Complete guide to water filters for beginners

Complete guide to water filters for beginners
Complete guide to water filters for beginners

We have come a long way since the days we used pieces of clothing and sponges to sieve out a handful of particles from water. Advancements in the filtration industry now present us with sophisticated water treatment solutions that promise to do away with a wide range of soluble and insoluble toxins. 

Whether you want to make safe hydration an everyday reality or just want to improve water softness, there are numerous options to pick from, starting with pitchers to water filters for the whole house.

However, if you are just considering treatment options for the first time, choosing the right purification solution can be a bit overwhelming.

But Filterway has got you covered.

This water filter guide will share everything you need to know about the different treatment solutions, the type of impurities they remove, and how to choose water filter that is perfect for your home.

Let's dive into the details.

A list of tap water contaminants

As water flows into our homes, it comes into contact with various toxins that adversely affect its quality. Some of the most common contaminants that might flow into your cup include:

Industrial pollutants

Many industrial plants use toxic chemicals in the manufacture of products. Some of the most common include metal dust and sulfur dioxide. The latter, for instance, will form droplets of sulphuric acid, which in turn makes acid rain. 

Additionally, industrial operations leave behind toxic waste. Unfortunately, due to improper waste management, these industrial pollutants make their way into H2O bodies, contaminating them.

Car emissions

Did you know that car emissions not only pollute the air but also contaminate our rivers, streams, lakes, and oceans?

Cars emit carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, VOCs, and other greenhouse gases. When these harmful gases are released into the air, they fall back into the earth's surface, where they are washed into our lakes and oceans by rain, contaminating them.

Urban chemicals

Cosmetics and other personal care products contain harsh chemicals such as dioxane, acrylate, and carcinogens that are not only harmful to our bodies but also pollute tap water. When we shower or wash off makeup, the wastewater produces nitrogen and phosphorus, two of the most common H2O contaminants.

Also, flame retardants and pharmaceuticals are other products that contain these dangerous chemicals.

Note that urban chemicals often have complex compositions that have life-threatening consequences when ingested. So, if you suspect your H2O might be ailing from such toxins, it's vital to find the best filtration solution that can help you achieve total decontamination.

Water treatment chemicals

Treatment plants add chlorine and chloramines to municipal water in an effort to kill algae and bacteria such as Salmonella, which are notorious for causing illnesses.

However, as much as this purification process is done with consumers’ best interests at heart, some people experience nausea and vomiting after consuming chlorinated H2O. Others find its taste and smell unpleasant, the more reason to eliminate it.

Agricultural Products 

Pesticides and herbicides used in agricultural work can poison our drinking water in many ways.

During heavy rainfall, for instance, agricultural chemicals will be washed down to the stream and rivers, while some will dissolve and percolate downwards through the soil until it seeps into groundwater sources.

Besides, the wastewater that we dispose of after cleaning spraying equipment can easily pollute H2O systems.

EPA standards for water quality

The EPA standards are provisions that state the desired quality of H2O, putting in place measures to make sure the stipulated conditions are achieved. They also outline the designated use of water bodies and their antidegradation requirements in a bid to maintain high water quality.

However, as much as the EPA regulations state the maximum quantities of contaminants permitted in tap water, they don't regulate all pollutants.

Moreso, the regulations put in place do not apply to wells, which, in most cases, have a higher probability of containing more toxins than what the municipal provides.

For these reasons, investing in a water filter for your home is highly recommended. It's a surefire way to ensure whatever flows through your faucets is clean and free from impurities.

What could be wrong with the water in your home?

Your household might be filling its cups with impure water. But how come?

Toxins can be between the treatment plant and your sink

Treatment plants take the necessary actions to remove unwanted substances that diminish the quality of your drinking water. However, when it is released from the plant on its way into your home, it may dissolve contaminants and debris that have settled in the pipes.

Some of the most common impurities that may be found in piping systems include rust, copper, and mold. If there are leaks, contaminants from the outside surfaces can be sucked into the pipes and into your taps.

Fluoride levels may surpass recommended levels

Research has shown that groundwater naturally contains a significant amount of fluoride. Considering the mineral’s immense dental benefits, treatment plants would add more in case a drop in fluoride levels was confirmed.

However, if fluoride concentrations are abnormally high, it poses a health risk. It leaves people susceptible to dental and skeletal fluorosis, as well as other health issues, which is a good enough reason to get rid of the excess.

