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The Aquacera SS Water Filter on my Countertop

At long last, I finally decided on a water filter. I decided on the Aquacera Countertop SS because of its sleek, aesthetically pleasing, space-saving design; its fluoride-filtering capabilities; and its price.

Here are the key points that went into my decision.

To Filter, or Not To Filter?

New Yorkers are proud of their water. Phrases like “the champagne of drinking water” and “an engineering marvel” have made it into The New York Times.

In The Hidden Messages of Water, Masaru Emoto argued that, unlike most modern water, New York's formed beautiful crystals. These crystals, he wrote, “may be the result of efforts to protect water, such as the use of cedar tanks in Manhattan.”

But New York also adds fluoride to its water. My view of the science is likely biased by the fact that fluoride supplementation ruined my teeth in elementary school, but I don't consider fluoride a nutrient, it certainly competes with iodine metabolism, it probably hurts mental function, and it's arguably a toxin. Given my own history of fluoride overexposure, I have always wanted to err on the side of preventing further exposure.

And no matter how good the city's water is before it makes its way to my apartment, I'm not sure how good it is once it comes out of my tap. There's a lot of plumbing in between.

Indecision and Wasting Money on Spring Water

When I first moved here, I started buying spring water just to hold me over while I decided on a water filter. But that decision took forever.

To be more precise, it took two years.

A gallon of Poland Spring costs $1.69 at the C Town on my corner, $0.99 at Fairway, and $2.19 at Whole Foods. At first I was mostly buying it at C Town. When I started using Instacart for productivity, I started having it delivered either from Fairway or from Whole Foods. Usually the other things I'd have delivered were from Whole Foods, so usually I was paying the higher price. That meant paying 50 cents more per gallon than if I were to interrupt my work by going to C Town, and the productivity benefit was worth it.

But it was still a grotesque waste of money. Tap water is free, and home-filtered water costs far less per gallon. And however clean the spring water is, it's stored in plastic, which has its own set of health concerns. Finally, it may not have fluoride added to it, but I would expect the fluoride level to at least be inconsistent.

My Goals: Fluoride Filtration, Cost, Space

These were my top three considerations:

  • I wanted a good general filter, but my key metric of quality was fluoride filtration, because that's harder to find.
  • I  wanted something that would radically lower the price I was paying for water.
  • I live in a small Brooklyn apartment that is less than 400 square feet (including closet space), so I wanted something that would take up as little space as possible.

Looking at Pitcher Models

My counter space is more precious to me than my refrigerator space because the inside of my refrigerator usually has room and it's out of sight, so a pitcher filter would work well.

The top fluoride-filtering pitcher models I looked at were ZeroWater and Clearly Filtered. Reading the Amazon reviews was frustrating. They both have a lot of negative reviews, some overwhelmingly rated as “helpful.” One of these argues that Zerowater starts spitting contaminants back into the water once the filter's capacity maxes out, and that this can happen in as short a time as three weeks. Meanwhile, another review levies the exact same accusation at Clearly filtered and goes so far as to say that running tap water through ZeroWater will clean it, but taking the clean water and then running it through Clearly Filtered will re-dirty it.

All of these DIY home experiments were done with ZeroWater's total dissolved solids (TDS) meter. Clearly Filtered argued that the TDS is irrelevant to water quality. But the negative reviews I linked to above contain discussions of the Clearly Filtered response, and to be honest, I don't know enough to make heads or tails out of the arguments.

Considering the Berkey

I spent a long time considering the Berkey. People who use Berkey rave about it. When I asked about water filters in general, it was the Berkey fans who sent me pictures and videos on Snapchat of the Berkey systems they were so proud of at home.

According to Berkey, when used without the addition of fluoride filters, the Big Berkey costs 1.8 cents a gallon. There's no time limit to them, so even someone with a low water usage (like myself) should be able to get the price down that far.

The Berkey fluoride filter lasts 1000 gallons or one year. At $54, it adds 5.4 cents per gallon if you use it to full capacity, bringing the price of Berkey water to 7.2 cents per gallon. I live by myself and am unlikely to use more than 300 gallons of water per year. At that rate, fluoride filtration becomes 18 cents per gallon and the total cost of the water becomes just under 20 cents per gallon.

That's still a great price.

But the problem with Berkey for me is that all of their models are just so damn big. Even the “Travel Berkey” (who travels with something that sits on a counter?!) is 18″ tall, which is the exact distance between the counters and cabinets in my kitchen. With the little knob at the top, there's no way it would fit. I'd have to waste tons of counter space by keeping it at the front of my counter instead of the back.

Outside of New York, I get it. But for a Brooklyn apartment? No.

Finally Deciding on the Aquacera SS

As you can see in the picture below, the Aquacera SS has a sleek, aesthetically pleasing design that takes up very little space.

The Aquacera SS Water Filter on my Countertop

I ordered this with the CeraMetix filter (it comes with the unit if you order it here), which filters fluoride. The filter life (see the CeraMetix column here) is 1000 gallons or six months. A replacement filter costs $60. If you use it at max capacity, it's six cents per gallon. I doubt I will use more than 150 gallons every six months, however, so for me the price would rise to 40 cents per gallon.

This is not the least expensive way to get top-notch general filtration with good fluoride filtration. At the maximum usage rate, it's slightly less expensive than the Berkey, but at my usage rate, it's twice as expensive. However questionable the pitcher models are, they can compete for price: for example, Clearly Filtered is 27 cents per gallon.

But the Aquacera had several things going for it that outweighed these other considerations for me:

  • The space-saving design is incomparable, and I love how the steel blends in with my sink.
  • The actual unit is likely to be far more durable than a pitcher. In a few years time, for all I know, I could have a family and be using the same unit at the maximum rate, bringing the price down to six cents per gallon. Something similar could happen if I had a Berkey, but that could never happen with a pitcher.
  • If I move into a bigger apartment, I'll probably still love the space-saving design and I won't have to move a Berkey! This thing seems way more packable.

There's one final point that deserves it's own discussion: trust.

I bought the unit through Radiant Life. