The Best Shower Filter Of 2014

The Best Shower Filters Of 2013

In A Nutshell

Almost all popular shower filters available today only remove 20%-80% of free chlorine (not total combined chlorine) from your shower. This includes shower filters that are certified by the NSF #177 Standard — unfortunately this standard only indicates that a filter will remove 50% of free chlorine in the water.

Also, many cities now treat water with chloramines instead of chlorine. There are no conventional shower filters that will remove more than a small amount of chloramines from your shower water. The only way to remove chloramines is to use a Vitamin-C based shower filter which are only made in Korea and Japan.

Here are my recommendations:

  1. If you only want to remove free chlorine and other impurities from your water, I recommend getting a Sprite HOB-CM Brass Shower Filter. This is one of the few showers filters that will remove most free chlorine from your shower.
  2. If you want to remove both chloramines and chlorine from your shower, I recommend a vitamin-C based shower filter, like the Sonaki In-Line Filter

For optimal filtration, I recommend a Sprite filter followed by a Sonaki In-Line Filter. See my set-up for example:

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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. Carbon filters, which are normally excellent at remove chlorine, cannot handle the volume and heat of shower water.

Because of these problems, most shower filter makers rely on a metallic medium called KDF. Shower filter sellers typically show impressive charts that demonstrate long-term removal of chlorine. However, if you read the tests carefully, you’ll see that they apply to “free chorine” (chlorine that has not combined with other constituents in water), and the unfortunate reality is that KDF-filters have little effect on “total chlorine” (combined chlorine), which is the form in which chlorine exists in most tap water. In fact, chlorine is often added at the water plant as a blend with ammonia called “chloramine.” KDF is not effective at removing chloramine or combined chlorine in general.

Here are the details on my recommended shower filters:

Vitamin C Shower Filter

Vitamin C shower filters are very effective in removing chlorine and 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 chloramines are 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 chloramines effectively 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.

My recommendation for a Vitamin C showerhead is the Sonaki In-Line Filter

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.

Refills for the Sonaki filters are priced at $50 for 5 filters. You can buy them at Amazon or directly from Sonaki.

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 pretty good 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.

You can get the Sprite HOB-CM Brass Shower Filter on Amazon for around $51.

See also my review of low-flow shower heads – these shower heads can be used in conjunction with these filters.

Comments

  1. amy says

    Thanks for the excellent article! I have tried a Sprite with no noticeable results. I had my water tested and there are chloroform and other THMM, which I know Vitamin C won’t help with. My water system doesn’t use chlorine, but chloramine. I also think I have hard water. Since the KDF alone (in the Sprite) didn’t work for me, I am considering an Aquasana, with both KDF and carbon, or a WaterChef with something called thermal guard catalytic carbon. Do you know if either of these carbon options might be effective? Thank you.

    • master says

      Amy,

      Thanks for the feedback. To remove chloramines, the Vitamina C filters are the way to gone, because they’ll remove 90-100% of the chloramines.

      It is difficult to remove those other contaminants at the showerhead because the water is (usually) hot and moving fast. The filters you mentioned might remove some of the contaminants at the shower, but the best solution would be a whole house filter.

      • Rachael says

        Amy, I too, am in the shower head filter search for my home. I have found many bad reviews (more than any other company) on products and customer service with Aquasana. I have done some homework on the Vit C filter and am sure that’s the way to go. …Now I just have to find a good on the counter water filter for my kitchen sink :)

        • Julia says

          Try Berkey for your counter water filter – I love my Berkey water filter! I have the black elements plus the fluoride filters. I have been using these for about 2 years and it is looking to be a good 9/3 years more, respectively, before I need to replace either.

