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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?
Discussion (143 Comments)
So this one results in alkalized water, correct?
That is debatable for consumption, right?
Katie - Wellness Mama
It isn’t alkalized water in the sense that you hear it from companies with pitchers and devices that supposedly change the structure of the water, it just has the minerals added back in, making it slightly more alkaline that acidic.
I need a filter that takes out extremely high levels of manganese. Would this work?
Katie - Wellness Mama
I think so but I’d call and talk to their water department about it.
Years ago, I used to participate Amway business for a few years and that was how I purchased water treatment system. A few years ago, it was time for me to replace one so I purchased through Amway again and have used it ever since. It is Amway eSpring UV Water Purifier system that includes electric module that shows you how soon it is time to replace cartridge which means you need to have a plug under the sink if located under the counter or on the counter. At first, I was upset with huge expense on an electrician and a plumber for a plug under the sink. I recently moved to a rental apartment so I don’t install a plug under the counter anymore but put the water purifier system on the counter at the back of the sink. I replace water purifier replacement cartridge every once a year. I am pretty satisfied with it.
Berkey all the way!! We’ve had ours for about 8 years and only had to replace the filters just recently. My husband is our own personal water tester – he can tell when the filters need to be scrubbed because he will be getting up at night to pee…strange but accurate!
We have mountain spring fed well water that is delicious, but it is high in iron and we do have to think about bacteria and parasites. The Berkey has worked so well for us. No need to change. Filling it is fun for the whole family! 😉
We have a new Berkey and love it! But how often do you ‘scrub’ those filters-approximately? And how? It seems monumental to take it apart! I also heard I am supposed to take the spigot apart every 30 days and disinfect. Is that necessary? I know these tanks must need cleaning sometime!
I love my Berkey. Hard to imagine anything coming close. I have a closet size studio kitchen and have to keep mine in the room outside the kitchen. As much as I would love an under the sink set up I am not willing to give up this quality and simplicity. I have come to love tending to the Berkey. I love how this serves as a reminder of how precious is pure drinking water and the importance of protecting and improving our natural watershed areas.
I am wondering if your water is hard as you mentioned is well water.
Right now I am still living in an apartment (hopefully that changes in the coming year!) so the under counter filter isn’t an option for me. However, I have been seriously considering purchasing a Berkey countertop filter. I was wondering what size Berkey do you have for your family? I have a family of four so I am not sure what size will be right for us. Thanks so much!
Katie - Wellness Mama
We have the Crown, the largest one, but my parents have the middle one and it works great for 2-4 people
we love our aquasana filter! I’m happy with the quality and the taste is excellent!
Years ago we were in Amway & believe it or not, that’s where our healthy living began. They had the most awesome whole food vitamins & suppliments, they sparked my interest to learn all i could about what vitamins do for our bodies & their water filters were top of the line! Loved ours, everything to follow is compared to it. It would be worth doing some research on them if your looking.
if you went with their whole house system wouldn’t the under sink option be unnecessary?
This article was so timely for me as I’ve been going through the grueling process of finding the right system for our home! I’m curious about the reverse osmosis type of system because I keep reading that it is a huge waste of water. Is this true do you think? This system looks amazing!
thanks so much, Katie! I just read your post on Facebook!
What a great article!
We have hard water so have installed a whole house filter. It is an Aqua Pure Waterconditioning system.
“It removes rust, sediments, and the taste & odor of chlorine from drinking water.”
What are your thoughts?
Katie - Wellness Mama
Those are good too, in fact, we’ve installed a similar one and I’ll be reviewing it soon too, but from what I researched, an additional one for drinking water is helpful for ensuring the proper mineral ratio
I have been drinking distilled water for at least 20 years. Distillers seem to last a lifetime and require no fancy filters. My reason to post is that in all this time, I have never had an imbalance in minerals or electrolytes. Every year I ask my doctor to check that when doing my annual bloodwork. Always perfect. I eat well, organically when possible, and enjoy life. I do not take vitamins or minerals. Maybe living a joyful life, grateful for all there is, is the best prescription. I am 60.
Where does one find a water distiller? Brand name of the one you use? Thanks.
I have watched a few videos by Glenn Meder. He does an excellent presentation on his water distiller. I don’t have the link anymore but if you google him you will find him. HTH
Great article, Katie, how about negotiating a discount for your readers????
How would you rate the Amway eSpring system?
That’s what I’ve used for the last 10 years. I love it but would love to know how it compares to the other ones out there.
We drink a LOT of water, and we always crave our espring water when we get home!!