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Ranking the 5 Best Shower Filters for 2020

Woman holding a shower head with shower water filter

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So, you read our brief, but to the point blog about why a shower filter is a must in a health conscious home and now you’re ready to pull the trigger. But what is the best shower filter out there as we approach 2020?

Not to worry, I am here to give you the cheat sheet.

Look for NSF certification

When looking for a shower filter, check for certification by our old friends at the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF).

An NSF/ANSI 42 certification means that the filter reduces aesthetic impurities such as chlorine and taste or odor. NSF/ANSI 177 certification is for shower filters that attach directly to the pipe in front of the shower head and reduce free available chlorine.

You’ll probably notice that some shower filters mention vitamin C, which might seem a little odd. There’s good reason for this, however. Vitamin C (as sodium ascorbate or ascorbic acid) rapidly neutralizes chlorine. 1 As such, vitamin C has become quite popular with sanitation engineers who need to quickly and safely dechlorinate waste water. Many people even drop vitamin C tablets in their bath water for this same reason.

Even a little bit of chlorine residue in treated waste water can have devastating effects on local wildlife. Happily, vitamin C is not toxic to wildlife and does not lower the dissolved oxygen in water as much as sulfur-based chemicals. Ascorbic acid is mildly acidic and reacts with chlorine to form hydrochloric acid. Don’t worry, though, this has a negligible effect on the pH of the water exiting your shower head. And, if a system uses sodium ascorbate, this is neutral and does not affect the water pH.

Shower filter brand comparison

Confused? Well, to make things even easier, here’s a quick round-up of some of the best shower filter systems available.

BrandVitamin CNSF Certified
Culligan Wall-Mount Filtered ShowerheadNoYes
Raindrops Shower Head with FilterNoYes
Propur ProMax (Top Recommendation)NoYes
Berkey KDSF-HEADNoNo
OPUS Aroma Sense Aromatherapy Vitamin C HandheldYesNo

Culligan Wall-Mount Filtered Showerhead

Culligan Wall Mounted Filtered Showerhead on Amazon

This chrome-finish patented filter not only filters chlorine and sulfur, it also filters bacteria and offers five spray settings. Easy to install (without any tools needed), the Culligan is certified by NSF International against ANSI Standard 177. And, if you’re concerned about water conservation, you’ll be happy that this showerhead meets the EPA Water Sense certification standard of maximum 2.0 gallons per minute or less.

Raindrops Shower Head with Filter

Raindrops Shower Head with Filter on Amazon

If you’re looking for something a little more stylish, the Raindrops filter is a great option. This shower head has a six-step filtration system that softens hard water, removes chlorine, heavy metal, fluoride, bacteria, lead, and mercury. It may also help remove copper, iron, and other metals. This makes the Raindrops system a  good option if you have well water that turns your shower blue or red. Raindrops six-step system is certified by National Sanitation Foundation as ANSI 42. This means it can reduce aesthetic impurities such as chlorine and taste or odor.

Again, this shower filter does not require tools to install and is quick and simple to screw on. Once in place, the filter lasts for around 6 months.

Propur ProMax (Top Recommendation)

Propur ProMax on Amazon

Side note: this is the water filter brand John uses to filter his NYC shower water.

The Propur ProMax reduces or removes over 200 potential contaminants, including volatile oil compounds (VOCs), lead, fluoride, heavy metals, pesticides, DBPs, chloramines, herbicides, pharmaceuticals, and micro-organisms, among other things. How do I know? Well, this system has been independently tested and the results published online here.

Going above and beyond, the Propur ProMax is certified to NSF 53. This means it can reduce contaminants to support better health.

There are several options for this filter system, including a standard white plastic model, a chrome filter, and a wall-mounted or wand style set-up. Filter changes are recommended every 6-9 months and it’s easy to install!

Berkey KDSF-HEAD

Berkey KDSF-HEAD on Amazon

The Berkey KDSF is made by the same folks who make the countertop gravity water filters I’ve written about here. Their shower filter system is a little different, however. This filter comprises a calcium, copper, and zinc blend that causes a chemical reaction to convert chlorine into chloride. Chloride molecules are larger and can’t be absorbed by the skin.

Berkey claim that the system reduces up to 95% of chlorine, as well as reducing hydrogen sulfide, limescale, mold, algae, bacteria, and heavy metals like lead, mercury, and iron. As far as I can tell, though, it’s not been certified.  The Berkey shower head is also not quite so stylish as the countertop models, but does have mist, spray, and massage settings. You can also just buy the filter and use it with your existing shower head.

The major advantage for the Berkey shower filter is that the filters last for up to a year. This system also has a back-flow attachment you can use to flush out the filter to get rid of sediment build-up.

OPUS Aroma Sense Aromatherapy Vitamin C Handheld Shower Head

OPUS Aroma Sense Aromatherapy Vitamin C Handheld Shower Head on Amazon

A favorite with spa fans, the OPUS Aroma Sense provides chlorine and trihalomethane filtration, replenishment with vitamin C, and aromatherapy courtesy of a lemon oil cartridge. This handheld shower filter also helps you conserve water while maintaining good water pressure.

As mentioned above, vitamin C (as ascorbic acid or sodium ascorbate) can quickly neutralize chlorine. So, although this system doesn’t seem to be certified, its mechanism for chlorine removal is scientifically sound.

I’ve included this model here, despite its lack of certification chops, because it is one of the few handheld options available. If you’re going for a wall-mounted filter, I’d strongly suggest choosing the Propur ProMax, Raindrops, or Culligan over the OPUS, however. You should also note that the cartridges on the handheld system need to be changed very 30-45 days and the wall-mounted version needs changing every 60-90 days.

Closing thoughts

Still thought of by many as “overkill,” shower filters are an important part of a healthy home. If you like a brand we haven’t mentioned, please send us a contact form submission with the model you’d like reviewed.

Leigh Matthews

Leigh Matthews, BA Hons, H.Dip. NT, is a health and wellness writer for Gene Food specializing in plant-based nutrition. Read her full bio here.

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