Tips for Taps Blog

What type of water filter is best?

What Is The Best Water Filter?


If you don’t test your water before buying a filtration system, you’re wasting your money.

Is your water tasting funny? Maybe it has an odor you’re not too sure about. A water filter should help, right? But where to start? There are at least 10 distinct water filtration technologies to consider when buying a water filter for home. Add to that thousands of products and brands. So how do you find the best water filter? Well… what’s in your water?

Water treatment technologies each specialize in reducing different contaminants in different ways. And despite the claims, there is absolutely no one-size-fits-all filter or system. That’s why knowing what’s in your water first is so important: Without a knowledge of your water quality, it is impossible to purchase the right water filtration product.

It is impossible to know what water filtration product to buy without first knowing your water quality.

Laboratory testing is the only way to get the information you need in order to buy a water filter that works properly. A good water quality report not only tells you what’s in your water but then what technology you need in order to filter or treat your water properly. Take a look at an example Tap Score Water Quality Report here

Tap Score offers unbiased water testing services that have helped more than 100,000 US homes evaluate their water quality prior to treatment. Tap Score does not collect any money or referral fees and is not owned by or affiliated with any water filtration, treatment or chemical company. So before looking to buy a water filter, here’s a helpful guide to save you time and money in the long run:

Treatment Technologies

While there are thousands of available home water filtration brands and products on the market (running from $30 to $30,000) almost all of these units utilize 1 of 10 core water filtration technologies.
  1. Carbon Filtration

  2. Aeration

  3. Reverse Osmosis

  4. Ion Exchange

  5. Magnetic field

  6. Catalytic Carbon

  7. UV disinfection

  8. Chemical dosing

  9. Distillation

  10. Activated alumina

    Yes, there are other, more obscure filtration and treatment systems out there. Sometimes they make sense, sometimes they don’t. More often than not, however, they will not be your best choice (financially or functionally).

    Our years of research into in-home water quality has yielded the following statistics:

    • 31% of homes needed NO filtration or treatment

    • 59% of homes need just one filtration technology

    • 10% of homes need 2 or more filtration technologies

    How Do You Pick The Right Water Filtration System?

    It’s simple. You pick your filtration system according to your needs. The best water filtration system is the one that best addresses your home’s water quality and your personal preferences (like water pressure, for example). But in order to know your water quality, you need to test your water.

    Once you have a water quality report form the lab you can determine:

    1. Which water filtration technology(s) will work best

    2. How much money you should spend

    3. What kind of system to install

    Tap Score also assists you with your preferences. Understanding how each treatment system may impact your water is integral to being satisfied with your setup. Knowing what you want and what you don’t want (water that’s too soft, for example) will help with your selection process. 

    Getting Your Water Quality Report

    As the nation’s largest laboratory testing service we have worked extensively with residences in every state. Consequently, we know many water testing horror stories. Please don’t waste your time and money being duped into a filter or treatment system without doing your homework.

    Besides offering water quality tests, Tap Score offers unbiased recommendations for filtration and treatment systems based upon your preferences and your lab results. But you also need results you can understand. Tap Score’s reports interpret all the science and present the findings in clear language, full of visuals, and with a clear path to treatment.

    Read a sample Tap Score Report here

    Don’t Just Buy Any Water Filter

    For decades, filtration companies sold water softeners, reverse osmosis and carbon filters to people at home without first testing their water in a certified lab. Today, any water treatment or filtration company that fails to offer proper lab testing is cutting corners.

    Filtration Companies To Avoid:

    Worst: Filtration companies that offer no water quality testing at all
    Bad: Filtration companies that offer rudimentary in-home and test-strip tests 
    Less Bad: Filtration companies that show your local water quality report from last year (CCR)

    Is Water Testing Expensive/Necessary?

    Brass tacks: Having your water tested by a lab will cost more up front than some other popular options. But if you do choose to skip this step, it is important to understand that lab testing is the bare minimum for reliable and case-specific information about your water.

    Do not depend on dinky at-home TDS test (or pH strips) to evaluate your drinking water quality. Yes, they are cheap and easy. But unfortunately, they fail to test for practically everything that matters to making the right decision. That is why the EPA and every water utility in North America relies on certified laboratories. Labs maintain tens-of-millions of dollars worth of analytical instrumentation and expertise.

    Consumer Confidence Reports offer annual reports for your local water system. They are free of charge and mailed out each year. But while they offer a number of important clues to your water network, they can be both hard to find AND misleading. Remember, every home (and its pipe and fixture infrastructure) is unique. What’s more, public water data only shows averages over time.

    In short, the money you spend up front to lab test your water goes a long way. Lab testing offers you a look at your water quality with professional grade resolution, and it empowers you to make the right decision when you choose to treat your home’s drinking water. Don’t waste your time or money on the wrong filtration setup. Let the labs go the extra mile for you.

    If you have well water, city water, rainwater, or spring water Tap Score can help.


    Water Testing is Easy with Tap Score

    author portrait
    About The Author


    Kate leads operational strategy as COO at Tap Score and SimpleLab. She oversees daily, as well as long-term logistics for tens of thousands of environmental samples across hundreds of certified laboratories. However, she started her environmental testing career by way of scientific blog writing at Tap Score and it continues to be one of her favorite aspects of the business. Outside of Tap Score, Kate loves making homemade pasta, floral arranging, and singing along to Dolly Parton tunes.
    back to top