Category Archives for Know How

best water for pets

What Is the Best Water for Cats and Dogs to Drink? #PetHealth

Please note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy a product or service through such a link we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Have you ever put much thought into what type of drinking water you should give your cat or dog? It is one of the most essential nutrients after all and, just like us, our pets drink water every single day of their lives.

If you haven’t, we will discuss the different drinking water sources including their potential health implications in this post.

Please note: Some of the information on this site is based on the personal opinions of pet owners. You should consult your vet before making any changes to your pet’s diet.

The Best Water for Dogs to Drink

As a general rule, the best water for dogs to drink is water that you would drink yourself. If your tap water is clean and healthy and therefore good enough for you, the same probably goes for your dog (and for your cat, of course).

Likewise, if your tap water is not safe but poses a health risk don’t give it to your little furry. Sure, most dogs could eat a pile of dirt and not get sick, but better safe than sorry.

On a side note: Your dog may not be drinking adequate amounts of water due to taste reasons. Some tap waters, for example, are high in chlorine content which creates an off-putting taste and odor.

Can Dogs Drink Tap Water?

Can dogs drink tap water? Yes, they can. But every tap water is different so it depends on where you live. For example, there might be chemicals like pesticides or herbicides in your water, or metals such as chromium 6. The age of the water system you are connected to and your home’s plumbing are important, too. Homes built before 1986 often have a lead problem due to pipes or solder containing the neurotoxin. Then there are factors like algae blooms in spring/summer if you get your water from a nearby lake.

You should also pay attention to water hardness which can cause urinary problems in dogs (learn more).

Bottom line: If you want to play it safe, have your tap water tested or check the annual water quality report for your utility.

dog drinking from tap

Can Dogs Drink Well Water?

There is a whole arsenal of contaminants that can make well water unsuitable to drink, for dogs as well as humans. Again, if you want to play it safe, have your water tested.

And just like tap water, well water can be high in minerals which, like we said, has been linked with urinary problems in dogs (more info below).

Hard Water

Both tap and well water (and other waters) can contain high amounts of hardness minerals, usually calcium and magnesium. In theory, if your dog drinks hard water over an extended period of time, conditions like urinary tract and/or bladder infections, cystitis, urinary obstruction, crystalluria and stone formation might result.

The good news is that you can easily test for hard water. Kits are available online and at your local hardware store among many other places.

Also, research suggests[1] that problems usually only occur with extremely hard water. Water with normal hardness levels is unlikely to cause issues. What’s more, female dogs suffer from urinary problems more often than male dogs.

Soft Water

A conventional water softener exchanges hardness in water, that is calcium and magnesium ions, with sodium (sometimes potassium) ions rendering the water soft. How much sodium will be added depends on how hard the water is in the first place.

Although the level is generally relatively low and not a big deal, the sodium concentration can be too high to be considered healthy for dogs to drink – especially if your vet has prescribed a low-sodium diet which is often the case for specific breeds, elderly canine and those with cardiovascular or kidney diseases. In addition, some pets just don’t like the somewhat salty taste of softened water.

The exceptions to the rule are water softeners not based on ion exchange to make hard water soft. These so called water conditioners work salt-free and therefore don’t increase sodium levels.

Filtered Water for Dogs

Doing your own filtering or buying filtered water, you can be rest assured that what your dog drinks day by day is indeed safe.

As for the best filtration method, there is reverse osmosis and distillation that provide almost pure H2O. RO and distilled water can be great to treat urinary problems but may not be suited for healthy dogs in the long run (learn more here).

Carbon filtration gets you rid of most chemicals, some heavy metals, and bad tastes and odors. Then there are specialized filter media like activate alumina for more persistent stuff – think fluoride and arsenic. And lastly, UV light treatment kills waterborne pathogens.

Which method is best for you depends on the condition of your water, and also on your preferences: Do you want filtered water everywhere in your home or just at a single faucet? Do you prefer a filter pitcher over and under sink system? How about a faucet filter? And are you on a budget?

If you want to go the filtered water route, find out what’s in your water first. Then get the best filter for the job.

Water Fountains

There are water fountains that use filters. This way your dog not only gets access to clean drinking water, he is also encouraged to drink more and stay well hydrated. Why? In general, pets – in fact almost all animals – prefer to drink moving over stagnant water. Just remember to replace the filter regularly.

As an alternative, you could also filter the water first and then pour it into a fountain.

Can Dogs Drink Distilled Water? How About Reverse Osmosis Water?

The benefit of distilled as well as RO water is that it’s almost pure H2O. No microorganisms, no chlorine, no lead, no pesticides – you name it! So this is good. However at the same time, both waters lack all the naturally occurring, healthy minerals. This can cause low electrolyte blood levels in your dog and also lead to over-hydration or water toxicity among other conditions. We also read a report about dogs developing heart problems due to potassium deficiency, presumably because they were given distilled water exclusively.

dog drinking water

It might also be that your dog simply does not like the flat taste of distilled/RO water preventing proper hydration.

On the other hand, highly pure water can aid in the treatment of urinary problems like infections, crystals and stones.

Bottom line: Some veterinarians don’t recommend distilled respectively reverse osmosis water for dogs, others do.

The question really is, Does your dog get all the salts and minerals it needs from its food? If so, distilled/RO water might be just fine. And there is definitely no need to worry about giving small amounts here and there.

One may also ask, Why do you want to serve your dog distilled/RO water? If there is a certain contaminant that you are worried about, maybe there is a better way to have it removed.

In our humble opinion, unless your vet has specifically told you to use distilled/RO water, stay away from it. If you insist on using it, consider remineralization. This will allow you to bypass all the potentially harmful contaminants and still make sure that your dog gets all the salts and minerals it needs.

Bottled Water for Dogs

Dogs, cats, humans – drinking bottled water is always a waste of money. Most is just tap water anyway and there is no guarantee that it is any better in terms of quality. On top of that, it creates a lot of plastic waste.

The only reason for us to buy bottled water is if you are on the go and don’t have another choice.

Mineral Water for Dogs

As the name suggests, mineral water is high in minerals. The mineral content might be too high actually and thus cause urinary problems.

Also see Hard Water

Can Dogs Drink Carbonated Water?

Giving a dog carbonated water can lead to gastric upset. If given too much, the dog’s stomach might flip a.k.a. bloat which is life-threatening. Bloating is especially a problem with dogs that can’t burp properly and larger breeds in general. Other reactions that dog owners reported are diarrhea and vomiting.

It’s not like your dog just farts a few times and no real harm will be done. Do NOT let your dog drink carbonated water!

Can Dogs Drink Smart Water or Vitamin Water?

Yes, they can. Smart Water is spring water mixed with electrolytes. And although dogs don’t need the extra dose of salts and minerals after physical activity as much as we do, if a dog has been vomiting or suffers from diarrhea electrolyte drinks can replace what was lost and help prevent dehydration.

By the way, an alternative to Smart Water is unflavored Pedialyte. Don’t use flavored Pedialyte or Gatorade as it contains artificial sugars.

As far as vitamin water is concerned, some vets say that it can improve your dog’s health, while others say it is unnecessary.

Stagnant Waters, Puddles, Ponds, Lakes, Pools, Toilet Water, Sea Water

  • Most dogs don’t care about the “freshness” of water. In fact, they usually enjoy drinking out of puddles, ponds and god knows what. However, stagnant waters that lack circulation are prone to harbor large numbers of waterborne pathogens that can cause serious infections like leptospirosis or giardia. Infections can also come from water in locations highly frequented by dogs so that they contain their own feces, infections that can be severe and even lead to hospitalization.
  • Another danger are puddles on or close to roads and parking lots as they might contain antifreeze. The chemical can cause irreversible kidney failure. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and ultimately coma.
  • Furthermore, ponds as well as lakes can see algae blooms in spring/summer releasing toxic substances into the water as soon as the algae start to wither. Ingesting such toxins can damage your dog’s kidneys, liver and other organs.
  • Pool water can be hazardous if your dog drinks large amounts and over an extended period of time leading to dehydration due to the elevated chlorine content. The acute symptom is an upset stomach. One or two mouthfuls every now and then should not pose a problem though.
  • How about toilet water? It likely contains cleaner residues like bleach and other chemicals – maybe not the healthiest choice as the primary drinking water source. Regular ingestion can result in irritation of the intestines and vomiting.
  • Sea water is extremely high in salt content. If you want to protect your four-legged friend from diarrhea and dehydration, don’t let him drink it.

All in all, most dogs can drink water from questionable sources with no ill effect, so don’t worry too much. Just remember to watch for symptoms of illness and if you feel like there is something wrong consult a vet immediately.

water puddle in city

The Best Water for Cats to Drink

As with dogs, the best drinking water for cats is water that would be healthy for yourself.

That being said, kittens on a wet-food diet get the bulk of their daily water intake through eating. So in this case you don’t have to worry about the water issue as much.

Still, remember that cats have a weak sense of thirst. And chronic underhydration can cause health problems, especially with the urinary tract. In other words, you have to make sure that your cat drinks enough water, even if not a whole lot is needed. A fountain can help you achieve that. Just like dogs, certain cats prefer drinking from a flowing water source. Some cats also like to drink straight from the tap. And generally speaking, cats always prefer water that tastes fresh.

Can Cats Drink Tap Water?

Cats can drink tap water if the quality is up to standards. You can learn more about tap water quality issues above.

In a nutshell:

Consider having your water tested or check your municipality’s water quality report. Your cat may also not like the water if it’s high in chlorine. Above that, we read a forum message where a cat owner reported that his two cats kept getting sick due to tap water being treated with chloramine for disinfection. And lastly, you should pay attention to water hardness which can cause urinary problems.

Well Water/Hard Water – Is It Safe?

Also see Can Dogs Drink Well Water and Hard Water

It is interesting to note that cats are more prone to developing urinary issues than dogs when being given hard water.

cat drinking water

Soft Water

Also see Soft Water

Most cats can sustain themselves on salt water (sea water), so giving them soft water is unlikely to cause problems under normal circumstances. However, it could be the case that your feline does not like the taste much.

Filtered Water for Cats

Also see Filtered Water for Dogs

RO and Distilled Water for Cats

Also see Can Dogs Drink Distilled Water? How About Reverse Osmosis Water?

Can cats drink distilled water?

As for dogs, distilled water should only be the primary water source for your cat when recommended by your vet, for example in case of urinary crystals. Mineral intake gets restricted effectively preventing bladder stones from forming.

Other than that, you probably want to stay away from distilled water.

Can Cats Drink Bottled Water?

Can cats drink bottled water? It’s a waste of money, but they can.

Sparkling Water

Sparkling water is a big no-no. Too much carbonated water can lead to hiccups and stomach bloat.

Can Cats Drink Salt Water?

As mentioned earlier, most cats can sustain themselves on salt water. Some, however, drink too much of it and suffer from elevated blood salt levels.

Pool Water

When you consider that cats can survive on salt water, pool water should not pose a problem; unless there is more in it than chlorine alone.

References:

comment banner

Questions? Don’t hesitate to ask – just leave a comment below!

About the Author Gene Fitzgerald

Gene Fitzgerald has been with BOS since the very beginning. She is head of content creation and has fully immersed herself into the home water treatment industry only to become an expert herself. Outside of BOS, Gene loves reading books on philosophy & social issues, making music, and hiking.
Learn more about Gene and the rest of the BOS Team.

Gene

bad water taste thumbnail

Why Does Your Water Taste Bad? Weird & Funny Tastes Explained

Please note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy a product or service through such a link we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Pure H2O that contains zero minerals or any other kind of impurity is completely tasteless. This is why even only tiny amounts of salts or chemicals in water causing the smallest change in taste can be noticeable.

