5 Ways to Filter Tap Water at Home, Compared

Welcome to our comprehensive guide to the fascinating world of water filtration! If you've ever taken a sip from your tap and wondered about the quality of water you're consuming, you're not alone. Many of us are turning our attention to how we can ensure our tap water is as healthy and clean as possible.

In this article, we'll be exploring five popular methods of filtering tap water at home, each with its own unique characteristics, benefits, and drawbacks. We'll discuss how each process works and weigh up its pros and cons to help you make an informed decision about which method will suit your particular situation. So, fill up your glass and join us on this hydrating journey!

Introduction to Water Filtering

Before we dive into the methods, it's worth mentioning that while filtering tap water at home isn't a necessity, many people prefer the taste and feel of filtered water. It can help improve the flavour of your favourite brew, and make drinking water a more pleasant experience. With a variety of options to choose from, let's start our journey into the ins and outs of home water filtration systems.

Is Filtering Tap Water Necessary?

In the UK, tap water is indeed safe to drink; it undergoes rigorous testing and treatment protocols to ensure it meets the high standards set by the Drinking Water Inspectorate. However, it's also important to note that the water quality can vary, largely due to geographical differences. In particular, those living in areas with 'hard' water, characterised by a higher concentration of minerals such as calcium and magnesium, may notice a distinct chemical or minerally taste in their tap water.

This not only impacts the taste when drinking it straight from the tap but can also subtly alter the taste of food and beverages prepared with it. Therefore, while not a necessity, using a water filter in these areas can lead to a noticeable improvement in the taste of tap water, contributing to better-tasting food and drink - who wouldn't want that?!

#1) Using a Built-In Water Filter

Built-in water filters are a popular option for many homes across the UK. These devices are integrated directly into your existing water supply system, providing a seamless transition from regular tap water to filtered water. There are several types of built-in filters, including reverse osmosis systems and boiling water taps that come with a filter attached to the tank.

Reverse Osmosis Systems

Reverse osmosis systems are one of the most sophisticated types of water filters. They work by forcing water molecules through a semi-permeable membrane, leaving behind impurities and contaminants, thereby providing clean, filtered water. This system is highly effective at removing a broad range of contaminants, including harmful substances like lead and arsenic.

Boiling Water Taps with Attached Filters

A boiling water tap with an attached filter is another innovative solution for filtering tap water. These specialised taps not only filter your tap water but also provide instant access to boiling water. The filter, usually attached to the tank, filters out common impurities such as chlorine and lead, improving the taste and smell of your tap water.

In the next sections, we'll delve into the pros and cons of these built-in filters to guide you in making an informed decision.

Pros of Built-In Water Filters:

  • Comprehensive filtration: Built-in water filters, particularly reverse osmosis systems, are capable of removing a wide range of contaminants, ensuring you have access to clean, safe drinking water.
  • Convenience: Once installed, these filters provide a seamless transition from regular tap water to filtered water, without the need for extra steps or equipment.
  • Longevity: Built-in filters tend to have a longer lifespan than other types of filters, meaning you won't need to replace them as frequently.
  • Improved taste: Both reverse osmosis systems and boiling water taps with filters significantly improve the taste and smell of your tap water, which can enhance your culinary and beverage experiences.

Cons of Built-In Water Filters:

  • Initial cost: The initial cost of purchasing and installing a built-in water filter can be quite high, making it a significant investment.
  • Maintenance: While these filters have longer lifespans, they do require regular maintenance and occasional filter replacement, which can add to their lifetime cost.
  • Slow filtration process: Depending on the system, the filtration process can be slow, which might not be ideal if you need large amounts of filtered water quickly.
  • Wastage: Reverse osmosis systems in particular can waste a significant amount of water in the filtration process. For every litre of filtered water produced, several litres of water can be wasted.

In conclusion, built-in water filters offer comprehensive filtration, convenience, and longevity. They can significantly improve the taste and smell of tap water, enhancing your culinary and drinking experiences. However, their high initial cost, maintenance needs, potentially slow filtration process, and significant water wastage (especially in the case of reverse osmosis systems) are important factors to consider.

For more insights and detailed information on boiling water taps, we recommend checking out our Ultimate Guide to Boiling Water Taps, where you can delve deeper into their features, installation process, and maintenance requirements.

#2) Commercial Water Filters

Commercial water filters, a familiar sight in UK homes, offices, and businesses, provide a straightforward approach to elevating the quality of your tap water. With their diverse range, including jug filters, under-sink filters, and refrigerator filters, these filters are engineered to strip water of various contaminants and impurities. Now, let's delve into the specifics of each type.

How Commercial Water Filters Work

Commercial water filters work by using a combination of physical and chemical filtration methods to remove impurities from your water.

Jug Filters

Jug filters, or pitcher filters, are among the most common and straightforward ways to filter tap water. They utilise activated carbon or sometimes ion-exchange resin to remove impurities from the water. Water is poured into the top of the jug, where it slowly seeps through the filter, leaving behind contaminants and flowing into the main compartment of the jug. The activated carbon within the filter traps pollutants, such as chlorine, improving both the taste and odour of the water.

