Most of us would never think of drinking unfiltered tap water because of the presence of contaminants and sediment in most water supplies. Yet, we shower in that same water, exposing our bodies to a number of harmful bacteria and chemicals. More than half our exposure to harmful elements in water comes from showering. To reduce exposure to the harmful content of your system’s water, consider installation of a shower head water purifier.
Why unfiltered shower water is harmful
One of the main chemicals to which we’re exposed when we shower is chlorine. Chlorine is almost universally used by utility companies to remove bacteria and other contaminants from water. Chlorine, though, can be harmful itself. Some of the effects of exposure to chlorinated water are:
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- Itchy scalp
- Eye irritation
- Dry, scaling, or itchy skin
- Premature signs of aging
- Dull, brittle hair and split-ends
- Irritation of skin conditions such as athlete’s foot or jock itch
Exposure to chlorinated water, as anyone who swims in chlorine-treated pools knows, can cause brittle hair and dry skin. The chemical can also react with dyed hair causing color changes. In addition, because chlorine evaporates faster than water, in the heat of your shower, the chlorine in your water supply is converted to gas, and this toxic substance can enter your body through the pores and through inhalation. Chlorine gas exposure can cause allergic reactions, skin disease, or respiratory problems. It can also worsen existing conditions such as asthma or skin afflictions.
Chlorine also reacts with volatile organic compounds in water forming trihalomethanes (THMs). The evidence is not conclusive, but studies have linked THMs with cancer in adults and low birth weight in infants.
What shower head water purifiers do
A filter installed in your shower head can reduce contaminants such as chlorine, Sodium Hypochlorite, Hydrogen Sulfide, lead, THMS and other volatile organic compounds, sediment, and other water impurities by over 90%. Filters can also eliminate bad water odor and reduce soap scum in your shower.
Filtration is either by granular activated carbon (GAC) or kinetic degradation fluxion (KDF), and filters last from three months to one year. There is also an ion filter shower head, which uses negative ions to remove contaminants, which the developers claim never needs replacement.
- GAC, a two step process, sends water through a granular copper or zinc medium to remove chlorine and restore PH balance. Water then flows through a carbon medium to absorb and trap harmful chemicals and toxic substances.
- KDF filtration uses oxidation reduction. This is a complicated electro-chemical process that alters the molecular structure of harmful toxins, transforming them into harmless compounds which are flushed down the shower drain.
Negative ions are odorless and colorless, and also act on the molecular structure of toxins and other contaminants in shower water.
Shower head water purifiers come in a variety of styles
Depending on your personal preference and budget, there is a wide range of choices in shower head water filters.
- In-line filters. The simplest and least expensive style, for people who want to keep their existing shower head, is the shower head filter that is installed behind the shower head. Ranging in price from $25.00 to $40.00, the filter only requires removal of the shower head with a wrench for installation. For effective filtration, filters should be replaced frequently, at least every six months.
- Shower head/filter combinations. If you’re not happy with your current shower head, this is the best bet. Shower head/filter combination water purifiers come in a variety of styles, many with settings that can regulate or change the water flow. You can chose from regular water flow to models like the Royale Shower Filter All-in-One that has settings that allow massage. This model retails for around $50.00. Installation of the head/filter combination is a bit more complicated than a simple filter, but can still be accomplished with little more than a pipe wrench.
- Shower head filter handles. This is a good choice for people with special needs, such as those who must shower sitting down because of mobility problems. The handles are also useful for bathing children as it allows directing the water stream, which comes in handy with the squirmy young ones. Models such as the Royale Shower Filter Hand-held retail for around $65.00. Installation requires replacing the shower head assembly, but if you’re good with plumbing work, it is a relatively simple procedure.
- Shower extension. If you’ve ever been in a resort that has the shower heads mounted overhead that washes over you like rainfall, this is the shower head filter you will want. The New Market Naturals April Slim Filter Shower Head retails for $50.00. Depending on how your shower is currently configured, installation could require professional assistance because of the possibility of having to re-route pipes.
- Ion shower head filter. With a price tag of over $300, this is one of the most expensive shower head filters on the market. If, however, the claims that the filter lasts a lifetime are true, after five years the cost will be less than other types of filters, and you won’t have the hassle of having to remove the shower head to change the filter.
Which filter is right for you?
Deciding on the right shower head water purifier is like buying a new car. There are many factors that need to be taken into consideration. If you’re satisfied with your current shower head, and only want to filter the water, the choice is relatively simple; buy the filter that suits you and install it behind the shower head. If you’re in the mood for a change, the decision becomes a bit more complicated.
Do you have special needs, such as impaired mobility, or do you want the luxury of a massage while taking your morning shower? The choices here are many, and it will depend upon your specific desires. In addition, consider your budget and time constraints. With prices ranging from $25.00 to $300.00, a wide range of budgets can be accommodated. Also consider the time you will have to spend changing the filters to ensure continued proper filtration.
What is not in doubt is the need for shower filtration. Just as you wouldn’t think of drinking water containing toxic chemicals or sediment, you shouldn’t think of washing in it either. For better health and improved appearance, a shower head water purifier is a ‘must’ on your home shopping list.