It is also why we have so many waters that taste different, because water is never 100 percent pure – far from it.

Of course, it can also happen that you perceive a bad, weird or funny flavor that you have never tasted before. Is there something wrong? Today’s post explains why some waters taste the way they do and what you can do about it.

Tap, Well, Bottled – Why Does Water Taste Bad?

When we talk about bad taste, we first need to differentiate between tap, well and bottled water, as they are all prone to their own common contamination issues.

  • Tap water is usually disinfected with chlorine or chloramine. This can create the characteristic “swimming pool” taste and odor. Above that, tap water travels a long way from the treatment plant to your home. The water source and the piping affect the taste of what comes out of your taps.
  • If you have your own private well we are almost always talking about groundwater. Groundwater reacts with aquifer rocks and sediments as it moves underground. These geochemical processes leach constituents into the water which are perceptible at high-enough concentrations. This also means that well water is always subject to change. As a result, taste characteristics can vary.
  • And probably most of us can associate bottled water with an unpleasant plastic taste.

In other words, the potential bad taste of water depends on where it originates from.

It Might Be You

It could be that you are the “reason” for the problem at hand. You might have a bad cold which influences your perception of taste. What’s more, people that just had their wisdom teeth removed might suffer from an impaired sense of taste. Fortunately this is only temporary in most cases. Water and other liquids tasting bitter is something that some chemotherapy patients experience.

So generally speaking, you might have to deal with taste issues due to physiological reasons. By the way, pregnancy is another one.

Furthermore, we have to remember that taste is subjective at least to some degree and you simply might have a very keen sense of taste. It’s also entirely possible that a certain water tastes weird to you, but someone else likes it and vice versa.

With all that said, below is a list of flavors that your water might have. We provide possible explanations for each (exempt physiological and health-related causes) and also what you can do about them. At the end you will find some general advice to follow.

1. Water Tastes Like Chlorine (Bleach)

Chlorine or bleach is probably the most common flavor in tap water. Some people may also describe the taste as “chemical”.

As already mentioned, municipalities use chlorine or chloramine to disinfect their water supply. This step is essential to make the water safe to drink. However, in excess amounts chlorine in particular makes water taste and smell like a swimming pool.

Chlorine taste can also be the aftermath of shock chlorination of a well.

The good news: Chlorine taste and odor can easily be removed with a basic carbon water filter – unless you are dealing with chloramine; here you will need catalytic carbon. Both filter types are available in many different forms and sizes, either for the point of use (e.g. under sink water filter) or the point of entry (whole house water filter).

activated carbon

With chlorine, heating the water for several minutes (distilling also works) or simply letting it sit for a while helps too. And so does adding Vitamin C – think fruit infusion. Vitamin C is also great for neutralizing chloramines. Another viable but less common alternative is UV light treatment which reduces chlorine and chloramines into easily removable byproducts. Chloramine removal through boiling is also possible.

2. Water Tastes Bitter

Water that tastes bitter is often acidic and thus high in dissolved metals, first and foremost copper and zinc, as acidity accelerates corrosion of pipes and fittings. We recommend you have your water tested ASAP, especially the water pH. Corrosion could result in elevated lead levels which is highly dangerous.

Copper and zinc can also come from an aging water supply system, an old water tank or heater, or from a wrong combination of plumbing materials.

In general, the bitter taste will likely be most obtrusive in the morning when you first open a tap. This is because the water has been sitting in the line all night. Run the tap for some time to draw fresh water in.

If you are on well water, naturally occurring iron and manganese are probably the culprits. The latter is responsible for a bitter metallic taste. Another possible cause is high sulfate content. (Source)

What can you do?

  1. For iron and manganese, have your water tested first. You need to know what type(s) of iron you are facing. In addition, test for hydrogen sulfide and iron bacteria. Lastly, determine water pH, temperature and alkalinity as well as dissolved oxygen content. Then choose a treatment method and system tailored to your situation. For more info check our iron removal guide.
  2. Copper and zinc can be eliminated via ion exchange, reverse osmosis, activated charcoal filtration or distillation.
  3. Lead can be taken care of using a reverse osmosis system (find the best reverse osmosis systems here), a carbon filter or a distiller.
  4. A neutralizing filter or liquid injection system can be used to balance water pH. Both are point-of-entry systems and solve the corrosion problem for your entire plumbing.

3. Water Tasting Like Metal

Also see 2. Water Tastes Bitter

A metallic taste indicates the presence of metals such as iron, copper, zinc or manganese.

They may be naturally occurring, originate from an aging water system or wrong combination of plumbing materials, or enter your water due to corrosion if the pH is outside acceptable ranges.

4. Water Tastes Like Blood

Also see 2. Water Tastes Bitter

The taste of water high in iron content can resemble blood.

5. Milky Taste

Water with a lot of calcium may remind you of milk, but this is only speculation.

glass of milk

6. Water Tastes Like Plastic

Water that tastes like plastic is usually bottled water stored in plastic containers. Simply put, tiny plastic parts leach into the water over time. This is all the more noticeable in hot weather which amplifies the process.

Our only recommendation is to stay away from bottled water that comes in a plastic container.

If it’s tap water that tastes like plastic it most likely has to do with plastic piping. It’s the most popular plumbing material today since it is so cheap and easy to install. If installed only recently, chances are that the taste will disappear with time (flush thoroughly). If not, have a plumber check the pipes.

In case the taste reminds you of an antiseptic your dishwasher or washing machine might be causing the issue. Were they installed properly? They should also have a check valve to prevent backflow.

7. Waster Tastes Dirty

Algae blooms or bacterial growth in the water system you are connected to or your own plumbing can result in dirty tasting water.

For more information check 11. Earthy, Musty, Moldy Water.

But maybe the most obvious answer is correct: There actually is dirt a.k.a. sediment in your water. If so, you should see tiny particles floating in your glass. The solution? Get a sediment filter.

8. Why Does My Water Taste Sweet?

Calcium, iron or imbalanced water alkalinity or pH levels can have a sweetening effect, believe it or not. The same goes for certain types of plumbing.

Try flushing your system. If that doesn’t help look into the various water treatment methods mentioned in this guide.

9. Sour

Sour water is acidic, so water with a low pH. Acidity not only accelerates corrosion of pipes and fittings causing leaks, it could also elevate levels of toxic lead. Have your water tested ASAP!

For more information check 2. Water Tastes Bitter.

pH

10. Soapy

Soapy water is a rare phenomenon and may be caused by:

  1. Your dishwasher or washing machine – Due to a broken check valve the wastewater stays in the water supply for too long. Replace.
  2. Deterioration of flexible hoses – Replace.
  3. Backflowing issue – Investigate.
  4. Septic tank leakage – Investigate.
  5. (Bottled) water with high pH – Switch brand.

11. Earthy, Musty, Moldy Water

An earthy, musty or moldy taste is often an indicator for seasonal algal blooms in the source water. Now, due to the fact that municipal water gets proper treatment no algae will make it to your home, but the taste may linger for a while.

Other possible explanations are bacterial growth or decaying organic matter within the water system and water bodies as well as the soil the water filters through in case of well water. Or it’s the well itself and thus time for another shock chlorination to get a start fresh.

A third possibility is infestation of your own plumbing system or fixtures. Check if every outlet in your home has the same dirt-like taste or if it’s an isolated problem. It might also be that the resin bed of your water softener needs cleaning, or your tank water heater.

The fault lies within your entire plumbing? Flush with bleach solution and make sure to soak faucet aerators for 15 minutes. If it’s a single source remove the aerator and clean it. A bath in bleach solution or vinegar may be necessary.

You should also consider having your water tested for microbes.

bacteria

A water filter system based on activated carbon will most likely be able to take care of the taste issue. Reverse osmosis works, too. Although funnily enough, if you already have a filter system installed it could be the root of the problem in case it has been neglected for too long. Mold, mildew, bacteria and the like might have accumulated in the filter itself and/or other parts so that you need to do some cleaning and replace the cartridge.

12. Salty

High concentrations of chloride, sulfate or Total Dissolved Solids make water salty.

  • Chloride can be naturally occurring but also results from industrial waste and irrigation drainage. What’s problematic about it is that it can corrode pipes.
  • Sulfate is natural in well water. Or it may be the result of industrial waste.

Saltiness may also come from road salt, or salt water or sewage getting into the water supply. Especially the last two causes need to be addressed immediately.

A reverse osmosis system can handle saltiness with ease. And although in most cases the water will be safe to drink, it is important to have it tested for the above reasons.

If you have a water softener installed in your home it might use too much salt. Check the settings. There could also be something wrong with the regeneration cycle or the unit is malfunctioning in another way. Time to investigate!

General Advice

First Steps

A new, bad or strange taste respectively aftertaste doesn’t necessarily implicate that there is something wrong with your water. But it is definitely an indicator that you should pay attention. It could be a sign for potentially dangerous contamination that needs to be taken care of.

Stop drinking the water immediately. Then try a different water source. Maybe you can visit one of your neighbors? If it’s only your house where the off-taste appears you need to check your plumbing as well as your septic tank and private well if applicable. Consult a licensed plumber if need be. You should also consider having your water tested.

If the whole neighborhood has the taste, reaching out to your local municipality should bring clarity. Their annual water quality report might also point you in the right direction. And again, think about having some individual testing done.

Filtration

Testing or not, if you cannot identify and remove what’s causing your water to taste off your only option is to filter. Unless you know that it’s only a temporary issue and you have a suitable alternative for the time being. If it’s a permanent thing then you need to act.

On a side note: If you recently moved to a new location it might be that you just need some patience to get used to your new water. Like we said, different waters taste different.

Fortunately, most taste issues can be resolved with the right filter system. The impurities in question will be removed and you get access to delicious, odor-free water. On top of that, you will have peace of mind knowing that you are not ingesting noxious water day after day.

As for what type of water filter to choose, there are plenty of options and it really depends on what contaminants you are facing.

different water filter systems

  • An activated carbon filter is usually enough to make most waters taste much better. It’ also good for lead removal and takes care of a bunch of chemicals.
  • Reverse osmosis provides the most thorough purification for almost pure H2O.
  • Distillation is on par with reverse osmosis but usage is less convenient and the boiling process requires quite a bit of electricity.
  • There also is a difference between point-of-use and whole house applications. Point-of-use units include under sink water filters, countertop filters, gravity systems, faucet and pitcher filters, distillers, shower filters, and refrigerator filters. A whole house water filtration system gets installed at the main line where the water first enters your home. Thus you have filtered water at every outlet.

Boiling, Aging, Water Infusion, Cooling

Some contaminants can be boiled out of water. Volatile substances dissipate if you let the water sit.

Fruit infusion or adding lemon or lime juice to your water can help, too. And so does cooling. But you have to be certain that the underlying contamination issue does not pose a health threat.

comment banner

Questions? Don’t hesitate to ask – just leave a comment below!

About the Author Gene Fitzgerald

Gene Fitzgerald has been with BOS since the very beginning. She is head of content creation and has fully immersed herself into the home water treatment industry only to become an expert herself. Outside of BOS, Gene loves reading books on philosophy & social issues, making music, and hiking.
Learn more about Gene and the rest of the BOS Team.

Gene

water filter vs bottled water thumbnail

Water Filter vs Bottled Water Cost – Which Is More Affordable?

Please note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy a product or service through such a link we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Everyone knows that, compared to plain tap or well water, bottled water is hundreds of times more expensive. Above that, you have to go to the store to get it which involves heavy lifting, it produces a tremendous amount of plastic waste, and some bottled water is just municipal water filled into a bottle.

