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The Best Shower Filter Of 2016

by Justin Thomas •

best-shower-filter

In A Nutshell

  • If you only want to remove free chlorine and other impurities from your water, I recommend getting a Sprite HOB-BN Shower Filter. This is one of the few showers filters that will remove most free chlorine from your shower.
  • 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

The Details

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.

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.

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-BN 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-BN 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 285

  1. EnK

    Contrary to the information posted here, I can’t get the Sonaki vitamin-C filter to thread onto the Sprite filter. It will only go 1 or two threads and being plastic forcing with a wrench does not seem an option. I used the teflon tape. The system works, but creates a strong leak where the two filters do not fit properly and while the water flow seems fine, I can’t live with the leak. Any solution?

  2. Iatrogenia

    According to the San Francisco Water Department in this 2013 document http://www.sfwater.org/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=4125

    “Charcoal or granular activated carbon (GAC) filter can reduce chloramine concentrations of 1 to 2 mg/L to less than 0.1 mg/L. The GAC filter may be followed by a reverse osmosis (RO) filter to remove the carbon fines. RO should not be used alone as chloramine will pass through the membrane and may damage the RO membrane elements (some RO units are resistant to chlorine and chloramine). A GAC filter will remove chloramine, allowing RO to effectively remove
    other constituents.”

    Vitamin C filters are a second method.

    1. master

      That sounds good. But I’ve heard that the speed and temperature of the shower water does not allow adequate filtration via charcoal.

    2. Lisa

      Hello:

      If you compare the S.F. Public Utility Commission’s statements regarding chloramine to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s statements regarding chloramine, you’ll find mistakes, lies and contradictions:

      (Source: http://www.chloramine.org/chloraminefacts.htm#misleadingstatements)

      “Misleading Statements from the S.F. PUC

      Contrary to SFPUC’s website (Q 18), the NSF DOES NOT certify showerhead filters for chloramine. It only certifies cold-water, low-flow filters for drinking water.

      Contrary to what the SFPUC says (Q 14), there IS a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) on monochloramine, available at http://ptcl.chem.ox.ac.uk/MSDS/CH/chloramine.html.

      The SFPUC says that chloramine DOES NOT bioaccumulate in the body (Q 39) Then it contradicts itself (Q 30). See SFPUC Questions and Answers.

      In Q 41, the SFPUC claims that chloraminated water is safe for the general public and for people with suppressed immune systems. However, since chloramine is a much weaker disinfectant, those with suppressed immune systems are at increased risk.

      In Q 31 and Q 32, the SFPUC claims chloramine does not cause dry skin, skin rashes, or asthma. Yet no studies have been done to date on the skin or respiratory effects of chloramine as used as a water disinfectant.”

  3. Pat

    Could you please set the entire recommendation up as 1,2,3. I am overwhelmed. Not sure how you use the Sprite
    plus the Vitamin C then the shower head in combination. Is there also a special plumbing attachment one must purchase. We like a good flow of water not a slow one. What to do about that? Do not care for hand held heads.
    Thank you for your kind consideration in this matter. I husband suffers from minor skin cancer and I do believe this could truly help.
    Pat

    1. master

      You can direct attach the Sprite filter to the shower stem, and then attach the Vitamin C to the Sprite. You only need a standard wrench and teflon tape to do this (the teflon tape is usually provided with the filters). This will reduce the pressure of the water. If this is a problem, the only solution is use a whole house filter. Using a low flow showerhead especially designed for low water pressure may help too.

    2. RL

      What about the Ava Water Filter the shower filter claims 99% removal of chlorine, chloramines, fluoride and other chemicals found in our shower water. Whats your opinion on this filter?

  4. Guerty

    I wonder if a Pelican filter combined with this one, that is, the Vit C filter, would do the trick.

  5. christy

    Justin,

    Further thinking into this, I guess the idea is to combine a KDF filter and Vitamin C filter. Well there seems to be no product with both filters, we are using two filters. Then, I just need to find a good shower head with a KDF filter inside and add the vitamin C filter. Right?!

  6. christy

    Justin,

    Thank you so much for the greatly helpful posting.
    Can I get both the Vitamin C filter (you recommended) and the Sprite one? I think your posting is saying yes to that question. Then the order will be vitamin C filter then Sprite one. Then I need to get a shower head attached at the end.

    Is it how you did in your picture. I just don’t see the shower head attached in your picture and I wonder whether two filters and the shower head at the end can hold altogether. In addition, I wonder which Sprite model is in your picture. It is not this one http://www.amazon.com/Sprite-HO2-WH-Output-Shower-Filter/dp/B0064I246A/ref=sr_1_5?s=hi&ie=UTF8&qid=1450804114&sr=1-5&keywords=sprite, right?

    To make matters simpler, a hand held shower head is not really necessary, although nicer.

    Many thanks for your response in advance.

  7. eg

    If I want to use a *hand-held* shower head and I’d like to do the two filter idea… what is the best recommendation?

    1) Could use my own setup (img here: https://goo.gl/XYGKtd) with

    a Sprite All Brass High Output Chrome Chlorine Removing Shower Filter like this: http://amzn.com/B000FZ2O8G
    +
    a Vita-Fresh Filter like these: http://amzn.com/B00PXP2H8U or http://amzn.com/B00KEAMG0S
    2) I was also considering a new showerhead with with the two filters above? do you have a hand-held recommendation that would work well with the two filters?
    here’s two that i just amazon-searched:
    http://amzn.com/B010GPWNE4
    http://amzn.com/B00XOLQUEW

    Other ideas?
    Alternatives for Sonaki Hand Held Shower Heads:
    Sonaki Vitamin C Lotus Showerhead: http://amzn.com/B001T4SFZI or http://amzn.com/B000YR2ANO

    1. master

      eg,

      I forgot that there was a in-line Sprite filter, so your set-up would certainly work.

      I just bought a low-flow hand-held shower head, it’s a good showerhead but it reduced the shower a little. I haven’t had experience with the other hand-held showerheads you mentioned.

      Justin

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