What Does a Shower Filter Do?

by Hannah Stephens
water from a showerhead

Shower filters are a growing trend, and hairstylists sometimes recommend installing a filter to prevent dryness.

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However, it can be hard to tell if shower filters are worth the hype. Here’s what to know.

What Is a Shower Filter?

Shower filters work like the regular water filters many people use to purify tap water. They remove certain chemicals from the water that can otherwise cause skin irritation and hair dryness in some people. You may also find using a shower filter prevents flare-ups of certain skin conditions, such as acne and eczema.

Installing a shower filter is relatively easy. All you need to do is unscrew the showerhead, peel off the plumber's tape and insert the filter into the supply tube. Apply fresh tape and run the water for a couple of minutes before reattaching the showerhead.

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How Do Showerhead Filters Work?

Filtration media vary between shower filter brands, but many models contain KDF because it works effectively at higher temperatures. KDF is a type of zinc alloy that reacts with chlorine and heavy metals to transform them into harmless substances. Water from the mains supply passes through the filtration media, removing potential irritants before they leave the showerhead.

What Can They Filter Out?

Most showerhead filters remove chlorine and heavy metals, such as copper, iron and lead. They convert chlorine into chloride, a substance without negative effects on the skin and hair. Filters containing KDF also have antibacterial properties and can prevent algae from accumulating inside the showerhead.

Some people dislike the smell of chlorine on their hair and skin, while others find the odor virtually undetectable. If you're sensitive to the scent, installing a shower filter can give your water a fresher aroma.

Generally, shower filters can't remove chloramines. However, more expensive vitamin C filters can reduce chloramines in the water by neutralizing them with ascorbic acid. These filters are usually significantly costlier than regular KDF models.

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Are Shower Filters Worth the Cost?

Most shower filters cost $100 (CAD 133) or less, and you can purchase replacement cartridges for between $40 and $60 (CAD 53 and CAD 80). Generally, you should replace the cartridge every six months, although you may need to replace it more often if you shower more frequently than average. Each brand has its own guidelines for how much water a cartridge can treat, so you should defer to your manufacturer's instructions.

Purchasing multipacks of cartridges is often cheaper because you'll usually get a discount per unit. However, whether it's worth the cost depends on your health needs. If you have a skin condition exacerbated by chlorine, a shower filter could be a worthwhile investment. You should check that any filter you're considering removes the substance irritating your skin and read user reviews to help you select a quality product.

Shower filters can't remove every impurity from the water. Therefore, they may not be worth the cost unless you experience adverse effects from washing with your regular water supply.

All CAD conversions are based on the exchange rate on the date of publication.

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