Questions About Home Water Purification Systems – ask me:

If you have a question about water purification and how to have healthy water for drinking and bathing in your home, then you may ask that question here.  I will try to answer it as I can.  Of course complicated questions may require research and if so I’ll have to fit that into my schedule.  But I wonder what it is that you are wondering about relative to drinking water and that’s why I offer this chance to ask me.

I’d also like your opinion on two things:

products I can sell that are related to what I do and that everyone wants

ideas you want to see me write about

Please use the comment space below:

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105 Responses to Questions About Home Water Purification Systems – ask me:

  1. Tony WHIREN says:

    I think your articles are great and very informative. I have sent other people your email address. They too are intrigued and amazed at all the knowledge that you have on water purification.

  2. Joe Kaspert says:

    Your articles about water quality are both informative and educational. TY.

  3. Kristine Riopelle says:

    I’d like info on city water effects on children.

    I’d like to see you sell some sort of portable water bottle filter for when you are out or working out. I understand it wouldn’t be complete, but better than a Brita bottle.

    • Kristine –

      Thanks for the great suggestion. I’ll research the issue of the effects of chlorinated water on children and see what published articles exist.

      I struggle with the water bottle issue. Which water bottle is the best? I keep researching it because I would like to sell a water bottle. The plastic water bottles all still contain estrogen mimicing chemicals which have negative effects on men and boys. It’s my impression that stainless steel bottles may leach nickel and aluminum water bottles may leach aluminum. Aluminum may be viable but I don’t trust them. Glass is the best but heavy and easy to break. I keep looking at glass but haven’t found one that is the right size. Too big and they tip over in a cup holder. Too small and they don’t hold enough water. I keep buying them and experimenting and haven’t settled on one yet.

      One idea I must point out to you is that I like the glass water bottle that Voss spring water comes in. I buy Voss at Whole Foods for about $2.35 (which is crazy because Voss comes from Norway) but then I reuse the bottle for years. It’s a great size and shape if perhaps a bit small (I have two).

  4. John Swanson says:


    One question and one comment.

    Question: Since I have my 5 stage custom reverse osmosis system now up and working, when should I be replacing my filters?

    Comment: Water Bottles–As a life long cyclist I have gone through probably over 1500 in my life time and have found only one that is BPA free and that actually works as a water bottle, I know you want to sell them but the Camelback Podium Bottle is my hands down winner, I probably own about 30 of them right now. If you can find a better one out there please let me know.

    Thanks, John

    • Hi John – I’m glad you’re happy with your 5 stage custom reverse osmosis system. I suggest you change your filters once each year and if you read the letter I sent with your receipt you’ll find a link to a filter reminder service.

      The issue of bpa free water bottles is, unfortunately, more complex. While many sports bottles are now free of bpa, a recent study cited in Men’s Health Magazine quoted researchers as saying that all plastic water bottles have the potential to leach estrogen mimicing chemicals used in thier manufacture. While not bpa, they have the same affect. So….once again we are being misled by industry into thinking that something is safe when it is not. You may want to search Men’s Health online and I’m sure you can find this article yourself. It was in a recent issue and you may note the quote in a recent post on this blog called When Are We Exposed to BPA?.

      I have a nice Camelback ‘perfect bottle’ I think it is called but am now having qualms about using it. Glass seems best but is awkward when biking or hiking.

  5. Catrise Paige says:


    I am in the process of looking to move to another state soon. How portable is the Kitchen Defender? Will I need help installing and then removing? I plan to take it with me!

    I also have concerns about Flouride in water. Is there any way to deal with this?

    Thank you for your assistance.


  6. Brad Novacek says:

    Hi Jim,

    Please, I would like to hear you cover the important topic of removing radiation, or radioactive iodine, radioactive cesium, and other radioactive elements that are very damaging to our already fragile health.

    Is it possible to remove radioactive “elements” by normal filtration systems that are affordable to the common working person?

    Brad Novacek

  7. Jim, I would like to read an article about filtered vs. bottled water. This would include a discussion about the common bottled waters like Dansani as well as spring water and premium bottled waters like Penta and Fiji.

    • Christopher – you may want to read what I’ve written about bottled water, an article called ‘Which Bottled Water Is The Best’. It does discuss the types of bottled water and shows you a comparison of their content. Bottled waters and filtered water don’t directly compare because when you filter your water how you treat it all depends on where you live and what your water source is. Brands like Dasani just filter the local water so that is somewhat comparable.

  8. Michael Murphy says:

    What do you think about John Ellis and his distiller that he says alters the angle of the hydrogen bond? John is in his 80s, and if this is real it may be a technology you could take forward. He seems like a straight-shooter, but his website is clouded with densely-packed claims.

    • Michael – I don’t know what to make of John Ellis and his distiller. As I understand the system it distills the water repeatedly in an effort to increase purity. If you read the article I’ve written about minerals in water you’ll note that the naturopath quoted believes distilled water to be the most hydrating, but he advocates cold distilled treatment.

