Consumer Reports tested more than 40 water filters, including ones for under the sink or on the counter, as well as faucet-mount, reverse osmosis, and carafes.
Testers run water that has been spiked with lead and harmful organics through the filters. They then analyze samples to see how well each filter removes the contaminants. Sensory experts also evaluate the water for taste.
Reverse osmosis filters remove the widest range of contaminants, including arsenic. But for every gallon of water they filter, they waste 3 to 5 gallons! And they can cost more than $1,000. The tests found that you could spend far less and still get cleaner, better-tasting water.
The top-rated Culligan faucet-mount model is a Consumer Reports Best Buy, for only $15. It installs in a snap and scored excellent at removing lead and other contaminants. But the slow flow rate can be frustrating. You also get cleaner water from the $15 Clear 2-O pitcher. You have to hook the attached hose to your faucet, but it filters water quickly. Either will quench your thirst for clean, tasty water.
Conspicuously absent in Consumer Reports' ratings of carafes are models from Brita. Brita, which calls itself "the No. 1 brand in water filtration," no longer claims that its carafes remove lead, which is a key consideration in Consumer Reports' tests.
Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports' website. Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org.
(Copyright © 2006-2012 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc.)