In A Nutshell
- Overall, the best option is to get a whole house filter, if your budget allows it. A whole house filter costs $600-$1200 plus installation.
- If you want to remove both chloramines and chlorine from your shower, I recommend getting a handheld version of the Sonaki showerhead.
- If you don’t want a handheld showerhead, your best option is to get a Vitashower SF-1. The quality of this filter isn’t great, but it is currently the only in-line chloramine-removing filter available.
- If you only need to remove only free chlorine and other impurities from your water, I recommend getting a Sprite HOB-CM Brass Shower Filter, which is NSF Certified to standard #177 for shower filtration. You can also use both filters in tandem on one shower head (I do this myself).
I’ve been reviewing the best shower filters on MetaEfficient for about six years. It appears that there are no other independent reviewers of shower filters posting online. The only review sites I’ve seen are those like WaterFilterComparisons.Com which is run by an Aquasana filter supplier (as mentioned on their About Us page).
Personally, I would recommend a Sprite filter followed by a Vitashower SF-1. Unfortunately, the build quality of the Vitashower SF-1 is not good, but it is the only in-line Vitamin C filter available currently. You could also opt for a Sprite filter followed by a handheld version of the Sonaki showerhead.
Why Filter Your Shower?
Because your skin absorbs substances while showering. Typically, 60% of the chlorine that most people absorb daily comes from showering in chlorinated water. Chlorine damages your hair and skin – you can read about the hazards of showering in chlorinated water here. Shower water also contains things like heavy metals and VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Ideally, all these things should all be filtered out, but filtering water at the shower head is problematic, because the water is typically hot and under high pressure, making filtration difficult. So realistically, you can only hope to filter the chlorine and low percentage of the other contaminants from your shower water.
Here are the details on my recommended shower filters:
Vitamin C Shower Filter
Vitamin C shower filters remove 99% of free chlorine and 99% of chloramines from shower water. Chloramine or NH2Cl (a combination of chlorine and ammonia) is now commonly being used in place of chlorine for disinfection, but chloramine is not easily removed from water. Carbon filters are virtually useless in showers, because they do not work when the water is warm, and they also get clogged fairly quickly. KDF filters also don’t perform well in hot water, and they don’t remove chloramines. However, Vitamin C filters can remove 99% of the chloramines from water. To back this up, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission now states on their website that only Vitamin C can be used to remove chlormaines from municipal water. Here is the quote from the Commission:
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) has recently been included in AWWA Standard (AWWA, 2005b) as one of the methods for dechlorination of disinfected water mains. SFPUC and other utilities have used Vitamin C for dechlorination prior to environmental discharges of chlorinated and chloraminated water. Since ascorbic acid is weakly acidic, the pH of water may decrease slightly (Tikkanen et al., 2001). Ascorbic acid has been used for a long time as one of the dechlorinating agents for preservation of chlorinated or chloraminated water samples for laboratory analysis.
The full document can be found here.
Vitamin C filters are simple in design — they contain a solid block of Vitamin C (ascorbic acid), and water runs through the filter and comes into contact with the Vitamin C. The Vitamin C neutralizes about 99% of the chlorine and chloramines in the water, and their effectiveness does not diminish until the Vitamin C is completely used up.
Previously, my recommendation for a Vitamin C showerhead was the Sonaki VitaMax Vitamin C In-Line Filter, but this product has been discontinued. There are two similar filters on the market — the handheld version of the Sonaki showerhead, and the Vitashower SF-1 (which is great if you get a non-defective unit).
The filters last about 2-4 months before they need replacing, depending on how many showers you take. The filter is transparent, so you can see when the Vitamin C has run out.
Sprite HOB-CM Brass Shower Filter
If you are just interested in removing free chlorine and sediment from your water, my recommendation is to use a Sprite HOB-CM Brass Shower Filter. This filter is NSF Certified to standard #177 for shower filtration. It removes most free chlorine and some combined chlorine, sediment, hydrogen sulfide, iron oxide. Besides the fact that it does not remove chloramines, this is a quality filter, and it is constructed with brass instead of the usual plastic.
The filter comes with a one year warranty, it is rated to filter 20,000 gallons or last 12 months, which ever comes first. It should be flipped half-way through the year. If the O-ring on the filter breaks, Sprite will replace it for free.
See also my review of low-flow shower heads – these shower heads can be used in conjunction with these filters.