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Your guide to water filtration solutions for Hong Kong homes

By Catharina Cheung 4 August 2020

Header image courtesy of Life Solutions

Did you know that most of the water supplied to buildings on Hong Kong Island are from our own reservoirs, while on the Kowloon side, it mainly comes from rivers in Guangdong? Before this water even reaches our buildings, it would have already gone through 21 treatment plants, ensuring that Hong Kong’s tap water ranks high for safe consumption by the World Health Organisation.

However, the issue lies in the rusty pipes and old plumbing in our buildings themselves. We have no way of guaranteeing that the buildings we frequent have water systems that are up to scratch, so it doesn’t matter how well the water may have been processed before if its quality is still compromised when it flows out of our taps. Buying bottled water regularly is also a huge burden on the environment, so the best way to ensure a clean supply of water is to filter it yourself. Here are some water filtering solutions in Hong Kong that can help!

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Photo credit: Brita

Filter pitchers

Your standard filter jugs are the cheapest form of home filtration on the market. Water poured into the jug runs through a basic absorption filter, most likely containing activated carbon, before being stored in a catchment. A popular brand for filter pitcher jugs would be Brita or the sleek and chic Soma.

Though cheap and convenient, the problem with these jugs is that these simple filters cannot remove hazardous compounds such as heavy metals, nor do they usually adequately remove bacteria. The filter cartridges also need to be changed every two months or so, which contributes to plastic waste.

Photo credit: Philips

Point-of-use faucet filter

While the initial price of a filter pitcher may be very low, you’ll need to consistently buy replacement filter cartridges which ramps up the overall expenditure. At a similar price point, you’ll be able to get a faucet filter mounted onto your tap instead. With a longer life span overall, this means the upkeep can be lower in the long run.

Most faucet filters on the market use activated carbon filters, or zeolites, which are a porous material similar to clay. Popular brands in Hong Kong include Philips, Mitsubishi, and 3M. There are also filter attachments which you can affix onto shower heads to lessen minerals that can dull hair and skin.

Photo credit: Pluvial Plus

Free-standing countertop filters

Because tap attachments can only be so big, there’s a limit to how effective the filtration can be. With countertop filters, the system can be a lot more complex, resulting in cleaner water with fewer impurities. Some companies that produce such filters have also paid close attention to aesthetics, so it doesn’t just look like there’s an industrial hunk of machinery out on your kitchen top.

One such example is Pluvial Plus, a Hong Kong-based company offering two different 15-litre models. These use a seven-stage filter including ceramic, activated carbon, volcanic zeolites, and other minerals, which will remove substances such as chlorine, volatile organic compounds, parasites, and heavy metals. What makes them stand out is that their filters also add healthy minerals like calcium, zinc, iron, and magnesium back into your drinking water.

Keep scrolling for the rest of the article👇

Photo credit: Cleansui

Point-of-use system countertop

Those who don’t like the waiting time involved with gravity-fed filters will likely prefer countertop filtration setups, where the system is linked directly to the tap, and the filter itself sits on your countertop next to the sink. Doulton does two countertop filters: one which is moderately priced and uses their Ultracarb activated carbon filter, and another which is slightly more expensive and fits onto existing taps.

Other reputable brands that produce similar filters include Mitsubishi, Panasonic, and 3M. In general, these filters need to have their interiors replaced every six months or so, which comes down to a yearly maintenance cost of $1,000 on average.

Photo credit: Life Solutions (Facebook)

Point-of-use system under the sink

This method of filtration involves attaching a filter system directly under the sink. The benefit of this is that there is generally a larger amount of space afforded for a more complex set up, with no need to clog up precious counter space. Aquasana has under-the-sink filters that meet NSF 42, 53, 401, or even 473 standards, which means it can remove parasites, chlorine, organic compounds, lead, and perfluoroalkyl substances. Doulton also has a model featuring a four-step process using a ceramic filter, activated carbon, and ion exchange to sift out parasites, chlorine, volatile organic compounds, and lead.

The downside of these systems is that you can’t usually install it yourself, but luckily, a company like Life Solutions offers comprehensive services which include supplying the filters, installation, and maintenance by their in-house technicians. Their consultation services are arguably the best available in Hong Kong, and they also offer a free water test so you can determine which kind of filtration system would suit the needs of your household best.

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Catharina Cheung

Senior editor

Catharina has recently returned to her hometown of Hong Kong after spending her formative years in Singapore and the UK. She enjoys scouring the city for under-the-radar things to do, see, and eat, and is committed to finding the perfect foundation that will withstand Hong Kong’s heat. She is also an aspiring polyglot, a firm advocate for feminist and LGBTQIA+ issues, and a huge lover of animals. You can find her belting out show-tunes in karaoke, or in bookstores adding new tomes to her ever-growing collection.