If you're like me, you've probably gone to great lengths to keep you and your family healthy and safe. You've gotten rid of products with toxic chemicals, you buy organic food, or at least items without preservatives and artificial colors, and you make sure you're getting enough exercise while keeping your kids active, too. So don't you hate it when you turn on the shower and the water smells horrible? It happened to me one day. The chlorine smell was so strong that I felt like I was bathing in swimming pool water. If that wasn't bad enough, I noticed another odor after a big rainstorm. It resembled the smell you get after watering indoor plants. I wondered what the heck was going on with my pipes or the water coming out of it. However, when it dissipated, I let it go. Have you ever, like me, questioned the quality of your water but had the attitude that it's on the outside of your body, so who cares? What can it really do? Well now that I've done some investigating, I know it can do quite a lot, and it's a little disconcerting.
Impurities in Water Affect Us Inside and Out
Just like topical medicines, and nicotine patches become effective through skin absorption, what goes on our body does penetrate the skin and eventually enters our bloodstream and internal organs. We want to know the water our family is bathing in is free from chemicals. The last thing we want to do is expose ourselves and loved ones to toxic contaminants. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) there are nearly 100 cancer-causing contaminants found in U.S. drinking water. It's scary when we smell chlorine fumes or sulfur, the "rotten egg" odor coming out of our shower head. If the metal content of your water is high, you may also notice it's affecting the fixtures, even the texture of your hair and skin, leaving it dry and irritated. The water can even change or degrade dyed hair color.
How Contaminants in Water Sneak Into Your System
We seldom think about the water we're bathing in regularly. Ironically, our bodies actually absorb more chemical compounds in water through showering than drinking the water itself. What? That was enough to get my attention. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the steam emitted through showering is a source of unhealthy indoor air pollution. Though skin absorption and access through the eyes and mouth play a role, it's the hot steam filling the air that mostly brings the toxins into our body and fills the rest of our home atmosphere with pollutants we're breathing in. Research cited in New Scientist, as reported in Eterna, states we take in 6 to 100 times more chlorine this way from breathing the steam that hot water creates. That's worrisome considering that according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) there are nearly 100 cancer-causing contaminants found in U.S. drinking water. We're breathing in chemicals like arsenic and mercury, as well as fungus, dirt, and bacteria.
The Crushing Consequences We Often Miss
The American Journal of Epidemiology has linked bladder cancer to ingestion of shower, swimming pool, and tap water containing chlorine. The Pacific Health Center reports on the health problems that can arise from regular exposure, such as kidney, pancreatic, thyroid and liver cancers, as well as heart disease and diabetes. Respiratory problems like asthma in children, damaged teeth, and skin and hair problems have also been linked to chlorine absorption. If that's not enough, the Environmental Health Journal reported on a study concluding that prenatal exposure to chlorine increases the risk of birth defects. While chlorine has helped eliminate contamination and disease in water, it's now created a different epidemic. This becomes apparent by the rampant rise of other diseases our society faces.
Taking Affirmative Action
So many things are out of our control when it comes to pollutants. However, there are ways we can limit our exposure by making smart, personal choices when it comes to our living environment at home. We drink filtered water to protect our family's health, yet have accepted bathing in that very same tap water every day thinking it's safe. Why not care about what's coming out of our showerhead, as well? By doing so, we can minimize our exposure to substances we know to affect health in detrimental ways. After reading the studies, I knew I had to change my situation. Since getting a whole-house system wasn't an option for me, a shower filter was the next best thing. I've used one ever since (I've had mine for several years now).
If you’re feeling the same way, don't worry, you have many options to choose from that could easily make bath time a far more pleasant experience. Below, I will go over 10 of what I feel are the best shower filters on the market today. I'll explain a little of what they're made of and how they work so you can make a more informed decision about what unit might be best for your own situation. Before we start, check out this YouTube video showing you how to install one of these. The brand shown is one we'll go over, but the basics apply to any system you decide to purchase.
Wash That Chlorine Right Out of Your Hair and Life
Dry hair and skin, respiratory irritation, and lack of energy can all be due to chlorine absorption. You may have never considered what you're bathing in to be the cause. I know I didn't think so until recently. Once you attach a filtration system, you'll feel a remarkable difference. A shower is a time to rinse off contaminants, not add them, and to feel refreshed and revitalized (not to mention that we would rather not have to worry about what's in the steam that we're breathing).
