Water Filters

Water Distillers


  • removes most inorganic contaminants such as lead
  • kills any pathogens because it boils water, turning it into vapor
  • the steam is then recondensed into water


  • unfortunately, it does not remove benzene and other volatile chemicals
  • also processes slowly and uses lots of electricity
  • prices start at more than $100

Activated Carbon Filters


  • filters (system attached to pipes under the sink) and carafes (countertop system, eg Brita Water Filter System)
  • filters are larger versions of the carafes
  • they use filters made of carbon in solid carbon form
  • both remove lead and reduce chlorine & sediment
  • convenient to use and the filters are easy to install
  • price ranges from $5 for some countertop versions to $200 for larger filters


  • countertop versions can take up to 20 minutes to purify a gallon of water; must replace cartridges every 3+ months.


Reverse-Osmosis System


  • filters by forcing pressurized water across semi-permeable membranes
  • lead, arsenic, and some pathogens are flushed out


  • removes contaminants along with 50-90% of the water (wastes water)
  • requires professional installation
  • models start at $750 (expensive)


  • 1995, July. Lead in Water: Pipe Nightmares? Consumer Reports: p 463.
  • Gorman, C. 1996, June 10. Do Water Filters Work? Time: p 70.


Compiled by Stephanie Price and Elena Tilli../Picture of faucet by David Seydel

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