Water filtration has grown into a huge business, and it could get bigger as safety concerns about tap water and the environmental backlash against bottled water continue.
Though health violations for public-water systems declined in 2010, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, the debate over hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a drilling technique used to extract natural gas from shale deposits, is stirring up concerns about chemical contamination. Aging water-treatment plants and distribution pipes add to concerns.
Even if you have total confidence in your tap water, the presence of chlorine and other treatment chemicals might give it a funny flavor and odor. Our sensory experts tasted water to see which filters do best in five different categories: carafes/dispensers, faucet mount, countertop, undersink, and reverse osmosis. See our Ratings of water filters (available to subscribers).
Before you buy a water filter, find out what’s in your water. If you pay a water bill, you should receive an annual Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) detailing contaminants in your water. If you live in an older house, you might want to test for lead leaching from old pipes. If you have a private well owners, have your water tested by a state-certified testing lab, available through the EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline.
Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org to find out which water filters produce cleaner, tastier water.