And yet still, bottled water is a multi-billion dollar industry. Why? Maybe because consumers want to have certainty that the water they drink is safe, healthy and delicious.

But wait a minute; you can achieve that with the help of a water filter! And you wouldn’t have to go to the store. And there would be significantly less plastic waste. But water filter vs bottled water – which is the better choice from a cost perspective? Let’s find out!

Water Filter vs Bottled Water Cost

The Cost of Bottled Water

The U.S. bottled water industry which includes both carbonated and non-carbonated water sold in bottles or via water dispensers is a 63.6 billion dollar industry. This is how much revenue was made in the year 2018. For 2019, 67.6 billion dollars are estimated. The market is expected to grow 5.5% per year until 2023.

The volume of bottled water sold in 2018 amounted to roughly 54 billion liters, that’s about 14.27 billion gallons. Thus we get a price per liter of $1.18 USD. However, this includes both “at-home” water and “out-of-home” water. At-home covers all retail sales – think supermarkets. Out-of-home means sales to hotels, restaurants, bars, cafés, etc.

Differentiating between the two is rather important. Why? Because the price per liter for at-home water was $0.72 USD, whereas the price for out-of-home water was $4.41 USD (both for 2018), so much more expensive.

(*All numbers according to statista.com[1])

For our calculations further down below we will use $0.72 USD per liter respectively $2.73 USD per gallon as our basis unit price. Depending on which type and brand of bottled water you choose, you will pay some more or a little less.

By the way, neither flavored bottled water nor vitamin waters are part of this statistic.

lots of bottled water

The Cost of Tap/Well Water

If you have your own private well then all your household water is free, obviously. Finding a cost estimate for tap water is a little more complicated.

According to a report (Water and Wastewater Annual Price Escalation Rates for Selected Cities across the United States[2]) provided by the U.S. Department of Energy, the average (mean) rate for tap water per 1,000 gallons was $3.38 USD in 2016. This average was calculated based on the water rates of 63 selected cities across the U.S which were part of the survey. The lowest rate was about $1.00 USD (Rochester, MN) and the highest about $7.50 USD (Lubbock, TX) per 1,000 gallons.

If you currently live in Marietta, GA you will have to pay about $5.00 USD per thousand gallons. Residents of Los Altos, CA will have to pay more than $7.00 USD.

General facts:

  • Rates increased 5.09% annually between 1996 and 2018
  • Midsized water utilities have the lowest rates
  • Median rates are highest in the West and lowest in the Midwest

Why Water Rates Will Continue to Increase

It is estimated that expanding, maintaining and repairing our water infrastructure will cost us more than a trillion dollars over the next 25 years. This huge amount of money must be generated somewhere…

The Price of Purchasing, Installing & Maintaining a Water Filter

Lastly, we have to estimate the cost of purchasing, installing and maintaining (mainly filter cartridge replacements) a water filter. Now, it doesn’t make sense to try and find an overall estimate here, as this will largely vary depending on what kind of filter you are eyeballing. Instead, here is a list with standard price ranges for the most popular filter types.

We’ve also listed costs for installation and maintenance. Especially the initial financial burden of setting up a water filter can be high. That being said, a high quality product will last for many years to come. And whereas bottled water is an ongoing expense, the real savings of switching to filtered water become evident in the second year and every year after that.

Filter TypePurchase Price RangeInstallation CostAnnual Maintenance CostTotal Cost (First Year)
Reverse osmosis systems (see reviews)$150 – $500Free* – $300 (400)$60 – $200$210 – $1,000
Whole house water filters (see reviews)$300 – $1,000+Free* – $500+$100 – $300$400 – $1,800
Regular under sink filters (see reviews)$50 – $200Free* – $300$20 – $150$70 – $650
Countertop water filters (see reviews)$50 – $120$70 – $130$120 – $250
Faucet water filters (see reviews)$20 – $50$20 – $40$40 – $90
Water filter pitchers (see reviews)$20 – $50$60 – $150$80 – $200

*DIYers that are ready to take on a new project can save a few hundred bucks by installing their water filter system themselves.

Doing the Math

Alright, time do to the math!

To find out if filtered water or bottled water is more affordable we are going to do 3 examples calculations based on real-life parameters. In each case, we are going to assume that a family of 4 consumes 4 x 80 ounces = 2.5 gallons of water a day or 912.5 gallons per year. This means that the cost for bottled water for a whole year is:

912.5 bottled water gallons x $2.73 USD/gallon = $2491.13 USD

Our family would spend almost $2,500 USD on bottled water in one year.

Let’s see how well our water filters do…

Calculation Example 1: Water Filter Pitcher, Family of 4

water filter pitcher

For our first calculation example we purchase a popular water filter pitcher which retails at around $70 USD (we know, this one is way above average) and includes 1 filter cartridge. Replacement filters cost $50 USD and last for about 150 gallons each.

The costs for 1 year of filtered water using the pitcher are:

1. Initial purchase = $70 USD

2. # of required replacement filters: 912.5 gallons / 150 gallons = 6.08 ≈ 7

1 filter cartridge included: 7 – 1 = 6

6 x $50 USD = $300 USD

3. 5 tap water gallons ≈ $7 USD (worst case)

4. Total cost = $70 + $300 + $7 = $377 USD

In example 1, our family would spend less than $400 USD on filtered water for a whole year. For every year that follows, the annual costs would drop to $377 – $70 = $307 USD since there is no need to purchase a new filter pitcher every year.

Cost savings year 1:

$2491.13 – $377 = $2114.13 USD

Cost savings every following year:

$2491.13 – $307 = $2184.13 USD

More than 2,100 dollars in cost savings! And keep in mind that we chose one of the most expensive filter pitchers. Also, we would barely use the 6th replacement filter cartridge.

Calculation Example 2: Reverse Osmosis Under Sink System, Self-Installed, Family of 4

Reverse Osmosis System

For our next calculation example we purchase a 5-stage reverse osmosis under sink drinking water filtration system for roughly $185 USD. The first set of filters is included which should last us 1 year. Annual filter replacement costs total at $60 USD.

One more important detail is that, without an additional pump, a reverse osmosis system wastes 3 to 4 times the amount of water that you can later actually use.

The costs for 1 year of filtered water using the reverse osmosis system are:

1. Initial purchase = $185 USD

2. 5 tap water gallons ≈ $7 USD (worst case)

3. Wastewater ≈ $7 USD x 4 = $28 USD (worst case)

4. Total cost = $185 + $7 + $28 = $220 USD

In example 2, our family would spend approximately $220 USD on reverse osmosis water for a whole year. For every year that follows, the annual costs would total $60 + $7 + $28 = $95 USD since there is no need to purchase a new RO system every year, but only the replacement filters.

Cost savings year 1:

$2491.13 – $220 = $2271.13 USD

Cost savings every following year:

$2491.13 – $307 = $2396.13 USD

Almost $2,300 USD in cost savings in the first year and nearly $2,400 USD each following year – this is simply mind blowing!

Calculation Example 3: Whole House Water Filter System, Professionally-Installed, Family of 4

big blue water filter

In our last example we buy a 3-stage whole house water filtration system that comes with a specialized lead reducing filter. Cost: About $450 USD for the system + $50 USD for replacement filters in the first year. To this we have to add $400 USD for the installation done by a licensed plumber. The annual filter costs starting in year 2 are $225 USD.

The costs for 1 year of filtered water are:

1. Initial purchase + replacement filter set + installation = $450 + $50 + $400 = $900 USD

2. 5 tap water gallons ≈ $7 USD (worst case)

3. Total cost = $900 + $7 = $907 USD

Our family would spend a little more than $900 USD on a professionally installed whole house water filter for lead free drinking water. For every year that follows, the annual costs would total $225 + $7 = $232 USD.

Cost savings year 1:

$2491.13 – $907 = $1584.13 USD

Cost savings every following year:

$2491.13 – $232 = $2259.13 USD

$1,584.13 USD savings in year 1 and $2259.13 USD every year after that. What’s more, we have access to filtered and more or less lead-free drinking water everywhere in our home!

Bottom Line

Looking at our calculation examples above, it becomes more than obvious that filtered water has a tremendous cost advantage over bottled water. $2,000 USD and more in potential cost savings for a family of 4 every single year – enough said!

It is also worth mentioning that the more water you drink, the sooner you will break even and the more savings you will make each year.

References:

comment banner

Questions? Don’t hesitate to ask – just leave a comment below!

About the Author Gene Fitzgerald

Gene Fitzgerald has been with BOS since the very beginning. She is head of content creation and has fully immersed herself into the home water treatment industry only to become an expert herself. Outside of BOS, Gene loves reading books on philosophy & social issues, making music, and hiking.
Learn more about Gene and the rest of the BOS Team.

Gene

Reverse Osmosis 101

What Is Reverse Osmosis and How Does It Work? (+ RO Water Guide)

Please note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy a product or service through such a link we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

If you are into home water treatment or just pay attention to the quality of water that you drink then you have probably heard about reverse osmosis. You might even have a filter system installed under the kitchen sink in your home.

But how does reverse osmosis work, actually?

Although the name sounds complicated, it really isn’t. Are you ready to go back to chemistry class?

What Is Reverse Osmosis?

A Definition

According to Merriam-Webster, reverse osmosis is “the movement of fresh water through a semipermeable membrane when pressure is applied to a solution (such as seawater) on one side of it”.

In other words, reverse osmosis (RO) is a technology to treat water and remove almost all impurities from it.

Furthermore, it is considered one of the safest water filtration methods which is why many bottlers in the U.S. rely on it. (Next time you go grocery shopping take 5 minutes of your time and check out some of the bottled water labels. Look for hints such as “Purified by Reverse Osmosis”.

RO is an abbreviation and stands for Reverse Osmosis.

What Is Reverse Osmosis Water?

Simply put, reverse osmosis water, or RO water, is water that was purified by the use of reverse osmosis. Like we said, it’s almost pure H2O with only tiny bits of foreign particles.

Pureness is also the reason why RO water is being used in medical applications (e.g. dialysis and injections) and other industry processes, and why it’s suited for drinking and cooking.

In the end, how pure reverse osmosis water really is depends on a variety of factors, such as the treatment equipment and the condition and quality of the feed water. As a general rule, feed water that contains more impurities prior to the purification will also contain higher amounts afterwards, compared to feed water that was cleaner in the first place.

It is also relevant what types of contaminants are present. For instance, large bacteria and viruses can be removed much easier and more effectively than small ions like fluoride.

How about actual numbers for purity levels? Somewhere between 85 and 98 percent contaminant removal is realistic. Thus, RO water is not 100 percent pure, but that doesn’t mean that it’s unsafe. The remaining solutes are unlikely to cause health problems.

By the way, these numbers are for the reverse osmosis process alone. A reverse osmosis water system for home use comes with additional filter stages that allow for up to 99% contaminant reduction rates.

Pro tip: Look for models with reduction rates certified by independent 3rd party organizations such as NSF. Need help? View our reverse osmosis system reviews.

How Does Reverse Osmosis Work?

Reverse osmosis is most commonly used to desalinate sea water in areas where fresh drinking water is hard to access. It is also used to recycle commercial wastewater. There are RO systems for homes, for commercial use, and large plants for industrial applications. But how exactly does reverse osmosis work?

