33 Types of Water Filters and Filtration Systems for the Home

Last updated on November 15, 2023

There are 33 types of water filters and filtration systems for your home water supply. You don’t need them all. But this guide will help you choose. Read on!

Most water filtration systems are designed to remove large particles like dirt and sediment, but there are many other contaminants that you will find in your water. These may include chlorine, fluoride, and even lead, added to your water supply, and minerals like iron and magnesium, which are naturally present in the water. You can remove these contaminants by using a water filter or filtration system that specifically targets them. Each type of filter works by a different mechanism to achieve the same result: cleaner water.

There are 33 different types of filtration systems and water filters so there’s something to wrap your head around. We’ve made this guide to make if easier.

In some case, we have included shopping links for specific examples. These may earn us a commission at no expense to you.

What's Inside

Mechanical Water Filtration

water filters

A filter that operates with mechanical filtration will have a micron rating that indicates the particle size it is removing from the water supply. The main ratings you might see are 5 microns, 1 micron, and 0.5 microns, and they remove the different sizes of particles from the water, respectively.

Absorbtion Water Filtration

The process by which these water filters absorb contaminants is through carbon. Carbon has a large internal surface and can trap unwanted chemicals such as chlorine. Most domestic water filters use granulated activated carbon which reduces tastes and odors in addition to chemical impurities from entering the filter.

However, more expensive filters use activated carbon types that offer better removal of particles compared to the cheaper models. Different substances are used for making carbon to produce a water filter, including carbon block — it is typically more effective but also much more expensive.

Other materials like coconut shell are also used in absorbtion filters and they can be many times less expensive.

Sequestration Water Filtration

Sequestration is the action of filtering water with food-grade polyphosphate, so that hard minerals in the water do not build up and cause limescale or corrosion.

Ion Exchange Water Filtration

Due to the structurally complex and naturally occurring minerals like calcium and magnesium in water, hard water is considered challenging enough to work with, let alone having clean. To solve this, specific ion exchange processes are used.

This ion exchange process is outfitted with either sodium or hydrogen ions which are spread throughout the structure of the resin, encompassing the structured mineral that was originally particles in water before being placed into a hardening apparatus.

The filtres that do this are then closed off so they cannot be reaccessed for changes, only replacement due to an inability to remove all impurities from the resin and leave behind any “contaminating” ions like calcium or magnesium from previous uses.

Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration

reverse osmosis system

Reverse osmosis (RO) removes dissolved inorganic solids from water by forcing them through the membrane. The pressure forces the water to pass through, but most contaminants are left behind. RO is usually combined with sediment and absorption filters to produce clean and pure water with few contaminants remaining. Reverse osmosis systems are not reliant on electricity. They use no battery power. They also require less cleaning when compared to other filters, which can actually make them cheaper than filtering your bottled water or buying purified drinking water seen at a grocery store.

On the downside, RO systems remove all good minerals from water too so the filtered water, while safe for drinking, isn’t as beneficial.

Sediment Filtration

A sediment filter is one method of water filtration methods that removes sediments from the water, as well as sand, other particles, and metals. Sediment filters typically remove the largest particles with ease. These filters are usually used as pre-filters.

Activated Carbon Block Filtration

Activated Carbon Blocks are typically made of high-quality absorptive material with a high surface area. It’s porous and can be put into different formats, like blocks or sheets that can fit into many household appliances. They can adsorb chemicals (like chlorine) and large fractions of microscopic organisms, like cysts and lead in water. It is designed for ease of placing in devices and is essentially porous, so it will easily adsorb both microorganisms, which could cause health issues related to drinking unfiltered water.

Granular Activated Carbon Filtration

carbon filter

Granular Activated Carbon usage is similar to Activated Carbon Block in that it removes chlorine taste and odor. Granular AC has larger carbon granules than an Activated Carbon Block, which results in weaker contaminants adsorption but a higher water filtration rate. But you can use it together with ACB filters for larger particles which will help remove chemicals and other contaminants in the water supply.

Higher water pressure makes it ideal for high-flow and low-intensity filtration systems like whole house filters where you would need more water pressure on the main device, point of using inline filters (point of point solution systems) where you can measure the volume of how much drinking fluid is being consumed by a person constantly moving around or using a different type of appliance that requires a considerable amount tap water all at once without interruption or contact contamination with other people using the same system.