      As for altering the angle of the hydrogen bonds there is a Stanford University study in my water purification resource library that suggests that spinning water can alter these bonds. Some individuals suggest that doing so will decrease the surface tension of the water and make it more hydrating. I personally have not witnessed this but again in the article on minerals in water there is a fellow who measured the energy of the revitalized water and found it to be more energetic.

      Mr. Ellis’ claims seem excessive to me and it has become my view that when people begin to replace coffee and soft drinks with most any kind of filtered water that they experience an increase in health.

    • John says:

      The acid test would be….how does he look today ? (after 10+ years of drinking this water) The face/body tells a picture about the health. And what is his present state of health ? His early pics/claims were impressive but time should reveal more truth.

      • I have come to realize that it is the habits we practice every day that impact our health the most: the water we drink, the air we breathe, our diet, excercise. Water is an important part of that equation. People who proclaim benefits from drinking certain types of water often strike me as people who have begun to drink more water than they used to drink.

  9. Kim Sims says:

    I have a newer house, built 3 years ago. In the mornings, there is an odor from our bathroom faucets, almost like sewer. Its brief, and doesn’t show in any of the other faucets, either in the morning, or later. Since all of it has the same source, could it be something in the bathroom water feed piping?

    • Hi Kim – Thank you for asking. I’d need a bit more information in order to respond fully. First, do you have city water or well water?
      Is it both hot and cold faucets or just the hot water? If it is the hot water only then it is most likely a chemical reaction between the water constituents (the water chemistry) and the anode rod in the hot water heater. But again, I can’t say for sure. If you’ll respond to this note I can try again. Jim

  10. Gary Moultrup says:

    Jim – This may seem like a question with an obvious answer, but I’ll ask anyway. My son lives in Midland, MI – in Dow Chemical’s backyard. He is currently on well water. The water is so bad it has turned his tub, sinks and toilet black. They use bottled water for everything except flushing. City water will soon be available (of course they are charging large connection fees!). Should they replace all pipes in the entire house?


    • Gary – I would encourage your son to perform a complete well water test even before the city water becomes available. You can’t be sure what he has been exposed to. With black staining I would expect either manganese or sulfur. What I would expect when he hooks up to city water is that the pipes will slowly, very slowly clean themselves. That process may take nine months to a year or more as the layers inside the pipes slowly peel away, so even though he has city water the water itself won’t improve until the pipes clear out.

      On the other hand replacing the pipes means tearing into the interior walls and that would be a huge expense. If it were me, I’d want to test the water and find out what chemicals I’m dealing with.

  11. ChasityFaith says:

    We are moving into a new home that is not on city water, but rather well water. There seems to be alot of “iron” in the water and maybe sulfur. Are there ways to filter this out, and are these minerals anything of concern? Are there any considerations that need to be made with keeping your well water clean and safe? Also, should we be wary of what chemicals we put on our lawn nearby the well?

    • Chastity – what great questions. First, well water is not necessarily good or bad. The first thing to do is to test your well water. Only then can we determine how to treat it. I offer a variety of well water tests. Iron and hydrogen sulfide odors are often found together. Manganese is often also present. We need to know the levels of each in order to treat the water effectively. Manganese can accumulate in the body and is a concern. EPA used to consider hydrogen sulfide as a nuisance but now views it as a health concern also. I have a great iron system that can remove all three of these contaminants from your well water.

      As for your well, think of it as a straw dipping into a large drink. The straw is the well but you can’t see where the water you’re tapping into really is. So you should be very careful in your yard and septic maintenance so you don’t contaminate the well. You may inquire about my recommendations for maintaining your septic system.

  12. Anne Stewart says:

    One issue I often encounter is what systems work best when there is no electricity (or very limited, say on a boat, cabin, or RV), and very little water pressure (gravity feed, less than 25psi). I think there are no RO systems that will work (?), so I’ve often recommended ceramic filtration (or ceramic with silver) but it’s a system with a low flow rate. What would be your recommendation?

    LOVE your site and your information!
    Thank-you, Anne

    • Anne – thanks for asking. What I’ve been recommending is that people use a foot pump to provide additional pressure, such as you would find on a sailboat. Then you can use a system like my Kitchen Defender. The Kitchen Defender water filter can use a ceramic filter as one of the stages but the point of that would be to filter out bacteria so whether or not it’s needed depends on the situation.

      I struggle with this idea of ceramic or carbon with silver. Since silver is anti-bacterial I’m thinking that you will ingest some and have a negative affect on intestinal floura. While I am not positive about injestion the silver really isn’t necessary so I shy away.

      So glad to hear you like the site and the information. I hope you’ll keep coming back.

  13. C. Howle says:

    Hello Jim,

    You have answered all the questions about drinking water that I can think up so far.
    However I want to know if all the same considerations for drinking water also apply to bathing water?
    Are all the undesirable pollutants in drinking water the same for water in a bath?

    Also if one has a tiny space for a whole home filter system do you have any different suggestions than what is on your site?

    Thank you and please enter me in the kitchen defender drawing. What a great prize.