Refrigerator Filters

Refrigerator filters are built into refrigerators equipped with water and ice dispensers. These filters work similarly to the systems above, using activated carbon to trap common impurities, like chlorine and lead. The result is cleaner and more refreshing water and ice directly from your fridge.

Under-Sink Filters

Under-sink filters, as the name suggests, are installed under your kitchen sink and directly connected to the cold water supply. They utilise a combination of activated carbon and other filtering materials to remove a wide range of contaminants from your tap water. As the water flows through the filter, impurities such as chlorine, heavy metals, and bacteria are trapped, leaving you with clean, filtered water dispensed straight from your standard kitchen tap.

Pros and Cons of Commercial Water Filters

Pros of Commercial Water Filters:

  • User-Friendly: Commercial water filters are generally simple to use. Whether it's filling up a water jug or replacing a refrigerator filter, these systems are designed for user convenience.
  • Affordability: Compared to built-in systems, commercial water filters are typically much more affordable. They offer a cost-effective solution for those seeking cleaner, tastier tap water.
  • Variety of Options: With jug filters, refrigerator filters, and under-sink filters, there is a wide variety to choose from, allowing you to find a solution that best fits your needs.
  • Improved Taste: Like built-in systems, commercial filters also remove impurities that negatively affect the taste and smell of tap water.

Cons of Commercial Water Filters:

  • Frequent Filter Replacement: Commercial filters often require more frequent filter changes than built-in systems. This can add to the long-term cost and can also be inconvenient.
  • Limited Filtration: Depending on the type, some commercial filters might not filter out as many contaminants as built-in systems. For example, standard jug filters might not remove certain heavy metals or bacteria.
  • Slow Filtration: Jug filters, in particular, can take a while to filter a full pitcher of water.
  • Space Requirements: For under-sink filters and some refrigerator filters, you'll need enough space to accommodate the system.

So, to sum things up, commercial water filters are like the friendly neighbourhood superhero of tap water, offering an easy-to-navigate and budget-friendly solution to make your tap water better. They've got a whole crew - from simple jug filters to the more advanced under-sink systems - there's a hero for every kind of water need you may have. But remember, every superhero has a kryptonite.

In this case, it's the possible need for frequent filter swapping, the somewhat limited power of some models to banish all water villains, a little bit of a slow pace in filtration, and a need for their own personal bat cave (read: storage space). So keep these in mind when you're picking your water-saving superhero.

#3) Boiling Water

Boiling water is an age-old method of treating water, and is still commonly used in households worldwide. This cost-effective and straightforward method doesn't require any specialised equipment, making it a popular choice for many. However, it's not without its limitations. Let's take a closer look at how boiling water can help improve its safety and taste, and weigh up the pros and cons.

What Does Boiling Water Do?

Boiling water is a physical method of purification that kills bacteria, viruses and parasites that could cause illness. This is achieved by heating the water to a high temperature, usually at or near boiling point, for a specified period of time. The heat destroys or inactivates harmful organisms, making the water safer to drink.

Despite its effectiveness against many types of pathogens, boiling does have some limitations. First and foremost, while it can kill bacteria and viruses, it does not remove chemical contaminants, heavy metals or solid impurities that might be present in the water e.g. chlorine.

What's more, boiling water can be energy-intensive, especially when done on a large scale or over a long period. It also requires access to a reliable heat source. Finally, the taste of boiled water is often considered flat and unappealing due to the loss of dissolved oxygen.

Pros of Boiling Water:

  • Simplicity: Boiling water is a simple and accessible method that doesn't require any complex equipment or technical knowledge.
  • Effectiveness: It is highly effective at killing many types of harmful bacteria, viruses, and parasites.

Cons of Boiling Water:

  • Limited Purification: Boiling cannot remove chemical contaminants or solid impurities from water.
  • Energy Use: It can be energy-intensive, particularly when it's necessary to boil water for extended periods.
  • Taste: The taste of boiled water is often considered flat and less refreshing due to the loss of dissolved oxygen.

In a nutshell, boiling water is a bit like a reliable old friend - dependable, and straightforward but somewhat limited in capabilities. It's a tried-and-tested way to kill off most of the bad guys in your water, but it won't necessarily catch them all, especially if they're of the chemical variety. Plus, it can be a bit of an energy drain and might leave your water tasting a tad bland. But for a quick and simple solution, it has stood the test of time.

#4) Sand Purification Method

The sand purification method, also known as slow sand filtration, is a natural process that has been used for centuries to purify water. This old-school method employs a simple yet effective process to filter out impurities from water. It's a bit like having a mini water treatment plant right in your backyard! Without the need for chemicals or complex equipment, it's a sustainable, environmentally-friendly choice for those looking to reduce their carbon footprint.

How does Sand Purification Work?