The taste and smell might be unpleasant

The law requires treatment plants to use disinfectants such as chlorine in the decontamination process. However, these chemical treatments often leave an aftertaste that many find unpleasant.

Furthermore, you may notice that the H2O from your taps has a pungent smell. This indicates the presence of microorganisms, gases, and other impurities, making it unsafe for human consumption.

Regulatory failure at the water department

We can never be sure if the water department is keen on following all policies put in place by the EPA and other regulatory bodies.

Even if they are cautious, mishaps do happen. And once in a while, they end up falling short of compliance requirements.

Basics of filter systems

Filtration systems are gadgets that you can use to stop these pollutants in H2O from making their way into your home. They will either do this by sieving the debris, trapping impurities, or neutralizing the chemicals.

This water filter selection guide digs deeper into these systems, helping you understand the home water filter types available in the market, their pros and cons, as well as which one is your home’s perfect fit.

Water purifier product types

So, what are the different types of water filters?

Some of the vastly used home purification systems include:

  • Gravity-fed pitchers

This is a manual water purification dispenser with a reservoir that leverages gravity to pull the water through a filtration medium. You will have to manually fill it because it is not hooked up to your home's plumbing.

  • Faucets

These are special faucets fitted with a non-woven screen and a block of carbon. Although they are more effective than their gravity-fed counterparts, they do not remove a large number of contaminants compared to the other systems mentioned below.

  • Counter top systems 

This treatment solution sits on the countertop and is attached to your main faucet. When you turn on the water, it flows into the purification component, where it is exposed to filtration mediums and dispensed through the system’s special faucet.

  • Under counter systems

This system comes with a small tank that's attached to the main cold water supply. During purification, H2O is pushed through a semi-permeable filtration medium and stored in a tank through a process called reverse osmosis. It also uses a dedicated faucet that you will mount on your sink's countertop.

  • Whole house systems

These systems are the best as they are attached to the main water supply, delivering pure contents throughout your home. Purification involves the use of multiple cartridges and membranes, making it one of the most effective ways to ensure your family remains safe.

How to determine filter effectiveness?

To determine the effectiveness of your decontamination systems, understanding nsf water filter ratings is vital.

NSF standards state the minimum requirements needed for purification cartridges to work safely and as expected.

For instance:

  • NFS 42 will get rid of chlorine, chloramines, and other substances that affect taste and odor.
  • NFS 53 will eliminate any toxins that pose health implications.
  • NFS 44 are H2O softeners
  • NFS 58 are systems that use reverse osmosis purification technology
  • NSF 401 will reduce any of the emerging impurities not regulated by the EPA

Note that this is not an exhaustive list of NSF ratings, and a rated filter will not necessarily do away with all the contaminants listed in its category.

So, to understand the effectiveness of a system, read the fine print. That way, you can know the filtration capabilities of the different decontamination mediums to find out which one is best for you. 

What type of filter to pick?

If you are wondering, 'what kind of water filter do I need?'

You have come to the right place.

This section focuses on the pros and cons of the different filtration systems, helping you make an informed decision as to which one is excellent for your decontamination needs.

In-Refrigerator Filters

Some refrigerator models come with inbuilt dispensers that you will attach to your H2O line. When you press the dispenser, water flows from the line, through a decontamination cartridge, and into your cup.


  • The activated carbon cartridge sieves out debris and neutralizes some unwanted contaminants
  • Mounting and unmounting the cartridge doesn't require professional assistance 
  • They are easy to maintain


  • The H2O and carbon only make contact for brief periods, which affects its efficacy
  • It only removes a handful of impurities
  • water filters for refrigerators need to be switched out regularly depending on how often your family uses the dispenser and the contamination levels of your H2O.

Pitchers & gravity fed dispenser

Gravity-fed dispensers have an upper and lower chamber and a filtration medium. A user pours water into the upper chamber, and the force of gravity forces it to seep downwards through the filter and into the lower chamber.


The advantages of these systems include:

  • It removes debris and a couple of other impurities 
  • It's portable and can be placed anywhere in your home
  • It's low maintenance as it only needs cartridge replacement once or twice a year
  • It doesn't require installation, eliminating the need for plumbing works


  • Individual replacement parts can be costly
  • It doesn't remove an exhaustive list of contaminants.
  • It may not be a practical solution for very large families as the standard pitcher can only hold 8 to 12 glasses. 
  • Beautifully designed pitchers can have nooks and crannies that make cleaning difficult.