  2. Joseph says

    Hello, I am convinced the water we get is causing our skin issues. After we moved in to our home my 3 month old son son gets really bad skin reaction after shower. I am definitely going to try a shower head filter. My 8 year old son is the same way but not as bad as the 3 month old, my 8 year old son hands are also really bumpy and itch, I am convinced it is the water. What would be a good choice for under sink filter for the restroom that would be used mainly for washing hands? Thank you

  3. Gillian says

    Hello!
    Thank you very much for providing all of us with solutions to get non-contaminated water. I just purchased the Sprite HOB-CM high output shower filter and the Sonaki Vitamin hand shower set for my shower and the Crystal Quest bath water filter for my bath tub…my skin is less itchy and dry and I do not smell that horrible chlorine smell. So, thank you! Question: do you know if the EPA or any other organization provides kits to test your water? I want to share this info about the filters with my friends but some of them are so skeptical…they don’t seem to notice the chlorine!!! But I thought if I could prove it to them they may see the light and make the switch :)

  4. C says

    For those of you who use the Vitamin C shower filters – Have u actually conducted any water testing to confirm effectiveness in removing Chloramines?

    Also, here’s an idea that I wonder if anyone here has considered (and/or researched). If you have, please share your findings…

    With so many shower filtration methods that address chloramines claiming that they do NOT work in warm/hot temperatures, NOR in showerheads (since it can take around 30 minutes of contact time to be effective), and with the incredibly high price/maintence of whole house systems, I can’t help but wonder about the feasibility of using portable shower systems with a reservoir that can
    (a) either warm up the water in it, or allow someone to pour hot or boiling water in it to warm up the water;
    (b) allow the user to either connect multiple resorvoirs to it, and/or see if the water is about to run out while it’s in use, ideally with an easy refill method before it runs out; and
    (c) include a resorvoir that’s made of Glass or BPA free plastic?

    I’m envisioning the use of countertop / sink chloramine filter (cheaper than whole house) to collect room temperature water (more effective against chloramine removal than warm/hot) being added into the reservoir of the portable shower, with a certain amt of the water boiled to the water warm it up (probably safer than using a temp controlled portable shower system indoors, I’m guessing).

    The need of a Vitamin C tablet in the water reservoir of the portable shower would depend on the effectiveness of the countertop chloramine filter (after water testing before/after). Also, something to keep in mind about the Vitamin C is that most ascorbic acids used for Vitamin C come from GMO sources (Corn or Beets…GMO means genetically modified organisms…very dangerous…look it up)

    Again, if anyone has done any water testing on the Vitamin C filters to confirm it’s effectiveness, please let us know.

    Need to know ASAP, please. Thanks!

    • C says

      Correction: In my previous comment, I stated
      “I’m envisioning the use of countertop / sink chloramine filter (cheaper than whole house) to collect room temperature water (more effective against chloramine removal than warm/hot) being added into …”

      Should actually read
      “I’m envisioning the use of countertop / sink chloramine filter (cheaper than whole house) to collect room temperature water (more effective against chloramine removal than warm/hot), or buying large containers of natural spring water (guaranteed to be chloramine-free) being added into…”

  5. C says

    Correction: In my previous comment, I stated
    “I’m envisioning the use of countertop / sink chloramine filter (cheaper than whole house) to collect room temperature water (more effective against chloramine removal than warm/hot) being added into …”

    Should actually read
    “I’m envisioning the use of countertop / sink chloramine filter (cheaper than whole house) to collect room temperature water (more effective against chloramine removal than warm/hot), or buying large containers of natural spring water (guaranteed to be chloramine-free) being added into…”

    • Harriet Gilman says

      I’ve been researching the subject. Vitamin C only goes so far in removing chloramine. It actually leaves you with free ammonia. No thanks. The best solution I found is to use the same substance that we use to protect our aquarium fish from death by tapwater. It is called sodium hydroximethanosulfate. You can buy it in the pet store, in the section where they keep fish-keeping supplies. A couple of trade names are Amquel and ClorAm-X. One tsp. removes all chlorine and all ammonia from 10 gallons of water. The byproduct is a small amount of nitrate/nitrite.
      I knew this works great for the fish in our aquarium, but I was cautious about other applications for it. Well the day came when I was out of bottled spring water and needed to make up a fresh batch of sourdough. I also needed to replenish my kombucha culture. My husband suggested treating some tap water with Amquel. That sounded kind of scary but I tried it. It worked perfectly for both cultures. Having proven that Amquel dechloraminates my Dallas tap water well enough to keep my aquarium fish, my sourdough starter, and my wonderful kombucha tea culture alive — I cautiously washed my hair with it and took a bath with it. Wow! It’s great!
      It’s inconvenient to haul a bucket of warm, treated water into my shower stall or bathtub, but the results for my skin and hair are worth it.
      You will have to do your own research and decide if you want to try this. Nowhere do I find official statements saying it’s perfectly safe for people to drink water treated with sodium hydroxymethanosulfate. But the FDA definitely approves the use of this chemical in the water of fish that you are about to eat. All of thus evidence is enough for me.

