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Though the water coming from your tap or shower may look fresh and safe, there’s a 95% chance that it’s hard water. This term refers to water with a high mineral content, typically dissolved calcium and magnesium ions. As groundwater percolates through rocks enriched with soluble mineral salts, it acquires minerals. The white spots and scum you see on your showerhead is nothing but the sulfate or chloride salts of calcium. These dissolved minerals and other chemicals in water can be difficult to wash away off the hair and skin, causing dry, dull and lifeless looking skin and hair.
One of the most effective ways to fight hard water is with a shower filter. A shower filter changes hard water into soft water on demand, acting as a water softener. The improved water has a noticeable impact on the skin, preserving natural moisturizing oils while hair becomes softer and healthier.
Because of the huge variety of showerheads on the market under different brand names, selecting the right one for your home can prove difficult. Here we’ve selected the top best shower filters for hard water, with some of our criteria being performance, capacity, quality, price and customer satisfaction. Here are the top 10 best shower filters for hard water to help you make an informed decision.
AquaBliss Shower Filter Without Shower Head
- Multi-stage filtration process
- Mineral infusion layer enhances your water
- Easy installation
- No chemicals added
- Does not effectively remove chlorine
- Does not include shower head
When it comes to best shower filters, the AquaBliss filter is one of the most popular and effective products in the market. It uses a multi-stage filtration process with propriety sediment filters that include sand, stainless mesh, and micro-porous cotton. These not only capture large sediments and limescale but also removes turpitudes and dust from water.
What we liked best is that unlike other water filters that use activated carbon only, the AquaBliss’s shower cartridge has a 3-stage impurity removal process that uses calcium sulfite, redox media, and activated carbon to remove all chlorine, impurities, and THMs from water even if it’s hot. The filtration process doesn’t end here – the ceramic shower filter also balances the pH levels and removes odor from the water. The filter also features a revitalization zone with far-infrared, zeolite, vitamin C, tourmaline, and magnetic energy to infuse beneficial minerals and vitamins into the water.
Users of AquaBliss have reported noticeable improvement in hair, nails, and skin conditions after installing the filter. Plus, installation is simple and easy without requiring any tools. Note that the filter comes without a shower head but has been designed to work with any type of shower head including fixed and handheld.
Aqua Home Group Filter Shower Head
- 15-stage filtration
- Vitamin E and C ceramic balls cartridge
- Reduces a wide range of contaminants, including chlorine
- Luxury chrome finish
- Easy DIY installation
- No pressure adjustment
This shower head from the Aqua Home Group stands out with its sleek and stylish design. What we like most about this shower head is that not only is it made of premium-quality metal but it also comes with a built-in 15 stage filtration system that works to get rid off most of the contaminants in your water. It significantly reduces all sediments, carbonates, rust, iron, ammonia, TDS and chlorine.
The lifespan of the cartridge is 6 months which is impressive considering the amount of water that will be filtered daily. However, note that this is just a guideline as the actual lifespan of the filter would depend on the quality of the feed water in your area and the amount of usage.
Installation is easy and can be done with minimal expertise. The water flow is excellent with very good pressure for showering. However, there is no pressure adjustment option and the unit only has one spray setting. Also note that the set comes with a shower head ready to install and will likely not work with your existing shower head.
PureAction Water Softener Shower Head
- Softens hard water
- 2-stage filtration process
- Three spray settings
- Two replacement cartridges included
- No instruction manual
The PureAction shower head is an excellent filter to soften water, making it a handy filter to have. This budget-friendly shower head uses a 2-stage filter cartridge that eliminates water hardness by filtering calcium salts from water as well as reduces chlorine, fluoride, and other heavy metals. Because of the complex filtering process, the Pure Action filter also balances the pH level, giving you water that’s beneficial for your skin and hair.
The Pure Action shower filter saves water without compromising on the pressure or flow with their micro-nozzle technology. It is very easy to install to your existing wall-mounted shower. It comes with three spray settings (rain, power rain and massage) giving you more options. The lifespan of the filter is an impressive 6 months but it also comes with two additional replacement cartridges.
