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The Kitchen Cabinet

Water Filters Flood the Market

September 22, 1988|MINNIE BERNARDINO | Times Staff Writer

Does your tap water still taste and smell like it should? Do you notice any off-flavors in your tea or coffee?

Highly aware and concerned about troubled drinking water, many Californians have turned to bottled water. But that option, aside from being about 1,000 times the cost of tap water, has generated some controversy in the past and has been questioned for its safety and wholesomeness.

Finding a niche in this consumer market, manufacturers are plunging into a simpler solution: countertop filtration pitcher systems. Manufacturers are targeting the homeowner who spends money on bottled waters but doesn't want to go through the initial plumbing cost of installing expensive tank filtering systems.

From West Germany

Two filter jug examples that are currently available are the portable Brita Water Filter System (from $29.95) and AquaPur from Leifheit ($40). (A third one to be shipped at a later date is the Donvier filter pitcher from Nikkal Industries.)

What is the Brita Water Filter System? Manufactured in West Germany, the unit features a small white filter cone, a reservoir that supports the filter and holds water as it passes through the filter, and a pitcher. The kit is available with either the original plastic pitcher ($29.95) or the newly introduced tempered glass pitcher ($39.95).

EPA-approved, the unique patented filter includes activated carbon and of an ion-exchange resin. Coconut or anthracitic carbon is responsible for totally removing free chlorine, clarifying water by removing turbidity associated with iron compounds that are derived from water pipes. Since it is impregnated with silver, the carbon controls bacterial growth.

Nontoxic, the ion exchange resin removes positively charged ions bound to hydrocarbonic acid such as calcium, which is responsible for temporary hardness of water. It also removes about 90% of lead and copper and considerable amounts of zinc, mercury, chromium, cadmium and others. Lead in drinking water is leached by corrosive water flowing through old lead pipes or pipe joints of copper plumbing. Lead contamination has been found to cause neurological damage to children, even in low levels of concentration.

Lasts a Month

Depending on hardness of water in your area, the Brita filter should last a month for an average family that uses from 16 to 25 gallons of water. A convenient calendar dial placed on top of the filter can be turned to indicate the month or half month in which the new filter is inserted and will indicate when it is time for a replacement filter ($7.95).

Also available from Brita is a travel filter and Aquaflor, a filter system to water plants. Filtered water makes cut flowers last longer since it is free of carbonate hardness. Cut stems stay open to allow flowers to draw water more easily, and the water in vases stays fresher longer, thus reducing the chance of stem root. One user claimed her cats turned to sweeter-tasting Brita water and shied away from unfiltered tap water when she offered them both waters in separate bowls.

Working under a similar principle is the Leifheit Aquapur, another product from West Germany. Like the Brita, the double-action water filter (with activated carbon and ion-exchange resin) removes organic pollutants and other unwanted impurities.

The unit is attractive with a removable 8-cup water jug. Water is poured into the reservoir, and the amount (from one to eight cups) of water needed to flow out into the pitcher can be controlled with the gauge control. The filter ($7) will last about a month and--like any other water filter--should be replaced promptly for effective purifying and to prevent against bacterial build-up.

The Brita Water Filter System is available at Bullock's, Robinson's and May Co.

The Leifheit Aquapur Water Filter jug is available at Cal Oaks Pharmacy, Pasadena, Chung's Home Appliance, Los Angeles, and Holiday Hardware, Reseda.

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