    C. Howle

    • At present the technology for bathing water is different than that for drinking water. A whole house water filter will generally remove a wide array of contaminants but does not necessarily make your water safe to drink. Contaminants such as high total dissolved solids, radioactive metals, and many of the unregulated contaminants such as pharmaceuticals from upstream sewage treatment discharges would still be in your bath water. These would be removed for drinking water by the appropriate kitchen water filter, in this case reverse osmosis.

      As for size that’s a tough one. I suggest you look at an outdoor storage shed for your whole house water filter such as the one I use from Rubbermaid. I’ve got mine set up with a thermostat to keep my Urban Defender from freezing.

  14. Christyna says:

    How important is it to cook with filtered water?
    I assume that fermenting with filtered water is a must. What if I am just steaming vegetables?
    Thanks for your time.

    • Christy – It is very important to cook with filtered water. The contaminants in your water will end up in your food if you do not use a kitchen water filter. I recommend that you sign up for my Five Steps to Healthy Water and learn all about it. If you’re just steaming then you’ll mostly have chlorine gas in your vegetables. That’s a poison. Thanks for your questions.

  15. Mary Anne says:

    Hello Jim:
    Can you tell me the best filter to use to remove chlorine and fluoride when you live in a rental? My understanding is that the counter style of the kitchen defender will not filter out the fluoride. What would be your suggestion? Also, are there any filters you can use for a bathroom sink if you are not using a home filtration system?

    Thanks for all the good information you provide on your website and blog, Jim.
    Mary Anne

  16. Dear Sir,
    How can we remove the Amalgom(Mercury) contaminated in Dental waste water?(before giving the drain connection)
    We are looking for compact filter without any electricity(pump) and
    suggest us the suitable filter where we can use any Vacuum suction pipe of dental chair.
    With Regards.
    Harish S Bhat

    • Because you are removing amalgum fillings you will have small particles of the amalgum, which contains mercury. I would use a product like my two stage Kitchen Defender water filter. In the first stage I would use a sediment filter and in the second stage I would use carbon block. You could also add a third stage that would be a ceramic filter.

  17. Susan says:

    Great blog, Jim! I’ll be back to learn more.
    My first concern is: what is the best water for the preservation of teeth and the maintenance of dental health? How does water affect tooth enamel? I understand that lemon juice will dissolve teeth. Will some types of water do the same thing?
    “Water straight out of the tap is carcinogenic.” This statement is quite jarring!! A quick look around your site substantiates that claim: chlorine, chloramine, their carcinogenic byproducts, herbicides, fluoride, arsenic, barium, pesticides, radioactive metals. Whatever happened to pure water?
    Since our skin is our largest organ and absorbs many substances readily, wouldn’t the ideal be to filter water we shower and bathe in as well as ingest?
    What is the operating cost per gallon for your kitchen defender water purifier system, urban defender whole house system, Sweetwater Custom RO system, and shower filters (for comparison)?
    Thanks for having not one, but two, Kitchen Defender give-aways! Susan

    • Hi Susan – Thanks!

      I like to drink water with a slightly alkaline pH, ideally about 7.4, but that is a controversial issue and the subject of much banter. Low pH water will dissolve your pipes and fixtures and so you want to correct that problem with one of my acid neutralizers.

      There are now numerous studies, a number of which can be read in my water purification library, that demonstrate the negative health effect of chlorination on the human body, either by drinking or showering in it. I try to avoid chlorine altogether.

      A whole house water filter the way to avoid showering in chlorine but you may also need a kitchen water filter to remove additional contaminants. This depends on what contaminants are present in your water supply.

      Thanks for asking great questions Susan.

  18. Jeff says:

    Hi Jim,

    I keep reading on various health sites the RO or distilled water will leach minerals from your body. Personally I think this is a bunch of bologna, but do you have any science to dispute or confirm this? Now DI water is a whole nother story and I sure don’t drink that without adding something to it. Makes great coffee though. 🙂

    • Jeff – studies were done on the effects of reverse osmosis on US Navy submariners (who obtain all of their drinking water from desalinated seawater). The theory that low tds (total dissolved solids) water would leach minerals from their bodies or bones was investigated. This was not found to be the case and no negative effects were found. In fact, the theory of osmosis demonstrates that low tds water is more hydrating than high tds water. Some naturopaths drink distilled water, which is essentially the same as DI water. And on a final note, the richest tasting coffee is made from water with a tds of about 200, so you may want to try that instead of DI water for your next cup of joe.

  19. Sue Neville says:

    Hi Jim, we recently spent a long weekend in Michigan at a cabin that utilized well water.
    We were anxious to get home and drink the great tasting water from your reverse osmosis system that we installed earlier this year. We live in a mid-size city in Illinois so we know your system is reducing the amount of farming chemicals that flow into our water sources here.

  20. Lynn Parks says:

    Hi Jim,
    I’ve purchased filters from you more than once for different residences and have always found you to be honest and forthright with information and suggestions for filtration. My question is: Where in the USA would you consider the best groundwater to be (least contaminated by chemical companies, steel plants, etc)?
    Thanks very much!