      One more possibility is the use of “Campden tablets”. People who brew beer at home use these to treat chloraminated tapwater for use in brewing. There are two different variants in these tablets. Go ahead and read about it on homebrew websites if you’re interested. I understand that the only by-product is sulfite, which is perfectly safe.

      The following link takes you to a site that I have found very helpful in my research:
      http://www.iuhoakland.com/Chloramine.pdf

      • master says

        As I’ve pointed out numerous times in this thread, there is only a trace amount of ammonia produced the ascorbic acid reaction. Moreover, there is no other equivalent product that can be used in shower filters.

  6. Ula says

    What aobut our GMO concerns? Almost all Vitamic C is produced from GMO corn so what would be a better alternative for filtration of chloramine and chlorine?

    • master says

      True, ideally the vitamin C would be organically produced in America, and the filters would be made without plastics, but all I’ve ever found are the Korean vitamin C showerheads. If someone can show me better filter that can remove 99% of chloramines from the water, I’d be all for it.

  7. jlleetn says

    I’ve tried both the Vitashower and the Neutra-C shower filter. The Vitashower leaked despite tightening as much as I could. When I tested the water that was filtered through the Neutra-C, it showed no detectible chlorine (both free and total). However, the filter was used up within three days, which is ridiculous.

    • master says

      The Vitashower quality control could be better, but it’s the best option out there for chloramine removal. I’d suggest send it back to Amazon or the retailer you purchased it from. I don’t recommend the Neutra-C.

  8. Lilly says

    Has anybody tried the Pelican Water Systems handheld? http://www.pelicanwater.com. I am curious to see how it compares to the Sonaki and the Sprite and the vita shower. I am new to researching this subject. I live in Los Angles in an apartmet building and the water is absolutely horrible. The daily build up and residue in my shower alone is so disgusting I can only imagine what it is doing to my health. They all sound great SMH….

    I just want to know what system or 2 systems even would be the best for my skin and hair. The pelican water system sounded good, but is it just another gimic? Please share your thoughts, I would love a simple straight answer as to which one or 2 to buy, as I do not own the unit and cant have a filtration system installed.
    Thank you for the help!

  9. ekkle says

    If I purchase the UV Water Purifier whole house filter will I need a drinking water filter such as Berkeley or New Wave Enviro 10 as mentioned in another post? I am trying to go green so bear with my elementary question.

    • master says

      No problem! UV purifier will only kill micro-organisms. You’d still want another filter to remove heavy metals, pesticides and chlorination by-products.

  10. Niki says

    My question has to do with what you said previously in the article…..”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.” If you use two different filters together like you said here…..how do they install or work together? Do you install sprite filter first and then sonaki? Would you possibly have a picture of how it would look all together? Thank you!

    • master says

      I did take a picture of the set-up, but I don’t have it handy unfortunately. I’ll take a new photo and post it soon.

      Update: A photo now appears in the article.

      What you do is install the Sprite filter as usual on the shower spigot. Then, instead of attaching your your showerhead to the Sprite filter, you instead install the Vitamin C shower filter where the showerhead would attach. After doing this, you install your showerhead onto the Vitamin C filter.

  11. Peter says

    Is there any way to add vitamin C powder to the Sonaki (or Neutra C) replacement cartridges? From reading reviews they don’t seem to last very long. I thought there might be a way to simply replenish the empty cartridge with your own vitamin C powder.

