If you’re a "germaphobe" (like some of us), you know that sanitation is of the utmost importance. With bacteria lurking on virtually every surface, it’s only natural to want to be free of such microbes as much as possible.
Fortunately for all of us, new technology that is designed to improve cleanliness is constantly being implemented into our everyday lives. A product that serves as a great example of this is—no surprise—filtered water bottles.
While water is abundant on the planet, it may surprise you that a very minuscule percentage is actually drinkable! Thus, many companies have begun to create water bottles with this extra feature—a filtering mechanism—in order to maximize water’s purity, no matter whether the liquid comes from a tap or a riverbed.
However, this brings up the question of whether or not they are actually effective.
How Filtered Water Bottles Function
Lifestraw, and Grayl, to name a few), all have essentially the same mechanism. Think of this as a portable, much smaller-scale version of a water treatment plant. An activated carbon filtration system that is included with (yet separate from) the actual bottle acts to remove any substances from the water that may be considered harmful (like chlorine, metals, and other undesirable substances) by absorbing them.
The overall taste and smell of the water is improved as well. One aspect of the filters in which most brands differ is the point at which contaminants are actually removed from the water. While certain filters purify the liquid directly once you pour it into the bottle, others do so as you are drinking it. Either method produces the same result: clean and refreshing water. Thus, to answer the question, filtered water bottles do indeed work.
The Need for Filtering Water
At this point, you might be wondering how this information is applicable to yourself.
According to National Geographic, only around 2.5% of Earth’s water is fresh (meaning that it is suitable for consumption).
Even then, only about 1% of that is easily accessible, as the rest is mainly trapped in glaciers and snowfields around the world.
This means, of course, that if you were to be transported to a random place on the globe, you would almost certainly find yourself confronted by water that is undrinkable.
Imagine that you are a traveler or hiker trekking through the wilderness. Upon going to drink from your water bottle, you realize that it is empty. The only source of water around is a nearby stream.
If you have a filtered water bottle on hand, you would be able to drink from that stream without any worry of falling ill. Any contaminants that would be in the water prior to filtering it would simply fail to exist (for the most part). The water is now safe for consumption and of a higher quality than it was before.
This is the importance of filtered water bottles. They quite literally have the potential to save lives.
While you may never find yourself in that particular situation (which, admittedly, may be a bit of an extreme case), those types of water bottles can still be purposeful.
Other physical activities such as a sport or workout can be bolstered with the addition of pure water.
Even at home, a filtering water bottle can be incredibly useful. If you are unsatisfied with the taste (or quality) of your tap water, you can use a filter to make it significantly more enjoyable.
The environmental impact, too, is evident. Instead of drinking from plastic, disposable water bottles (which heavily contribute to pollution), you can use a reusable one that not only costs less in the long run, but also manages to make the water lose that metallic taste that bottled water often seems to have.
Selecting a Brand
With such a vast market for water bottles, there is naturally a large selection of filtered water bottles to choose from. It thus may be difficult to decide upon a certain brand. Is there a company or type of bottle that is objectively the best? Not really, no. What bottle you should end up purchasing primarily depends on what you intend to use it for.
For example, CNET recommends the Grayl Geopress Purifier for intensive backpacking trips—ones that would surround you with streams and other natural sources of water.
However, this also brings up another major difference amongst brands: cost. Grayl’s Geopress can cost you around $70, while something like Brita’s Premium Filtering Water Bottle (which CNET suggests you use for filtering tap water) is priced at $15-$20.00.
The Brita bottle filter passes the water through a carbon filter element designed to remove specific substances under low pressure. The bottle filter contains a proprietary blend of activated carbon and a binder that holds all the ingredients together. Water passes through a porous filter where chlorine (taste and odor) is adsorbed and broken down on the surface of the activated carbon. More specific details can be explored on the Brita support webpage.
The Lifestraw Go Filtered Water Bottle (a product that, while not specifically recommended by it, CNET thinks should be used for more casual outdoor excursions) splits the difference between the two at around $35-$40.00.
If you are looking to run with your bottle, you may want to consider a collapsible one such as Katadyn’s BeFree filtered bottle ($44.95), which you can easily store in a pocket.
In terms of sustainability, all filtered water bottles are quite similar to each other. Please refer to each manufacturer's specifications.
Brita mentions that just one of its filters can replace 300 disposable water bottles; the same can likely be said for any other bottle.
As mentioned above, merely using a reusable filtered water bottle in the first place limits the amount of plastic that is sent to landfills.
Maintaining the Bottles
While the bottles themselves are usually dishwasher-safe, the same cannot be said for most filters. These must be washed by hand from time to time (perhaps every couple of weeks). However, just because they can be cleaned does not mean they do not wear out over time.
Regardless of what brand of water bottle you end up purchasing, Runner's World recommends that you replace a filter every few months or so in order to ensure your water is consistently sanitary. Keep in mind that filters from different companies are not interchangeable. You should always renew the filter with that of the exact brand and model of your water bottle.
Many bottles, such as the Brita Premium Filtering Water Bottle (mentioned above), come with an extra filter. Starting from the first time that you replace it, however, you will need to purchase some on your own.
Upon receiving an entirely new bottle, make sure to wash both the bottle and filter by hand with dish soap. It is crucial that you also rinse the filter underneath running water for at least fifteen seconds, as this can remove any potential particles that the filter contains from processing and packaging. After these steps have been completed, you’ll be able to use your water bottle in no time.
A quick video below (also from Brita) shows how easy it is to set it up:
There is no doubt that pure, crystal-clear water is the healthiest liquid we can drink. Thanks to the abundance of filtering water bottles, we now have convenient access to just that. Not only can they improve the overall quality of what we’re drinking, they also reduce our carbon footprints and allow us to take a step towards a brighter, cleaner future.
Even if you are not an avid hiker or athlete, using a filtering water bottle at home can help you further enjoy the H2O that sustains our lives. The immense selection of brands and varieties of filtered water bottles can satisfy any need and use. We plan to come back to this topic in a few months and update it, based on what new developments we find.
In the meantime, if you are looking to purchase a water bottle, or add one to your existing collection, it's a good idea to get one that filters water on-the-go.