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?

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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. WellnessMama.com 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.

Comments

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

  1. Katy R Avatar

    What are your thoughts on Aquasana? They are made in America and seem to be pretty good, aside from not removing fluoride. When we move, I plan to look into the one in this post. But I’m curious of your thoughts, on aquasna, if you have any. Thanks!

  2. JoCarole Avatar

    I did my research on shower filters and finally bought Aquasana.

    They take out 98% or 99% of chlorine and most other contaminents.

    You can buy them directly from their website or from Amazon which is more money.

    If you buy from their website and sign up for automatic deliveries, you get a discount on the filter and shipping is free. It takes ten days after they ship it out. HTH.

  3. Shirley Avatar

    Is there a shower filter anyone would recommend? We are not ready to do a whole house filter and would like to at least address the water we shower with and the kitchen drinking water which I realize would be a different filter but this blog has given many different brands to look into but there was no mention of a separate one for the shower. Thanks.
    Shirley

  4. Linda Holt Avatar
    Linda Holt

    Katie, I’m researching under the counter water filters including the Radiant Life 14-stage filter that you recommend. I have a concern about the filtered water produced by this filter being at a ph of 8-9 as Tom at Radiant life told me today. Below is an excerpt from an article by Dr. Mercola:

    “As is true with many things, in the end it’s a matter of balance. Water that is too acidic or too alkaline can be detrimental to human health and lead to nutritional disequilibrium. This was demonstrated in a Swedish well water study, 15 which found both pH extremes to be problematic. Your body simply was not designed to drink highly alkaline water all the time. So I believe it’s best to be VERY careful when it comes to something as foundational as the water you drink on a daily basis. If you get it wrong, you could really cause yourself some major damage. It makes sense that you are designed to drink water that occurs naturally, which excludes alkaline water with pH levels of 8 and above.
    And if you drink alkaline water all the time, you’re going to raise the alkalinity of your stomach, which will buffer your stomach’s acidity and impair your ability to digest food, as low stomach acid is one of the most common causes of ulcers. This can open the door for parasites in your small intestine, and your protein digestion may suffer. It also means you’ll get less minerals and nutrients over time – in fact, some of these health effects can already be seen in hardcore alkaline water drinkers. Alkalinity is also potentially a problem because it is antibacterial, so it could potentially disrupt the balance of your body’s beneficial bacteria.”

    I was wondering if you could address the issue of filtered water being on the alkaline side. Thanks.

      1. Anna Avatar

        Any updates ma’am? I’m desperate for an under the sink water filter but this alkalinity issue makes me nervous! Researching water filters makes me feel ill 😛 THANK YOU!!

        1. Wellness Mama Avatar

          Yes! Post was a lot to research, but in short, I dont worry about the alkalinity of this water and I do add lemon or vinegar a couple times a day to get the pH down.

    1. paige Avatar

      Hi Linda,
      We are in the depths of research over here too and am concerned with water too alkaline or disruption of PH. I have littles too so definitely want to be cautious in what we end up choosing. Did you settle on one you like?

  5. Anne Avatar

    Hi Kelly. So do you need to buy a separate Radiant Life product to filter your whole house or can the 14 stage filtration be used for the whole house & drinking water too? If yes, can you please include a link for their whole house filter? Also, can this 14 stage system be hooked up to my fridge so I can get filtered water & ice? Thanks!

    1. Jen Avatar

      Katie, love your site!! Such a great resource! I wanted to see your thoughts… I have a well and we needed a whole house water softener. Now we are having a hard time deciding what to do… we bought the Berkey but think we will return it bc of our water softener and that it may be a pain filling and cleaning the filter each day. So the RO systems seem interesting and we definitely cannot afford the RL. Here is one we can afford but worry about minerals being lost. https://www.home-water-purifiers-and-filters.com/clearchoice-reverse-osmosis-water-filter.php

      Any advice would be great!

  6. Sage Avatar

    Hello,

    I’m wondering what your thoughts are on the fact that the Radiant Life Purification system is made of plastic vs. the stainless steel components of the Berkey. I was also wondering if you have looked into these filters at all: https://gimmethegoodstuff.org/store/category/for-my-home/water-filters/

    I am trying to find the best possible water filtration solution for making my daughter’s infant formula.

    Thanks!

    Sage

    1. Katie - Wellness Mama Avatar

      The RL system has some plastic but it is BPA free and the fluoride filters on the berkey were plastic as well. We still love the Berkey and travel with it, so it is a great option, but after researching a lot, I found that the under counter one removes more from the water. We actually had an under counter system similar to the one you linked to in our first home, but had some trouble with it leaking (probably just a fluke with ours) and I got tired of changing the filters, but it also filtered the water well.

  7. Julie Avatar

    I really like the idea of the Radiant Life system too-But my husband and I can’t justify the water waste especially with the major drought we are experiencing. I wish RL would come up with a ‘zero waste’ attachment like some other RO systems have done. Still waiting for the ‘perfect’ solution to our water situation!

  8. Kat Avatar

    We currently have a RO system in our home. Do you recommend any certain brand of minerals to add back in? Thank you!

    1. JoCarole Avatar

      I purchased a RO unit from Vitev a few years ago.

      I got their latest Ultra Water Filter. I bought it since it puts back minerals into the water using their ceramic beads. I didn’t know any other system that had this technology at the time.