Osmosis & Reverse Osmosis Process Diagram

Osmosis Process Diagram

Reverse Osmosis Process Diagram

Reverse osmosis is the opposite of a natural process called “osmosis”. If you remember your chemistry, osmosis occurs when a solvent moves from a low concentrate solution to a high concentrate solution through a semipermeable membrane; semipermeable meaning that only some substances can pass through it.

This process continues until both solute concentrations on either side of the membrane are equal. The movement of a solvent to equalize solute concentrations creates osmotic pressure.

In reverse osmosis the exact opposite happens. External hydraulic pressure is used to overcome the osmotic pressure and the flow of the solvent, usually water, is reversed. The solvent molecules now move from the high concentrate solution (feed water) to the low concentrate solution (permeate). The aim is to separate the solvent from the dissolved solids resulting in purified water.

However, not all water can be purified. No matter how efficient, every reverse osmosis application produces wastewater. The remaining concentrate a.k.a. reject which now contains all the impurities either goes down the drain or is fed back into the water supply for recycling.

Not sure if you fully understood how this works? Try this 90-second YouTube video:

About RO Membranes

A reverse osmosis membrane rejects contaminants based on their size and ionic charge – the larger or higher, the better.

Compared to micro and ultrafiltration membranes, an RO membrane has much smaller pores that water molecules can diffuse through. However, the majority of impurities can’t and are flushed down the drain. Thin-Film Composite (TFC) RO membranes that are commonly found in drinking water purification system reject particles – that includes salts, heavy metals, bacteria, viruses, chemicals and organics – down to a size of 0.0001 microns.

RO membrane

That being said, there is a key difference between reverse osmosis and “regular” filtration and that is the predominant removal mechanism. Regular filtration works by size exclusion. This simply means that if a solvent is too large it will be filtered out. Theoretically speaking, you can achieve perfect exclusion here given that membrane pores are small enough.

Not so with reverse osmosis, because it involves a diffusive mechanism so that filtration efficiency also depends on solute concentration, water pressure and water temperature. Higher water pressure means higher filtration efficiency, while lower water temperature results in lower efficiency.

FYI: The ideal pressure for operating a point-of-use home RO system is around 60 psi. In case pressure drops below 30 psi, it’s generally considered insufficient and should be increased using a pressure pump.

Membrane Types & Material

The majority of commercially manufactured RO membranes are TFC, cellulose acetate (CA) or cellulose triacetate (CTA) membranes.

On the one hand, TFC membranes are more durable than CA and CTA membranes and also have higher rejection rates, 98% on average for the common contaminants.

On the other hand, CA and CTA membranes are better at tolerating chlorine, but more susceptible to fouling from bacteria.

Each membrane is made up of a flat sheet rolled around a perforated core tube where the permeate water is channeled into. A membrane flat sheet has 3 layers: First, the active barrier skin about 0.2 microns in thickness, followed by 2 support layers about 100 microns in thickness that strengthen the very thin barrier layer.

comment banner

Questions? Don’t hesitate to ask – just leave a comment below!

About the Author Gene Fitzgerald

Gene Fitzgerald has been with BOS since the very beginning. She is head of content creation and has fully immersed herself into the home water treatment industry only to become an expert herself. Outside of BOS, Gene loves reading books on philosophy & social issues, making music, and hiking.
Learn more about Gene and the rest of the BOS Team.

Gene

filtration vs softening

Water Filtration vs. Softener – What’s the Difference and Which to Use When?

Please note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy a product or service through such a link we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Some people falsely believe that, apart from producing soft water, their water softener would also protect them from harmful contaminants. Truth is, it has virtually zero effect on water quality in terms of purity.

Others are convinced that a water filter makes a great choice for treating hard water issues. Wrong again.

As there seems to be a lot of confusion about when to use a water softener and when a water filter, we are going to point out the difference between the two, and explain under what circumstances one is to be favored over the other.

The Difference Between Water Softeners and Filters

You need a new water filter? Read our reviews here. Oh, you are looking for a softening unit to solve your hard water problems? Find the best water softeners here.

Does a Water Softener Filter Water?

Hard water does not pose a health risk. Quite the contrary, its high mineral content is healthy for our bodies. This is why with water softening, the overarching goal is NOT to remove certain contaminants.

Rather, the purpose of a softening unit is primarily to prevent the build-up of limescale in your plumbing system and household appliances to protect them from premature wear out.

This can be achieved by either

  • completely removing calcium, magnesium and possibly other hardness ions with the help of a genuine salt-based water softener that accommodates a resin bed.
  • Or simply by altering the ions’ behavior to reduce their affinity to stick to surfaces, e.g. by using citric acid as a chelation agent.

The latter is also called “water conditioning“. It has the advantage that no sodium is added to your water.

Both methods will increase the lifespan and efficiency of pipes, water heaters, dishwashers, washing machines, etc. while lowering maintenance and repair costs. However, time has shown that the former is far more effective and thus the go-to approach.

Want to learn more about how a water softener works?

water softener

Also, water softeners are point-of-entry systems, meaning that they connect to the main line and soften all water in your entire home.

To answer our opening question, yes, a softener does filter water. However, “all” that is removed are hard water ions. Softeners were not designed to make water potable by filtering microorganisms, heavy metals, chlorine and other chemicals, fluoride – you name it.

ContaminantRemoval – Yes/No?
SedimentPartially, but will cause damage to system
HardnessYes
Taste & odorNo
ChlorineNo
ChemicalsNo
FluorideNo
LeadNo
Waterborne pathogensNo
Iron/rustPartially, but will cause damage to system

Do Water Filters Soften Hard Water?

Will a water filter soften your water? Not really, at least not effectively and/or efficiently enough.

However, if you are concerned about certain contaminants or impurities such as lead, mercury or pesticides for health reasons, or you simply want to improve water aesthetics, a filtration system is the right choice.

The group of water filters includes reverse osmosis (RO) systems, activated carbon (most common) and other media-type filters, and microporous filters among others.

Depending on which type you choose, contaminants get trapped in a filter e.g. by adsorption, ion exchange or micron filtration and later removed via backwashing or cartridge replacement. Or they are flushed down the drain right away.

water softener vs water filter

Whereas water softeners need to be plumbed in, the majority of filters are point-of-use devices that e.g. install under a kitchen sink or attach to a faucet. This means that they provide filtered water at a single outlet only which is why they are much smaller and less costly. (Of course there are also whole house purifiers.)

Bottom line: Especially if you use your water for drinking you should consider adding a filter system to your home. It will provide great-tasting water and protect the health of your family.

Every water softener is a water filter, but not every water filter is a water softener.

ContaminantRemoval – Yes/No? (+ Preferred Methods)
SedimentYes
HardnessPartially, but will clog filters
Taste & odorYes (carbon media)
ChlorineYes (carbon media)
ChemicalsYes (carbon media)
FluorideYes (RO or activated alumina)
LeadYes (RO or activated carbon)
Waterborne pathogensYes (RO)
Iron/rustYes

Testing Provides Answers

Water softener vs water filter – the decision as we now know depends on the condition of your water:

  • On the one hand, if it contains high levels of calcium and other minerals you are obviously dealing with hardness. A softening system is required.
  • On the other hand, if it has an unpleasant taste and odor to it, or if you face potentially harmful contaminants that better be removed, a specialized filter is needed.

A water softener protects your possessions, a water filter protects your health.

Now, to identify a hardness problem you could look for marks that hard water leaves in your home. These include stains on sinks, tubs, glasses and cutlery, scale deposits in pipes, and flaky skin and brittle hair that your family is struggling with.

In addition, excessive chlorine can easily be spotted due to its characteristic taste and smell.

However, dozens of partly dangerous contaminants that could be present in your water right now cannot be perceived with your eyes, nose or mouth. What’s more, in order for a water softener to work efficiently you need to know the exact mineral composition and concentrations.

That’s why thorough testing is the name of the game. Luckily, you don’t have to commission these tests yourself. Somebody already did that for you – for free!

Because every utility in the United States has to annually provide a quality report listing all contaminants that were found in their water the previous year. All you have to do now is find out where you receive your water from and request a copy of the latest report (not possible if you are on a private well).

Alternatively, you can have your water tested at a certified laboratory or invite a local treatment company to your home. Talking to an expert has the benefit that you can pick his brain about particular water issues. Just don’t let him talk you into buying something that you don’t want or need.

Your last option would be to pick up a kit and do the testing yourself. But this is only really recommended to measure calcium levels for hardness. DIY-testing for a broad range of contaminants lacks precision and is not economic.

Do You Need a Softener If You Have a Whole House Filter and Vice Versa?

If you struggle not only with hard water but also impurities that you want to get rid of, then the answer is yes.

The right whole house filter system supplies water safe for consumption including showering, but only reduces hardness to some extent which is not sufficient to rule out scaling.

A softener takes care of the hardness but does not supply water that meets drinking water standards.

woman drinking

So if you have the money, why not use both a softener plus a filtration system? In fact, this is pretty common among home owners.

By the way, this is also our recommended order of setup:

  1. First you have a softener that removes hardness.
  2. Then you have for example a reverse osmosis system that eliminates up to 99 percent off all impurities including the sodium that was added during the softening process. This will make your water ready for drinking.

By pre-softening the water you will also protect the delicate RO membrane at the heart of the system from fouling. The same applies to filter cartridges that contain carbon or other filter media.

Above that, adding a pre-filter before the softener is a great way to trap sediment that would otherwise accumulate in the softening system.

All in all, using a combination of both a water softener and filter is a win-win for sure!

comment banner

Questions? Don’t hesitate to ask – just leave a comment below!

About the Author Gene Fitzgerald

Gene Fitzgerald has been with BOS since the very beginning. She is head of content creation and has fully immersed herself into the home water treatment industry only to become an expert herself. Outside of BOS, Gene loves reading books on philosophy & social issues, making music, and hiking.
Learn more about Gene and the rest of the BOS Team.

Gene

clean water filter thumb

Brita, PUR & Co. – How to Clean a Water Filter and Refill Activated Charcoal

Please note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy a product or service through such a link we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

In theory, cleaning and reusing your old water filter is a better alternative to replacing it with a new cartridge every month or so. The latter is not only more expensive, it’s also a burden on the environment.

However, if you want to be able to fully enjoy the benefits of home water filtration – and that is pure water – cleaning a used filter isn’t always that simple and effective. What you can and what you shouldn’t do you are going to learn in this post.

How to Clean a Water Filter

First of all, if and how you can clean your water filter depends on what type you are using. While some such as synthetic fiber-pleated sediment filters can be cleaned well to restore filtration speed and effectiveness, others like most paper models are less suited for this.

Also, you should consider if the whole cleaning process is really worth your time, opposed to simply making annual or biannual replacements that are going to cost you $40 in total.

What’s more, through cleaning you won’t be able to remove all the trapped contaminants so replacing your old filter with a new one will eventually need to happen. And although bleach does a great job at disinfection,  there is no guarantee that bacteria, mold, mildew or any other harmful germs will not accumulate inside your filter without you noticing.

In other words: Especially if you are going to use the water for drinking you want to make sure that the filtration is up to standards and can compete with a brand-new cartridge.

heart sponge

Sediment Filters

If you are on a private well with high iron content or excess hardness, or your city supply contains high amounts of impurities, cleaning your sediment (pre-)filter on a regular basis is a great way to extend its lifespan. Here’s what you need to do (does not work for all filter types):

  1. First, you will require some type of acid. Muriatic acid and oxalic acid work great for this. If you prefer oxalic acid, mix about 2 oz of oxalic acid powder (available on Amazon) with 1 gallon of plain water. Muriatic acid can be bought as a pre-mixed solution.
  2. Remove the filter housing and take out the cartridge.
  3. Put the O-ring aside.
  4. Rinse the housing to get all heavy particles out.
  5. Thoroughly rinse off the filter. The more you get off through mechanical cleaning now, the more effective your acid mixture is going to be.
  6. Soak the housing with the cartridge inside of it in the acid solution for 15 to 20 minutes (depending on the level of contamination). No scrubbing whatsoever is required here.
  7. Thoroughly rinse both components with plain water. You want to make sure that there remain no acid leftovers.
  8. Before you put everything back together let the filter dry.

