Best water filter to remove bacteria and pathogens

What is the best water filter for bacteria removal?

Looking for the best water filter for bacteria filtration? Despite big improvements in tap water quality worldwide, bad bacteria is still a problem for public tap water. In addition to this 100s of millions of households rely on well water and rain water or have water tanks with potential bacteria contamination. How do you make sure your tap water is safe from bacteria in a sustainable and affordable way?

In this article we will provide an overview of what kind of bacteria you might find in tap water, the bacteria in tap water to worry about, methods that can kill or remove the bacteria and the best water purifiers for removing bacteria.

If you want a short answer to the question then just jump to the summary at the end.

What kind of bacteria are found in tap water?

First of all not all bacteria are bad. In any human body there are around 30 trillion human cells, but our microbiome is an estimated 100 trillion microbial cells including bacteria, viruses and fungi that live on and in us. Not only do we live in harmony with these beneficial bacteria, but they are actually essential to our survival. Good bacteria help our bodies digest food and absorb nutrients, and they produce several vitamins in the intestinal tract — including folic acid, niacin, and vitamins B6 and B12.

The main groups of bacteria found in tap water are:

1. Coliform Bacteria

Coliform bacteria is a group of bacteria that is naturally found in soil, plants and the digestive tracts of people and animals. Coliforms is typically the most common issue. Not all bacteria in this group are considered harmful if present in the water supply, but a subgroup, fecal coliforms, can cause illness. For example, drinking water with the bacteria Escherichia coli (E. coli), a fecal coliform, can result in intestinal inflammation. An E. coli infection can cause symptoms such as cramping, diarrhea, vomiting and fever. This infection typically requires treatment with antibiotics.

Although the target for Coliform bacteria and E.coli is 0 for water providers the acceptable level is up to 100 CFL / mg.

2. Heterotrophic Bacteria

Heterotrophic bacteria can be found in almost all water supplies. These bacteria use organic substances in their environment, such as sugar, to survive and reproduce. Drinking water is tested for this type of bacteria using the heterotrophic plate count. While a higher count of heterotrophic bacteria may indicate an environment is ripe for the development of other kinds of bacteria, heterotrophic bacteria are typically not considered dangerous.

If water testing does indicate high levels of heterotrophic bacteria, further testing for other bacteria, such as E. coli, is likely needed.

But doesn't chlorine kill all bacteria?

Most public tap water is disinfected with chlorine or chloramine. Free chlorine kills most bacteria, such as E. coli 0157:H7, in less than a minute if its concentration and pH are maintained as per recommendations. However, a few germs are moderately (Giardia, Hepatitis A) to very (Cryptosporidium) chlorine tolerant.

A study by Lund University in Sweden actually found millions of good bacteria crawling in the water. Watch the video here.
Millions of of good Bacteria by University of Lund

How to remove bacteria from tap water?

Boiling is one of the most reliable ways to render water potable. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends boiling the water for a minimum of one minute.

Other than boiling there are essentially 4 types of methods for bacteria removal from tap water:

1. UV light

This kills almost all bacteria but generally has a limitation in terms of the water flow dependent on the size of the machine. Another drawback is that although all the bacteria is killed the dead microorganisms remain in the water.

2. Distillation

This works like boiling and creates distilled water by heating the water and capturing the vapor and kills all bacteria. Distillation also removes all minerals and other things that bring the water taste resulting in "dead water". Very slow and energy inefficient method.

3. Reverse Osmosis

Removes bacteria by pushing the water through a semi-permeable membrane with tiny tiny holes. The high quality RO filters can be very efficient in removing bacteria but the negative side is that RO filters waste about 3-5 L of water per clean water produced and also removes all the healthy minerals. Furthermore the output often contains more bacteria than the input due to bacteria growth in the water tank.

4. Ultrafiltration

Removes bacteria by having the water flow through tiny hollow fibers. Generally retains the healthy minerals. One limitation is capacity of these filters as a lot of contaminants including bacteria will clog the filters and thereby reduce capacity which means refill cartridges have to be changed more frequently. This is the most sustainable method for bacteria filtration.

The simplest, most affordable and sustainable method is a faucet or gravity ultrafiltration filter. This doesn't require a professional to install, has not water or energy waste and it's easy to install and replace the cartridges.

Best Water filters to remove bacteria?

So what is the best water filter if you are concerned about bacteria and other pathogens in your tap water?

Ultra by TAPP Water

Ultra by TAPP Water is one of the highest rated and performing faucet water filters for bacteria removal. The product is independently tested and certified in over 10 countries and proven to work with bad water quality in well water in Spain, water tanks in Mexico and public tap water that lack proper treatment in India.

Ultra is certified for 99.95% bacteria removal at very high concentrations and delivers clean tap water for 3-5 months per cartridge refill.

Ultra is available with 30 day money back warranty on this website and through our partners.

Other products

Faucet water filters - To our knowledge there are no other faucet water filters that are certified for bacteria removal although descriptions may claim some bacteria filtration.

Gravity water filters - Berkey filters have a good record of bacteria filtration. See our comparison.

RO filters - A wide range of RO filters are available from Culligan, Aquasana and other well known brands for bacteria removal. See pros and cons above.

UV filters - There is also a wide range of UV filters available although they are typically sold in combination with other filters

Distillation water purifiers - Search on Amazon and you will find a broad range of products. See pros and cons above.

Conclusion on best water filter for bacteria filtration

  • Bacteria exists in all tap water and can survive even though it's chlorinated
  • Bad bacteria is a major cause of diseases and even deaths and should be avoided
  • Boiling water is the most common way of killing bacteria but it's time consuming and energy wasting
  • Bacteria filtration methods for safe clean tap water include Distillation, UV light, RO filters and Ultrafiltration
  • The simplest, most affordable and sustainable alternative to remove bacteria from tap water is Ultrafiltration filters such as Ultra by TAPP Water or gravity filters

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