Dewifier Shower Water Softener
- Universal compatibility
- Multi-stage filtration
- Water test kit provided
- Easy to install
- Doesn’t come with shower head
- Doesn’t remove all calcium
The Dewifier shower water softener is a filter that’s designed to work with hard water. What makes the Dewifier so efficient is it’s combination of filtration methods including KDF 55, coconut activated carbon, ceramic balls and resin. It targets the removal of chlorine, chloramine, fluoride and TDS, resulting in water that’s refreshing and good for the skin and hair.
This is one of the only filters that comes with a water test kit, with instructions on how to use the test kit before and after the Dewifier filter. It’s nice to see a company stand behind their product to the point that they welcome testing and analysis.
Note that the Dewifier doesn’t come with a showerhead, but is instead designed to attach to your shower arm, with universal compatibility. What’s more, it’s versatile enough to work with any type of shower head, including handheld and fixed. The Dewifier is easy to install with no extra tools needed.
Culligan Filtered Shower Head
4 used from $30.42
- NSF certified
- 5 spray settings
- Easy installation
- Chlorine-free water
- Only for wall mounted showers
The Culligan shower head is one of the most popular options as it’s the perfect balance of efficiency and value. It only works with wall-mounted showers, so this isn’t for you if you’re looking for a handheld shower.
The Culligan features a cartridge which targets sulfur odor, chlorine and scale from water to give you healthy water for showering. The rubber nozzle is built to prevent clogging and bacteria growth, which keeps water hygienic and clean. What’s best about this shower head is its five different spray settings that you can set according to your showering needs ranging from full-spray to invigorating pulse.
The flow rate is restricted to a maximum of 2.0 GPM. However, if the flow rate is not adequate, the flow rate restrictor located inside the shower head’s swivel joint can be removed for faster flow.
The 10, 000 gallons capacity lets you have clean water for about 6 months, depending on your usage. After that, you will have to change the filter cartridge for efficient filtration. You won’t require tools to install this Culligan shower head; all you have to do is remove the existing shower head to attach this one.
Aquasana Water Filter System
6 used from $40.84
- 2-stage filtration
- Stylish up-flow design
- 99% chlorine removal
- Multiple massage settings
- NSF certified
- Does not significantly reduce TDS
The Aquasana shower filter system comes with an adjustable showerhead, standing out with its clean, stylish design. The filter’s up-flow design makes it unique from other shower filters on the market. This not only prevents clogging and media channeling but also retains water pressure and shower head height. Since it has an up-flow filter, the contact time between water and the filtering process is increased, enhancing the removal of contaminants.
We also liked that the filter system comes with a premium massage shower head with multiple massage settings to customize your showering experience.
The lifespan of the filter is impressive, with a 10,000 gallons capacity. Depending on how much water you use, this could mean a change every six to 12 months to keep the shower flowing with clean water. However, note that this system doesn’t remove TDS and will not soften water although it enhances the water for an improved showering experience.
Pelican Shower Water Filter
- Long filter life – 15,000 gallons
- Certified to remove 96% chlorine
- Easy installation
- 3-stage filtration
- Dual-flow switch
- Replacement filters are costly
- Scent bar contains chemicals
The Pelican shower filter system filters an impressive 15,000 gallons which is more than the capacity of most filters on the market. This means a longer filter life and lower ongoing expenses.
This filter has a 3-stage filtration cartridge – 1 stage of copper and zinc oxidation media, 2 stages of GAC, and the last stage of Far-infrared balls. These layers effectively reduce chloramines, iron, sediments, dirt and by-products. It’s certified to remove up to 96% of chlorine and completely removes unpleasant odors from your water.
A stand out features is it’s beautiful design, with a sleek chrome or white finish. Plus, it features a dual-flow showerhead where you can switch between water conservation and higher flow without reducing water pressure.
Its additional feature includes the presence of an aromatherapy refreshing scent bar and a convenient handy accessory clip which is completely optional. However, we wouldn’t recommend using the scent bar as it’s made of synthetic chemicals – which defeats the purpose of having a filter in the first place.
