How to Choose A Water Filter

Water is fundamental to our health – but with all of the different kinds, it can be tough to figure out the best type of water to drink and how to choose a water filter. Let’s get into the nitty-gritty details of water, and how you can decide what might be best for you and your family.

Health Benefits of Water

We are made up mostly of water – here’s a quick review of why water is important. Water:

  • Keeps us hydrated
  • Ferries nutrients, proteins, hormones and chemical signals
  • Flushes the kidneys and liver
  • Keeps our skin and joints supple and hydrated
  • Reduces pain
  • Helps with digestion and elimination, and prevents constipation
  • Diminishes hunger

Checking Your Water Source

Before you choose a type of water filter, it’s important to know what kind of water you are dealing with in your home and what’s in it. If you live in a larger municipality, check with the city about water treatment and what chemicals they use (chlorine and fluoride are common); if you draw your water from a local or private well, ensure you test it. Then, based on what’s in your water, you can begin to make decisions about what filtration systems you may need.

The Environmental Working Group has a Tap Water Database where you can access water records – this is for US cities only.

What’s The Best Type of Water?

Let’s talk about some of the common water types that are available. We’ve listed these sources in what we feel is least desirable to most desirable.

Bottled Water

What Is It: Store-bought water that is packaged in bottles.


We actually don’t think there are pros to this one!


  • Stored in plastic, which can leach endocrine-disrupting chemicals into the water. Bits of microplastic can also be detected.
  • Bottled water is an unregulated industry, and it’s up to each bottled water company to test and screen its water (or they may not do this).
  • Many bottled water sources are not what the labels claim – companies take water from municipal sources, meaning it’s tap water.
  • Expensive.
  • The environmental impact of plastic is huge: people consume over 300 billion litres of bottled water every year, and those plastics don’t biodegrade. Plastic is polluting our oceans and affecting wildlife – researchers predict there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050.

Tap Water

What's the best type of water?

What Is It: The water comes from your tap in your kitchen and bathrooms.


  • Inexpensive and easily available.
  • Can be easily treated by using filters (more options for this below).


  • Tap water is usually disinfected with chlorine, which can destroy our gut bacteria and affect digestive health.
  • Is often treated with fluoride, with can disrupt our endocrine system.
  • Can be contaminated with drugs that people are using.
  • Can have a metallic taste or odor.

Activated Carbon Water Filter

best type of water

What Is It: This type of water is filtered using a carbon block that soaks up contaminants.


  • Removes the chlorine, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and odors.
  • Low cost and relatively simple to maintain.
  • Tastes neutral.


  • Doesn’t remove all contaminants – things like heavy metals and fluoride remain.

Distilled Water Filter

best type of water

What Is It: This type of water has been boiled to remove impurities and minerals.


  • Everything in your water is removed.
  • Can help with detoxification.
  • Can be made at home.


  • Doesn’t have beneficial minerals – you’ll need to add minerals back into it.
  • Has a flat taste.
  • Can be acidic in the body.
  • Uses a fair amount of energy to produce it.

Reverse Osmosis Water Filter

What Is It: Reverse osmosis water passes through several filters to remove the large and small contaminants.


  • Removes most major contaminants – chlorine, fluoride, heavy metals (such as lead and mercury), bacteria.
  • Tastes pure and clean.
  • Great for people who live in cities and want to remove a lot of toxins in their water.


  • Can be expensive.
  • Wastes water.
  • Can remove some beneficial minerals.

Spring Water

Best Type of Water

What Is It: Fresh water that comes straight from the source – the earth itself, which naturally filters and mineralizes the water.


  • One of the cleanest water sources available.
  • Contains natural, beneficial minerals.
  • Easy to find for free – Find A Spring is a great resource to find spring water near you.
  • Tastes pure and clean.


  • Can contain some pollutants – ensure you test the spring water for purity.
  • Can be difficult to access if you don’t have a spring near you.
  • Need large glass containers and transportation to collect it.

Need additional guidance about cultivating a healthy environment in every room of your home? Click here for Healthy at Home, an online course that shares simple and important things you can do every day to reduce your exposure to toxins in your home.

Your Next Steps In Choosing a Water filter

Choosing the best water or water filter really shouldn’t be so difficult. How do you choose what’s best when there are pros and cons to every option? Here are the steps we recommend.