Faucet filters

These are POU filters that are attached to faucets for on-demand purification purposes.


  • Installation is straightforward 
  • They are not bulky and don't take up counter space
  • They are affordable
  • You have immediate access to filtered water, unlike pitchers, where you have to wait a while for treatment to happen 


  • They aren't compatible with all faucets; only standard-sized options
  • Low flow rate compared to other systems
  • They need frequent changes
  • They do not effectively remove complex chemical contaminants 

Counter top

Like faucet filters, these systems are attached to the tap but come with a bigger treatment media that's placed on the countertop.


  • Straightforward installation process
  • No need to purchase an extra faucet
  • Easy to maintain as it only requires you to switch decontamination cartridges periodically
  • They are cheaper than RO and whole-house systems


  • As a POU system, you can only access pure H2O at the point of installation
  • Since they sit on the sink, people who are keen on having an aesthetically pleasing space may find them unpleasant
  • It has a lower impurity removal capacity compared to other systems

Under the counter filter

As its name suggests, this filter is placed under the sink, with a dedicated dispenser installed on the sink next to the main faucet.

Currently, these systems are available in two main varieties, namely:

  • Under-the-counter carbon block system

This system harnesses the capabilities of a carbon block to facilitate safe hydration. The carbon will rid the water of particulate matter, VOCs, various chemicals, numerous heavy metals, and other unwanted substances before it flows from the faucet.

  • Under the counter multi-stage systems

This system is one of the most effective, leveraging advanced purification technologies to ensure what we drink is free from harmful elements. It has multiple filtration media, and after treatment is complete, the clean H2O is stored in a holding tank.

What's more, the filter can be customized to suit your decontamination needs. Whether you want to get rid of excess fluoride, neutralize heavy metals, sieve out particulate matter, or any other purification needs, you can get a system that addresses your household's pain point.


  • Saves counter-top space
  • Since it's hidden under the counter, the kitchen remains aesthetically pleasing
  • It has great flow rates, thanks to its hydrostatic tanks that ensure the pressure is always at optimal levels
  • Considering it leverages sophisticated decontamination strategies, it gets rid of numerous impurities, including lead, mercury, and other deadly toxins.
  • It eliminates pungent smells and distinct tastes you might experience when hydrating 


  • It is attached to the main cold H2O line, so installation requires plumbing works, which might need a professional 
  • It needs maintenance and regular filter changes
  • It is costlier than countertop options

Reverse Osmosis (RO) filters

Reverse Osmosis works by forcing concentrated liquids to flow toward less concentrated fluids. 

In this case, when contaminated H2O goes into an RO system, it is forced to flow toward purified water. However, it will first pass through numerous treatment media, including a semi-permeable membrane, sediment, and carbon cartridges.


  • It's an effective H2O treatment option as it does away with 99.9% of impurities.

  • It's environmentally friendly and an excellent alternative to store-bought water


  • RO systems produce a significant amount of wastewater as a result of backwashing. However, you can recycle it for irrigation purposes and other household tasks.
  • Since it eliminates essential minerals, H20 pH levels go down, turning it acidic.
  • They are expensive and require regular maintenance 

Whole house filter

This is a point-of-entry treatment solution that decontaminates every drop that flows into your home. It is installed at the home's main line to ensure all taps and showerheads deliver clean water.


  • You have access to contaminant-free H2O throughout your home
  • Removes 99.9% of impurities
  • You can enjoy healthier hair and skin
  • It is environmentally friendly
  • With clean H2O running through all outlets, your showerheads, electric kettle, washing machine, and other appliances will have a prolonged working life.
  • A whole house system will go beyond the typical residential water flow rate, releasing 15-40 gallons per minute


  • It is costly
  • It needs proper maintenance


As you may have noticed by now, filtration systems are not complicated. As you strive to protect your family, we hope this water filter buying guide provides the crucial information you need to pick the right option for your home.

Do you still need additional information?

Filterway is here to help.

We are an online store selling a wide range of purification systems and replacement cartridges. We have garnered industry expertise over the years and can offer sound water filter recommendations depending on your purification needs. 

Contact us today for more information.