FEELSO Shower Head With Filter
- 15-stage filtration
- Adjustable swivel ball joint
- 5 spray settings
- Great pressure
- Easy installation
- Softens water
- Plastic construction
The FEELSO shower head is another budget-friendly optio but this low cost doesn’t reflect on its efficiency. The unit comes with a patented 15 stage filtration system, which effectively reduces contaminants and disinfecting water as well. The shower head also works to soften hard water. While it doesn’t completely soften the water, it reduces the mineral content to a noticeable level so you’re skin and hair is likely to feel less dry after a shower. You’ll also notice that the water smells better and feels different.
One stand out feature of this model is that the shower head can be rotated towards your desired direction with the 360 ̊swivel ball joint. Moreover, the showerhead offers you 5 spray modes by rotating the small handle, which means that you can adjust the shower settings to suit your preferences. The unit also maintains water pressure and doesn’t seem to affect flow.
When it comes to mounting the shower filter, installation is simple and tools-free. Anyone can do it with a little commonsense.
Miniwell Shower Head Filter
- 13,000 gallons filter capacity
- 3-stage filtration
- Cartridge replacement reminder
- Visual window to check on the filter state
- Water-saving valve if required
- Little TDS reduction
- Replacement cartridge’s can be difficult to find
The Miniwell showerhead filter is a less expensive shower filter model that improves the quality of your water without needing to spend a lot of money.
The shower uses a proprietary technology that has 6 times more absorption rate than the traditional GAC filter. It features a 3-stage filtration process that works to remove rust, sand, sediments, pesticides, bacteria and other harmful contaminants. In terms of chlorine, which is most people’s issue with shower water, the Miniwell removes up to 99%. This results in water that smells and feels good.
However, this doesn’t mean that water flow or pressure is reduced and the filter works at a rate of 2.0 GPM. If you want to save water, you can use the water saving valve when installing, which reduces water pressure without affecting the shower experience too much.
One feature the Miniwell shower filter has is a a cartridge replacement reminder on the shower which indicates when to replace the cartridge. This means that you won’t have a lot of doubt when to replace the filter, because the unit tells you this information. Another stand out feature is the visual window which lets you see the state of the filter without needing to take the unit part.
One thing to note is that while the system removes most contaminants in water, it doesn’t soften water. While it effectively improves water for a better showering experience, there may be TDS in your water even with filtration.
Vitamin C Filter Shower Head
- Multi-stage filtration
- Aromatherapy replaceable filters
- 60’’ shower hose
- Easy installation
- No spray settings
- Can’t be fixed
The last product on our list is the Vitamin C shower head filter by PureAction. This reasonably priced shower filter is the most unique in terms of appearance because of the see-through casing. You can see the filtration system at work.
In the grip handle, you’ll find the 3-tier grip filtration that includes a vitamin C cartridge along with negative ion balls. This multi-stage filtration removes chlorine, chloramines, sediments, heavy metals, bad odors, rust, and scale as it provides clean soft water.
The water pressure at 2.2 GPM is very good while still saving water because of the micro-pores in the spray plate. This creates micro-droplets that offers the perfect balance of gentle yet massage-like water spray. In addition, the shower filter also releases natural scents, with 4 replaceable options; lavender, vitamin C, rose, and jasmine.
The PureAction Vitamin C filter is made of top-quality ABS material and uses an ergonomic design that’s comfortable to hold. Very easy to install, this shower filter is compatible with almost all shower equipment. However, there is no shower spray adjustment option. Also note that the shower filter only works as a handheld unit and cannot be mounted or fixed.
What is a Shower Water Filter?
Shower filters have been around for a long time. When they first came on the market, there was scepticism that this was just a hyped-up product that would fizzle out with time but years on and shower filters have continued to advance and are as popular as ever. Today’s shower filters are affordable, effective and easy to use.