    • Hi Lynn – Good to hear from you and thanks for your kind words.

      If I were considering moving to a new location I would do some homework first and find the local water quality report of the town you may move to. If considering vacant land with well water then I would definitely test the water before I bought the land.

      In terms of your actual question I would look for parts of the country with substantial rainfall and natural (not managed) forests. The Pacific Northwest, parts of the Midwest, and areas along the East Coast all come to mind. Groundwater can be contaminated by the presence of industry but also by farming and by naturally occuring minerals. Some seemingly pristine mountain locations have very serious contamination of well water by metals, but then mining is what opened the West. So when looking at land with rolling hills or mountains I’d be aware of that. The Midwest is known by some cancer specialists as the Lymphoma Belt due to pollution from crop pesticides.

      No matter where you go there may be issues present with the water supplies. It’s always good to test the water for contaminants or review existing tests before making a purchase decision.

  21. Eric Odden says:

    Hi Jim,
    Our house was built in 1915, and I believe the plumbing was updated to PVC in the 70’s or 80’s. Our water seems to be very hard city well water with heavy mineral deposits appearing at all our fixtures. If we were to install a whole house filter/softener system, do you recommend all new plumbing as well? Is PVC really the best material for plumbing?

    • Eric,

      Personally I prefer old fashioned copper for house plumbing.

      If your water is hard then a water softener is what you need to stop producing build up of calcium and magnesium minerals on your fixtures. If you install a whole house water filter and a water softener then what I would anticipate is a period of time, perhaps exceeding a year, that the pipes will cleanse themselves internally. In other words deposit build up inside the pipes will loosen. This means that it will end up in your drinking water. So I would definitely install a reverse osmosis drinking water system. But I wouldn’t replace all the pipes. It will take some time but eventually you’ll reach a point of balance.

  22. Linda says:


    I moved and have been looking for a whole house water filter that will serve as bathing, sink and kitchen drinking/cooking water. I have been looking for a water filter with a stainless steel housing as I am concerned about BPA and other plastics leaching into the water from the water filter. What is your opinion on the plastics in water filters? Thanks.

    • Hi Linda – Bpa was formerly used in the types of plastics used for water bottles. They had to be light and durable. Bpa has never been an issue with the housings of water filters. The issue of leaching also has to do with heat. It was demonstrated that heat is what caused the bpa to leach from plastic bottles into water. I’m not aware of any whole house water filters that use stainless steel housings. They would be incredibly expensive. Most, such as my Urban Defender whole house water filter, use a fiberglass tank with a stainless steel jacket.

      Bpa comes from other sources too. You may be interested in this recent news article:

      Another issue you bring up inadvertently though is that a whole house water filter may not by itself meet your needs. In many locations a whole house water filter will remove contaminants for bathing but an additional kitchen water filter is necessary to remove a variety of other contaminants that are harmful to your health. To be certain, it is best to find your local water report and then give me a call and we can review it together.

  23. Nancy Stamp says:

    If your neighbors occasionally spray their ditches with herbicide (or God knows what else), and they are about 3 miles up stream from you (live in a mountain drainage), how much of that is most likely in your well water?

    • Hi Nancy – If you’re neighbors are 3 miles away I’d be more concerned about a rain immediately after they apply the herbicide, which would carry the water downstream. As for your well I doubt you’d find traces of herbicide in the well at that distance but it would depend on how much and how often they apply it. The only way to know what is in your well is to perform a well water test such as the ones I offer. Without testing your well water you have no way of knowing what else might be in the water that is affecting your health.

  24. John says:

    I distill bottled water. Does the carbon filter on the distiller remove the VOC’s ?
    Does bacteria build up quickly on the carbon filter requiring it to be replaced often ?

    • Hi John – If you’re using steam distillation then I would not anticipate bacteria to be an issue on the carbon filters. Carbon is subject to hosting bacteria though so frequent replacement is a good idea. I like using a combination of KDF and carbon because KDF has anti-bacterial properties.

  25. John says:

    What is TDS ? (Total Dissolved Solids). I use a a TDS meter to test my drinking water.
    I have heard it described as contaminants and/or minerals in the water but would like more clarity about what exactly it is ?

    • John – thanks for asking. TDS is total dissolved solids and has nothing to do with contaminants in water. TDS consists of the naturally occuring minerals in water. These include:

      Magnesium – Mg++
      Almost all human cells have some level of magnesium in them, and adults need three to four hundred milligrams of magnesium every day. Magnesium is important for the regulation of muscle contractions and the transmission of nerve impulses, and it activates energy-producing enzymes. Bone structure also relies on magnesium, and it expands blood vessels, which lessens the risk of heart attack. Nervousness, lack of concentration, dizziness, and headaches or migraines may result from magnesium deficiency. Most bottled waters have below 20 mg/l of magnesium, though some may have as much as 1000 mg/l.

