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Water filters: how are they tested and how are the tests used to sell you?

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If you’re looking at buying the best water filter, wouldn’t you like to know it will do what it says?

Unfortunately, 99% of water filters on the market are sold in the knowledge that you don’t know and will probably decide to believe what they tell you it will do.

Water filter vendors service a huge market and they know exactly how you think.

  1. They know most people regard water filters as a problem they’d prefer not to have.
  2. They know that for this reason, you are looking for a simple answer.
  3. They also know that for this reason, you’ll probably choose to believe what you see on a label.
  4. Finally, they know that because all of the above, if they package it attractively with the right key ‘sales triggers’, and a cheap price, you’ll probably buy.

This is the basic financial consideration in water filter marketing. But there is a ‘darker’ side.

Because they know that 99% of people won’t follow up, read or understand test results, most water filter manufacturers don’t do them, or don’t do what we regard as ‘honest’ tests. You, the market, aren’t asking for them, sales are good, profits are good, so why spend on testing? After all, it’s the shareholders that matter, isn’t it?

This is the reason most relatively untested water filters find their ways into big box stores. In a  big box store they know you’re in a  hurry to buy, haven’t researched, are there because it’s easy to locate a product, satisfy a need and leave. You have been targeted by your shopping habits. They’ve laid the bait and just sit back until you ‘bite’.

If all this sounds cynical… well, it is. It’s the result of sixteen years of finding our way around a system of entrenched big business publicly listed highly profitable corporate profiting.

Here’s what our 20 years in the water business have taught us.

  • A filter should say how long it has been tested for.
  • That testing period should be equivalent to what you want in the longevity of practical healthy use. Lifespan, clearly defined.
  • The test should show the beginning and end contaminant removal levels.

Isn’t that what you’d want from any other product that affects your health?
Shouldn’t every tablet in a  bottle of vitamins work?
Shouldn’t a car deliver you an advertised MPG and pollution level for at least its warranted period? (Remember Volkswagen?)
Shouldn’t a computer open up and work every day the same way?

So how did we let water filters slip the inadequate ‘as new testing into us, or no testing at all? How can a Chinese made water filter be sold in the West with no supporting verifiable test data? (Most water filters are made in China even though America is the source of the best filter media technology)

What we test – and why.

We believe that when we buy anything it should perform as promised for the time the vendor says it is good for.

We estimated that an average use for a family of four is two litres (8 glasses) a day. That comes to around 3000 litres a year. So we asked the Griffith University laboratory to test contaminant removal for that amount of filter use. They took a new UltraStream, created a special mix of ‘nasties’ – all the common and less common contaminants found in drinking water – and tested its effectiveness in reducing these contaminants. Then they ran the UltraStream for (in excess of) 3000 litres and repeated the special brew test. In this way, we knew the UltraStream filter would continue to protect our users for a year of use. (It may actually work much longer, but we had to pick a period, and a year seemed best.)

We went quite a way further. We had the UltraStream submitted to the stringent EU safety certification process. We had the H2 levels checked by AquaSciences LLC. And right now we’ve sent another unit back to the university lab for hormones in water testing. Again, for the life of the filter.
See the results here

What we can’t really understand is why all water filters don’t perform tests like this. But.. we have already discussed the reason they don’t. They don’t need to for 99% of sales and are quite happy to drop the more difficult customers like you and me who ask sticky questions.

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