      I had to replace the filters and found out that the Ultra was discontinued. They had replaced the Ultra with the MAXX. So I ordered it and it’s coming tomorrow.

      This turned out to be a good deal for me since they only charged me what I would have paid for the new replacement cartridges for the Ultra. The rest of the equipment is interchangable. Their warranty is five years.

      I just wish there was a built in alert to tell you when to replace the cartridges instead of having to count the gallons every day.

      I also found out that you have to flush out RO systems each month, sounds like it’s the same way you flush out your water heater, so will have to get info on that too.

  9. Annie Avatar

    This sounds good, but I don’t see any mention of the ratio of purified water to waste water, which is the primary drawback of RO in my opinion, especially in drought ridden CA.

  10. Michelle Avatar

    Hi!

    I do not know about the specific water pitcher you mentioned but I would caution against all plastic. Manufacturers have had to replace BPA with other chemicals. I read that the replacements (BPS and other chemicals) are just as toxic (one article says even more toxic and more easily absorbed). You can find plenty of articles on the subject so please, do not take my word for it.

  11. JoCarole Avatar

    All I know from my research is that flouride is very hard to remove. It can only be removed using a Reverse Osmosis system.

  12. Catherine Avatar
    Catherine

    Hi
    Does anyone have any experience in the clearly filtered water pitcher, which is apparently BPA free, and meant to remove floride, seems fairly reasonable also?

    Thanks

  13. Debbie Avatar

    I purchased the Miracule water filtration system about 5 months ago. “It’s the only water filtration system in the world with a patented ORME trap! The MiraculeWater processors have a patented trap on the inside to retain all of the minerals and monoatomic elements while removing all of the harmful contaminents. The result is an alkaline water with the beneficial minerals intact.” I selected the counter-top version after being assured I could later purchase a transition kit to place it under the sink. (I don’t have a any plumbing skills and no one in my life to help me.) I’ve been very happy with it. If I accidentally swallow water while brushing my teeth in the bathroom, I can immediately taste the difference! I think the price was quite reasonable. Filter replacement is recommended at 6 months, which is coming up quickly. I hope it’s not a major project. I would like to get a whole-house water filtration system, but have yet to start comparison shopping. I look forward to your article on that subject.

  14. Michelle Avatar
    Michelle

    I just replaced my water filter system as well. One thing you may also want to consider when you purchase a filter is whether is also removes pharmaceuticals which are increasingly present in the water and if it alkalinizes the water as well.

  15. JoCarole Avatar
    JoCarole

    I researched water filters for quite some time before buying one. I finally settled on the Vivec RO system. It does remove the minerals or some of them so I talked to my ND first. This specific system works with ceramic beads and reintroduces minerals back into the water. So far happy with it. The newer units are updated to show when you need to replace the cartridge.

  16. cj Avatar

    Hello I was just wondering what you thought about Propur filters? I originally was a toss up between proper and big Berkeley, what are your thoughts on this company? Also how would an average person go about getting their filtered water tested to compare on their own?

  17. Alexa Avatar

    This is so horrifying! I want to look into getting a filter for my family.. What does a typical water filter (on the sink or from the fridge) actually filter out, if anything?

    Thanks for all of this information!

    Alexa

  18. Nicole Avatar

    I love radiant life and have learned a lot from them. However, when I researched their system ans spoke with someone at radiant life I found out their water filter changes the PH of the water slightly. I spoke with Dr Thomas Cowan (the Fourfold Path to Healing), whom I trust. He recommended, especially for children, to not drink water regularly with the changed PH. After extensive research on my own and then coming across your articles, Katie, we have a Berkey filter and are very happy. I just wanted to pass on what I learned, I am sure everyone will find their right filter.
    warmly,
    Nicole

  19. Fayden Avatar

    We’re on town water that has won awards for the amount of flouride it puts in the water (!) so we’ve been looking for an affordable under the sink system to filter this out. As I look through RO systems it seems like they all have a lot of plastic (tubing, filters, storage tank linings, etc).
    Are the contaminants from the plastic tubes worth the filtration benefits?

    1. Katie - Wellness Mama Avatar

      Unfortunately, I’ve never found a filter without any plastic. It is frustrating, but I consider the potential problems from this food grade plastic less than the potential dangers of water contamination.

  20. Vladimir Avatar

    There are many systems which do what the RF filter does… The difference that RF pays more in affiliate marketing fees to this site, that is why you see this article, which is basically an advertisement for RF. Don’t waste $1600, the other RO systems with a remineralisation filter costs $400 or less…

    1. Katie - Wellness Mama Avatar

      Wow- cynical much? That actually isn’t true at all. I could make much higher affiliate commissions from other companies and I support Radiant Life because I’ve tried many of their products (which I purchased, btw) and found them to be the highest quality. They are also a family-owned company. Their 14-stage filter is the only one in the industry like it and in my experience, it works incredibly well.

      1. Alex Avatar

        Katie, I am so curious whether you would update your recommendation now pretty much all good RO systems on Amazon include at least 6 stages and remineralize and alkalize the water, with people getting results like alkaline of 9 or 10 even on the iSpring which is only $220. Ie can you provide an under counter option for those of us under $400 budget? Always trust you and LOVE your recommendations so thank you for doing all the work!

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