Deep , cleansing breath… Ahhhhhh, here were are. Solution Day. These past few days have been BRUTAL . . . writing about toxins in water was much harder than I realized. I don’t want to scare anyone, but it seemed important to examine concerns about water before talking solutions. Speaking of solutions, I’ve got two to share. One that is expensive and one that costs less per gallon than a Brita pitcher.
Want to hear something funny? I’ve been using the same counter top filter (with fluoride removal cartridge) for years and I planned on recommending it to you. I called the manufacturer and asked them to donate one for a giveaway, which they happily agreed to.
And then I found out my filter didn’t work!
Well, it sort of works, but it only removes most of the fluoride if you run the tap really, really slow. Who wants to spend 10 minutes waiting for a glass of water?
So What DOES Work?
So there I was with all this research about how unhealthy tap water is and I had no solution. Fortunately, this review from Lisa of Mama Says (who was guest posting at Kitchen Stewardship) got my attention.
The Berkey filter is so good, you can even put creek water or rain water through it if there’s a major emergency and it will filter out all of the parasites and bacteria. After Ike, there was water, water, everywhere but not a drop to drink. Our area was flooded – with nasty, rank floodwater, with sewage, dead squirrels, and rotting fish in it. Now that’s just nasty! The Berkey is not just a filter, it is a purifier and removes 100% of pathogens from the water. (Note: I do not recommend testing your Berkey out by adding dead animals to the tank. Just sayin’.)
Berkey will also filter out VOCs, volatile organic compounds, including chemical runoff and contamination from PVC. It will also purify water of chlorine, benzene, and toluene along with a slew of other chemical nastiness that don’t even have real names, just numbers and letters (like 2,4,5-TP)
Berkey removes 95% of heavy metals such as lead and mercury – and this matters. Water is the second largest source of lead exposure in children, and even if you have plastic pipes your kids might not be safe. Many glues used on PVC pipes contain lead.
~Lisa Professes Love For Berkey; Frugal Crunchy Catholic Tells All
No one says it quite like this momma of eight, so for a good laugh read the whole review. Lisa was quite convincing, so I made some calls and this is what I found out. There are basically two options for dealing with fluoride, pharmaceuticals and chlorine byproducts: Reverse osmosis and The Berkey (which is an activated granular charcoal/activated alumina system). Here’s a breakdown of their strengths and weaknesses. I also threw in the specs for a Brita pitcher for comparison.
|Filter||Removes Fluoride||Removes Pharmaceuticals||Removes Chlorine||Cost Factor||Environmentally Friendly|
|Reverse Osmosis||Yes||Research indicates yes to a lesser degree ¹||Yes||Moderate to High||No|
|Berkey||Yes if the optional PF2 filter is installed||Research indicates yes to a greater degree ¹||Yes||Low – About $.06 -$.08 per gallon||Yes|
|Brita Pitcher||No||Unknown||Chlorine – Yes Byproducts – Unknown||Moderate – About $.25 per gallon||Yes|
As you can see, the Berkey wins on all fronts: cost, environmental friendliness, and effectiveness. At $.06-.08 cents per gallon it’s a steal compared to the $.25 cent per gallon Brita pricetag. Oh, and that $.06-.08 estimate is with the optional fluoride filters. It’s only $.02 per gallon otherwise. Also, unlike reverse osmosis systems, the Berkey is portable. The downside is that you have to fill it manually (it’s not hooked up to the sink). Not that I will take it on vacation or anything . . . okay I probably will.
The Most Amazing Water Purifier You’ve Probably Never Heard Of
We are talking about waaay more than the big three here. As Lisa mentioned, Berkey purifiers remove 99.99999% of pathogenic bacteria, cysts and parasites while extracting chemicals including herbicides, pesticides, organic solvents, VOCs, detergents, cloudiness, silt and sediment.
Cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, aluminum, mercury and other dangerous heavy metals are also removed (95%), as well as nitrates and nitrites, without removing beneficial minerals.
For the first week, my husband kept looking at the Berkey and expecting a glass of iced tea. It DOES look a little like an iced tea container at your local restaurant. The two downsides of the Berkey are counter top space and daily refilling. Luckily for us, we don’t own a microwave, so the Berkey takes up less counter space than a microwave and we manage to make it work even in our tiny kitchen. It doesn’t take more than a couple minutes to refill if you use a large container to fill up at the tap, but you could run out of filtered water for an hour if you forget one day to fill it up. We’ve made it a habit of topping it off before bed each night just to be sure.
We’re still brainstorming a solution where we run a hose from the sink to the Berkey so he can have all the conveniences of our previous filtration system. I don’t think that will work unless our next house has a laundry room sink. If you’re used to a faucet head filter, you’ll feel a little inconvenienced at first at having to refill. But if you use a Brita pitcher or something similar, you’re doing the same thing except having more filtered water at your disposal at any given time, which is great for cooking (why boil your veggies and noodles in yucky fluoride water if you don’t HAVE to?).