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The first step is to determine what you want the filter or treatment device to do. Do you want it mainly to remove tastes and odors? To remove contaminants, such as lead? Before you buy a filter, you may want to find out if the contaminant is a problem in your home.
Not all filters are the same. Read the packaging carefully and only purchase a filter certified by NSF/ANSI (National Science Foundation/American National Standards Institute). Here are some standards to look for:
Don't rely on the NSF/ANSI certification alone; make sure the packaging specifically lists the contaminant you wish to reduce. For example, you may find two filters that are both NSF/ANSI 53-certified, but only one of them may be certified for lead reduction.
There's a variety of filters out there. They include pour-through pitchers and carafes, faucet-mounted filters, countertop and under-sink filters, showerhead filters, and refrigerator filters.
Point-of-use filters treat water only where and when you need filtration, such as at your kitchen sink or refrigerator. Point-of-use filters are often more economical, but if you wish to treat water at multiple locations in the home, you will need to buy a filter for each location. Point-of-use filters are a good choice when you want to remove contaminants that originate in your home plumbing (such as lead).
Point-of-entry filters treat all water that enters your home. This will include your kitchen sink and refrigerator, of course, but also your toilet water, bathwater, laundry water, and in some cases water at your outside spigots. Point-of-entry filters may be more expensive, and will not address issues in the plumbing that cause problems after the filter (such as lead solder in your household pipes). If you use a point-of-entry filter that removes chlorine, it's important to keep in mind that you are removing the disinfectant in your tap water. This could lead to bacterial growth.
You can buy filters online and at hardware stores, grocery stores, and other retailers.
The NSF/ANSI Standard 177 is for showerheads that reduce free chlorine. You may have success with vitamin C showerhead filters, but these are not certified.