Best Shower Filters for Chlorine and Heavy Metal Removal
Pelican Premium Shower Filter (with or without head)
You can buy Pelican’s system with or without a shower head and separate wand. Its three-stage process uses a unique blend of carbon media. First, it reduces the negative ions, lowering the surface tension of the water, so it feels softer on the skin. The granular, advanced carbon removes pesticides, pharmaceuticals, industrial solvents, and other contaminants, as well as 96% of chlorine and chloramines which is chlorine bound with nitrogen, ammonia, antiseptics, and disinfectants.
The company boasts that it lasts 50% longer than the competition. They also offer a dual shower head which allows you to choose between a strong flow or a conservation setting which ultimately leads to a smaller water bill at the end of the month. Setting it apart from other companies they offer a convenient clip for bath accessories. They also give you a “fresh-scented ocean bar” you can add to the system for aromatherapy. However, I hope it’s all natural and not filled with artificial fragrance. Otherwise, that’s a total no-go for me. We’re trying to purify our experience, right? They’re offering a sale price for their system at $58.10, usually a $166 value. It lasts up to 15,000 gallons and usually needs to be replaced after about nine months. Replacement filters are $49.
Very easy to install.
Consumers report that the filter lasts longer than they expected.
Numerous customers report noticing a positive difference in the way their hair and skin feels.
Can choose between white and chrome color.
Fast and Free Shipping (when ordering direct from merchant).
Company website has in-depth specs and educational information.
Customer service is reported to be very good.
Most customers report that the quality of the unit is excellent.
Some consumers feel the quality isn’t as good as they expected.
Some consumers feel it is a little pricey.
This may not fit every fixture (Pelican customer service recommends checking specs and contacting them with any questions).
AquaBliss High Output 12-Stage Shower Filter
Aqua Bliss has a multi-stage purifying process. It uses KDF-55 technology (which we’ve talked about elsewhere here at the site) in conjunction with granular activated carbon. The KDF-55 is comprised of calcium sulfite and an alloy of 50% copper and 50% zinc. Each element attracts substances that are oppositely charged, either negatively or positively. The KDF-55 compliments the carbon by working with hot temperatures and limiting bacterial growth that can accumulate in the carbon. It also inhibits fungi, mold, and algae. Using the combination of a KDF-55 extends the life of the carbon filter and aids in its removal of chlorine, heavy metals, pesticides, and dirt.
Another benefit this system provides is the supporting of PH balance in the water. The byproducts that are left over during the filtration process actually provide healthy nutrients for the body, leaving your skin and hair soft, countering the prior damage of unfiltered water. The cartridge on this one needs to be changed every six to eight months, the replacement running about $14.95. The initial installation and replacement process is quick and easy. You can get the Aqua Bliss for less than $35.00.
A long-time “staple” on Amazon, with over 2,400 reviews (76% of which are 5-star).
Consumers report improved water smell.
One of the more affordable ones on the market.
Numerous consumers report that their hair and skin feels better (and less itching).
Customer service is reported to be very good.
Some customers say that it is “plastic” and not metal, which they would have preferred.
Some consumers say there is some difficulty in installing the unit (issues with fitting and tightening).
Some customers report a distinct drop in water pressure.
A number of consumers report a lack of quality in general (however, the company appears to be very responsive).
Showerwise Filtration System by Waterwise
This unit features Chlorgon, a blend of copper, zinc, and calcium sulfide. It was developed and patented by David Farley, CEO of Sprite Industries. Chlorgon material converts chlorine into chloride, a harmless salt, too big to be evaporated or absorbed by your skin, so it’s carried away with the water. Additionally, it’s most efficient removing chloride at high temperatures, perfect for showering conditions, unlike a carbon unit that only works with cold water.
This system uses 50% more filtering material making it superior in removing iron oxides, hydrogen sulfide, sediments, odors, and metals. It lasts 12-18 months before needing to be replaced which is much longer than other similar products on the market. Replacement cartridges run about $39.00. Best of all you can buy the Showerwise for as little as $69. By the way, this is the one I personally use, and I like it very much. I haven’t noticed any negative decrease in pressure either which is a good thing.
