ranging from most effective to least effective respectively.

6)    Reverse Osmosis filters– They push water through a semi-permeable membrane that blocks particles larger than water molecules thereby removing many contaminants including arsenic, fluoride, hexavalent chromium, nitrates and perchlorate. However, reverse osmosis does not remove chlorine, trihalomethanes or volatile organic chemicals (VOCs). Many reverse osmosis systems include an activated carbon component than removes these contaminants. However, many companies tend to use cheaper quality membrane and carbon components, tremendously effecting water quality. Consumers should also be aware that reverse osmosis filters use 3-to-20 times more water than they produce.

The filter types available on the market are: –

1)    Faucet mounted– These are relatively inexpensive, easily installable filters that attach directly to the end of the faucet and can be turned on and off from filtered to unfiltered respectively. These use carbon or activated carbon filters, are not compatible with every faucet style and require regular replacement.

2)    On counter– These require installation and might even require plumbing modification. This type of filter has a line connected to the faucet and a diverter valve to switch between filtered and unfiltered water. It uses carbon block or reverse osmosis technologies or a combination of both reducing/removing a wide range of contaminants depending on the quality of the product.

3)    Under-sink– These require installation and might even require plumbing modification to be fitted underneath the kitchen sink connected to the water supply line. They use the same technologies as the ‘On-counter’ filters effectively reducing a wide range of contaminants and require less frequent filter replacement.

4)    Pitcher or Large dispenser– These are inexpensive, available in various sizes and styles, and require no installation. They are fitted with carbon or activated carbon filters that use gravity to slowly filter contaminants. They also need regular replacement, the long-term costs of which might be equal to the previously mentioned filter types.

5)    Whole house filters– In the interest of having access to the best possible water these filters remove contaminants from the entire home water supply, providing you with clean water, for kitchen, bathroom as well as laundry purposes. These are usually substantially expensive and use an integrated reverse osmosis, carbon block, UV/Ozone, mechanical and/or water softening filter technologies to purify water to its purest possible form.

Another technology to harness water is the use of Atmospheric Water Generators, these extract water from the surrounding air and filter it to remove particulates and bacteria. The resulting water is clean and free of chemicals, however, these only work under certain conditions such as at a minimum of 32 to 40 % humidity with the ambient air temperature at a certain range. They require electricity, fossil fuels or solar power to run and require regular filter changes. They are available for various purposes as individual indoor units and units that serve an entire household.

The water filter I chose to use for my needs as a college student needed to be portable enough to move from one temporary residence to the other while still being capable of removing a large number of contaminants and providing me with a large amount of drinking water in a short amount of time. I chose a large dispenser equipped with ProOne-D (Carbon Filters) by a company called Propur. The ProOne-D is the only carbon filters on the market that remove fluoride. It is also capable of removing Bacteria, Pesticides, VOC’s, Inorganic pollutants, Heavy Metals, Physical Contaminants like sediments and cysts, thus improving the taste and odor of the water.

The water filter you buy should be based on your specific needs. If you’d like to improve the water within your entire household I would recommend: –

1)    A Whole House Atmospheric Water Generator with Solar Panels and a Filter to remove particulates with an Ozone/UV feature as my first choice.

2)    A Whole House Water Filter with integrated technologies (reverse osmosis, carbon block, UV/Ozone, mechanical and/or water softening) capable of removing fluoride such as the ones sold by Crystal Quest as my second choice.

3)    A large high quality Under-sink Reverse Osmosis Filter combined with Carbon Block and Ozone/UV filters in the kitchen and bathroom, a faucet mounted filter for your bathtub tap and a shower filter, all sold by Crystal Quest as my third choice.

If you’d only like to improve your drinking water I would recommend: –

1)    A great quality, on counter system with the Reverse Osmosis Filter combined with Carbon Block and Ozone/UV filters in the kitchen sold by Crystal Quest as my first choice.

2)    The Propur Large Dispenser System with ProOne-D Filters as my second choice.

3)    A Propur Pitcher with ProOne-DM Water Filters, ideal for use when travelling to a remote location with water sources like lakes, streams, rivers, ponds or even rainwater, as my third choice.

I strongly suggest always doing your own research to determine what brand and company to choose your water filter from while looking for certifications and keeping in mind your requirements for Price, Portability and Overall quality and quantity of water in all cases. Additionally, if you live in a Province or Country that does not fluoridate its tap water then you should account for that in your purchase decision.

Also if you do not have a significant number of baths to warrant buying a Faucet mounted filter for your bath tap then I’d suggest using an Everbamboo Spa Pack. Charcoal from the Mosso Bamboo in the Spa Pack purifies the water in your bath, removing VOC’s and chlorine while adding beneficial minerals like potassium, magnesium, sodium, and calcium to your bath water.

In order to store and transport your water on a daily basis use a glass or stainless steel pitcher and bottle. The best option would be glass with stainless steel being the second option, do not use plastic as it can leach toxins. The pitcher and bottle I use are from a Slovenian Company called Flaska that specializes in creating reusable glass bottles and pitchers programmed using a special TPS (Technology for programming silicon) procedure. This changes the structure of the water in the bottle transforming it into a structure comparable to spring water.

If you do find yourself thirsty without water and have to buy bottled water as a last resort, choose O2 Aqua. They use water filtered through distillation, reverse osmosis, ozone and add oxygen to provide a light taste, they also uses BPA free plastic bottles. However do not make drinking bottled water habitual as it become a large expense in the long term and also contributes to bottles ending up in landfills.

Lastly, if you forget to drink water and need help remembering, there are several free apps to help you track your daily intake and keep hydrated. To name a few, WaterLogged for iPhone and Water Your Body or Carbodroid for Android.

I hope you will take this information into account and begin taking your first steps towards living an Organic, Eco-Friendly, Non-Toxic and Healthy lifestyle.