On a side note: You can neutralize the acid with regular baking soda – a couple of tablespoons should be enough – so that you don’t have to worry about pouring it down your drain.

If your sediment filter has passed the point of no return and you are looking for a worthy replacement, make sure to consult the BOS whole house water filter reviews guide.

Carbon (Charcoal) Cartridges

Most carbon block filters consist of 3 layers. In their inside there is the solid carbon block obviously. Wrapped around it is a paper-type layer. The paper removes impurities from your water that the carbon could not trap. At its outside, a carbon filter usually has a plastic mesh netting that holds the paper in place. To clean the filter, you will need to remove that netting:

  1. You can use a knife to cut twice around the entire perimeter as close to the top/bottom of the cartridge as possible. Remove the netting.
  2. Then cut through the paper layer underneath but leave a small strip, maybe a half inch, attached to the inner carbon block. This way the paper stays on and is easy to roll back up.
  3. Peel back the outside paper layer.
  4. Use your garden hose to rinse off all the rough dirt from the paper as well as the charcoal core.
  5. Use warm water with one or two spoonful of bleach to scrub off the paper layer with a brush from both sides.
  6. Let the entire filter soak in the water-bleach mixture for sanitizing.
  7. Meanwhile, you can clean the housing if need be.
  8. Thoroughly rinse everything with clear water.
  9. Roll up the paper layer really tight.
  10. Secure it with a nylon tie at the very top. Trim off the excess end. Add 3 to 4 more nylon ties this way.
  11. Now it’s time to put everything back together.

Following this procedure, you will notice a huge improvement in water taste and pressure. And what’s great is that you can do this several times before replacement is required.

In case your carbon filter does not have a paper layer that you can peel off, use a scrub pad or iron sponge to brush off its outside. This will help to improve water flow and aesthetics a great deal.

Reactivating Activated Carbon

In a forum we read that you could boil an activated carbon block in water for about 15 minutes in order to recharge it. The longer the boiling, the more contaminants will presumably be released.

Not having tried this ourselves, we cannot say if this really works or not.

Brita

Brita filter pitchers and dispensers are easy to use and give you access to somewhat cleaner drinking water. And although you save quite a lot of money compared to buying bottled water, costs for replacement cartridges can start to add up quickly.

However, for less than a dollar you can refill your Brita cartridge with fresh granular activated carbon so you won’t have to buy a new one each month.

activated carbon

Activated carbon (or charcoal) is the main filtration component that Brita filters use. It traps chemical impurities such as chlorine in its pores. But as more and more pores become occupied as time goes by, the filtration becomes less effective until at some point it finally stops.

This is when we have to replace it. By the way, activated carbon is available at your local Walmart for instance and can be bought in bulk at a low price. You can also order online. Either way, you will save a ton of money in the long run.

How does the actual replacement work?

  1. Drill or cut a hole in the middle of the cartridge head. About ½” should do.
  2. Optional: Consider adding a couple of air vents to the top of the casing to increase water flow a.k.a. filtration speed. You can use a sharp knife for this, but be careful not to cut yourself!
  3. Pour the old charcoal out of the hole.
  4. Thoroughly rinse the empty housing with clear water to flush out any remaining filter media.
  5. You might also want to sanitize the housing with household bleach at this point. If you do, rinse thoroughly afterwards.
  6. Fill in the new carbon. Using a funnel makes this a lot easier. The more carbon you add, the longer the cartridge will last.
  7. Carefully knock the filter on your counter so the media can settle inside the cartridge.
  8. Use a cork or rubber piece to seal the hole.
  9. Install the cartridge in your pitcher/dispenser.
  10. Flush the carbon media.

Thanks to this simple modification you can now use your cartridge time and time again which is much more environmentally friendly than throwing another one into the trash every single month.

Prefer video?

Modular Filters (e.g. Refrigerator)

For modular filters that your refrigerator uses all you can do is flush with plain water from both sides. Meanwhile, use a screwdriver to tap on the filter to loosen any larger debris.

Some experts also recommend soaking modular filters in warm water with a gentle cleanser – think vinegar or dish soap. Let the filter soak between 10 and 30 minutes. Thoroughly rinse afterwards until the water comes out all clear. Finally, let the filter air-dry before popping it back inside your refrigerator.

How to Unclog a PUR Water Filter

It’s no secret that PUR’s pitcher filters are prone to clogging. After just a couple of days use, you might see a drop in flow rate that makes the whole filtration process painfully slow.

There are two possible explanations for this:

  • According to PUR, bubbles or air pockets have become trapped inside the filter. You can test this by putting it in a bowl full of water and see if it floats.
  • Small Styrofoam balls that are mixed into the activated carbon media have obstructed the holes of the pleated filtering element at the bottom where water is supposed to flow out.

The solution for 1.) is to shake the cartridge for 5 to 6 seconds holding it upside down at a slight angle. Can you hear the carbon moving inside? If that doesn’t help, tap it against a hard surface a couple of times. Put the cartridge back in the water to see if it still floats. If it sinks, pop it back into your pitcher or dispenser. The flow rate should be way better now. If the cartridge continues to float, repeat the shaking and tapping.

If you struggle with Styrofoam balls plugging the holes of the pleated element, force water through each of the small slots at the bottom of the filter. You can use a faucet sprayer for this. This should dislodge whatever is stuck in there.

Clean Only If It Makes Sense

All in all, you should only clean your used water filter if it makes sense, meaning that you can save money doing so, it’s not too much of a time commitment, it’s more ecological than simple replacement and filtration performance will not be compromised – the latter is key!

If that is the case, you now know how to clean a water filter the right way. Happy cleaning.

comment banner

Questions? Don’t hesitate to ask – just leave a comment below!

About the Author Gene Fitzgerald

Gene Fitzgerald has been with BOS since the very beginning. She is head of content creation and has fully immersed herself into the home water treatment industry only to become an expert herself. Outside of BOS, Gene loves reading books on philosophy & social issues, making music, and hiking.
Learn more about Gene and the rest of the BOS Team.

Gene

Recycle Water Filters Thumb

Brita, PUR, ZeroWater & Co. – How and Where to Recycle Old Water Filters

Please note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy a product or service through such a link we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

If you are using a water filter to get access to cleaner drinking water in your home you have to replace the filter cartridge every once in a while – how often depends on the individual model.

Now despite the fact that home water filtration is much more environmentally-friendly than buying dozens of plastic bottles every week, the used cartridges still add to the landfill. What you can do to counter this is recycle. How? You are about to find out!

What to Do With Old Water Filters?

Proper Disposal – How and Where to Recycle Water Filters

We appreciate the fact that you are concerned about the environment and want to dispose of your old water filters properly. Unfortunately, most manufacturers don’t provide a recycling program at this point.

Still, this doesn’t mean that your only option is to throw them in the trash. What you can also do is contact your local recycling center. They may accept the cartridges or give you further information on what you can do with them:

  1. Contact the customer support of your filter manufacturer to find out if they offer a recycling program.
  2. If the answer is “yes”, follow their instructions. Usually the filter has to dry for a couple of days first. Then you can wrap it in plastic and ship it in an appropriate container. Some manufacturers will even send you a pre-stamped envelope so that you can mail your filters for free.
  3. If the answers is “no”, ask what type of plastic was used for the filter shell (#1, #2, #3, #4 or #5). You can also check the shell yourself. It will have a number surrounded by three arrows printed on it.
  4. Contact your local recycler to find out what plastic type(s) they accept.
  5. Recycle if possible. Otherwise throw in trash.

On a side note: Some people say that cutting open your used cartridges to dump out the filtering media before throwing the plastic in the recycle bin is fine. Others warn against it since the media likely holds high amounts of contaminants removed from your tap or well water. Cutting open a filter cartridge may expose you to these substances. Personally, we don’t consider this to be an issue – you can wear gloves if you want – but this is up to you to decide (as long as you don’t dump anything in your garden which will release all the contaminants back into the environment.

Companies that do offer a recycling program:

The Gimme 5 recycling program that allows you to drop off any #5 polypropylene plastic at your local Whole Foods Market does NOT accept water filters!

Recyclers Beware!

There are some websites out there claiming that they specialize in filter recycling. However, it turns out that this is often a scam as these companies charge a fee for their “service” on top of the costs for shipping. What’s more, once you have submitted your information, it’s likely that you will get bombarded with sales leads in future.

Bottom line: Working with a legitimate recycling program sponsored by your filter manufacturer is usually the way to go and ensures that all materials are being recycled properly.

Reuse

Some people like to reuse their water filters. They will clean the cartridge – even use bleach – and refill the filter media if needed. We have covered this topic in our post here.

carton

Just so you know, even the most thorough cleaning procedure does not guarantee that your refurbished filter will perform like it was brand-new, let alone be 100% free from contaminant leftovers and germs.

If it’s finally time for you to order a new home water filter, here are our favorite systems.

Brita & PUR

Both Brita and PUR have teamed up with TerraCycle, a recycling and upcycling company that has committed to repurposing “non-recyclable” products into affordable innovative products, such as pouches, pencils and potting supplies (for the whole range of products click here).

If you are a Brita customer, you can sign up to the free Brita Rewards program. When logged in simply fill out the form to get a free shipping label. Now you can recycle pitchers, dispensers, bottles, faucet units and any packaging in 3 easy steps:

  1. Allow your Brita products to dry out for three days.
  2. Collect at least 5 lbs to recycle. Place everything in a garbage liner or trash bag and pack it in a box.
  3. Print out your shipping label and mail the box.

Are you a Canadian resident? Then you first have to create a TerraCycle account at terracycle.ca and join the Brita Recycling program there. You can download a pre-paid shipping label from your TerraCycle account.

In case you are a PUR customer, you have to join the PUR recycling program.

Then you can start collecting PUR pitchers, dispensers, faucet filtration systems, filters and packaging film. Once you have a full box, send it using the free shipping label available at the TerraCycle website. Again, you have to remember to properly dry everything before wrapping it in a plastic bag or garbage liner.

Did we mention that for each shipment you send in you have the opportunity to earn points that you can donate to an organization of your choice or a TerraCycle product bundle? That’s so cool!

Want to learn more about TerraCycle?

ZeroWater

ZeroWater provides a recycling form that you can complete and return with your filters to:

ZeroWater Filter Recycling
c/o Delta Warehouse
1600 Delta Drive
El Paso, TX 79901

The processing takes up to a couple of weeks. Then you receive a $10 coupon to be redeemed at zerowater.com for every two filters that you return. The coupon is meant to help off-set shipping expenses.

Mavea

Bad news: MAVEA is no longer accepting filters for recycling.

GE Home Appliances

As far as we can tell, GE has stopped their refrigerator filter recycling program as well. Although several third-party sources talk about it online, we couldn’t find any information that confirm that the program is still active.

Recycling Refrigerator Water Filters

If your refrigerator uses a water filter it, too, has to be replaced on a regular basis to guarantee the highest water quality and prevent bacteria from growing inside the cartridge.

Back in 2014, Whirlpool launched their Refresh & Recycle refrigerator water filter recycling program. It offered people to recycle any brand fridge water filter for little money. The bad news is that the program has ended.

