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As a 10-year veteran in the water filtration industry, I’ve seen a lot in the world of filtered water. Of course there’s the ever-present sea of companies telling you their water filters are the best. This is normal and to be expected, even though clearly some are far superior to others.
But in the last few years, we’ve seen an interesting shift in attitudes among those seeking the healthiest, most vitalizing water possible.
In general, the “energy” or “structure” of water has become a chief emphasis, sometimes superseding the importance of quality filtration.
And I have to admit, I agree that the structure of water is very important. Anything we can do to restore tap water to a more natural state is a step in the right direction.
There are lots of companies out there selling and marketing solutions to creating structured water. I’ve personally bought and tested a number of these and some of them are remarkable products, producing noticeable differences in the water’s taste and “soft-mouth-feel-ness,” for lack of a better word.
In the past year, people reading this post have asked me which structured water device I think is best. The answer is I like the devices from Natural Action Technologies, especially their CarbonGene Z model. You can use coupon code joeb-10 for 10% off any of the Natural Action devices.
What strikes me as absolutely mind-boggling, however, is that within the community of people selling these technologies, quality filtration is sometimes regarded as almost an extraneous afterthought. It’s almost discussed as optional, or unimportant. Or, it’s kind of suggested, directly or indirectly, that any good ole’ water filter will do, in conjunction with their particular structuring device.
I’ve seen some go as far as to suggest that structuring the water basically renders the physical chemical contaminants inactive, allowing them to to basically have no negative affect on the body.
I simply cannot see this being the case. And I’ve seen no quantifiable evidence to support this claim. If you have some, please send it to me.
If you’re going to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a structured water device, wouldn’t you want to spend a few hundred dollars making sure you’re putting the best filtered water possible through your device?
And if you’re going to scour the internet researching every structured water device that’s out there so you can narrow it down to the best one to purchase, may I politely suggest that you do the same when it comes to filtration?
And I can understand why. RO has serious drawbacks. It’s slow, produces lots of wastewater for every gallon of good water, produces acidic and mineral deficient water, and it’s a hassle to install and maintain.
But there are good systems that are very thorough at filtration, that are not RO. There’s not a ton, but they’re out there.
The way to identify quality water filters is by looking at their NSF Certification. (Read about why NSF Certification is so important).
NSF is an international non-profit that sets standards and testing protocols for many types of products, one of which is water filtration. It’s the gold standard when it comes to water filter testing and certification.
And it’s crucial because there’s no government regulation when it comes to water filters. Any company can say their system removes this or that contaminant at this percentage, and there’s really no way to hold them accountable for those claims.
But when you see a product say “NSF Certified under Standard 53 for Lead,” you can be 100% confident that the system will performed as advertised.
The reason is that NSF’s testing protocols are incredibly rigorous and thorough. For each contaminant, there’s a specific protocol that specifies water chemistry (such as TDS and pH), the concentration of the contaminant being tested (which is usually 2-5x the concentration considered hazardous by the EPA), and the measured testing capacity.
To be certified for Lead under NSF 53 for 750 gallons, for example, you have to pass the testing protocol for lead for 1500 gallons. The 200% capacity testing requirement adds a layer of redundancy and is part of what makes NSF Certification so reputable and trustworthy.
And with NSF, your products don’t just get tested once. NSF continually buys your products randomly in the marketplace and re-tests them the make sure the quality hasn’t changed.
No other certification or testing for water filtration does this, and it’s why NSF is simply known as the gold standard.
So when you’re looking for a water filter to compliment your structured water device, look for NSF Certification.
Within NSF Certification, there’s a lot of variability as well. There are different standards for different contaminants and types of systems.
Three of the most common are NSF Standards 42, 53, and 401.
NSF Standard 42 tests for contaminants of aesthetic concern, which are chlorine, chloramines, taste and odor, and particulate matter.