Shower filters are exactly what they sound like – a filter attached to your shower. They can come with or without the shower head and attach easily to your existing shower arm. They work to remove or reduce the common contaminants in your water that result in dry and lifeless hair and skin, irritated eyes, soap scum, water spots and bad water odor. These include chlorine, total dissolved solids (TDS), minerals, fluoride, rust, sediment, iron, chloramine and so on.
Because shower filters work on demand, they filter the water as it comes out of the shower head, resulting in no wastewater. In general, shower filters have good water pressure and flow, with a rate of at least 2.0 gallons per minute (GPM) of filtered water.
While shower filters don’t soften water like traditional water softeners, they do remove harsh contaminants that affect your skin and hair. You’ll notice the difference in your water when using a shower filter.
How Do Shower Filters Work?
Shower filters reduce the number of contaminants in your water by passing the water through a filtering system before dispensing it from the shower head. The types of filters can go through several stages, some using a simple 2-stage process while others have more complex systems with up to 15 or more filtering stages.
Although the water can go through a variety of different filters depending on the specific type of shower filter, the overall process is similar. Most shower filters use the following types of filtration. Note that this refers to the stuff that’s inside the shower filter.
KDF stands for Kinetic Degradation Fluxion and is a popular method to treat water. For shower filters, it’s the most effective at removing free chlorine, which is chlorine that hasn’t combined with other contaminants in the water. KDF shower filters contain a granular zinc alloy that create an electrochemical reaction when it comes into contact with chemicals like chlorine.
During this reaction, electrons are exchanged between the molecules, resulting in new elements being produced. The structures of some harmful chemicals like chlorine are changed into harmless components. Others, like copper and mercury are removed altogether from the water, effectively freeing the water of these contaminants.
KDF also removes odor in water, making the resulting water clean and pleasant to use. Note that KDF filtration can be used together with other types of filters including granular activated carbon filters (GAC) and inline filters for the best results. However, KDF can be expensive because it’s a patented product.
KDF is good for removing: Bacteria, chlorine, heavy metals, scale, fungi, algae and minerals.
Granular Activated Carbon (GAC)
This is the most common type of filter medium found in shower filters, due in part to its affordability and effectiveness. GAC is excellent at filtering pollutants out of water, typically using materials like coconut shells and husk, as well as charcoal. Most multi-stage water filters will include at least one layer of GAC.
GAC filters have excellent filtering properties, but because they take time to filter water, they can slow down the pressure. This type of filter is typically used in conjunction with other types of filtration, as it protects the GAC filter from clogging up quickly.
GAC typically removes: Chlorine, chloramine, chemicals, VOCs, herbicides, pesticides, organic compounds, bad odor and taste and water hardness causing minerals.
Vitamin C Filters
Vitamin C filters are relatively new additions to the water filter industry. This type of filter is typically only used for shower filters, and not for other types. The science behind Vitamin C filters is that Vitamin C (or ascorbic acid) reacts with chlorine and consumes it, so by extension, this is an excellent way to reduce and neutralise chlorine in shower water. This type of filter typically works fast, but the trouble is that it only targets chlorine, leaving other pollutants in the water. For Vitamin C filters to be considered effective, they should be used in conjunction with other types of filtration. However, Vitamin C filters have yet to be proven scientifically, although most users report that they notice a rejuvenation and freshness in their skin and hair after using Vitamin C filters.
Vitamin C filters typically reduces: Chlorine
Multi-Level Carbon Filter
The most budget-friendly of the types of filters listed here, multi-level carbon filters are excellent at removing impurities from water. Because there are several levels of different mediums, the water loses its contaminants as it gets pushed through the layers, typically 8 to 15 levels or more. This is effective in removing most types of water borne contaminants. However, multi-level carbon filters don’t always effectively remove chlorine and chloramine.
Multi-level carbon filters typically remove: Hard water, sediment, rust, pathogens and chemicals
Types of Shower Water Filters
There are a range of shower filter types to choose, which can make choosing the right one for you difficult. Even so, although there are various models on the market, they all tend to fall into one of the following three categories. Note that each of these types will use one or more of the above filtration mediums.
