The use of drinking water filters and bottled water in the home has become commonplace. Water and ice filters, for example, are almost a standard feature in all new refrigerators. These filters, when properly maintained, safely remove the majority of the chlorines.

Hard Water & Water Softeners
Water softeners are common in many locations throughout the United States in areas where the calcium, magnesium and iron contents are high in public water systems. Hard water generally hinders the cleaning ability of cleaners and detergents. Scale and soap scum buildup are more prevalent in homes with hard water, lessening the lifespan of many appliances throughout the home such as water heaters and coffee makers.

Water softeners “exchange” the hardness ions with sodium ions (salt). This is generally a safe practice that reduces the negative effects of hard water. Only those who are sensitive to sodium or are on a sodium diet should be concerned with softened water. Water softeners, however, should not be confused as a replacement of whole house water filters. Basic water softeners will not remove the chemicals found in tap water.

Well Water
If your home is “off the grid” and is serviced by a private well, chlorine will not be of concern because no disinfectants were purposefully added. However, natural ground water from wells can absorb a wide variety of naturally occurring minerals and gasses in the soil. Some of these influences, such as radon and bacteria, can pose a serious threat to the safety of those using the water. It is recommended that well water be tested on an annual basis to ensure safety.

The quality of the water will vary with time as the ground water shifts and flows in the soil. Filtering or softening the well water may be a good option if the mineral content is excessively high.

Simple Steps
Your family’s water intake and contact can be safely managed with some fairly simple steps:

1. Perform an inexpensive “do it yourself” water test kit or have your tap water tested by a professional. The results enable you to make an educated decision on how you should direct your efforts to provide your family with safe drinking water.

Unlike bathing water filters, drinking water filters require a slower water flow rate and can remove more contaminates. All filters are not created equal, as some filters are more at removing specific contaminants than others. Your best bet is to know what you need to remove from your water prior to purchasing a water filter.

2. Purchase and install a whole house water filter as well as extra point of contact filters for your drinking and bathing water. With proper operation and maintenance, the whole house filter ensures all water flowing through your home for faucets, showers, toilets, and dishwashers will be filtered from chemicals, toxins, and heavy metals. The extra point of contact filters will ensure you are filtering out chlorine contaminants for your drinking and bathing water.

This combination is the most expensive solution, but it is all inclusive and the most effective way to minimize you and your families contact with the harmful chemicals, bacteria, heavy metals, and microorganisms found in your tap water

3. If a whole house filter falls outside of your price range, consider purchasing point of contact filters for your faucets. These filters range from relatively inexpensive screw on models to expensive, under the counter reverse osmosis systems.

Another, highly recommended option is the countertop water filter containers. These require a manual step, but are typically more effective because the filtration can happen at the filters rate of speed. Be careful, though, that you are staying away from plastic filters that could contain BPA. The results of your water test can help you determine which type best suits your needs.