Faucet Water Filter Facts: What's In Your Tap?

Row of white sinks and faucets

A faucet water filter could be a great choice for purifying your home water supply. While many times tap water is a healthy and inexpensive choice, there are times that a municipal water system has spikes in the additives that come through.

Additionally, many parts of the country have hard water with minerals that are not always in healthy amounts. Also, some people simply don’t like the taste of their tap water.

Find Out What is in Your Water

Every water system is required to provide a CCR or Consumer Confidence Report to customers each year. This report describes what contaminants are in the water, and there are often contaminants.

Few water systems comply with all federal guidelines, which is why faucet water filters are popular.

Heavy Metals

Heavy metals are dangerous to humans, even in small amounts. Therefore, a carbon filter that removes lead, copper, and mercury is a great idea.

Natural Hazards

filling a glass with water

There are parasites that can infect a water system. While these are uncommon in a closed, municipal system, wells can contain such bacteria as giardia and cryptosporidium. A good faucet water filter can remove these parasites.


Good carbon activated filters remove both naturally occurring and man-made chemicals. Choose one that is effective for pesticides, radon, methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE), dichlorobenzene, and trichloroethylene (TCE).

1. Activated Carbon Filters

For most faucet water filters, an activated carbon filter will do the job. These filters remove odors and unpleasant tastes, including any chlorine taste.

Look for the Standard 53 label on the filter. These are certified to remove not only unpleasant odors, but also many potentially hazardous contaminants from the water. They remove chlorine, heavy metals, contaminants, pesticides, and organic chemicals.

They can be expensive to maintain, since the filters must be replaced regularly.

2. Cation Exchange Softener

This filter can be installed on a faucet, although there are also whole house models. It removes hard water minerals such as calcium and magnesium that forms buildup on plumbing fixtures and cooking utensils.

It also removes barium and some other hazardous ions. It does not remove heavy metals or pesticides.

3. Reverse Osmosis Filter

inline water filters in a row

This is a less common solution, although it is most thorough and effective. It wastes a great deal of water in the purification process, and has to be kept under the sink, not on the faucet itself.

This filter uses a semi-permeable membrane and a long water path to remove all impurities from the water.

These filters do remove most contaminants. The list includes parasites like cryptosporidium and giardia, cadmium, copper, and other heavy metals, arsenic barium, nitrate, perchlorate, and selenium.

4. General Guidelines

Look for a filter that is easy to install. Many effective filters require no more than being screwed onto the faucet, making the process quick and easy.

Make sure your filter matches the contaminants in your system.

Look at the long-term cost of using the filter you are considering. How often do you need to change filter cartridges? How much do they cost? These considerations should be part of your faucet water filter shopping.