The Best Under-Counter Water Filter (Review)

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The Best under-counter water filter
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Our family has had a Berkey water filter for years and we absolutely love it. Before that, we had a basic reverse osmosis water filter, and while I loved that it was getting rid of all fluoride in the water, I never loved the taste or that we had to add minerals to the water to avoid nutrient deficiencies since reverse osmosis removes all minerals from water.

The Berkey with the added fluoride filters was doing the job really well, but I got many questions from readers wanting an under-counter easier option so I decided to research to see if there were any better options. To be clear, we still love the Berkey and I think it is a great all-around water filter.

Why a Water Filter?

As I explained before:

If you are drinking tap water, the answer to that question is 300+ chemicals and pollutants, according to research from the Environmental Working Group. Among these contaminants are:

  • Arsenic—This odorless and tasteless semi-metal element enters drinking water supplies from natural deposits, as well as agricultural and industrial wastes. Human exposure to arsenic can cause both short and long term health effects, including cancer
  • Bacteria—Nasty pathogens from human waste and soil runoff frequently contaminate well and city water, posing a risk for serious illness upon exposure. City water is commonly derived from treated sewage.
  • Chlorine—This free radical disinfectant can quickly damage our hair, skin, and lungs when we bathe or shower. It has also been shown to cause gastric upset upon ingestion and has been linked to malfunction of the liver and immune system with long-term exposure.
  • Chloramines—Now being added to nearly all municipal water districts, they are formed by the combination of chlorine and ammonia. Chloramines are so strong that they tend to dissolve the inside of your pipes and fixtures, releasing contaminants and heavy metals into the water. Chloramines have been linked to anemia, liver, kidney and central nervous system problems, as well as reproduction effects.
  • Fluoride—Many communities receive pretreated, fluoridated water to their homes. Fluoride, known as “The Devils Poison”, has been shown to be less than effective in preventing tooth decay, while possibly contributing to a whole host of health concerns.
  • Gasoline—Easily absorbed into the soil, even a small gas spill or leakage can contaminate ground water sources. Considered a hazardous waste material, consumption has significant adverse effects on the central nervous system.
  • Hardness— Hard water is the result of calcium and magnesium present in the water. These minerals form white scale buildup creating problems for water heaters, washing machines, dishwashers, and plumbing systems. This condition creates a lack of lather when using soap and can contribute to dingy laundry.
  • Hydrogen Sulfide and Sulfates—Hydrogen sulfide and sulfates occur naturally in rocks and soil and can result from organic material or occur when wells are drilled in shale or sandstone. Although not a significant health risk, these elements can be nuisance. Hydrogen sulfide gives off a rotten egg small and taste and can produce stains on appliances and fixtures. Sulfate can cause water to taste bitter and scale to build up in pipes causing damage to plumbing and appliances.
  • Iron—Iron in water will present red staining on tubs, sinks, showers, faucet fixtures and laundry
  • Iron Bacteria—Iron bacteria can be introduced to well water during drilling, repair or service. If there is a musty, moldy or swampy odor associated with well water, an iron bacteria analysis should be conducted. While iron bacteria does not pose a health risk to humans, it can damage a well system and dramatically impact water quality.
  • Manganese—If you experience problems with brown or black staining of your laundry, this may be due to high concentrations of manganese
  • Nitrates—These hazardous chemicals come from fertilizer runoff, leaking septic tanks, sewage and erosion of natural deposits. Nitrates are converted to nitrites in the body. High levels of nitrites have been shown to be deadly to infants under the age of 6 months, and to cause serious health risks in others.
  • Pesticides and Herbicides—Ground water is often polluted by poorly managed fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides and pesticides. These poisons can easily seep into well water aquifers and municipal water reserves. Exposure has been linked to chronic illness, birth defects and immune system failure.
  • Radon—Radon is a high risk radioactive gas found in drinking water and indoor air. Exposure to radon in drinking water increases cancer risk, particularly lung cancer.

Under-Counter Water Filter

Again, we love our Berkey, but I had gotten so many questions about under-counter water filters that I wanted to find the best option to recommend to readers (and family). I wanted an option that would:

  • Remove fluoride, chlorine, chloramine and other contaminants with at least 99% effectiveness
  • Did not strip all minerals from the water or that added them back in
  • Was not astronomically expensive and that did not require replacing filters too often
  • That provided water for our whole family at a low daily cost (under $0.50 per day for our whole family)

I found many filters that did parts of this but had trouble finding any that did all of it. One day, while shopping at my go-to real-food store online (Radiant Life Catalog) I clicked on their 14-Stage Water Filter just on a whim and started reading.

Imagine my surprise (and how dumb I felt) when I found that one of my favorite companies already made a water filter that met all of my specifications and more. I actually got the chance to talk to their main water expert and I quizzed him incessantly about how the filter worked, the percentage of contaminants it removed and filter life, and was even more impressed.