Very efficient at removing chloride at high temperatures (which is usually the case when bathing).
Berkey Shower Filter
This little gem is only the filter itself which you can use with pretty much any fixture. It’s made of zinc, calcium, and copper, proven to be the best materials in reducing chlorine, odors, and dirt from water. It takes out up to 95% of chlorine, drastically reducing chemical absorption through your skin and through vapor inhalation. The good news is that it deters fungi, algae and bacteria growth, as well, and removes iron oxides and hydrogen sulfide like other filters.
You can enjoy its benefits during the first 20,000 gallons of good ol’ H2O you use before needing to replace it. This typically takes about a year. The cost of the Berkey is $49. That’s an inviting annual price for breathing easier during bath time! It may be more feasible budget wise and work well if you’re renting since you won’t be replacing any fixtures themselves.
Aquasana Premium Shower Filter
Aquasana offers what is known as an upflow filter. It has a sump canister or catch-basin which traps heavier particles before the water even reaches the copper, zinc media that does the filtration. This is a highly efficient way to remove storm-water pollutants that contain high levels of total suspended solids (TSS), such as silt, decaying plant and animal material, industrial waste and sewage. Then it removes the total dissolved solids (TDS), such as nitrates, sulfate, phosphate, calcium and organic ions.
Aquasana uses a coconut carbon filter along with the zinc and copper media in its two-step process which takes care of chlorine and other harsh chemicals. The system is less likely to become clogged because of how it’s designed. It enhances the PH balance of your water and promises softer more moisturized skin, softer, shinier hair, and hair color that lasts longer. You can buy it complete with a shower head or get the filter alone which works with most 2.5 GPM heads. They also provide a hand held massaging head with multiple settings if you want. The product is BPA free for us health enthusiasts. You can get a filter with showerhead included for $84.99. Without the head, it changes to $79.99. Hand held wands range from $99.99 to $119.99 depending on whether it’s white or chrome (chrome being a little more expensive). It filters 10,000 gallons before needing to be replaced. That seems to be about six month’s duration. Replacement cartridges start at $44.62.
Kiss Moisture-Robbed Skin and Hair Goodbye
Bathing in hard water can leave you feeling unclean with a sticky, itchy film on your body and hair. Rather than be susceptible to things like eczema and dermatitis or spend hundreds of dollars on conditioning products for hair and skin that end up giving fruitless results, investing in a filtration unit could possibly be an easy solution. You could very well realize that you’ve had good skin and hair all along and that what you have been bathing in has been the real culprit.
Best Shower Filters For Hard Water
AquaHomeGroup 12-Stage Shower Water Filter
The Aqua Home Group uses a multiple stage filtration process. Their cartridges reduce bacteria like staphylococcus and other infectious agents caused by E Coli. They also remove the heavy metals like lead, iron, mercury, cadmium, aluminum and hydrogen sulfide which gives off the dreaded “rotten egg smell”. The Aqua Home also removes chloramines, chlorine, and radioactive iodine. It gets rid of impurities and chemicals like trihalomethanes and Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOC’s).
This system does its job by using materials such as Polypropylene Cotton, High-Density Stainless Steel Mesh, Alkaline Ceramic Balls, KDF-55, Nano Silver Anti Bacterial Ceramic Balls and the granulated activated Coconut Carbon. It also uses magnetic energy ceramic balls. Wow, that boosts the confidence.
The price is about $32.85 on Amazon. The cartridge needs replacing every six months (or less, depending on how much use it gets). You can spend anywhere from $12.95 to $19.95 depending on whether you get a regular unit, or one that has vitamin C or C & E. My only concern is that there are no reviews on Amazon yet and the price seems low for such a complex system.
This system meets EPA and NSF certification requirements. It comes with a patented filter media that limits the in-flow of bacteria inside the shower head. It removes up to 99% of chlorine in the water. The KDF system uses copper and zinc that remove mercury, lead, hydrogen sulfide, and fungi, as well. The Culligan reduces hard water because of its effective reduction of unwanted minerals. It also has an anti-clog rubber spray nozzle with 5 different spray settings. It’s easy to install and replace the filter cartridge, usually every six months. It costs $34.99, and replacement filters cost $14.10.