What can you do instead? Follow the same process to recycle any other type of water filter:

  1. Contact your filter manufacturer. Ask if they offer a recycling program.
  2. If yes, follow the instructions.
  3. If no, ask what type of plastic was used for the filter shell. You can also look at the shell itself.
  4. Contact your local recycler to find out what type they accept.
  5. Recycle if possible. Otherwise throw in trash.

Conclusion

The ecological footprint of bottled water – recycled or not – is many times larger than that of filtered water. So even if your filter manufacturer does not have a recycling program, you are doing the environment a huge favor. And if you haven’t purchased a filter system just yet or are planning to replace your old one, consider choosing a brand that makes recycling a priority.

comment banner

Questions? Don’t hesitate to ask – just leave a comment below!

About the Author Gene Fitzgerald

Gene Fitzgerald has been with BOS since the very beginning. She is head of content creation and has fully immersed herself into the home water treatment industry only to become an expert herself. Outside of BOS, Gene loves reading books on philosophy & social issues, making music, and hiking.
Learn more about Gene and the rest of the BOS Team.

Gene

pollution thumb

How Does Water Pollution Affect Humans (+ What Can You Do)?

Please note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy a product or service through such a link we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Water pollution can affect us in lots of different ways and on so many levels.

There is groundwater pollution for example that impacts water quality for residents receiving their water from a private well. Then there is ocean pollution that is unsightly – think littering – and contaminates food chains so that pesticides, heavy metals and other harmful contaminants that found their way into the sea will eventually end up on our dinner plates in form of sushi.

This article is about the many faces of water pollution, the effects it has on us as human beings, and the best water filtering solutions.

What Is Water Pollution?

Water pollution occurs when harmful substances (…) contaminate a stream, river, lake, ocean, aquifer, or (an)other body of water, degrading water quality and rendering it toxic to humans or the environment.” (Source)

This does not mean, however, that the pollution of a water body is always man-made, although it usually is a result of human activity.

Natural changes in water quality might occur due to

  • Volcanic activity
  • Algae blooms in hot weather
  • Storms
  • Earthquakes

On the other hand we have human-induced water pollution which can be categorized in:

  • Groundwater Pollution – This type of contamination happens when pollutants released into the soil leach into an aquifer. An aquifer is an underground water storehouse so to speak. Its contamination may render an aquifer unusable. The big problem with this is that not only is groundwater the only freshwater source for many people living in rural areas, groundwater also provides 43% of the water used for irrigation in the United States. In other words, chemicals and other harmful substances will likely spread and contaminate other areas of our lives, too.
  • Surface Water Pollution – Lakes, rivers, ponds, wetlands and of course our oceans are different kinds of surface water bodies. The bad news is that 46% of U.S. rivers and streams are in poor condition, according to an EPA assessment from 2008-2009. The biggest issue are elevated phosphorus and nitrogen levels causing algae blooms that lead to oxygen depletion. And it’s the same with our lakes: More than one-third contain excessive levels of phosphorus and nitrogen affecting wildlife as well as public health. Where does all the phosphorus and nitrogen come from? It’s agricultural runoff. Of course, industrial and municipal waste also contribute to the ongoing pollution of our surface waters. What makes the situation even worse is that in many cases groundwater and surface water feed off one another. The pollution of one entity almost always leads to the pollution of the other.
  • Marine Pollution – We’ve all seen pictures of a sea turtle caught in plastic. However, larger debris is only one part of the equation. Ocean pollution that we can’t see with our naked eye is presumably much more serious. Also, what you have to know is that most pollutants come from land. Heavy metals and chemicals for example are carried by our waterways from farms and industrial plants into estuaries and later out to sea.
  • Point Source vs. Non-Point Source Pollution – We can also differentiate between point source and non-point source pollution. As the name suggests, the former originates from a single source such as an oil spill. The latter has more diffuse causes like stormwater runoff where it’s impossible to identify a single culprit which makes regulation much harder.

How Water Pollution Affects Us As Human Beings

How does water pollution affect us as human beings?

First and foremost, it can have a negative impact on our health, obviously. Apart from that, it may cause revulsion – who wants to swim in water full of plastic?

The first aspect is much more severe which is why we are going to discuss it in a bit more detail.

Health Effects

Drinking water alone is estimated to cause 502,000 diarrheal deaths each year. By the way, this does not include mortalities due to other diseases triggered by contaminated drinking water and all types of water in general.

And let’s not forget that polluted water does not have to kill you. Schistosomiasis is a disease caused by waterborne parasites that currently ail almost 240 million people worldwide. To get infested, direct skin contact with contaminated water is all it takes.

bacteria

Other waterborne pathogens can originate from human and animal waste spreading diseases such as cholera. This not only affects developing countries, but thousands of Americans that come down with Legionnaires’ disease each year.

In addition, many more contaminants that are capable of making you ill have found their way into our supply systems in the past decades. One prominent example for this is the lead crisis in Flint, Michigan which we’ve covered in great depth in our lead water filter guide here. Although there really is no safe level for lead in drinking water, it is being served to hundreds of thousands of U.S. residents each year leading to intellectual impairment in our children.

Another very common chemical pollutant is chlorine used for disinfection. Chlorine itself can not only cause skin rashes and respiratory problems when inhaled in the shower. When reacting with biological waste it forms disinfection byproducts that are associated with an increased risk of cancer and problems during pregnancy.

And there are many more ways how polluted water can compromise our health.

What Can You Do?

There are a couple of measures that you can take to

  1. Protect your family from the health risks posed by contaminated water sources.
  2. Lower your pollution footprint to help tackle the problem at hand head on.

1. Protecting Your Health

What you can do as a health protective measure is filter the water in your home, whether you are on a well or receive tap water doesn’t really matter. Now this is easier said than done which is why we have dedicated a whole website to this topic.

heart

It all starts with filtering the water that you use for drinking and cooking.

In cases of severe contamination, reverse osmosis and distillation are your best friends. Both technologies provide the cleanest H2O possible with almost 100% purity. However, the purified water will be deprived of all healthy minerals so consider remineralizing your water before consumption.

Regular carbon filtration used by pitcher filters, countertop & under sink systems and faucet mounted units is great for removing chemicals. Earlier on we mentioned chlorine as a water disinfectant that you can eliminate this way.

If you want to learn more about chlorine reduction in tap water or would like to browse a list of top chlorine filters, click here.

What do you do if you want access to filtered water at every outlet in your home? In this case, a whole house water filter system is exactly what you need. It will filter all the water before it gets distributed to your bathrooms and kitchen etc.

This allows you to drink straight from every tap and at the same time enjoy contaminant-free showers.

On a side note, clean water in your entire house will also improve indoor air quality as it prevents volatile substances to evaporate. Another benefit is that some whole home filters can reduce water hardness and thereby increase the lifespan of your home appliances (but that’s for another post).

The downside to whole house water filters are high cost, meaning a high price tag plus expenses for installation if you are not handy with tools and require professional help.

If you want you can check out some of our whole house water filter reviews.

Also, the following table provides an overview of the different types of filters and their uses:

TypeAttributeCost
Reverse Osmosis SystemsHighest Water Purity$$ – $$$
DistillersHighest Water Purity$$ – $$$
Filter PitchersOnly Basic Treatment$
Countertop/Under Sink UnitsWater Safe for Drinking$$
Faucet Mounted FiltersOnly Basic Treatment$
Whole House Filter SystemsFiltered Water At Every Outlet$$$$$
Shower FiltersClean Shower Water$

2. Lowering Your Pollution Footprint

In order to lower your pollution footprint, the first thing you should do is reduce the amount of plastics that you use. Also, reuse and recycle whenever possible. Speaking of water, plastic bottles are one of the worst inventions ever – please stay as far away from them as you can.

What you should also do is dispose of cleaning agents and other hazardous chemicals properly. And in your garden, try to avoid the use of fertilizers, herbicides and the like.

If you have a sewage system, make sure that it functions as intended and remember that paint, thinners and solvents have no place in there.

footprint

Conclusion

Groundwater pollution, surface water pollution, ocean pollution – the way we treat our water sources has to change now, before we pass the point of no return. Otherwise, we won’t be able to live on our planet for much longer.

Considering the severe effects that contaminated water can have on our health, make sure to protect yourself by using one of the treatment solutions listed above if need be.

comment banner

Questions? Don’t hesitate to ask – just leave a comment below!

About the Author Gene Fitzgerald

Gene Fitzgerald has been with BOS since the very beginning. She is head of content creation and has fully immersed herself into the home water treatment industry only to become an expert herself. Outside of BOS, Gene loves reading books on philosophy & social issues, making music, and hiking.
Learn more about Gene and the rest of the BOS Team.

Gene

feeling sick thumb

Nauseous After Drinking Water? Here Are 6 Reasons Why You Might Feel Sick

Please note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy a product or service through such a link we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Did you ever feel nauseous or sick after drinking a glass of water?

Have you ever asked yourself why that happens?

Well, there definitely is more than one possible explanation. So if you want to learn more, check out today’s post!

Nausea

Nausea is not painful but it can be highly unpleasant and it often comes with an urge to vomit.

The purpose of nausea is to stop you from repeating whatever caused the discomfort. The physiology behind it has yet to be clarified, however, four pathways in the human body have been identified that can create a sensation of nausea or vomiting:

  • Stimulation of the Central Nervous System (CNS) – Stimulation of the CNS can occur due to elevated intracranial pressure, irritation of the meninges (i.e. blood or infection), and extreme emotional triggers such as anxiety.
  • Activation of the Chemoreceptor Trigger Zone – Located in our brain outside the blood-brain barrier, the chemoreceptor trigger zone is readily exposed to substances such as toxins and medications circulating through our blood.
  • Triggering of the Peripheral Pathways – Triggered in the gastrointestinal tract and other organs, this could be a sign for toxins present in the gastrointestinal lumen. Other possible activators are distension of the gastrointestinal lumen from blockage or dysmotility of the bowels.
  • Disturbances to the Vestibular System – Disturbances to the vestibular system in the inner ear can originate from movements causing motion sickness and dizziness.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nausea

Simply put, nausea is a non-specific symptom.

Reasons for Nausea After Drinking Water

Even finding the reason why you are feeling dizzy or like throwing up right after drinking plain water is like making a diagnosis for tiredness – there’s more than one possible explanation. One thing is for certain: Typically, drinking water should not cause nausea.

drinking glass

That being said, the following is a list of reasons that come into question.

1. A Full Stomach

It’s almost too simple, right? A full stomach is the most likely cause why you are feeling sick. Especially after you had a rich meal you should not try to force water into your stomach on top.

What’s more, your stomach might have difficulties emptying. Therefore, avoid drinking large amounts of water at once. Give your stomach time to release fluid into your small intestines before you drink the next cup. For all other questions make sure to consult a physician.

2. Bacteria

The second possible yet unlikely explanation is that you are drinking bacteria contaminated water. You heard right, bacteria are very common even in water supplies in the U.S. The question is are there enough potentially harmful germs to make your water unsafe to drink?

In the great outdoors, water too close to organic fecal waste might be contaminated with disease-causing microorganisms. But even if you are not on a camping trip, chances are that you get in contact with waterborne pathogens at home or in public.

Let’s take giardia as an example, a parasite that colonizes in the small intestines. Giardiasis is the most commonly diagnosed disease caused by intestinal parasites in our country. However, symptoms including nausea and vomiting usually first occur 1-3 weeks after exposure and not immediately afterwards.