      Calcium – Ca++
      Adults need about eight hundred milligrams of calcium per day–babies don’t require as much, but fifteen to nineteen year olds need significantly more. The many benefits of calcium include stabilizing bone structure, teeth, and cell membranes; ensuring nerve and muscle impulses are properly transmitted; and helping to prevent blood clotting. Calcium also has a balancing effect for numerous skin allergies. Bones decalcify (osteoporosis) and fractures become more likely if a body is not getting enough calcium. Bottled water usually has less than 100 mg/l of calcium, but a few examples have about 500 mg/l.

      Potassium – K+
      Two to four grams is usually a sufficient day’s supply of potassium. Children and young people should pay particular attention to their intake, since potassium aides the growth of cells. The pressure of water between cells is regulated by potassium, which also makes sure each cell gets enough food. Potassium has special roles to play in muscle contraction and the formation and conduction of impulses of the heart. Potassium deficiency can weaken skeletal muscles and make smooth muscles tired. Typical potassium content in bottled water is less than 5 mg/l, but some (such as Ferrarelle and Malvella) can have as much as 50 mg/l.

      Sodium – Na+
      A person’s level of exertion largely determines his or her daily requirement of sodium. Normally about three grams are necessary, but severe physical stress can bring the requirement up to fifteen grams or more. The heart’s metabolism is affected by sodium, as is the regular contraction of the heart. Today, we rarely have to worry about sodium deficiency: Salt is an integral part of many foods, especially those that are highly processed. Sodium in bottled water ranges from 10 mg/l in most bottled waters to 1,200 mg/l in a few waters, such as Vichy Catalan and Vichy Célestins.

      Sulfate SO4–
      Sulfates are the salts of sulfur. They aid the liver in detoxification and help digestion by stimulating the gall bladder. Sulfates in high doses act as a laxative. Fish, meat, and milk contain sulfates, which are an important component of protein. The human body only absorbs small amounts of sulfates, but these amounts are sufficient to stimulate peristalsis by binding magnesium and sodium to water in the intestine. This effect makes mineral waters rich in sulfates, which taste slightly bitter, suitable as “nonalcoholic bitters” after a meal. Most bottled waters have well below 100 mg/l of sulfates, but San Pellegrino and a few others can reach 500 mg/l.

      Bicarbonate – HCO3-
      Present in all biological fluids, bicarbonate is essential for maintaining our bodies’ pH balance. The substance is also found in stomach secretions. Lactic acid generated by physical activity is neutralized by bicarbonate dissolved in water; a similar process raises the pH of some acidic foods. The typical range for bicarbonate in bottled water is 50 to 200 mg/l, but it can reach up to about 1,800 mg/l in waters such as Apollinaris, Gerolsteiner, and Borsec.

      Silica – SiO2
      Most adults need between twenty and thirty milligrams of silica daily. [An essential mineral building block, silica is one of the body’s greatest energizing nutrients.] Silica reduces the risk of heart disease and may prevent osteoporosis; it also helps tissue repair by serving as an antioxidant. Hair and nails are strengthened by silica. If bottled waters contain any silica, it’s usually less than 20 mg/l, and the higher levels in waters such as Fiji and Antipodes are well below 100 mg/l.

      Trace Elements
      The human body needs iron, iodine, copper, fluoride, zinc, and other trace elements as well as minerals. The recommended daily intake is fractions of a milligram for some substances and a few milligrams for others.

      Compared with wine, differences in taste between waters are quite subtle. But they are nevertheless discernible: Local geological strata impart water with different minerals, giving every single-source water a unique set of characteristics.

      If you’ve read my article on the importance of minerals versus contaminants in water then you know that mineral content can be too high. The higher the level of minerals, or TDS, the less hydrating the water will be. So, while minerals in water are thought of as beneficial, it is my preference to drink water with a tds (or mineral content) less than 200 parts per million.

  26. DAVID BROAD says:

    I really have found your emails, Five Steps to Healthy Water, extremely helpful! I have sent everyone of your emails to all of my close friends. Please keep up all of this great work that you are doing. If you get a chance go look at the tru tv web site and click on the Conspiracy Theory, then watch the World wide Water Conspiracy. I think you will find this very interesting! Thanks; David

  27. Stephen C says:

    I’m going to be building a house in Venezuela in a couple years and I’m doing a little research before I get started. The town I’m building my house in, Machiques, used to use water from an aquifer but apparently the water table dropped low and now they use river water. Unfortunately the Indians who live at the head of the river in the mountains outside of town, use the river to dump their feces, trash, and occasionally dead bodies have been found in it. Of course I’d love to install a well but haven’t looked into the feasibility of it yet. But If I have to use the river water from the public water system, without having a water test done yet, what do you think the best water treatment system for my home would be?

    Also what would be the best way to significantly increase my water pressure from say 7gpm to 20 gpm?

    Thanks for your help!

    • I just returned from Nepal and India and got a look at the upper Bagmati River in Kathmandu where Nepalis cremate their dead and dispose of the remnants of that in the river. This is considered a religious practice and very holy but now that the population has grown over ancient times as you can imagine it is quite the mess. So Stephen… I would dig that well, then buy one of my well water test kits, and then install the appropriate filtration system based on what we learn from the test.