RO + Minerals + Carbon + UV + More

The Radiant Life Under-Counter 14-Stage filter is the only water filter of its kind and the only one that filters and remineralizes so completely. With this filter, water goes through all of these stages:

Stage 1 – Five Micron Pre-Filter
Stage 2 – Internal Coconut Shell Carbon Filter
Stage 3 – Reverse Osmosis Membrane (Purifier #1)
Stage 4 – Mixed Bed De-Ionization Purifier (Purifier #2)
Stage 5 – Mixed Bed De-Ionization Purifier (Purifier #3)
Stages 6 & 7 – Homeopathic Restructuring – Erasing Memory, Molecule Coherence
Stage 8 – Holding Tank – standard tank holds about 3 gallons of pure water. Other tanks are available.
Stage 9 – Ultraviolet Light – 14 Watt
Stage 10 – Reprogramming – Adding Natural Mineral Properties
Stages 11-12 – Far-Infrared Reprogramming
Stage 13 – Coconut Shell Carbon Post-Filtration
Stage 14 – Alka-Min (Alkalizing, Ionic Remineralization)

It removes fluoride, lead, chlorine, MTBE, chromium-6, nitrates, pesticides, pharmaceutical residues, water-borne illness and more.

Is this a normal Reverse Osmosis system?

I wondered what separated the RL system from other reverse osmosis systems on the market. Most of them remove fluoride, chlorine, etc at high rates, but the Radiant Life System is unique:

There are several key things that make the 14-Stage system unique. First, it incorporates three purifiers (reverse osmosis and two deionization purifying stages) to form the foundation of the system, which ensures 99.999% purification when new, only falling to 99.9% over time. Almost all other reverse osmosis-based systems use just one purifier and thus may start at 95% purification, but after a year that figure will often be as low as 80%. This is just one of the things that water dealers won’t tell you.

The unique pre- and post-filters offer additional filtration (two of these filters are unique in the industry) and also include a stainless steel and quartz UV light for added protection against bacteria and pathogens. These first seven stages are designed to remove all toxins in your water, no matter if you even know what they are!

The reason that we had initially moved away from a Reverse Osmosis filter is that while it removed almost all contaminants, it also removed many minerals and there was some evidence that drinking demineralized water could actually cause problems for the body long term.

The RL system removed this problem as well by adding minerals back into the water in the proportions that the body needed and even going so far as to add post-filtering infrared programming to essentially make the water “alive” again.

Where to Get?

Radiant Life is the only place I’ve ever found that offered this comprehensive of a water filter. We recently installed their 14-stage filter under our kitchen sink, and I’ve loved the convenience of it. Again, I still think the Berkey is a great option, but I wanted to test an under-the-counter option for readers who had asked and I couldn’t be more pleased.

It took about an hour to install and now we have clean water on-demand from a spigot at our sink. My only complaint with the Berkey was the constant hassle of refilling, and our 14-stage filter removes that hassle.

The new filter was a big jump for us and something that we saved for and considered for a long time. We actually also got the whole-house filter for shower water since I am so sensitive to fluoride and chlorine in shower water with my thyroid condition and I’ll be sharing about our experience with this soon.

Unfortunately, good water filters are an up-front investment but the daily cost is $0.30-$0.40 a day, which is definitely manageable over time. The RL filter also has a built-in water testing kit so that you only replace the filters when needed, saving additional time and money.

The Best Option?

Like I said, Berkey is a cheaper option and I think it is still a great filter, but if you are looking for the next step up or want an under-counter option that won’t take up counter space, the 14-stage filter is my new go-to favorite by far!

I love that Radiant Life is a family owned-company and I’ve had the chance to visit with the family who owns it at several conferences. The Radiant Life family cares so deeply about real food and natural living, and they are all very knowledgeable about water, air and food quality. They are also just genuinely good people who care about the future of our children, and the environment.

Though the 14-stage filter wasn’t inexpensive, I feel like it is a great deal for what it does and I love that we supported a family-owned US based company.

If you’re still trying to decide what the best water filter is for your family, they offer consultations with their team of water experts and can help guide you to the best option for your family.

I’d love to know…what water filter do you use? What do you want in a water filter?

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


145 responses to “The Best Under-Counter Water Filter (Review)”

  1. Yael Scutaru Avatar
    Yael Scutaru

    Is this still the filtration system that you reccomend?

  2. Mia Avatar

    Hi, I have read your water filter reviews. Currently the Big Berkey is out of stock. Radiant Life has a Gravity Countertop Filter. Do you have any thoughts on this one? Thank you for your help with this!

  3. Diane Avatar

    Any other recommendations for under counter water filters ? Also any other on top of counter filters others like also?

  4. Kira Collette Avatar
    Kira Collette

    Do you still recommend this product? Asking since it’s been a while since this post. So many bad things coming out about berkey

  5. Diane Avatar

    I found this post on a search about this 14 stage filter. We bought one also a few months ago and are already having problems with the tank not filling. I don’t know yet what the problem is, but if it’s clogged filters already, then it’s a more expensive investment than the bottled purified and spring water we were having delivered. Is yours still going, and how often did you have to change filters?

  6. Keisha Avatar

    This was right on time. I’ll be moving back to Houston and water there is beyond horrible. I’m hoping this will help with amoebas and other nasties. The comments are great as well. I hope to have a house system and under the sink for precaution. Maybe even a Berkey bc we absolutely don’t trust water and it would be great for 8 ppl who are on the go. It’s a concern from the kitchen sink to the shower. If you have any other suggestions please share with me! Thanks!