    • master says

      I’m not aware of an easy method of doing that. I too would like to find one. My cartridges usually last a couple months.

      • Peter says

        Are your cartridges filled with powder? There must be a way of getting more powder into the cartridge. Also, you mentioned you wouldn’t recommend the Neutra C filters, could you elaborate on why not? Thanks.

        • master says

          It’s a sealed plastic cartridge. Not sure how you get the powder in there. I’ve heard that the Neutra-C cartridge dissolve even faster than the Sonaki. However, I haven’t tested them myself.

          • Peter says

            Ok, thanks. That’s weird. If the cartridge is sealed, then how does the water make contact with the powder?

            There are few sources of vitamin C filters here in Canada. I would have to purchase anything from the US and this becomes cost prohibitive with shipping fees and exchange rates, especially if I have to replace the filters every couple of months. The Vitashower is available here. However, after reading Amazon reviews of the new revised Vitashower model (SF 2000) there seems to be just as many complaints about it. I am still looking for a cost effective solution for a Vitamin C filter.

          • master says

            There’s a mechanism that rotates when the water flows, and allows the water to go in. Believe me, if there was a way to get the powder if there, I’d fill up the cartridge.

            Let me know if you find better Vitamin-C filter.

  12. Anastasia Walsh says

    I live in the city of Asheville, where water is treated with sodium hydroxide hypochloride. I think that’s bleach. Will I need both the Sprite and Vitamin C filters? Are chloramines produced? What do you think of Mercola’s shower filter? He claims it also reduces other contaminants, like heavy metals. Thanks in advance!

    Anastasia

    • master says

      Both filters would be best in that case. The Sprite filter is better than most for removing contaminants. However, the amount of heavy metals that any shower filter can remove is minimal unfortunately — the water is moving too fast, and it’s usually too hot to filter correctly. I’d guess that Merola’s is similar to the Sprite at best.

  13. Anastasia Walsh says

    So the vitamin C filter link connects me to the SF-2000 version of the filter, which is not see-through, like the one you use. I guess Amazon is out of the one you recommend. Any experience with the SF-2000?

    Thanks!

    Anastasia

    • master says

      Yes, the in-line filter has been unavailable for a couple years now. I’ve tried the SF-2000 and worked fine for me, but apparently many of the units are defective. Also, it’s a bit wasteful since you can’t refill it.

        • master says

          Thanks for letting me know about Sante — many shower filter companies are defensive about their claims — they are relucant to even reveal the percentage of contaminants removed. The “Ugly Shower Filter” looks interesting because it uses activated carbon instead of KDF, but my understanding is that even activated carbon usually requires a slow flow rate to be effective. Carbon is better suited to countertop filters, where the water essentially drips through the filter — see my article for more info: http://www.reactual.com/home-and-garden/kitchen-products-2/best-countertop-water-filter.html

          • veritasca says

            Thanks, I sent an email to the “Ugly Shower Filter” person with the point that you made about the effectiveness of the carbon filter with a fast flow rate. Let’s see what the response will be.

  14. vc says

    I read people are only getting about 1 month out of filters claiming to last like 3 months and that it’s costing them hundreds per year for filters. Some are just drilling holes in the fitters after they’re empty, refilling with vitamin C powder and plugging the hole with a 20 cent hardware store rubber stopper. Can I just use any pharmaceutical-grade vitamin C powder and do this?

    • master says

      If you are willing to do that, I think it would probably work. I use pharmaceutical-grade vitamin C powder in the bath, and it looks similar to the Vitamina C in the filter (but it is densely packed in the filter).

      Justin

  15. vc says

    Thanks for the reply.

    Anyone happen to chlorine & chloramine test these random bottled pharmaceutical-grade Vitamin C powders?

      • vc says

        Yeah, that’s a good article you linked, bookmarked it the other day while doing all this research, knew finding a shower filter wasn’t going to take only 5 minutes.

        You seem to have hit the nail on the head with the Sprite HOC plus a vitamin C filter being the best one can do for filtering showers. Would be nice to filter out all the VOCs but those filters apparently don’t really work with hot and pressured shower water.

