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10 Ways to Filter Water

Whether for an emergency kit, a home system or an on-the-go solution, here are the easiest and best ways to filter water.

Why Use a Water Filter

For the most part, we live in a country with pretty safe drinking water. But that can change in an instant.

Natural disasters like hurricanes, landslides and wildfires can compromise municipal water treatment systems. Old pipes within our homes or city systems can suddenly start giving off contaminants, as happened with lead in Flint, Michigan. And chemical spills and agricultural runoff can create additional threats, especially for those on well water.

Some of the most common contaminants in water include:

  • Viruses, like norovirus, rotovirus and hepatitis;
  • Bacteria, like salmonella and E. coli;
  • Protozoa, like Giardia and Cryptosporidium;
  • Unpleasant sediment like silt and dirt;
  • Organic contaminants, like petroleum, herbicides, pesticides and heavy metals;
  • Forever chemicals, or PFAS, which are increasingly found in U.S. tap water.

Not every water filter gets out every contaminant, so start by assessing what you might be exposed to. Commonly, people focus most on bacteria and protozoa. But if you live near agricultural or industrial areas, and especially if you’re on a shallow well, you should have your water tested for a wider range of issues.

Also, check this comprehensive and helpful guide to city water safety by zip code, put together by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Beyond dangers to your health, hard water — high in magnesium carbonates, calcium and sulfates — can clog your shower heads, damage appliances and even keep your laundry from getting clean. While water softeners fix that problem, particularly hard water can elevate sodium levels, which can be detrimental for people with health conditions like high blood pressure.

Here’s how to sort out the best ways to filter and purify water, for your health and budget. When purchasing any filter, try to find one certified by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) or another independent third-party certification company.

Here’s what to know and how to choose the best water filtration system for your camping adventures, written by Karuna Eberl


October 20, 2023

Written by
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Karuna Eberl

A freelance writer and indie film producer, Karuna Eberl covers the outdoors and nature side of DIY, exploring wildlife, green living, travel and gardening for Family Handyman. She also writes FH’s Eleven Percent column, about dynamic women in the construction workforce. Some of her other credits include the March cover of Readers Digest, National Parks, National Geographic Channel and Atlas Obscura. Karuna and her husband are also on the final stretch of renovating an abandoned house in a near-ghost town in rural Colorado. When they’re not working, you can find them hiking and traveling the backroads, camping in their self-converted van.

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