It’s always a good idea to start with the best ingredients you can. But what good is it to buy high quality pasta, rice or coffee if you’re going to fix them using water that tastes of chlorine, minerals or algae?
For our first couple of years living aboard, we struggled with crappy tasting water in a few locations. Sometimes we bought bottled water in gallon and two gallon jugs. Sometimes we just held our noses as we drank. Now and then we’d see a little sediment in the bottom of our drinking water jugs. We finally decided to filter the water as we filled the tank and our jugs.
For our first attempt we chose the Camco TastePURE Water Filter. KDF/Carbon, Exterior model, shown above.
What a revelation! Now it doesn’t matter if the city ups the chlorine content, or cleans the water tank, or there’s some storm event that stirs up sediment, our water always tastes good. And sediment is a thing of the past.
By and large the water supplies here in the US are monitored and protected from pollution and are perfectly safe. A water filter is not really needed under normal circumstances, in most areas of the US. But abnormal situations do crop up. Hurricanes, oil spills, mining spoils spills, flooding and overly conservative politicians opting to switch an entire city’s water supply from a polluted stream all count as abnormal.
Because I know this, I never filtered my water in our home and I resisted filtering the water for our boat for several years. What finally got me to do it wasn’t health concerns, it was taste.
For some reason, the water in marinas often has a bad taste. I don’t have any scientific data on why, but I surmise there’s something about the long runs of plastic pipes running under the docks, and the hoses we use to move the water into our tanks. You know how hose can taste – yuck. All I know for sure is that when I plugged in that Camco filter, life tasted better and smelled better, immediately.
Finding the Best Boat Water Filter
The Camco lasts for about three months, but as it gets older, the water flows through slower and slower.
Other models claim to last 6 months or one year. Of course those claims may be for occasional use of a boat or RV, rather than the full time performance we demand. And it probably also depends on the quality of the water you’re putting through the filter in the first place. So in some places the life may be shortened.
The Filter Media Inside a Water Filter
Popular filter media are activated charcoal, silver and KDF. My Camco filter uses KDF and Carbon. KDF, a replacement for the toxic and expensive silver, is a proprietary mix of copper and zinc that reacts with certain elements and chemicals, rendering them inert. For example, it changes poisonous chlorine into benign chloride. See the full explanation at KDF, How It Works.
A (Soluble) Problem with Water Filters
There is currently one major issue with even the best boat water filter … disposal. These are substantial hunks of plastic, metal, carbon and fibers that simply are not going to break down naturally. And if they did, it would probably be a bad thing. We are all trying to reduce trash right? So we need to be able to recycle our used filters into their constituent parts and reuse the materials.
So far I haven’t learned a way to recycle individual Camco filters – or any other RV/Marine exterior water filter on the market. I called my county solid waste department and learned that there is nothing in the local area. Some larger municipalities may have the facilities, but we don’t.
What is available is the TerraCycle water filter recycling program using the TerraCycle Filters Zero Waste Box. One box holds several filters for shipment back to TerraCycle for recycling. There are lots of water filters in use here in my marina, so I’m hoping we can buy one of the boxes and give it a try.
In Search of A Better Solution
Eventually we’ll probably end up installing an under the sink filter system that treats only the water we use for drinking, cooking and brushing our teeth, rather than the tank that services the whole boat. I’ll be researching and writing about those filter systems in the near future in preparation for making the change.
If we do nothing more than move the disposable filter inside and install it on a dedicated faucet we use only for drinking and cooking water, that will save at least two of the filters per year.