Depending on which type of filter your refrigerator takes, refrigerator filters can actually be quite effective – in many cases, they’re just as effective as undersink filters or countertop units. Refrigerator water filters will vary in effectiveness depending on the size, design, and the type of filter media they utilize.
How do you determine effectiveness?
One good indication of the effectiveness of your filter is whether or not the filter is NSF-certified. Filter manufacturers can only legally publish the removal rates of their filters if the filters have been tested to meet NSF certification by a third party (usually Underwriters Laboratories or UL).
In order for any filter to obtain NSF certification, the filter must remove at least 90% of a particular contaminant or a set of contaminants. The most common certification is for standards 42 & 53. NSF standard 42 pertains to chlorine, taste and odor, and particulates. Standard 53 pertains to cysts (giardia & cryptosporidium), lead, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), and MTBE (a gasoline additive).
What makes the difference?
Size: The size of the filter factors in to how well the filter will remove contaminants. The concept is very simple; the larger the filter, the better the filter will remove contaminants. An increased surface area allows the filter to capture more contaminants.
Design: The way the filter is designed will also affect the filter’s effectiveness. Certain designs increase the contact time the water has with the filter media.
Filter Media: All refrigerator filters use carbon as a means to remove chemical contaminants such as chlorine and VOCs, lead, and particulates. However, there are two types of carbon that may be used. The least effective filters use granular carbon, while thehe most effective filters use solid block carbon. Solid block carbon filters are more effective because they maximize the surface area of the filter media for the water to contact.
What if your refrigerator filter isn’t sufficient?
If your fridge is only compatible with an insufficient filter, you also have the option to install an inline filter. Inline filters are designed to be spliced into the water supply line to your fridge, making them compatible with any refrigerator. Aqua-Pure and GE each make a very effective inline filter. One of the most well designed of the inline filters is the GE SmartWater GXRLQ.
Other options include high quality pitcher filters. These include such brands as Clear2O and Lotus pitcher filters. The differences that set these filters apart from Brita or PUR are the same things that determine effectiveness in fridge filters – size, design, and filter media. It is important to note that Brita and PUR are the least effective of all water filters, and are not more effective than even the least effective of fridge filters.
Another way to solve this problem is to install an undersink filter. These are typically more expensive than other types of filters, but they often boast the highest contaminant removal rates of all types of filters. Because they have a separate, dedicated faucet, they are the most convenient and easiest to use.
Because of the state of water quality throughout the world, it is important to have some type of water filtration in your home. And when you consider that our bodies are primarily composed of water, good drinking water quality is extremely important. That being said, some filtration is always better than no filtration. The main priority is to figure out what type of filter works best for you.