Luxsego Ionic Filter Showerhead
This one comes with a bracket holder and replacement shower hose, if needed, for a hand-held option. It saves up to 30% of water usage while providing a 200% increase in water speed. Since water pressure is a valid concern for many people, the Luxsego could be the solution. The double filter system contains Anion Energy balls, infrared mineral stones and negative ion mineral stones that reduce chlorine (and supposedly reduces fluoride) and absorb harmful substances.
Customers say that their hair and skin feel soft and smooth after using this model. It’s easy to install and fits any standard hose. There are three spray settings: Rainfall, Jetting, and Massage. The head is stainless steel in the colors of blue or silver. You can buy he Luxsego for only $24.49. One thing to consider with this model is that the beads need to be replaced every 6-8 weeks; however, they only cost about $6.88 (as of this writing).
Captain Eco Universal Shower Filter
The Captain Eco uses activated carbon, charcoal, calcium sulfite, and negative ion balls, as well as KDF-55 media to remove harmful particles, odor, residue, rust, and fungi. By removing 99% of chlorine from water, it reduces dandruff, dry skin, and hair loss attributed to chemicals. A lower incidence of allergies, asthma, eczema, bronchitis and possibly cancer (according to some) is a strong benefit to having almost all chlorine taken out of the water you bathe in. It’s even more desirable if your pregnant or have small children and infants you want to protect, which was something that numerous parents discuss – and it makes sense!
The in-line system prevents the growth of bacteria and algae, as well. The shower head works with all standard fixed overhead fixtures, and the handheld shower heads work with both high and low water pressure, although high pressure works the best. It has superior performance for making the water feel softer. The parts are also chrome if you prefer that they match the rest of your fixtures. The price is a mere $28.85, with replacements coming in at $12.99 so this is great if you’re on a budget. It does come with an extra filter so you’ll be set for a year. After that, you’ll need to replace it every six months. They’ll give you a full refund if you’re not completely satisfied as well as a 20% credit for their website. That’s nice!
WaterChef Premium Shower Filter System with Deluxe Adjustable Spray Wand
The WaterChef uses the finest quality-crafted materials in its product. Housing construction has high abrasion resistance. It also has a Thermal Guard that protects it from scalding and thermal shock from high-temperature water. The head can be used stationery up top or be hand-held. The head itself has a rubber anti-clog spray nozzle, and the hose for the hand-held option is 60″ and made with flexible stainless steel.
Another great feature is that it is PVC-free and odorless, made with a non-toxic silicone liner, unlike most vinyl hoses. This is nice to know since we’re trying to lessen exposure to chemical toxins in the first place. The head has adjustable spray patterns including pulsating massage.
WaterChef uses catalytic carbon technology which promotes more chemical reactions to neutralize contaminants making them water-soluble so the system can be easily washed to restore its capacity. That means less frequent replacement. Its system leaves your body’s natural oils and proteins intact, resulting in the benefits of reduced eye irritation, longer lasting hair color, and smoother hair and skin. The system is NFS, and ANSI tested and certified. These features might explain the higher price of $79.99. The filter replacements are $30, and they still recommend changing them every six months. It comes with a 3-year warranty.
Finding The Best FiLter For You
Choosing the right option for you and your family can be a daunting task. You’ll find similarities between brands, and features that vary to take into account. Remember, every contaminant or issue we raised may not apply to your particular situation. It’s important to find out about the water quality of your town or city so you can narrow down your choices accordingly. You can find this information by doing an internet search for your city name followed by the words “water quality report.” Look for the most recent reports from either city hall or a government site.
From there you can make an educated decision on what will be the best fit for you and your needs. For example, in my personal situation, it was chlorine that was an issue.
Another consideration is the budget you’re working with. If two brands have similar interior filtering systems, but one has stronger exterior materials, you might be willing to give up the aesthetics for a lower price that still delivers the best option for chlorine removal, for example. If you’re looking for reducing the feeling of hard water, focus on the ones designed to remove the most minerals.
Getting a testing strip to see how the filter is working can be very helpful as well. You can find them on Amazon. You can check the PH balance to see how it’s doing. Look at how often the cartridges need to be changed when factoring in cost, as well. The good news is you’re about to experience showering like never before while providing an even healthier environment for you and those you love. It helps to know you’re doing everything possible on your end to limit toxic exposure and to feel and look your best.