Another parasite that can cause nausea among other symptoms such as abdominal cramping is cryptosporidium. Symptoms last anywhere between a few days to two weeks. So if your nausea eases off within a couple of hours, that’s probably a good sign.

By the way, both giardia and cryptosporidium are quite resistant against chlorine used for water disinfection.

Also, the only way for you to find out if you are dealing with bacterial contamination is through testing. You can either send a direct sample to an accredited laboratory or buy a test kit and do the analysis yourself.

We Recommend: Clearly Filtered Water Filter Pitcher

  • Removes 230+ Contaminants (More Than Any Other Water Filter Pitcher)
  • Eliminates 99.9% Giardia, Cryptosporidium, Antimony, Cadmium, Pesticides, MTBE
  • NSF Certifications: Standards 42, 53, 244, 401 & 473
  • Low Maintenance Due to Long-Lasting Filters
  • 30-Day Satisfaction Guarantee (Risk-Free)
  • → Read Full Clearly Filtered Review Here

In case your water tests positive consider using the Clearly Filtered water filter pitcher to filter your drinking water. It’s certified by independent third-party labs to meet NSF requirements for the reduction of cryptosporidium and giardia.

3. Algae Outbreaks

Hot weather in combination with rain and chemicals from sewage treatment plants or agricultural runoff can lead to toxic algae blooms in lakes and rivers feeding our municipal water systems. The result: Poisoned drinking water.

Short-term exposures – via ingestion or skin contact – have been linked to sore throat, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and liver damage. And it was found that algae outbreaks are growing at an alarming rate. Back in 2010, the number of reported outbreaks was 3.  In 2017, there were 169.

The only good news is that not all algae outbreaks produce toxins.

4. Antimony & Cadmium

Antimony and cadmium are metalloids or transition metals that may cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea in dosages above EPA drinking water limits.

The federal legal limit for antimony is 6 parts per billion (ppb) whereas the recommended health guideline defined by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) is 1 ppb.

For cadmium the enforceable federal standard that defines the highest level allowed in drinking water is 5 ppb. Current OEHHA guidelines are 0.04 ppb – that’s 125 times less.

On a side note: According to the EWG Tap Water Database, the utility with the highest water cadmium concentration in the year 2015 was the Garden Acres Mobile Home Park in Calabasas, OK with an average level of 13.7 ppb. That’s more than twice the legal limit. Second place went to the Crown King Water Company based in Glendale, AZ with 8.49 ppb.

For antimony, 2015 samples taken from the Quail Valley Water Dist-westside System in Tehachapi, CA contained an average of 11.3 ppb securing first place. Next came the Hanson Water Department in Hanson, MA with 9.00 ppb. Congratulations!

5. Pesticides

Chlorpyrifos is a widely used pesticide that can trigger nausea, headaches and dizziness in low dosages. It obviously originates from agriculture as one of the main contributors to the pollution of our drinking water.

tractor spraying pesticides

In August 2018, the U.S. 9th Circuit court of Appeals ruled that the EPA must ban chlorpyrifos within 60 days from that date.

6. MTBE

Between the years 2010 and 2015, MTBE, a toxic byproduct of petroleum refining, was served in form of contaminated tap water to literally millions of Americans. Its foul odor makes water undrinkable. Fortunately, health guidelines were not exceeded.

What’s shocking is that there currently doesn’t even exist a national drinking water standard.

Another issue with MTBE is that it migrates through groundwater and does not degrade easily. This has lead to extensive contamination of groundwater across the U.S., even forcing a number of public water providers to close drinking water wells.

Apart from nausea, MTBE has also been linked to dizziness, headaches and disorientation. It is absorbed rapidly by our intestines.

We Recommend: Clearly Filtered Water Filter Pitcher

  • Removes 230+ Contaminants (More Than Any Other Water Filter Pitcher)
  • Eliminates 99.9% Giardia, Cryptosporidium, Antimony, Cadmium, Pesticides, MTBE
  • NSF Certifications: Standards 42, 53, 244, 401 & 473
  • Low Maintenance Due to Long-Lasting Filters
  • 30-Day Satisfaction Guarantee (Risk-Free)
  • → Read Full Clearly Filtered Review Here

It Does Not Have to Be Serious (But It May)

The most likely reason why you are feeling dizzy or nauseous after drinking plain water is because your stomach is too full. This is by no means a serious issue you have to worry about. Next time, simply give your stomach more time to empty before taking the next sip.

If that doesn’t help, it’s best if you approach a doctor. You might also want to consider having your water tested for impurities such as microorganisms or chemicals to rule out a possible contamination. If your water tests positive, either stick to bottled water or use a drinking water filter.

comment banner

Questions? Don’t hesitate to ask – just leave a comment below!

About the Author Gene Fitzgerald

Gene Fitzgerald has been with BOS since the very beginning. She is head of content creation and has fully immersed herself into the home water treatment industry only to become an expert herself. Outside of BOS, Gene loves reading books on philosophy & social issues, making music, and hiking.
Learn more about Gene and the rest of the BOS Team.

Gene

Fluoride Detox Thumb

Fluoride Detox: How to Remove the Toxin from Your Body (100% Science-Based)

Please note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy a product or service through such a link we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Fluoride is a known neurotoxin with severe health effects, but it is still being added to our water supplies all across the country.

And fluoridated tap water is only the tip of the iceberg. Excessive fluoride can be found in many foods, toothpaste, cookware, medications…

If you can no longer tolerate this situation, this post will help you with 2 things:

  • 1. It will tell you how to flush the fluoride from your body that has already accumulated.
  • 2. You will learn how to reduce your overall fluoride exposure and avoid it in the first place.

All statements are research-based and backed by real studies. No mumbo jumbo, no distortion of the facts. Ready? Let’s go!

What You Will Learn…

Fluoride in Our Bodies

Does fluoride accumulate in the human body? And if so, where is it stored and for how long?

Brushing your teeth with fluoridated toothpaste, drinking fluoridated water, and eating foods rich in fluoride are just 3 of a multitude of factors that determine how much of the neurotoxin you ingest on a daily basis.

An oversupply of fluoride can lead to serious health issues including:

  • Skeletal fluorosis
  • Muscle disorders
  • Impaired thyroid function
  • Bone cancer
  • Cell death[1]

The neurotoxin has even been linked to causing a decline in cognitive abilities.[2]

About half of the fluoride that your body absorbs gets stored in your body tissue. Usually, the remaining 50% is flushed out via urine within 24 hours provided that you have healthy and properly functioning kidneys.[3,4,5]

However, how well the urine excretion works and the extent to which absorbed fluoride is retained in your body also depends on your urine’s pH level (and under some conditions flow rate). More acid urine means an increase in fluoride retention.[6]

As a result, direct influencing factors for fluoride urine excretion are

  • your diet,
  • drug use,
  • and metabolic as well as respiratory disorders.[7]

The vast majority of fluoride that your body stores – 99% to be precise – accumulates in calcified tissue, meaning your bones and teeth.[3] The remaining 1% ends up in soft tissues, which includes your brain and more importantly the pineal gland (more on this below).

tooth bone

In bones, fluoride binds to calcium phosphate compounds. Over a whole lifetime, relatively high levels of fluoride can deposit in your skeleton this way, which may result in joint pain and stiffness sometimes confused with arthritis.[8]

The good news is that this process is reversible, as fluoride can be mobilized through bone remodeling.[3] The less fluoride is already stored in your skeleton, the better.[5]

FYI: Bone remodeling is a “process where mature bone tissue is removed from the skeleton (…) and new bone tissue is formed“. (Wikipedia) In adults, about 10% of the entire bone structure is remodeled  within one year.[9]

Fluoride and the Pineal Gland

A study conducted by the University College of Sciences (Osmania University) in Hyderabad, India has shown that an increase in the concentration of sodium fluoride in drinking water fed to rats directly led to an increase of fluoride deposition in their brain tissue.[10]

But even more affected by fluoride overload than our brain is a tiny organ called pineal gland. The pineal gland sits between the two hemispheres of your brain completely unprotected by the blood-brain barrier. Its task is to produce and secrete melatonin, for example to promote sleep.

Pineal Gland

Due to the fact that the pineal gland has a rich blood supply and is a calcifying tissue, it too can accumulate fluoride. In fact, researchers have found higher fluoride-to-calcium concentrations in the pineal glands of fluorosis patients that had died in old age, than concentrations found in their bones.[11]

Calcification of the pineal gland as a consequence of ingesting too much fluoride can lead to poor melatonin production over time,  a possible cause for sleep disorders, fatigue and depressions.

How to Detox from Fluoride

Now that we know why it’s important to get fluoride out of our bodies, the question remains how to remove it.

Watch Your Diet

As mentioned above, the retention of fluoride in your body is dependent on the pH level of your urine. Higher acidity results in less fluoride being flushed out of the system. And because your diet has the biggest influence on your body’s acid-base balance, you have to make it a priority to eat more alkaline than acidic foods – at least most of the time.

What are alkaline foods? All sorts of vegetables, most raw fruits (not juices), some beans & nuts, and most oils. What you should try stay away from is too much coffee and black tea, meat, fish, eggs, syrup, soy sauce, vinegar and alcohol.

As a general rule, it’s probably easiest if you prefer raw over processed foods.

Exercise

It’s funny: While daily exercising may reduce the negative effects of too much fluoride intake on blood sugar regulation[12], acute and overly intense training seems to result in a rise of fluoride concentration in blood and simultaneously a decline in renal clearance and urinary excretion.[13]

What does this mean for your fluoride detox?

  1. Regular work outs are helpful.
  2. Going too intense might be detrimental.

woman jogging

Supplements

In the context of fluoride detox, a number of supplements are supposed to boost urine excretion. The following is a complete list of those that are scientifically proven to  work.

Boron (Borax)

The element boron has shown to help with skeletal fluorosis[14] and is essential for healthy bones and joints.[15]

According to research, ingesting 5-6 mg per day is the optimum amount for arthritis prevention even in old age.[16]

It can be found in many organically grown foods including all sorts of nuts, especially almonds, hazelnuts and peanuts, grapes, apricots, prunes, dates, kidney beans, chickpeas and lentils.

Now, some people might prefer to supplement their diet to ensure sufficient daily boron intake. One of the most popular supplements: Borax, a rare but naturally occurring mineral that contains boron and acts as a defluoridating agent that leaches fluoride from your body.[14]

Of course, most people know borax as a multipurpose cleaner and detergent booster. Multiple online sources say that you could simply mix between 1/32 to 1/4 teaspoon of pure borax with a quarter gallon (1 liter) of water and sip that cocktail in small portions throughout the day. A pinch of sea salt is supposed to bring even better results.

However, we want to distance ourselves from these claims, not because we believe that borax won’t help with fluoride detoxification, BUT…

  • we do not want to make false statements about the purity of any random borax product taken from the supermarket shelf. Not all of them are of food-grade quality.
  • in the borax study, test subjects were treated with 300 to 1,100 mg of borax per day for a period of 3 months with good results. However, the scientists also concluded that “Additional studies are necessary to (…) determine whether high doses of borax can be administered to humans over an extended period without causing subtle adverse effects to liver and kidneys“. (Source)
  • The FDA has declared borax illegal for use in foods.[17] The European Chemical Agency has classified the mineral as reprotoxic.[18]

What happens if you suffer from a boron overdose?

