Most of Hong Kong’s water supply comes from the Dongjiang River in Guangdong. It is processed in 21 treatment plants before arriving at any building, and has been tested and deemed safe for drinking according to the World Health Organization. However, despite being treated, water can still be contaminated by heavy metals such as iron and lead from the building’s pipes. Rather unsurprisingly, then, there has been a surge of water filter installations, both in homes and offices, to provide safer, cleaner drinking water. But how exactly do these devices improve water quality, and what are the differences between various filters? Below, we explore just this topic…
Why water filters are important
The alternative to drinking tap water in Hong Kong – not a recommended source at all – has been, for many years, to boil or buy bottled waters. However, since the average Hongkonger consumes about 130 litres per day- 40% for bathing, 10% laundry and 50% for drinking, cooking and other purposes, according to the Water Supply Department, neither of these solutions are either sustainable or, more importantly, safer. While boiling water removes chlorine and kills some bacteria and viruses, it doesn’t remove heavy metals. Plastic bottled waters, on the other hand, are not environmentally friendly at all. In fact, it takes a plastic water bottle over 450 years to break down, according to the World Wildlife Fund for Nature.
This being so, water filters serves as a more immediate and sustainable solution to having clean and safe drinking water from the tap. They remove impurities such as sediment, taste, odor, and bacteria, thus offering better water quality.
Pitchers & faucet attachments
Pitchers and faucet attachments are the most common water filtration accessory and are at the lower end of the price range compared to other filtration systems. Pitchers typically take 15 minutes to filter tap water and require a filter change every month, but not all pitchers can remove heavy metals and Volatile Organic Compound (VOC), which are toxic chemicals found in gasoline, ink, and glue. These VOCs can enter the water supply and contaminate it in various ways, more commonly due to improper disposal of waste. Faucet attachments, on the other hand, although dispense filtered water immediately and require less upkeep than pitchers, it is not the most effective in filtering out impurities compared to other filters available on the market.
Although countertop distillers are effective water purifiers, they take some time to distill clean water. Considering that these machines have a lower boiling point than water, most of them do not remove VOCs. Water Links’ AquaTru Countertop Water Purifier (HK$4,980) uses a similar filtration technology to reverse osmosis technology used by major bottled water brands to effectively reducing the majority of impurities in water.
Under-sink water filters are equipped with several filters for different filtering effects through each filter’s life span varies. So, paying particular attention to the maintenance of this type of filter is key to sustaining a clean water supply. A popular filter machine is the Kangen water machine which uses ionization to purify water, resulting in a water pH value of more than 7, producing alkaline water. Although the Kangen 8 commands a hefty price at HK$38,600, it has still attracted supporters thanks to its claims that this filtration process contributes to a slower ageing process and disease prevention. Although there has not been scientific proof of this, it is definitely a clean and tastier option for drinkable water.
Gravity-fed drip filter
Gravity-fed drip filters are excellent filters at removing contaminants such as chlorine, fluoride, pesticides, and VOCs. Water poured into the top chamber naturally flows down through a charcoal filter and into the bottom chamber. It doesn’t require any electricity to function though it does take up a good amount of countertop space and requires up to two or more hours to filter eight litres of water. The Berkey gravity-fed drip filter can last up to 23,000 litres, providing 11 years of pure and clean drinking water, and costs HK$6,436.