Water Distillation

Water distillation is a water purification process that has been used for many years to clean water. It is usually used in place of activated carbon filters and reverse osmosis filters because it speeds up the process of cleaning the water as well. These filters are more expensive.

Ultraviolet Water Disinfection

Ultraviolet water disinfection involves ultraviolet light, which can be used to kill microorganisms, which usually cause illness and infection.

Ultra Filtration

Ultrafiltration makes use of hydrostatic pressure to filter water through a submicron membrane. Ultrafiltration removes any soluble contaminants and isn’t suitable for use on water with high total dissolved solids concentrations.

Activated Alumina Water Filtration

Home water filtration systems often use activated alumina to remove contaminants like fluoride, arsenic, selenium, and thallium. Before an activated alumina filter can be used during an initialization process, activated alumina needs to go through both backwashing and chemical treatment.

Water Ionization

Water ionizers work by electrolyzing the water and changing its molecular structure. They produce both, water for drinking, which is rich in antioxidants, and water for external purposes like disinfecting and cleaning. The user can also control the pH of the output water to any level they want.

Combinations of Water Filtering

multi stage filtration

It is also known as multi-stage water filtration. For many water sources, it’s difficult to use a single filtration method to remove all impurities. A well-functioning filter system might work by combining two or more of the five basic methods: mechanical, absorption, ion exchange, and sequestration.

Various water filters are designed to target specific types of impurities. For example, household jugs are more likely to use mechanical filtration techniques whereas inline filters will rely on absorption (detoxifies or removes organic viral and bacterial pathogens) as well as possible sequestrate diffusion media. Heavy duty water filters often combine two methods; for instance, mechanical techniques in conjunction with reverse osmosis which is a technique also used by distillation but often less economical.

Faucet Water Filter

best water filters for lead removal

Check Out the Top 10 Best Water Filters for Lead

A faucet water filter is a type of water filter that attaches to your faucet and provides a continuous supply of filtered water. It may be used in a kitchen. They often apply in kitchens, freeing up space on the counter.

Coffee Machine Water Filters

K&j 12-pack Of Cuisinart Compatible Replacement
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It is important to clean special coffee bean machines. These beans need a specific blend of minerals that normal filtering doesn’t provide. Coffee machine filters are another way to make sure that the coffee is perfect as well as protect the expensive espresso from bacteria and minerals.

Inline Water Filters

Ecopure Epinl30 5 Year In-line Refrigerator
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These water filters are installed on the waterline and flow through to the faucet or appliances. They reduce common problems with municipal water such as chlorine taste, odor, and bacteria. This type of filtration is ideal for under-sink installation due to its smaller size.

Drop In Filters

3m Aqua-pure Ap100 Series Whole House Replacement
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Drop In filters are made to fit inside of water filter housings. A housing for a water filter will either be 10″ or 20″.

Fridge Filters

Everydrop By Whirlpool 10383251 Refrigerator Water
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These filters are used to filter the water supply for the drinking water or ice maker devices in fridges that have them. The size and compatibility vary depending on the make, model, and style of the fridge freezer.

Water Pitcher Filter

Brita Standard Everyday Water Filter Pitcher,
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BRITA is the best-konwn water pitcher filter. A water pitcher usually has only one built-in filter. They are most often either a carbon filter or a mixed media filter which consists of both sediment and activated carbon blocks or granules. The water pitcher is designed to provide the basic filtration needs without the tricky installation and it can be moved around the house easily. You can also put them in the fridge to make cold drinks later when needed.

Single-stage Countertop Water Filter

Bnfusa Kt4100 Countertop Single-stage Filtration
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A countertop water filter is more practical and affordable for people that do not want to go through the pain of changing their filters. Countertop filters are easy to install and maintain.

Single-stage Under Sink Water Filter

Ge Replacement Water Filter For Single Stage Or
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Single-stage filters are better than the countertop ones because they don’t take up a lot of room. Plus, with an under-sink setup, it really makes the kitchen look neater and cleaner.

Multi-stage Countertop Water Filter

Ispring Ct10-cl Countertop Water Filter, Clear
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If you are looking for a more advanced water filtration system, you should purchase a multi-stage purification system that involves 2 or more filters. Each filter in this system will have to address specific contaminants that they can remove and by using multiple filters, the water will be purified of a greater amount of pollutants. If your countertop does not have adequate space for the purification system to fit, buying it with an installation under your sink would suffice.