In excess, boron can have harmful effects as it inhibits a number of enzymatic activities in the human organism. How much is too much? According to research, negative side effects can start to occur in the lower gram range, which is many, many times more than what you can ingest with a normal diet – even if you add a supplement.[16]

Tamarind

Too much fluoride can cause metabolic disorders.[19,20] So it’s good that in a 2012 study, scientists found that tamarind leaf powder helped to restore carbohydrate, lipid and antioxidant metabolism in rats that were exposed to high levels of fluoride in drinking water.[21]

Another study – this time with humans – has shown that tamarind intake (10g daily) leads to a significant increase in fluoride excretion via urine.[22]

tamarind

Tamarind has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for ages. Pulp, bark, seeds, fruits and leaves can be turned into teas, powders & spices, extracts and tinctures.

Curcumin (Turmeric)

Curcumin is what gives the spice turmeric its yellowish color. It is also known as an anti-inflammatory powerhouse.

What’s more, when ingested in high enough dosages it seems to have a neuroprotective effect. In an experiment with mice, curcumin supplementation has shown to significantly reduce the toxicity of fluoride and its brain-damaging effects.[23]

Other studies have shown that curcumin treatment is likely to protect your kidneys from harm caused by fluoride overload and prevent genotoxic effects, meaning damage caused to your genetic material such as DNA. Damaged genetic material is what leads to mutations and possibly cancer.[24,25]

Our recommendation: Add raw turmeric or turmeric/curcumin powder to your meals, juices and smoothies.

Iodine

Iodine is highly important for our bodies. It plays a major role in cell metabolism and is needed for the production of thyroid hormones. Supplementation with iodine clearly results in increased urinary excretion of fluoride.[26].

What’s more, fluoride in drinking water is less toxic when accompanied with sufficient iodine intake.[27]

At the same time, you want to watch out because too much iodine can do more harm than good. Especially those with a pre-existing thyroid disease have an increased risk of developing a thyroid dysfunction. The same goes for the elderly, babies and fetuses.[28]

All in all, the recommended daily amount of iodine intake for adults is 150 μg.

If you struggle with reaching this threshold, consider adding more sea fish and sea vegetables – think kelp or wakame – to your diet. Other iodine-rich foods are eggs, beans and potatoes. As a last resort, check out iodine supplements which are widely available and relatively inexpensive.

kelp

Vitamin C

A study with fluorosis patients suggests that, even in excessive dosages, vitamin C has no influence on urinary fluoride excretion.[29]

However, similar to curcumin, vitamin C might help to prevent your kidneys from being harmed by too much fluoride intake.[24]

The best natural vitamin C sources? Try acerola, kale, kiwis, broccoli, lemons, …

Selenium + Zinc

In an animal study, selenium has proven to be an “antidote agent against fluorosis” protecting the brain of mice against the adverse effects of sodium fluoride in their drinking water.[30]

What’s more, a second study has shown that supplementing rats exposed to fluoridated drinking water with a combination of zinc sulfate and sodium selenite (contains selenium) could counteract kidney damage.

Interestingly enough, the two antioxidants are more effective when administered together than alone.[31]

Great sources for selenium are brazil nuts and more or less all sorts of sea fish and meat.

Zinc can also be found in meat, fish and nuts and in addition to that seeds.

Calcium + Magnesium

Typically between 70 to 90% of the fluoride that you ingest is absorbed in your intestines. The exact percentage depends on the form of fluoride. For highly soluble sodium fluoride, almost 100% is absorbed.

The good news is that you can reduce this percentage by adding more calcium and magnesium to your diet[32,33]. Lower calcium and magnesium intake results in enhanced fluoride absorption.

Where to find magnesium and calcium? Avocado, nuts, seeds, fish, whole grains, bananas and leafy greens.

avocado

Chelation Therapy?

The goal of a chelation therapy is the detoxification of heavy metals. Fluoride, however, is a salt. Whether or not chelation has any impact on fluoride content in the body, we do not know. We couldn’t find any scientific research for or against it.

Liver Cleanse?

One of the many functions of the liver is to break down toxic substances. It is the most important organ for the detoxification of our bodies. Still, if so called “liver cleanses” really help with fluoride detox remains to be proven.

Saunas?

Dry Saunas are supposed to release sodium fluoride stored in fatty tissues. But according to our research, there is no such thing as fluoride in fatty tissue, so…

Detox Side Effects

Many online sources say that detoxing from fluoride can cause symptoms such as headaches and sluggishness. Of course, they might speak from personal experience. At least we couldn’t find any scientific data to support these claims.

Nonetheless, it makes perfect sense to drink plenty of unfluoridated water while detoxing to ensure that all excessive fluoride can be flushed out.

How to Avoid Fluoride In the First Place

Even better than detoxing is to reduce your exposure to fluoride to a minimum to stop it from accumulating in your bones, teeth and brain over time.

Here are our 7 tips for how to avoid fluoride in the first place:

1. Drink Non-Fluoridated Water Only

This one is the most obvious of course. You want to stay away from fluoridated water, which includes most tap water and also some bottled water (even some spring water brands).

To find out if your tap water is enriched with fluoride, follow this link and choose your state from the dropdown menu and hit “GO” (or click on the map).

Please note: Unfortunately, not all states participate in the database. If that’s the case for your state, it’s best to contact your provider directly and ask about fluoride.

Fluoride Map

On the next page, choose the county you live in and look for your supply system in the table.

CDC MWF Alabama Autauga County

In the second column it says “Fluoridated” – “Yes” or “No”. If it says “No”, at least you don’t have to worry about added fluoride!

If it says “Yes”, click on the name of the system to further check how much is added. Oftentimes that’s 0.70 mg/L – the minimum amount recommended by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The recommended maximum is 1.2 mg/L.[34]

Fluoride Concentration Chart

Fluoride occurs naturally in surface and groundwater. That’s why we recommend you take this one step further and also check your water supply system for natural fluoride content. How can you do that?

Either use the EWG’s Tap Water Database or contact your supplier directly and ask for the latest water quality report, which by the way are always free!

In case you are on well water, you have to take a direct sample and have it tested by a professional lab.

EWG's Tap Water Database

No fluoride is added to your water and none was found in recent tests? Great! It looks like you can drink straight from the tap without having to worry about the neurotoxin. But remember that it’s still possible that there are other harmful contaminants lurking in your water!

You receive fluoridated tap water or there’s natural fluoride contained in it? Then you have a couple of options going forward:

  • You apply a specialized water filter. Why specialized? Because regular water filters based on activated carbon medium are completely ineffective against fluoride, such as Brita and PUR filter pitchers. Most reverse osmosis filter systems remove at least 95% F. Another option are filters working with activated alumina or anion exchange resin. Your last option is to use a water distiller. You can learn more about each filter type in our Guide: How to Remove Fluoride from Water.
  • You opt for purified, non-fluoridated bottled water, which you should find in every grocery store. Look out for labels that say “distilled water” or “purified by reverse osmosis“. In case fluoride was added to the water, it must be declared on the label[35]. The problem with bottled water, however, is that just like plain tap water, it might contain harmful impurities other than fluoride.

2. Eat Unprocessed Organic Foods

Reducing the amount of fluoride you ingest on a daily basis by choosing fluoride-free drinking water is one part of the equation. In addition, there are other simple steps you can take to reduce your overall exposure in everyday life significantly. One of them is eating organic.

Why does eating organic make a difference? Because pesticides and insecticides used in conventional agriculture oftentimes contain fluoride, such as the mineral cryolite.[36] This is how these substances can end up on our dinner plates[37] – or glasses in the case of wine.[38]

wine pesticides

On top of that, processed food is more likely to contain fluoride in general. This likelihood increases with every processing step.

One the one hand, this has to do with the potential use of fluoridated water (and salt) when producing bread, infant formula, fruit juice, soy milk and beer for example.

On the other hand, fluoride is often used to preserve canned food. You should also avoid food containing mechanically separated chicken (MSC). MSC is often high in fluoride, which has to do with the separation process that often results in bone particles in the final product. These bone particles are the fluoride source.[39]

MSC is one of the ingredients in some infant foods, toddler foods and canned meats.

By the way, if you’ve had enough of vegetable salad for this week, at least make sure to carefully read the label of any processed food you pick. What does the ingredient list say?

Also, you can find a list of processed foods highest in fluoride here.

Lastly, always use regular instead of fluoridated salt.

3. Reduce Green & Black Tea + Coffee

Green and black tea almost always contain high amounts of fluoride, so you shouldn’t drink too much of it.[40,41]

The same goes for some species of coffee.[42]

4. Use Fluoride-Free Toothpaste

Don’t buy fluoridated toothpaste especially when you have small kids. Our little ones don’t have a well-developed swallowing reflex yet. They tend to swallow a lot of toothpaste while brushing.[43] Of course, the same applies to gels, mouthwashes and other dental products.

As an alternative, you can brush with fluoride-free toothpaste, sea salt, tooth powder made from herbs, or toothpaste soap.

fluoridated toothpaste

You also should not get a fluoride get treatment at your dentist. The gel contains extremely high amounts of fluoride.

5. Don’t Use Teflon Coated Cookware

Avoid pans, pots and other cookware with Teflon coatings. Teflon contains fluoride which has shown to leach into water during cooking, but also when used for storage.[44]

6. Try to Avoid Medications Containing Fluoride

Make sure that medications you take are free from fluoride. If not, you can always ask your physician for a suitable alternative. You can find an index of fluorinated pharmaceuticals here.

7. Showering & Bathing?

When showering or bathing, can your body absorb fluoride via the skin or through inhaling? Truth be told, we don’t know.

What we know is that fluoride is not as volatile as chlorine meaning that at least you won’t inhale as much of it.

Still, if this is something that’s bothering you, the best solution is to buy a shower or whole house fluoride water filter, which you can learn more about here.

Detox FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does the detox take?

That differs from one person to another and is impossible to predict. Theoretically speaking, it depends on how much fluoride has accumulated in your body over the years. If you really want to know, you’d have to measure how much fluoride is contained in your urine. Once you see a drop, all redundant fluoride might have left you body – but that’s just a theory!

Is it safe to detox while being pregnant?

We really don’t know. Adding some curcumin or tamarind to your diet probably won’t hurt, but definitely see your doctor before you make any radical changes.

How long to detox before pregnancy?

Again, it’s most likely that this depends on how much superfluous fluoride is stored in your body. The more there is, the longer the detox is going to take. But what’s more important is that you avoid too much fluoride exposure while you are pregnant. Studies have shown that the placenta not only accumulates fluoride[48], it also allows rapid diffusion of fluoride from mother to fetus and does not act as a barrier.[45][46][47]

Does cinnamon detox fluoride from my body?

Not that we know of.

Does vitamin c in bathwater help to detox fluoride?

As far as we know, your skin can’t absorb vitamin C, so the answer is no.

Does alkaline water benefit fluoride detoxification?

It might be possible. What we know for sure is that fluoride excretion works best when urine is only mildly acidic. The higher the acidity, the more fluoride is retained in your body. (See above)

Can you defluoridate water using Tulsi (holy basil)?

No idea. There are studies saying that tulsi is an effective fluoride absorbent.[49] Other research suggests the opposite.[50]

References

comment banner

If you found this article helpful, please share it with your family and friends, so they get the chance to learn how to do a proper fluoride detox, too. And if you have any questions or comments, please share them below!

About the Author Gene Fitzgerald

Gene Fitzgerald has been with BOS since the very beginning. She is head of content creation and has fully immersed herself into the home water treatment industry only to become an expert herself. Outside of BOS, Gene loves reading books on philosophy & social issues, making music, and hiking.
Learn more about Gene and the rest of the BOS Team.

Gene

Want cleaner, safer and healthier water?

Sign up to join 1,000+ subscribers and get notified about new BOS guides & checklists as well as exclusive product sales and discount codes.