  28. Edward B-W says:

    What would you recommend as the best water purifaction tabelets on the market?

  29. Julia Hosman says:

    Hi Jim,

    We spoke a while back and you said water softeners don’t remove radioactive particles. This article states that they do. What do you think about this article?

    I have a salt water system that has run out of media. It is turned off. My home has a carbon filter only at this time. I want to protect my family from cesium, plutonium and any other radioactive elements now polluting our air, soil and water. I’m scared.

    (We do use reverse osmosis at the tap)



  30. Julia,

    Most water softeners use a resin bead that is not zeolite.

    It is a special type of water softener that removes cesium and plutonium.

    I agree that zeolite does remove some radioactive particles. I’ve been trying to get pricing on that product from one of my suppliers but their concern in selling it is that then your water softener because a source of radioactivity in your home and is hazardous.

    A traditional water softener will remove low amounts of radium 226 and 228. Those are often found in ground water or surface waters that travel over soils containing these elements.

    I’ll share this with them though and ask.

    Glad you brought it up.

  31. Leon Humphrey says:

    Hi Jim, I would like a comment on water ionization filters.

    Thanks, Leon

    • Leon – it is my view that alkaline ionizers are mostly an expensive scam with only temporary benefits and potential long term dangers. I have researched this extensively and continue to do so with the hope of learning something positive. You may read more of what I think here at The Dangers of Alkaline Ionizers. Thank you for asking.

  32. Suzanne says:

    Hi Jim. Haven’t installed the Kitchen Defender water filter we bought from you (this remodeling takes forever!) but hope to this week. Husband asks: If our filter will need to be replaced if we don’t use it for 6 months (snowbirds).
    Thank you.

    • If you’re asking me can you let the filters sit unused and wet inside the Kitchen Defender for six months the answer is no. I would take them out, let them dry out and then store them in a freezer til you return.

  33. Suzanne says:

    We hope to install a swim spa next year. Dislike the idea of swimming daily in chlorinated water. Is there an alternative for this application?

    We will be traveling this winter in our small diesel RV. Last year we filled up our BPA-free bottles at Wal-Marts as we went. Don’t trust the bottles to be safe but glass bottles are so heavy. What type of filter do you recommend for small RV’s where weight and limited space is a consideration?
    Thanks again,

  34. Hi Suzanne –
    For spas I’d look into ozone though I am not familiar with a particular brand. There are also what are called salt based systems. These still use chlorine but the levels are reduced. If it were me I’d avoid chlorine altoghether too.

    For your RV I would suggest my Kitchen Defender water filter. It’s pretty awesome and also quite compact. Check out the link.

  35. Suzanne says:

    Does the Kitchen Defender remove arsenic?
    Thanks Jim, for taking the time to answer all my ?’s.

  36. Alan says:

    Hey Jim, i wanted to ask this question so others could see: Does boiling fluoridated water remove fluoride or concentrate it more ? Is their an idea to how much it would concentrate it by ? Thanks.

  37. Alan says:

    If boiling fluoridated water concentrates it,what can be done if you want to make something that requires boiling ? Do you have any experience with Berkey’s gravitational filter systems ?

    • Hi Alan,

      Well you have to filter out the contaminants and then boil the water.

      I don’t have any real familiarity with Berkey and for the sake of fairness don’t comment on other products unless I find that the company is misleading the public.

      I will say that the filter you need depends on the contaminants in your water that need to be removed. In order to kno which water filter is the best for you I suggest you review your local water report to identify contaminants and then buy the filter that removes them.

  38. claire says:

    I’m not sure if my question is appropriate here, but, I’m curious to know,
    what you think about a drinking water filter system that uses 5 micron sedi-ment filter, nanoceram, activated alumnia, catalytic carbon, zeolite, kdf-55, and coconut shell carbon compared to an RO system. I understand it would not reduce the TDS like the RO.

    • Hi Claire –

      I like some of those treatments and use them myself where appropriate.

      That sounds like a pretty comprehensive system. My question though is whether all those treatments are actually doing anything for you.

      In order to determine which water filter to use for your water you need to first identify the contaminants present in your water and then use the water treatments that remove those contaminants.

      Reverse osmosis systems do more than just remove dissolved solids (TDS). They will also remove fluoride, radioactive metals, nitrates, and other metals that none of the treatments you’re currently using will address. Of course I don’t know if you have these in your water.

      So I would say that this set of treatments and RO are not directly comparable. Again, the best water filter for will depend on the contaminatns in your water.

  39. Michelle OShaughnessy says:

    I moved to a farm house 1 year ago and use well water. Since moving here we’ve been experiencing many headaches, body aches, dizziness and overall weakness. We had our well water tested this past summer and the results were terrible. Needless to say, our well water is unsafe for drinking. We put a small filter we bought at Walmart on our water pipe but it doesn’t do anything to help and even put one on our kitchen faucet. Now we buy gallon jugs of water for drinking. We both like soaking in the tub but, after much reading, I hear that’s just as bad since the chemicals get into your pores and into your bloodstream. I’ve been researching many sites about which whole house filtration system would work but, of course, everyone says they have the best. I’m very confused about which system would work the best. Is there a filtration system that will cleanse the water completely so we can actually use our tap water again for drinking and take a bath without the threat of bacteria getting into our pores? Also, the smell of the water is AWFUL and after taking a bath the water looks like a greyish color.