Multi-stage Under Sink Water Filter

Bluonics 4 Stage Drinking Water Filter Uv
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Multi-stages water filtration systems are the most prevalent advanced water purification system used by homeowners because of their ability to filter water and for occupying a relatively small amount of under-sink space. For instance, Reverse Osmosis, Direct Flow Through Filtration Systems, Ultrafiltration Systems, RO with Alkaline Post Filters and UV Disinfection Systems are all examples of Multi-stages Water Filtration Systems.

Gravity Drip Water Filter

Trk Drip Ceradyn Gravity Personal Or Group Water
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A gravity drip water filter is a water system that is mainly used outside or while travelling. This type of filter uses three or more layers of filter media that removes impurities from the water. The filter is portable and has a container at the bottom where you pour unfiltered water into, waiting for a moment, and then drink the clean purified drinking water from the container on top.

Showerhead Filter

Aquabliss High Output Revitalizing Shower Filter -
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Some filters also called showerhead filters, remove impurities in bathroom water. They are cheap to install and easy to use. They may also improve hair and skin quality if the showerhead is attached to the filter. The water that enters a shower head filter usually has many impurities from chemicals such as chlorine or fluoride, which can cause dryness or irritation for people with sensitive skin. The time it takes to install a filter will depend on who you ask and where you get it from. Still, they’re generally inexpensive devices that only require you to unscrew your existing shower head to attach the new one onto pipework and then screw them together again. Hence, they create an airtight seal at the connection point.

Whole House Water Filter System

Ispring Wgb21b 2-stage Whole House Water
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Water filters have a main use in households that cannot get municipal tap water in their house. They are usually connected to the water tank by attaching a filter right to the pipe headed towards the house. This works as all of the water that enters is filtered before it gets anywhere else which can save money on bottled water and creates tastier, cleaner water.

But these filters are quite expensive and take quite a long time to be installed, so if you have this kind of problem, try to get an external filtration system from a tank or any other resource. Many septic tanks find use with bathrooms or kitchens but are more difficult to install due to construction constraints on outside yards or lack of wall space for storage once inside a home.

Water Bottle Filters

Brita Plastic Water Filter Bottle, 26 Ounce 1, Sea
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These are some of the smallest, cheapest and most widely available types of water filter. They feature a filter straw that removes impurities as water is consumed. These are typically affordable and can be found in many stores or online for those who want to have a filtered water source without the hassle of bringing their own heavy filtering product everywhere they go. Water bottle filters can be bought for an inexpensive cost starting at about fifteen dollars depending on how deeply one would like to use them.

Straw Filters

Lifestraw Personal Water Filter For Hiking,
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The way you use a straw filter is simply by sucking water through it straight from the water source (such as a stream or a lake). Straw filters can be used as a water filtration system and allow for water drinking in any situation. They were first developed in the 1980s but have come a long way since. Straw filters can be costly if you do not shop right before purchasing one, but they are still available at affordable prices. A newly popular design on the market today is the straw filter that is constructed of special paper allowing the user to drink while keeping water safe from germs and bacteria in bottles or any other drinking vessel.

Ultra-Violet Water Filters

Hqua-ows-12 Ultraviolet Water Purifier Sterilizer
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Ultraviolet lights are a unique purification that kills bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and other small organisms. They’re usually small and portable before being charged. Ultraviolet lights kill all sorts of water-borne pathogens. These lights are more expensive than regular filtration equipment, but they don’t remove solids like dirt or particles.

Water Softeners

Fleck 5600sxt Metered On-demand 48,000 Grain Water
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Water softeners remove hard minerals from water, replacing them with sodium ions, making the water itself salty. However, it does allow the water to be more gentle on one’s skin and hair. A softener is generally unnecessary unless there are many heavy metals in the water supply.

Squeeze Filter

Sawyer Products Sp129 Squeeze Water Filtration
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Squeeze filters are small and portable. They’re durable and reliable because of their compact shape. They are mainly used in the backcountry for emergencies. Their low price depends on being able to filter one gallon at a time, rather than many gallons at once like the other types of filters.

Portable Pump Filter

Purewell Water Purifier Pump With Replaceable
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A portable pump filter is a device used to purify water from sources in the backcountry or in emergencies. One must fill the filter with water, manually pump a handle, and pressurized suction will result from this action. The water then can be drawn through the filter and expelled through another hose on the other side. The user should make sure they replace the filter often, and this can take up some space in a backpack, but it is not too heavy, so it may not impede hiking much.

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