        I’m buying a couple pounds of Ascorbic Acid Vitamin C Powder Pharmaceutical grade for like $15 shipped and hoping to refill the cartridges for something like a Sokani or whichever unit I find to have the least problems with leaking etc plus various high pressured spray settings.

        This is a fairly new market, so hopefully the products get better and the filters lower in price (if just drilling a hole and plugging it with a rubber stopper like I plan to doesn’t work out).

        The lowest price I’ve found for a handle head unit and Vitamin C refills is the ION SPA on eBay
        http://www.ebay.com/itm/Healthy-High-Pressure-Filter-Water-Ionizer-ION-SPA-VITAMIN-C-Shower-Head-Blue-/291078146870?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item43c59c0b36

        It uses a gel glob of Vitamin C, but I don’t really trust the design with the vitamin C being in the head – it seems more prone for the water to escape around the vitamin C as it shrinks – seems like these units were originally just made to add things like aroma to a shower. Either way, I’ll just buy the powder separately, drill, and refill something like a Sonaki.

        Thanks.

  16. KC says

    No shower filter on the market can remove chloramine. Just because the manufacturer says it on the website doesn’t make it true. Ask for independent lab testing from them if they say they do.

    This comes directly from the WQA (Water Quality Association), they test and certify filters to NSF standards, “Chloramines can be removed from water with very low flow rates (5 to 10 minutes contact time) through shell-base activated carbon, followed by mineral zeolite media for residual ammonia adsorption.” Here is where its from. http://wqa.org/sitelogic.cfm?ID=348

    Vitamin C is a decent form of filtering but just like aspirin dissolves in water so does the Vitamin C. You would be lucky to get even 1000 gallons of quality filtration from a Vitamin C shower filter.

    I personally use Rainshow’r shower filters for taking out the chlorine at my house. They actually have test results showing 90% free chlorine removal. http://rainshowermfg.com/

    • master says

      KC,

      You contradict yourself by saying no shower filter can remove chloramines, and then acknowledge that Vitamin C filters can do just that. The Vitamin C tends to run out quickly, but it’s the best solution I’ve found. For $5 a month, it works for me.

      I’m sure the Rainshow’r filter is a decent filter, but the Sprite filter I recommend is certified by the NSF to remove chlorine.

      Justin

      • KC says

        If you re-read what I wrote I said its a decent form of filtration. No where did I say it was decent at removing chloramine.

        The Rainshow’r filters are WQA certified to NSF Standard 177 for chlorine removal at a higher removal percentage for less than the Sprite.

        • master says

          Please, re-read my comment, and you’ll see that nowhere did I indicate that you said the Rainshow’r filter removes chlroamines.

          However, your statements seemed to imply that my recommendations were flawed, which they are not. The Vitamin C filters remove 90-99% of chloramines in shower water. They are not certified, but as my article points out — using ascorbic acid is an established method of removing chloramines from water.

          The Sprite filter is certified to NSF standard 177 — and this certifies that a filter will remove “at least 50% of free chlorine” in the water — so a filter can’t be certified by NSF to remove more than that. If the Rainshow’r filter is also certified to that standard, that’s great.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Vitamin C shower filters may be a good choice for those looking for an inexpensive way to reduce the chloramine (and chlorine) content of their showers. Vitamin C is an effective dechlorination agent, removing up to 99% of chlorine and chloramine, and vitamin C filters are much less expensive than the whole house filter featured above. The disadvantage to using them is they’re not as durable or effective as a whole house filtration system, and you would need a separate filter for each shower outlet in the house. [...]

  2. [...] Vitamin C shower filters may be a good choice for those looking for an inexpensive way to reduce the chloramine (and chlorine) content of their showers. Vitamin C is an effective dechlorination agent, removing up to 99% of chlorine and chloramine, and vitamin C filters are much less expensive than the whole house filter featured above. The disadvantage to using them is they’re not as durable or effective as a whole house filtration system, and you would need a separate filter for each shower outlet in the house. [...]

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