  1. Look up your municipal water source and find out what is being added and what is being removed from your water.
  2. Determine what you ultimately want to have or not have in your water.
  3. Determine your optimal set-up (ie. You may want a portable option if you’re in a rental).
  4. Review the options above and choose the one that checks most of the boxes.
  5. Compare the options in that category and make the choice that works with your budget.

There are a lot of water choices out there – so dig in and explore the best types of water filters for you!

best type of water

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17 responses to “How to Choose A Water Filter

  1. Cristian

    Thanks for the article – any recommendations for pitchers and sink faucet filters that catch most contaminants (including fluoride) ?

    1. Academy of Culinary Nutrition

      As we mention in the post, what filter you use will depend on where you live and what type of water you have. Sink filters, countertop filters and pitchers are all available options but there isn’t a one-size-fits-all recommendation for everyone.

  2. Salena

    Great Article!

  3. Susan Flannigan

    Which water pitcher do you recommend, i.e. Britta or Zero Water and why?
    Susan Flannigan

  4. Grace Bagnulo

    I am hearing a lot about kangen water. What is your thought on this?

  5. Academy of Culinary Nutrition

    Hi Susan! We’re not familiar with the Zero Water system, so we don’t know how it compares to Brita or the other water options we’ve mentioned. It really depends on what’s in your water that you’d like to remove, the space you have, and your budget.

  6. Academy of Culinary Nutrition

    Hi Grace! We’re not convinced that alkaline water is everything it’s promoted to be. It’s also a very expensive investment. There are much more affordable options that will still yield clean water that is great for our health.

  7. Natalie

    Great article Meghan!!
    I do have a whole house carbon filter and RO system and was wondering about your thoughts in regards to the ph levels if the RO water being low. Any thoughts or recommendations for the ph levels?
    Thanks 😊

  8. Academy of Culinary Nutrition

    Hi Natalie! RO water is a little lower in pH than tap water, but our bodies will typically adjust pH levels (for example in the stomach) as it needs to. Water that is more acidic may erode your pipes over time depending on what they’re made of.

  9. Nida Masood

    what is the ideal nutrient matrix for clean / healthy water- i get confused when you say ‘how you would want your water to be’ . There must be a base level % you should strive to balance right – whats that?

  10. Academy of Culinary Nutrition

    Hi Nida! This post is focused more on filtering out the contaminants that you don’t want in your water. What’s in your water depends on the source, but clean water of any kind is going to be of benefit. There are some experts who contend that certain ratios in water are best, but it’s up to each person to decide. You may find this resource helpful about general mineral content in water:

  11. Jessica

    I have been watching the Healthy At Home videos and wanted to know which Reverse Osmosis system/brand you guys have? Also, do you use the leftover wasted water for anything else in particular or do you just dump it down the sink/toilet?

    Thanks in advance!


  12. Academy of Culinary Nutrition

    Meghan and Josh used Nimbus Water Systems. Can you please clarify your question about wasted water? Leftover water from cooking? Something else?

  13. Jessica Kinnahan

    Thank you for the reply.

    I’ve read that reverse osmosis tanks in general can be a breeding ground for bacteria. How do you go about mitigating this? Are you able to clean the tank or does it have to be cleaned professionally? Does the Nimbus Water System have a plastic tank or is it stainless steel?

    Thank you!


  14. Academy of Culinary Nutrition

    Hi Jes! A lot of filter systems will need some type of cleaning and filter replacement, depending on what you choose. RO companies should offer specific instructions for cleaning, but there are guides online. Nimbus has a few options, including stainless steel, but it’s always helpful to get a customized quote directly from them.

  15. Tara Fynn

    I haven’t seen any mention of the Berkey Walter filtration systems. They are great for counter top use, for renters, for camping (camping filter system available)’ for tiny homes and for the budget conscious consumer.

  16. Carlysa

    I have used reverse osmosis at home systems and bottled for 25 years. Hands down the best hydration than any other water I’ve drank. I purchased a Brita bottle to take with me and filter if I need a refill. The longer I used it the sipper spout tasted icky. So I chose to purchase a Zero Water and it is fabulous! Don’t stick to the map on the box that says how bad your local water is. It said mine was in the 300+ range but it was 184 when I tested it. So the filter will last longer.
    No system is perfect but I’m a Zero Water lifer.
    Love the website! Thanks

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