Pure, healthy, clean water is vital to all life and is especially important in the desert, where the high temperatures dehydrate us all quickly. Water quality is a big issue and one I have personally been researching for years to find the best and most affordable solution. Since we can’t all move to Fiji and drink amazing artesian water every day, let’s discuss water.
Bottled water is a good solution for some, but the high cost combined with chemicals that can leach into the water as it sits in the heat - watch those bottles in cars -that can be a prohibitive solution. Water bottles are also a major source of consumer waste. A lot of companies now sell high-quality water in glass containers which can be refilled at home for continued use. Stainless steel water bottles are also an excellent choice!
Now at home, what is the best option? To live chemical-free, tap water is the worst option available, as the majority of it has potentially 300+ chemicals and pollutants (according to www.ewg.org) and Phoenix still adds fluoride to its water. Water filtration is a great choice for at-home use, but there are many water filtration systems from which to choose. The decision can be overwhelming so let’s narrow it down to a few good options:
Pitcher Water Filters
Pitchers generally use Granulated Activated Charcoal (GAC) to remove some contaminants. They are less expensive up front then other options, but do require frequent filling (for large families) and frequent cartridge replacement. They definitely improve taste, but are less effective at removing volatile organic compounds (VOCs), heavy metals, endocrine disruptors and fluoride.
Reverse-Osmosis (RO) Filtration
Reverse osmosis uses a membrane which removes many contaminants from water and is usually paired with a GAC filter to remove chlorine. The semipermeable membrane separates many contaminates from the water and rejects a large amount of water in the process. The result is a waste of several gallons of water for every gallon filtered along with naturally occurring minerals. However, it does remove fluoride and if you add trace minerals back in, it can be a solid option for home use (usually under sink with spigot).
This process uses heat to cause water to become steam. The steam rises and over to a cooling chamber where it turns back into liquid, leaving behind many contaminants. It effectively kills bacteria but does not remove VOCs or endocrine disrupters. Minerals would need to be replaced with this method.
Solid-Block Carbon Filters
These are a great option as the EPA recognizes they remove herbicides, pesticides and VOCs, along with chemicals, bacteria, fluoride, nitrates and parasites. They also keep minerals in. They can also use any type of water (rain water, pond water and even sea water) making them ideal for travelers, especially overseas. They are more expensive up front however, and will take up counter space. The Berkey is a well-known brand and there are several others to compare.
Under-Counter, Multi-Stage Filters
Lastly, after reviewing all of these choices, many end up purchasing this type of filtration system. The higher-priced options will literally remove everything from pharmaceutical residues to water-borne illnesses with all in between. The main consideration here would be the cost as some higher end units (14-stage filtration) will run into the low thousands of dollars. There are several options however in the $150-$300 range that offer a wonderful product and ease of use.
— Sara Lemons Vaules is the founder of Lemon and Light, which offers consulting, products and strategies for moving with ease into an organic, chemical-free lifestyle.