- In-Line Shower Filters: This refers to models that come without a showerhead, offering only the filtering section. This can then be attached to your existing showerhead, by simply connecting the filter into the water line of your shower. This type of filter is ideal if you don’t want to change your existing showerhead, but still want a filtration system. In-line shower filter units are typically smaller and not as obvious.
- Showerhead Filters: This is a filter that resides in the showerhead, meaning that all you have to do is attach the showerhead to the shower arm and you’re good to go. Showerhead filters are inconspicuous in that they just look like a regular showerhead, although some can be rather large and bulky. Overall, this type of shower filter is ideal for easy installation, good water flow and effective filtration.
- In-Line and Showerhead Filters: You probably have guessed what these are by now, but if not, they’re simply a combination of the above two types of shower heads. Basically, you have the in-line filtration portion of the unit as well as the showerhead, both of which must be installed for the system to work effectively. The filtering part of the unit is usually in the in-line section and not in the showerhead, which is why the showerheads are typically sleeker and smaller.
How to Choose a Shower Filter?
There are some common guidelines to follow when it comes to choosing the right shower filter for your bathroom. These relate to the things you have to consider and check carefully:
Whether you’re going for an in-line filter, showerhead filter or a combination of the two, one of the first things to consider is whether the system will be compatible with your existing plumbing and outlet. Most shower filters come with a ½ inch male and female thread but check whether this is the correct size. Some models have universal compatibility and are designed to fit with any type of shower outlet.
What type of filtering process are you looking for? This would largely depend on the type of contaminants you’re targeting, so for example, if it’s just chlorine that you’re looking to reduce, you might be interested in a Vitamin C filter. On the other hand, you’re looking to filter a wider range of contaminants, then avoid this type of filter. Check the mediums of the filter and whether they remove or reduce the pollutants in your water. For this, you might want to take a water test first to determine the main types of impurities that lurk in the water coming out of your shower.
Cost and Maintenance
One good thing about shower filters is that they’re typically affordable, often ranging in the $25 to $40 range. While there are more expensive products, this doesn’t always correlate to higher effectiveness, so go with a filter that fits within your budget. However, while the initial outlay may be small, you also need to check the cost of replacement filters as this is an ongoing cost that will need to be undertaken every 3 to 6 months on average. Also check whether it’s easy to find replacement filters, as this can be difficult with some brands.
What’s worse than standing under a shower with a slow flow! The flow of your shower filter is essential if it’s to be considered effective at all and luckily most shower filters don’t change the water pressure at all. Check the GPM of the unit, which should be around 2.5 gallons per minute (or around 10 liters). However, check whether there are any features such as a water-saving valve and spray settings. This allows you to adjust the flow as required and to reduce water consumption.
Fixed or Handheld
Fixed, or wall-mounted showers, are rigid and can’t be moved around. They’re attached to the wall at the water outlet and can be larger and heavier than a handheld shower.
Handheld showers should be lighter for ease of movement and use and are sought after for their flexibility and portability. The type of shower you choose depends on your personal preferences and needs of your household. One thing to note is that because wall-mounted shower filters can be heavier and larger, they may have filters with longer lifespans.
Every filter will need to be replaced after a certain period of time, depending on your usage and the quality of the feed water. The things to look for with a replacement filter is how much water it can filter (this should at least be 10,000 gallons), should be easy to find online and should be easy to install. In general, a replacement filter can be used for at least 6 months, but again, as mentioned above, this can vary depending on several factors including the usage and quality of water.
Most shower water filters are easy to install and are like simple DIY projects. However, some can be a little more complicated and may require tools to install. Check that the unit comes with comprehensive instructions and/or images that make the job easy for you to do.
Warranty and Returns
It’s always important to check for a product that has warranty and one that can be returned in case of any issues. It’s always good to know that a manufacturer stands by their product, which gives you confidence in purchasing it. This is why it’s important to purchase from a reputable vendor with products that have excellent customer reviews. These retailers have proven track records and higher trustworthiness.