    Thank you for any input you can give me.


    • Michelle –

      Unfortunately I can’t give you any input. In order to know how to treat well water I need to look at the well water test you’ve had done. Only then can I make specific recommendations.

      It is a huge mistake to buy any filter for well water without first testing the water. Then you buy the filter that removes the contaminants present in your water.

      There is no whole house water filtration system that removes everything. This is a common misconception. You have to target the contaminants in your water with the treatment types that remove those contaminants specifically.

      Whether the issue is odor, color, bacteria, or contaminants the approach I’ve mentioned here is the only one that works. If you give me a call I’m sure I can help you out.

  40. Dan Swiatek says:

    Hi there, found your site here and have been reading through.

    I was wondering if you could recommend a water filter for hiking/backpacking/camping that is useful for purifying water for the purpose of cooking, unlike the Lifestraw style products which are useful for drinking.

    Would you recommend just boiling water before use, just a purifier or using a purifier and boiling the water?

    Thank you for you consideration

    • I do not particularly think that the Lifestraw products are useful at all.

      The purpose of boiling water is to kill bacteria. An alternative to that is
      to use a ceramic filter which will filter out bacteria and cysts and any dirt.

      While I don’t recommend any particular brand I would suggest you check with
      REI – a great place to shop for camping supplies of all kinds and the staff
      generally knows what they’re talking about.

      I would be very careful drinking water in the woods these days. There was a time
      when it was safe. Giardia seems quite widespread now and I’d be alert to what else
      might be around too, such as abandoned mines upstream.

  41. FUNG Wai Sun William says:

    I am using the RO for a few years and quite recently discovered that the pH of the water coming out from the RO is of pH 5-6 value using the testing paper.
    What chemicals are mainly due to this acidity and I would like to carry the water test (RO water vs Tap’s water) in the Water Testing Laboratory the reasons behind this.

    • RO water will have a low pH because the minerals and other content has been removed. The water then reacts with carbon dioxide in the air when it comes out of the faucet to form carbolic acids, thus lowering the pH.

      I don’t understand the last part of your question.

  42. Karen says:

    I am wondering if you have evaluated the water bottles that have filters in them. There are a lot out there but it seems the ones that do the best job at filtering are harder to drink from due to sucking the water through the filter.

    • Hi Karen –

      I do not personally understand how a water bottle can have a filter of sufficient size and appropriate media to be of any use at all.

      I don’t recommend them.

      Thanks for asking.


  43. Jim Jecen says:

    Mr McMahon- Are you able to supply the polyphosphate crystals (Stage 6) for the Springhouse Living Water system? Or do you know of a domestic supplier?

    Thank you for any assistance.

    Jim Jecen

  44. Lynette Conklin says:

    HELP! I have an Ecoquest SpringHouse water filtration system which I purchased in 2005 & it has been operating perfectly – I have been changing filters regularly. In the last couple of weeks, the audible alarm on increasingly become louder! I have replaced the UV lamp – no relief!! How do I check for electronics system failure or replace the ballast – NO ONE at Volara has any idea what I am talking about. Do you?

    • EcoQuest, the manufacturer of SpringHouse, went bankrupt some years ago now. Vollara acquired some of their product line, including the air purifiers. At that time SpringHouse was discontinued. For a while some parts were avaiable and I can get filters for the SpringHouse but anything to do with the UV lights; replacment lamps or ballasts, etc; are no longer available.

  45. Jared says:

    Great Site! How would you treat city water that has been lime softened from a lake? It is about 6 Grains per Gallon by the time it gets to my house and is disinfected with chlorimine. Has a funny taste and slight odor.

  46. Juanita says:

    We moved into a 70’s house less than a month ago. We have well water with a very strong sulphur smell. There was supposedly a water test done when we bought the house that said it was fine. It smells terrible. We have a hot water furnace system and I think this is making the house smell but others say they don’t notice it. We have an aquakleen under sink system we are installing. We have the whole house system( salt) too but it still smells slightly. A bit more when hot showers are used. We haven’t bought washer dryer set because I refuse to have clothes smelling like sulphur ( as I have read can happen). I guess my question is, what can I do? We live about a 100 yards from a river that is not known for being clean. Should I shock the well with chlorine? Any certain system? Thanks for any help.

    • It takes a specific water test to detect hydrogen sulfide odors because it is a gas that readily escapes when you open the faucet.

      Carbon filters, like your Aquakleen may work briefly but will soon be overwhelmed. Water softeners (salt) don’t address this particular problem.

      I do sell a system to vent the odor to the outside and that is what must be done. You can also shock the well but will have to do so on a regular basis as the odor will return. I recommend hydrogen peroxide rather than chlorine.

