Water should comprise far and away the bulk of the liquid you consume: at least half your body weight in ounces of water per day, and more if you’re sweating. So for example, if you weigh 140 lbs, you should consume 70 ounces of water daily.
Given this volume, it’s very important that your water sources be free from contaminants. Unfortunately, most tap water isn’t (click here to see what’s in the water in your area).
Bottled water isn’t a great alternative, as companies are not held accountable for their water source, treatment process, or contaminants. Furthermore, those flexible plastic bottles are common sources of toxic phthalates.
So all of us need to do something to filter our drinking water. But what are the best options? (Disclaimer: I have no financial affiliation with any of the systems mentioned below.)
Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration
Reverse Osmosis (RO) is probably the most common method of water filtration I hear of, either as a system installed on a faucet, for an entire household, or purchased off site in discreet units of volume.
The RO system works by forcing water under high pressure through a semipermeable membrane. This removes any contaminants larger than the water molecules themselves. There are some contaminants still left behind, and sometimes a second carbon filter is used for these. The filtration process is quite thorough.
The down sides: these systems can be pricey, they waste water, and they also remove trace minerals and electrolytes from the drinking water, as well. I often find that my patients who drink nothing but RO water feel constantly thirsty, or suffer for dizziness, orthostatic hypotension (that feeling that the room briefly goes dark if you stand up too quickly), and low blood volume for this reason. A quick fix for this is to add electrolytes back into your water. Some RO systems also come equipped to add electrolytes back in after the fact, which would also work.
You might recall distillation from high school chemistry class. This process involves boiling the water and then allowing it to re-condense, leaving the contaminants behind.
Like RO, this is a great way to remove contaminants, but it also strips away the trace minerals and electrolytes.
If you’re thinking of going this route, I’d recommend checking the contaminants in your water by entering your zip code here, and then cross-referencing those contaminants with the list above of what Brita does and doesn’t remove.
Berkey filters are a portable gravity purification system, with multiple methods of filtration. These include multimedia filters, ion exchange to attract and bind to unwanted ionized metals in exchange for those ions that are desired (including trace minerals and electrolytes), and adsorption—essentially using static electricity to bind to contaminants too small for the pores of the filter to catch.
This system removes the bad stuff while leaving the good. It’s also not a faucet attachment or a house system, so it can be used while camping or off grid. The down side: it’s rather a slow filtration process.
Multipure Filtration System
Multipure is a faucet attachment that works similar to Berkey in terms of the carbon filtration and adsorption process.
So far as I can tell, it does not have a method for maintaining trace minerals and electrolytes, as it lacks the ion exchange step. Because of this, I’m not sure if it’s any better than RO or distilled. It does seem to be effective for eliminating all toxins, except for fluoride.
Pure Effect Filtration System
Pure Effect filters filters contaminants as effectively as the other systems, preserves electrolytes and minerals, and also claims to oxidize water and remove radiation, too.
One benefit over Berkey filters is that the water filtration is faster, and you don’t “run out” of filtered water and have to refill it. But it doesn’t appear to be portable, as the Berkey is.
It’s important to filter out contaminants from your water in some way, as there are many in tap water. If you drink well water, I’d highly recommend having it tested for heavy metals and other various contaminants as well.
If you drink RO or distilled water only occasionally, it will be less of an issue from an electrolyte standpoint than it would become if that’s the only water you drink. At that point, eventually electrolyte deficiency (and possibly trace mineral deficiency) could become a problem.