      1. Alexis Stockton Holtz Avatar
        Alexis Stockton Holtz

        I have well water. What do you think would be the best option since well water already contains so many minerals.

        1. Katie Wells Avatar

          It would depend on what you need to remove from the water. Have you had yours tested? I’ve had friends who tested their well water and it was great as is. If not, you’d just want to find a filter that removes whatever components you don’t want but keeps the minerals.

          1. Julie Avatar

            Do you recommend a place to get a broad spectrum test of well water? Thanks!

      1. Meg Avatar

        Any chance that since you recommend the clearly filtered pitcher that you’ve done any more research on the under the counter one by CF?

  7. Sirena Avatar

    Wellness Mama, I’m concerned about the high cost of the filter replacement. Please let us know what you have had to spend on replacement since you installed yours. (how many people use yours? How long have you had it? How many filter replacements? Cost?) Thanks

  8. kara Avatar

    I was deep into the research on this Radiant Life system, and I was so glad to see you like it. I respect your opinion. My question to you is this: “How do you KNOW it’s working?”

    I asked a rep at the company how you can know the water is structured, and he said you can’t. Aren’t there biological effects we should notice?

  9. adrimarie Avatar

    Hi! Great article. I recently heard of Hydroviv and they are under the counter and very affordable compared to the ones you’re mentioning. More along the prices of the Berkey. Do you know anything about them?

  10. Megan Delight Avatar
    Megan Delight

    I use the REVIVAL water pitcher because I wanted a solid carbon filter like the Berkey only shrunken down to fit in a pitcher in my refrigerator. It filters Fluoride (rare for pitchers) and lasts 200 gallons (much longer than other pitcher filters).

    They have options for alkaline, a regular tap water filter, and one that removes bacteria so it fits any needs you may have.

    They also sound similar to Radiant Life in that they are family owned, and very friendly. I’d recommend you check them out.

  11. Ash Avatar

    Lots of these awesome products are only available in the United States. Anyone have advice on UK products?

  12. Brian Avatar

    I’ve read in different articles that Berkey isn’t NSF certified, do not have any recent lab tests on their filters, nor provide micron rating for their elements. I’ve checked and Berkey in fact isn’t NSF certified. I really don’t think this is a product you should be endorsing.

    1. Megan Delight Avatar
      Megan Delight

      NSF certification is sort of bunk in that it costs about $35k to get a NSF 42/53 certification. The Brita’s and Zero’s of the world will tell you you need them but certified labs will do the test to the same procedure (it’s published) but without the fancy NSF sticker for a fraction of the cost. Ask the company for lab data and who certified them. Then thank them for saving that money to pass along to you rather than give to Steph Curry (Brita Sponsor) and N$F to influence you about something other than the water quality.

  13. Lina Avatar

    I just purchased a Royal Berkey from your recommendation. I have a question though- we live in a rental home and have a very basic kitchen faucet with a very shallow sink. Will I be able to fill the Berkey in it? Or do you have to have a faucet that is able to extend?

    And for 3 people, do you think I’ll need to fill the Berkey each night (with regular water consumption) or will it last more than a day?

      1. Lina Avatar

        Ok, thanks. We don’t have a dish sprayer and a jug would never fit under the faucet either, so looks like I need to go kitchen faucet shopping! Worth it for clean water though. Hope I love the Berkey as much as others do!

  14. Blanca Avatar

    Thank you! I am going to keep asking them questions and hopefully It is a good option. We do not make a lot of money and I like to save by buying our cloths at garage sales and saving money for organic food and good supplements and now we are considering a whole house filter. I want to buy a good one. I trust most of what you recommend so hopefully Katty, this water filter is our best option.

  15. Blanca Avatar

    Hi Katty, I am trying to get more information on the RL filter and they are really prize. Another think I am concerned about is that they don’t have reviews. Reading the reviews is very important to me. I really need to get a whole house filter but seeing that they do not have reviews make me think twice. Tell me Katty what do you think!

  16. Jennifer Avatar

    sorry if this is a dumb question, but – if this is the water that comes out of your sink then how do you get cold water to drink? Do you have to put a pitcher in the refrigerator? Adding ice would seem to defeat the purpose. We use to drink water out of the fridge dispenser. I’d love to be able to get this great quality of water in my ice cubes without filling trays. Again, sorry if this is a totally dumb question.

  17. Tom Avatar

    It’s important to note on my previous comment those removal rates of heavy metals and such are based on spiked samples which would be typically higher than municipal tap water.

    I would suggest calling Water Pure Technologies and getting the actual test results. Virus, Bacteria, and Cysts had removal rates greater than EPA and WHO requirements for water purification

  18. Jenni Avatar

    Hi Wellness Mama,

    I have been following this blog for quite a while now. I was wondering what you thought of the aquasana 3 stage system. It leaves the minerals in the water and looks pretty good. I thought you might spot something negative on it that I missed. Its pretty affordable

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