One of our readers wanted to know if refrigerator water filters were adequate or if they would be better off with an under counter water filter. It’s a question that many people struggle with.
Is your refrigerator water filter good enough to produce clean drinking water for you and your family?
Of course, there’s no simple answer because the answer depends on the following:
- the contaminants you want to remove
- the quality of the refrigerator water filter
Limitations of Refrigerator Water Filters
If you want to remove the most contaminants possible including Arsenic, Fluoride, Nitrate and Nitrite, Barium, Selenium, and Radium, most refrigerator filters aren’t able to remove these contaminants.
Because refrigerator filters use only a carbon filter and carbon filters have limitations on contaminant removal. So, if you want maximum contaminant removal, then you’ll need to opt for a carbon filter with a reverse osmosis filter or a carbon filter combined with another media. Although many carbon filters are highly effective, there’s a limit to the type of contaminants these filters can remove.
If you’re not worried about the contaminants listed above, then you might be fine with a generic refrigerator filter. But, you need to gather information about the filter. We recommend buying filters that are tested by third-party labs to verify the manufacturer's claims.
Why is Testing Important?
Many water filter manufacturers make claims of being the best, but not all take the next step to prove their filter’s performance. If a manufacturer really believes in their product, they get it tested by a certified third-party lab. And, they make those test results available on their website for your review.
If their product is not tested and performance results aren’t available, you’ve got to ask yourself why.
You Must Find & Read the Fine Print
When evaluating a water filter, you should check for third-party lab results. Here’s the catch, though. It’s not enough to just check for lab testing, you need to read the results.
Yes, it’s a lot of fine print!
But even with third-party testing, the quality of the filters can vary widely. For instance, some filters may only be certified to remove 6 or 7 contaminants while others are certified to remove over 200. You’ll also want to pay attention to the level of contaminant reduction. Once again, there can be wide variations. Some may only reduce a contaminant by 50% and others may reduce it by 95%.
The Typical Water Filter Disclosure is Inadequate
The typical water filter disclosure is inadequate. Here’s a typical refrigerator water filter effectiveness disclosure:
- This filter is NSF-certified to reduce lead, asbestos, chlorine taste, and odor, sediment and trace pharmaceuticals.*
- *Contaminant reduction certified by NSF.
- Reduces lead, asbestos, chlorine taste, and odor, sediment, and pharmaceuticals
- NSF Certified
It’s really not enough information, right?
Although it’s good to know it reduces lead and chlorine, the manufacturer doesn’t say how much. And, you’d probably like to know if it’s going to reduce 50% of lead or 99%.
It’s great that it is NSF certified, but you don’t have the report outlining the results. Plus, there’s another issue here. If your water department uses chloramines as a water disinfectant instead of chlorine, then this filter won’t reduce the water disinfectant. And, about 20% of water departments use chloramines as a water disinfectant rather than chlorine.
What you really need is a copy of the third-party testing results. Here’s an example of a test report from Austin Springs.
With this report, you’ll know exactly what kind of filtration you are getting.
To summarize, a refrigerator water filter may work for you depending on the contaminants you want to remove as well as the quality of the filter. But, you’ve got some work to do!
UPDATE Oct 6, 2017!
One of our favorite water purification companies has developed a universal refrigerator water filter that removes fluoride, lead, arsenic, and other 200 other contaminants.
So, what do you do with your existing refrigerator filter? Most manufacturers provide a replacement plug in place of the filter.
Learn more here - Propur Promax Refrigerator Filter that removes fluoride.
Need a Portable Water Filter that Doesn't Require Installation?
The great news is that there are many portable water filter solutions that work great and do not require installation. Below are our favorites. All remove over 200 contaminants including fluoride, lead, arsenic, nitrate and more.
A water pitcher filter that removes fluoride plus 200 other contaminants. Works as well as a reverse osmosis water filter system. Perfect when you need a portable solution. Ideal for dorm rooms, offices and travel. Long-lasting filter. Learn more.
If you have a standard faucet and want to remove over 200 contaminants including fluoride, lead and more, this is your solution. The filter attaches to a standard faucet (without a pullout sprayer), and is easily installed in 5 minutes. People rave about the taste of their water using this water filter. Learn more.
The Traveler has a 1.75-gallon capacity and is made of high-quality stainless steel. It sits on your counter top. When you pour water into the container, gravity pulls the water through the filter. Highly effective. Removes over 200 contaminants and is as effective as a reverse osmosis water filter system. Learn more.
Need help? Contact us. We can help you find the right water filter solution easily.