      See my website:

  47. Stephanie says:

    I live in northern NJ. I get poland spring water delivered to our house. Recently, I have read that poland spring isn’t the greatest. Can you shed some light…? In addition can you recommend the best water to drink?


  48. Brian says:

    I just read your article about backwash vs upflow whole house filters. Good info.

    How do you feel about the different media available for these systems. I know my city water has chloramine, so I will need catalytic carbon.
    But many systems come mixed with KDF 55 or KDF 85. What are these, are they any good?

    I’m also seeing a ton of advertising for bone char filters to remove fluoride. Okay, but will bone char remove anything else. Would I need multiple media to remove fluoride & chloramines?
    Should we even worry about reducing fluoride in our drinking water?


    • Hi Brian –

      Thanks and great questions. KDF 55 is one of my favorite treatments and I use it whenever it’s appropriate. KDF 55 and 85 are different blends of high purity copper and zinc granules. There are a number of benefits including ionzation, creating an anti-bacterial environment within the filter housing, and the removal of some metals. Of course this is theoretical only and depends on proper sizing and configuration. Request the specifications on my Urban Defender whole house water filter to learn even more.

      Now bone char is another topic entirely. Bone char is used most often to remove fluoride, but it is primarily carbon so it will also remove chlorine and VOCs. Bone char must be placed appropriately, meaning after a carbon filter, to be used in removing fluoride. Also, fluoride removal is extremely challenging and depends on local water chemistry and flow rate. Learn more on my whole house fluoride filter page.

      I personally would not drink fluoride and don’t know why local or state governments feel compelled to worry about my teeth.

  49. snezana says:

    Hi James,

    can you please recommend a good quality shower filter that removes fluoride, chlorine and all other contaminants. Can you also send me more info on your kitchen defender water filter? I’m looking to buy filter! Reverse osmosis is not an option as we rent. I live in Queens, NY! I’m really concerned about the fluoride as I have 2 small kids. Would love to hear your suggestions.

    • Shower filters use KDF media to convert chlorine to chloride. That’s all they day. Also they are too small to remove fluoride or other contaminants. My suggestion is always that you call me during business hours and we will review your water report and discuss your options.

  50. Ryan says:

    Hi James,

    I’m having a hard time deciding between a backwash and non-backwash system for city water that is treated with chlorine + amonia according to our cities website.

    Has anything changed in regards to which system is most effective. From reasearching the net most people are saying backwash systems are a must for well water, but non-backwashing systems are better for removing chlorimines?


    • That is incorrect Ryan. For chloramine removal you need an appropriately sized backwashing downflow carbon system that uses catalytic carbon, like my Urban Defender. You can contact me to receive the specifications.

  51. Catherine says:

    I must admit that I did not take the time to read through all the previous questions so hopefully I’m not repeating one.
    I am very concerned about water fluoridation and try my hardest not to consume it. Are there any bottled waters that don’t contain fluoride, or any reasonably priced home purification systems that will rid my infamous Grand Rapids, MI tap water of the nasty stuff?

    • You can view my bottled water recommendations on the website or call me to discuss the way to treat water in Grand Rapids.

      I would not have an answer without viewing the local water quality report provided by your city.

  52. Lisa Roccaro says:

    Hi, I have a house in Maine with radon in the water. We rent it out in the summer by the week and are considering renting it for the winter as well. I t has 4 bedrooms and we only allow 6 people in the house at a time. Radon in the air is under control. The radon in the water in October 2016 was 10700 pCi/L and in September 2017 it was 8630 pCi/L. I’m not sure why there was s difference. I’ve been looking into carbon filters and wondering if that is the way to go. I’ve read if it’s over 5000 pCi/L you should use aeration or strippers. This house is from the mid to late 1800’s and there are granite quarries all around and part of the old basement is also granite. There’s also a lot of manganese in the water and a small amount of arsenic. My main concern is the radon as my Dad passed away from lung cancer 2 years ago at age 73. I also grew up in this house. I’m trying to save money but make the radon go away! Please advise me on if a carbon filter will work and recommend a product. Thank you for your time.

  53. Harold says:

    My wife and I are going to move into a RV full time so I will have widely varying water sources as we move around the US and Canada over the next ten or so years.

    We will be getting our water from municipal water sources and wells depending on where we are when we need to fill our onboard fresh water holding tank.

    Our RV comes from the manufacture with a single 4×10″ canister with a sediment filter cartridge.

    Do you think we would be well served with an upgrade to this system to add other filters or go all the way with a Reverse Osmosis system?

    • I think that RO is the only way you can avoid drinking numerous contaminants as you travel, but a carbon filter is better than nothing.

      You could also buy RO water at grocery stores.

  54. Kathryn Garnett says:

    Thanks for your blog, it is so informative! What do you think about “Structured Water?” Is it a scam or is this water really more healthy and hydrating?

  55. Tim Rovere says:

    i have well water with iron bacteria and need a filter.
    7 gpg hardness
    6.9 ph
    .5 ppm iron organic bound
    140 ppm tds
    iron reducing bacteria present.
    I cant decide which whole house filter to get.
    Is peroxide or chlorine better ?

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