Health is a big business. For years I felt like I was bleeding green on everything from foam rollers to green juice to magnetic back braces. One of the reasons I started The Wellness Project was to try to figure out what products (including foods) are actually worth the money we spend on them.
Building a water habit is something you can easily do for free. In fact, one of the experiments I suggested for this month was to go on a beverage aisle ban, which will end up saving you a lot of money of you’re someone who can’t resist a bespoke bottle of kombucha.
That said, hydration is one of the areas where I ended up investing money in plenty of tools to help me drink cleaner, safer water. And these at home filters and other water-related items were worth every penny.
Sadly, the regulations on our tap water are incredibly outdated. The more research I did, the scarier the reality of this public health hazard became. The list of chemicals that are banned in drinking water has not been majorly updated since the 1980s, which means rocket fuel additives and dry cleaning solvent can still legally flow from our tap under The Clean Water Act.
Bottled water is even less regulated, and despite marketing claims, is more likely to be sourced from a man-made well in Queens than a glacier in Alaska. You’re paying a premium for that bottle, which also leaches plastic into your agua and pollutes the environment after it’s thrown away, with no real health benefits.
Home filters are better for your wallet, and better for the planet. But finding the right one can be tricky. Unfortunately, anything that’s cheap, space-efficient and easy to use, like your standard Britta, doesn’t do the best job at filtering some of the worst offenders. But even this is better than nothing.
There’s no need to immediately clear your counter-tops for the Ferrari of filters—it’s best to start somewhere that’s not going to put a drastic damper on your lifestyle or your wallet.
I put together a few options below at various price points, as well as some kitchen and bathroom items that will keep you happy and hydrated.
1. Japanese charcoal sticks are the best cheap on-the-go filter. These porous sticks look like something you pulled from a campfire, but they are shockingly adept at absorbing impurities. The only catch is you need to let the charcoal do its thing for an hour or so to get the best results. They also need to be “refreshed” every few weeks, which involves simply boiling them for 10 minutes. You’ll want to replace them completely every 3 months, which is roughly the same time frame as a pitcher filter cartridge. In fact, most Britta filters and comparable models use ground up charcoal, hence why you sometimes see little black bits in the bottom of your cup when the filter is on its last legs. Having the whole block carbon charcoal stick is a much more effective way to catch toxins.
2. The Soma Carafe Filter is the prettiest and most sustainable counter-top filter. Pitcher filters have their limitations. They seem like the cheapest option, but replacing the filter cartridges every 2-3 months does add up. If you don’t have the time or money to invest in something more advanced, Soma makes a sleek carafe that’s aesthetically pleasing enough to make an appearance on your dinner party table. While most pitchers are made from plastic, Soma uses biodegradable materials, including coconut shells and a plant-based casing. They also sell their carafe inclusive of 12 months of filters for $100.
3. New Wave Enviro 10 Stage Water Filter System is the best bang for your buck. After trying a few pitcher options, this is what I ended up getting on my friend Amie’s recommendation. The small spouted filter attaches to your kitchen sink via a small hose, or it can be mounted underneath with a conversion kit. It takes up much less space than a lot of countertop models and the filter only needs to be replaced once a year. Best of all, the filter is made from BPA-free and phthalate-free plastic. If you can’t afford a solid block carbon filter or don’t have space on your counter, this is definitely the best option at $100. It doesn’t remove fluoride unfortunately. But the technology required to do so usually necessitates either a lot of counter space and big bulky unit or a custom under-the-sink model for around $600. If I wasn’t in a rental, I would definitely invest in this. But alas…
4. Pelican shower filter is great for toxin-free rinses. While not directly related to hydration, you spend a lot of intimate time with water everyday in the shower. I also got a filter for my shower head after I heard that your skin can absorb up to 8 glasses worth of toxins during the average rinse. It kind of seemed silly to be spending so much time and money obsessing over the water I drink, if I’m just going to be absorbing a comparable amount of chemicals through my skin. So I went all in baby!!
5. Pink Himalayan Sea Salt is rich in minerals and aids in absorption. Salt like fat has gotten a bad rap in the age of processed foods, despite the fact that it’s an essential nutrient. Without salt, which is in the makeup of virtually all our bodily fluids, our cells would not be able to function and we would die of dehydration. Once salt became industrialized, manufacturers started adding all sorts of anti-caking chemicals. The addition of iodine is positive as it reduces thyroid diseases, but in the processing, salt also loses a lot of other essential minerals. Pink Himalayan sea salt is not any lower in sodium, but it does retain those other good things that have made salt such a sought-after commodity since the dawn of time. It’s what I now stock exclusively in my pantry!
6. Organic canvas natural shower curtain to avoid harmful plastic. Believe it or not, your shower curtain is one of the most toxic things in your home! The liner is usually made of BPA plastic, which means you’re hot boxing your bathroom with chemicals. I thought putting my Pad Thai takeout container in the microwave was bad. But this might be worse! Luckily, unlike your daily microwave choices, getting an organic canvas shower curtain is a quick one-time fix. But WARNING: you will have to wash it often. Mine gets pretty tie-dyed with mildew. It looks a little off-putting, so I’m going to try keeping a second curtain on the outside to mask the unpleasant visuals. But I’m still glad I did it. One toxin down, 3956349397 more to go.
7. Silicone Ice Cube Trays allow you jazz up your daily water. I got really into my morning lemon water ritual during detox month. But I don’t always have fresh lemons around. When I buy them in bulk, I try to make some ice cubes with a tablespoon or so of juice in each so I can have lemon water at my fingertips at all times. You can also add fresh mint and ginger, which are great healthy water add-ins. If you drink your lemon water warm, just pour some hot water over the cubes and they’ll melt right away. Or if you just want to add flavor to your everyday water, put some in a pitcher and sip all day long (see below).
8. Le Creuset Stoneware 2-Quart Pitcher helps you drink your weight in ounces. I started by tracking my water intake using an app called Moro. But I quickly realized when I’m home for the day (i.e. at the office), it’s much easier to just use one container and measure my water that way. You’ll need somewhere between a 2 and 3 quart pitcher to hit your body weight. I often just use a 20 ounce water bottle and try to drink 3 or 4. But it’s more fun to get add-ins involved like lemon ice cubes (see above) if you use one big pitcher.