The sand purification process utilises a bed of fine sand and sometimes layers of gravel, creating a natural filtration system. When water is poured into the sand filter, it slowly trickles down through the layers of sand and gravel. As it moves through the layers, impurities such as sediment, particles and some bacteria are trapped and retained in the sand, resulting in cleaner, safer water at the bottom.

This method also includes a biological layer known as the 'schmutzdecke' (a German word meaning dirty skin), which forms at the top layer of sand. The schmutzdecke hosts beneficial microorganisms that further aid in the purification process by digesting and trapping bacteria and other pathogens.

Although the sand filtration system is an effective, natural method for purifying water, it does have some limitations. It's not as quick or convenient as other modern filtration methods, and it may not remove all types of contaminants, especially chemicals and viruses. It also requires periodic maintenance to clean and replace the sand.

Pros of Sand Purification:

  • Natural and Eco-friendly: It's a chemical-free, natural process that is kind to the environment.
  • Affordability: Once set up, the ongoing costs are minimal as it only requires the replacement of sand occasionally.

Cons of Sand Purification:

  • Limited Filtration: While it can handle sediment and some bacteria, it may not fully remove chemical contaminants and viruses.
  • Maintenance: Requires regular maintenance to clean and replace the sand.

In essence, the sand purification method is the eco-warrior of water filtration methods. It’s a natural, low-cost option that is kind to the environment. But like all warriors, it has its strengths and weaknesses. While it can tackle sediment and some bacteria, it might struggle against chemical contaminants and viruses. Plus, it does need a bit of care and attention now and then for it to perform its best.

#5) UV Water Filtration

Ultraviolet (UV) water filtration is a modern, chemical-free method of purifying water. This technology uses UV light to kill or inactivate harmful microorganisms, ensuring that your water is safe and clean to drink. It's a bit like having a microscopic army of light warriors zapping away the bad guys in your water!

How Does UV Water Filtration Work?

UV water filtration works by exposing water to UV light, which is a powerful disinfectant. When water passes through a UV system, the light targets the DNA and RNA of microorganisms, inactivating them and preventing them from reproducing. This method effectively kills harmful bacteria, viruses, and parasites without adding chemicals or altering the taste and odour of the water.

However, UV filtration does have its limitations. Firstly, it does not remove dissolved solids, minerals, or chemicals from water. Additionally, the water must be clear for the UV light to effectively reach all the microorganisms, meaning that any sediment or turbidity can reduce its effectiveness. It also requires electricity to run, which could be a limitation in some situations.

Pros of UV Water Filtration:

  • Effectiveness: UV filtration is highly effective at killing many types of harmful microorganisms.
  • Chemical-free: It does not use any chemicals, making it a safe and natural method of purification.
  • Taste: This method does not alter the taste or odour of the water.

Cons of UV Water Filtration:

  • Limited Purification: UV filtration does not remove dissolved solids, minerals, or chemicals from water.
  • Clarity Required: The effectiveness of UV filtration can be reduced if the water is not clear.
  • Electricity Dependence: It requires electricity to work, which might not be available in all situations.

In summary, UV water filtration is like the high-tech superhero of water purification methods. It's fast, effective, and chemical-free, ensuring that your water is safe to drink without altering its natural taste. However, like any superhero, it does have its Achilles heel. It isn't able to remove dissolved solids or chemicals, and it requires both clear water and a reliable electricity source. Nevertheless, for a high-tech, chemical-free solution, it certainly shines a light on water purification!


In summary, the choice of water filtration method depends on several factors including the level of purification required, speed, cost, maintenance needs and eco-friendliness.

  • Built-in filters are reliable and long-lasting but are expensive upfront.
  • Boiling is a quick, low-cost method but may not remove all contaminants.
  • Activated charcoal and sand purification are good for certain impurities and are eco-friendly, but may not be fully effective against all contaminants.
  • Reverse osmosis offers a high level of purification but can be costlier and less eco-friendly.
  • UV filtration is quick and very effective against microorganisms, but requires clear water and electricity, and does not remove chemical contaminants.

Choosing the Right Filtering Method for Your Needs

The process of choosing the right water filtration method ultimately comes down to your individual needs and circumstances. For those who are environmentally conscious, methods such as sand purification or activated charcoal may be appealing due to their eco-friendliness. If you live in an area with unstable electricity, UV filtration may not be the best choice, while those with a larger budget may opt for the reverse osmosis method due to its high efficiency.

It's important to consider factors like maintenance, cost, and efficiency, as well as the nature of contaminants in your local water supply when making your decision. Whatever method you choose, remember that the goal is to ensure that your tap water is clean, safe, and suitable for you and your family's daily needs.

4 litre Tank Specification
Capacity: 4 ltrs
Width: 197 mm
Depth: 299.5 mm
Height: 272.5 mm
2.4 Litre Tank Specification
Capacity: 2.4 ltrs
Width: 188 mm
Depth: 188 mm
Height: 262 mm