The most important in this category is chloramines because they are increasingly being used instead of chlorine in municipal water supplies. They are compounds created from the combination of chlorine and ammonia. They’re far worse for your health than chlorine and they’re much more difficult to remove from water. Not many systems can remove them and it’s important to shop for systems that are NSF Certified for chloramines. (The systems I will recommend at the end of this article are all NSF Certified under Std. 42 for both chlorine and chloramines).
When it comes to Standard 53, there are many potential contaminants for which a system can be certified. Standard 53 tests for contaminants of health concern.
Some of the most common contaminants under this standard are lead, cysts, mercury, asbestos, and MTBE (a gasoline additive found in both well and municipal water). There are more contaminants as well, and very few systems can remove some of these harder-to-remove contaminants. Examples of this are PCB (polychlorinated biphenyls, organic pollutants), and Arsenic (highly toxic in small concentrations and very difficult to remove).
NSF Standard 401 is a newer protocol that involves testing for Emerging Contaminants such as pharmaceuticals, pesticides, and other chemicals leaching into water supplies in trace amounts. It was created in response to overwhelming consumer demand for a way to know that these trace contaminants are addressed by their filtration system. Common drugs such as ibuprofen, beta-blockers, birth control, and more are tested in small concentrations to make sure your filter can handle them.
The graphic below lists the number of filtration systems certified by NSF for various single contaminants. It tells the story of which contaminants are easily addressed and which ones are very difficult to remove.
As you can see there are 1,462 water filters NSF Certified for Cysts, but only 146 for MTBE and 45 for PCB.
Very interesting, isn’t it?
The graphic below is even more interesting and really tells the story about how many top-quality filtration systems are out there.
This graph shows the number of filtration systems that are NSF Certified for various combinations of contaminants.
As you can see, there are 598 systems that NSF has certified for BOTH cysts and lead.
When you look at the combination of cysts, lead, mercury, asbestos, and VOC (volatile organic compounds), the list dramatically drops to just 129 water filters that meet that criteria.
When you add PCB and chloramines to that mix (to all the others listed above), it drops to just 13 systems. Pretty telling, no?
Finally, on the right you’ll see two bars of 5 and 1 respectively.
The bar of 5 represents systems that are NSF Certified for cysts, lead, mercury, asbestos, MTBE, VOC, PCB, chloramines, and all three groups of Emerging Contaminants under Standard 401. Just 5 systems are certified for all of these, and they all happen to be made by one company (we’ll get to that company in a moment).
Finally, the bar of 1 is a system that’s unparalleled in its ability to pass NSF Certification for cysts, lead, mercury, asbestos, MTBE, VOC, PCB, chloramine, all three groups of Emerging Contaminants under NSF Standard 401, arsenic V, bacteria, and virus. That product is made by the same company that makes the 5 in the category above, and will be mentioned below.
But the key here is that the NSF Certification makes shopping for a water filter quantifiable and objective rather than a guessing game. You know exactly what you’re getting in terms of real-life performance instead of just trusting what the company’s website arbitrarily claims its systems can do.
Now I’m sure you’re wondering what company makes the 5 systems and 1 system in that bar graph above.
The answer is Multipure.
Multipure’s a 49-year-old company based in Las Vegas that’s family owned and manufactures all of their own products in the USA. They’re the industry leader in filtration for a reason: no other company comes close to the number of contaminants for which their water filtration systems are NSF Certified.
Their bestselling product is the Aquaversa, and it’s the #1 Rated Below-Sink Water Filter by Consumer Reports (featured in the in the April, 2018 Kitchen Planning & Buying Guide issue).
Its housing is solid stainless steel and it’s warrantied for life. The filter cartridge is a great value and an exceptional performer, NSF Certified for chlorine, chloramines, mercury, lead, asbestos, toxaphene, turbidity, chlordane, cysts, lead, MTBE, PCB, VOC, and radon. It’s also certified under Standard 401 for all 15 of the Emerging Contaminants (trace pharmaceuticals, pesticides, etc…).