Why Filter Shower Water?
Shower water, like most tap water, can look clean and fresh, but there’s a high chance that it contains many impurities. Depending on the source of your water, these can include pathogens like bacteria and viruses, algae, fungi, heavy metals, chemicals, minerals and pharmaceuticals. Other common culprits include chlorine and chloramine which are typically added to municipal water to disinfect it.
The problem is that these contaminants, especially chlorine, can cause various issues such as drying out your hair and skin, exacerbating skin conditions like eczema. If there’s a high amount of chlorine in the water, it can also impact your eyes, making them red and itchy as well as your sinuses.
In addition to this, minerals like magnesium and calcium, which are healthy enough to drink, can also dry your skin and hair as well as result in lime and scale build up. These are all the negative effects of hard water, which is what we call water with a high mineral content.
So, with all this being common in shower water, being able to reduce these pollutants will result in water that’s gentle and kind to your hair and skin as well as your shower area. However, note that not every filter will remove all these impurities and there will always still be some impurities in your water, unless you opt for a more effective filtration system, like a whole-house reverse osmosis system.
So to recap, why should you filter shower water?
- To soften water by reducing the amount of minerals that are found in water, typically magnesium and calcium
- To reduce chlorine which is commonly used in municipal water, which results in dry hair and skin, as well as irritated skin, eyes and even sinuses.
- To remove other contaminants in water that can be harmful for ingestion or for your body in general.
- To make water safe to use in general, for all members of the family.
Who Should Buy a Shower Water Filter?
If you’re looking for a filtration system that sends clean water through all the pipes in your home, then a shower filter isn’t for you. In that case, a better option is a whole-house filtration system which are more expensive with higher ongoing costs, but give you clean water from every outlet in the house.
However, if you’re looking for an easier and more affordable solution for clean and contaminant-free showering water, a shower water filter is your best option. It doesn’t require the initial outlay of a more elaborate filtration system and is ideal as a short term solution as well, which is important if you’re living in a rental property, for example.
In short, buy a shower water filter if:
- You don’t want to spend a lot of money at the start and for ongoing maintenance
- You want an easy to install filter
- You want clean and contaminant-free water in your shower
- You’re living in a rental property and want a quick fix
- You want to soften your water to some extent
Do Shower Water Filters Remove Hard Water?
Hard water has many positive effects and can even be healthier as drinking water, due to the natural minerals it contains. But this doesn’t negate the fact that hard water has negative effects on your skin and hair.
This is because it’s difficult to wash out soap and shampoo from hair with hard water, as the molecules of the soap combines with the dissolved minerals of the hard water. This makes the soap cling to your hair, making hair lifeless and frizzy. It can also result in bacteria being trapped in your hair. The minerals in the hard water can also suck out the natural oils in your body, resulting in dry, sometimes irritated, skin.
So the bottom line? Hard water may be fine for drinking, but it poses no benefits for showering.
A shower water filter will target the problem but while these filters are effective and overall useful, they’re not as effective as other water filtering systems, like this heavy duty Fleck 5600SXT Whole House System. If you want to get rid of hard water altogether, the best way is to use a water softening system in tandem with a shower filter.
While we do like shower filters, it would be incorrect to say that they’re a miracle filter that removes all contaminants in your water. After all, it’s a small device that filters water at a fast rate. It’s impossible to expect it to filter out hard water, giving you super soft water in the process. While a shower filter will reduce the hardness in your water, it’s not a complete water softener.
A shower water filter is an affordable solution to the problem of impure, hard water. It’s easy to install and maintain, making it an excellent choice if you’re looking for clean water in your shower.
As there are so many models and specifications on the market, zeroing in on the right model for you depends on a variety of factors, including the type of contaminants in your water, budget, size and type of filter. For best results, always test your water first and then choose a model that will work to remove those contaminants.
And finally, while shower water filters can soften your water to some extent, they’re not a complete solution to combat hard water.
Overall, shower water filters can remove most impurities in your water resulting in water that’s softer, fresher and better for your body.