Jackie Dana on July 5, 2016 2 Comments How You Will Benefit From Using A Water Filter Pitcher For consumers who seek low-cost water filtration for their home or office, a pitcher-style water filter is a great option. They can remove a number of contaminants from drinking water and significantly improve taste and odor. And a number of these kinds of pitchers also can make water more alkaline, a great benefit for overall health. What Are Water Filter Pitchers? Pitcher filters, also called “pour-through filters,” are small plastic water pitchers perfect for use in a refrigerator. Most models filter water through a charcoal filter located under a reservoir. After adding tap water to the top, gravity forces the water in the reservoir through this filter. Are You Drinking Clean Water? Generally speaking, pitchers can filter a gallon or two at a time. How Do They Work? The pitchers have a replaceable charcoal filter that are filled with activated carbon granules. The charcoal pieces are porous and have a large surface area. These particles capture impurities and contaminants through a process known as adsorption. Activated charcoal is great for removing chlorine (added as part of the treatment process at the municipal water supply) and some other impurities and chemicals, but there are limits to the contaminants that these pitchers can remove. Charcoal cannot make hard water softer, nitrates, heavy metals or microbes. Unfortunately, most water pitchers also cannot remove lead or fluoride. When considering filtration options, therefore, it’s always a good idea to have your water tested and then choose the best filtration option for you and your situation. If you need to remove lead or other heavy metals, you may need to investigate reverse osmosis or other filtration systems. What Contaminants Do They Remove? Government-sponsored testing of water filters shows that these activated charcoal filters can remove a number of basic contaminants. These impurities include those that can make water smell and taste bad, as well as medications that don’t get completely removed during the water treatment process. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency recognizes activated carbon filtration as one of the best ways to remove various industrial chemicals from drinking water. For a more complete list, water pitcher filters may remove some, or all, of the following, although efficacy will vary by unit and how often the filters are changed: Chlorine Zinc Nominal Particulates Hydrogen Sulfide Asbestos Cysts Lead Mercury Turbidity Cadmium Copper Mercury Trace pharmaceuticals How Do These Chemicals Get Into Our Water? Our drinking water generally comes from local rivers, lakes and underground aquifers. To make the water safe to drink, municipal water treatment plants first filter water for particulates, such as sand and dirt. Often the water is then filtered a second time through various filter media such as activated charcoal, or it may undergo other processing, as reverse osmosis, ozone exposure through high-voltage currents, or exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. Finally, before sending the water to our homes, the treatment facilities add a variety of chemicals to disinfect the water and remove harmful viruses and bacteria. Generally speaking, if your city water supply is running properly, your tap water should be safe to drink. However, as part of the disinfection process, water treatment plants typically add small amounts of chlorine to drinking water supplies to kill harmful microbes. While this amount of chlorine is safe to consume, it can have an affect on the taste and smell of the water (some people complain that it smells like a swimming pool!) . Chloramines are another byproduct of water treatment. As part of the disinfection process, some plants add ammonia to the water, which binds with chlorine and creates chloramines. Both chlorine and chloramines can be removed with activated charcoal filtration. In the case of other contaminants, federal standards limit the maximum allowed levels of each chemical or mineral in our water supply. That means that despite all of the processing at our municipal treatment facilities, trace amounts of many chemicals can still be in our drinking water. A final filtration by homeowners can remove many of these remaining impurities, improving the quality of our water before we drink it. Other Health Benefits of Water Filters Many models of water pitcher filters now not only filter out chlorine and other contaminants, but also change the pH of the water itself. By making water more alkaline, proponents say that the water is healthier. See All Brita Water Filters on Amazon Although scientists are just now beginning to research the effects of alkaline water, some studies suggest that there may be benefits from drinking water with a high pH. One study published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests that alkaline water with a pH of 8.8 may help people suffering from acid reflux disease because it destroys pepsin, the enzyme that both helps break down proteins in food and leads to acid reflux. In another study by the Shanghai Journal of Preventive Medicine, alkaline water may benefit patients suffering from high blood pressure, diabetes and elevated blood lipids. A word of caution: doctors recommend limiting the quantities of alkaline water we consume, especially water in the higher pH range (over 8). Our bodies were not made to process such alkaline water on a regular basis, and doing so may harm organs and possibly interfere with our bodies’ ability to produce stomach acid, a requirement for properly digesting food. Alkaline water is also antibacterial, which could negatively affect intestinal flora. Doctors and manufacturers also recommend starting out slowly with alkaline water and to not provide it to children under the age of 3. How to Get the Most Out of a Water Pitcher Filter Be sure to always read the instructions for your water pitcher filter, including how to properly use your replaceable filter, how often to change the filter, and how to engage the filter cartridge life indicator (if your model includes one). When you first install a new charcoal filter, be sure to rinse it before use. With regular use, impurities will slowly clog activated charcoal filters, so they will need to be replaced regularly in order to reap the full benefits of the pitchers. Check the manufacturer’s instructions to learn how often they recommend changing the filters and information on where you can purchase additional filters. These filters can also host harmful bacteria, so even with moderate use it’s a good idea to change them out once a month or so. Is an Alkaline Water Pitcher Right For You? What About Alkaline Water Filter Pitcher? While there are many different brands making and selling water pitchers, an alkaline water pitcher is an exceptional unit that we wanted to highlight. Not only can it remove contaminants from your drinking water, like your standard pitcher filter, but this type of water pitcher also produces drinking water that is more alkaline, which provides you with an added bonus for your health. An alkaline filters create water with a pH range of 8.5 to 9.5. This water also scores up to -500 in ORP (Oxidation Reduction Potential), which is the measure of oxidants or antioxidants in water. The natural process of producing alkaline water process provides an antioxidant-rich ORP level of up to -500, making it very a high antioxidant solution.