In my opinion the Aquaversa is the best overall bang-for-buck filter to be used in conjunction with a structured water device. It’s the bestseller and the #1 Below Sink Filter rated by Consumer Reports for a reason.
Multipure makes a model called the Aquaperform that’s a little larger than the Aquaversa and as a result, delivers a higher water flow rate. In addition to all of the same contaminants for which the Aquaversa is certified, the Aquaperform is NSF Certified for Arsenic V. This is a key certification because there have only been a few non-RO water filters to ever have been certified by NSF for Arsenic, and they all have been made by Multipure. If you have even trace amounts of Arsenic in your water, the Aquaperform is a fantastic solution.
Finally, remember that bar of 1 in the graph above?
That’s the Multipure Aqualuxe. It’s the cutting edge of non-RO water filtration.
It’s NSF Certified for more contaminants than any other non-RO system. That list includes chlorine, chloramines, Arsenic V, asbestos, chlordane, cysts, lead, mercury, MTBE, PCB, radon, turbidity, VOC, Microcystin (a more and more common contaminant caused by algae blooms), and PFOA/PFOS (industrial chemicals found in teflon, toxic in tiny concentrations). It's also certified for all 15 Emerging Contaminants under Standard 401 And on top of all of those, it’s NSF-Certified for a 6-factor reduction in bacteria (99.9999%) and a 4-factor reduction of virus (99.99%). No other filter comes close to that combined chemical and pathogen filtration capability.
In my opinion, the Aqualuxe is simply the best water filter on the market. It operates at constant water flow and retains the healthy minerals in the water. It’s a simple single-cartridge design and it’s quick and easy to change the cartridge. There’s just nothing better out there.
As a 10-year water filtration vet, my recommendation for most people is either an Aquaversa or Aquaperform. They’re just the best bang for the buck. The two differences between the two systems is the Aquaperform’s increased size and thereby water flow rate, as well as it’s ability to reduce Arsenic on top of everything else for which both the Aquaperform and Aquaversa are NSF Certified.
The Aqualuxe is the filter for someone who wants the best option available regardless of the price. It has other features that the other two systems don’t such as built-in capacity monitor and leak detection. It really is above and beyond anything else out there.
There are other decent water filters on the market but nothing comes close to the performance/price value of the Aquaversa and Aquaperform, or the unrivaled performance of the Aqualuxe.
Q: Do the Aquaversa or Aquaperform reduce fluoride?
A: No. There are actually no NSF-Certified filtration systems for fluoride reduction, other than reverse osmosis and distillation systems.
There are other non-RO water filters on the market that claim to be able to reduce fluoride. Generally they consist of either bone char (as in charred cattle bones) and/or activated alumina as the filtration media. These medias can reduce fluoride BUT are really only effective when your source water has acidic pH levels of 5.5-6.5. They also tend to require long soak times to be effective, ideally for about 20 minutes. Since most municipal tap water is at a neutral ph (usually in the 7.4 range), and since you’re going to want to get a nice, fast flow rate, these medias will not effectively address the fluoride.
In my 10+ years of experience in water filtration this is one of the most deceptive practices in the industry. If you own a system that claims to reduce fluoride, ask the company that makes it for independent lab results at a neutral pH, over the lifespan of the cartridge (not just tested when it’s brand new). Our experience is that with these medias, at a neutral pH, over the lifespan of the filter, the results are disappointing. Otherwise, we would make and sell a filter with these medias ourselves.
Q: Is installation of these systems easy, and can they be installed with my structured water device?
A: Installation is easy with both countertop and below-sink installations. If you want to install with an in-line structuring device, it would be easiest in a below-sink setup. Simply install the structuring device between the out-valve of the filter and the faucet. So you’d want the structuring to occur after the filtering. But yes it’s very easy and straightforward.
Q: Can I make money with Multipure by referring my structured water customers who need a good water filter?
A: Yes, call me at 443-416-7565 and I’ll explain how it works. It’s very simple and all of the customer service, shipping, and processing is handled by Multipure.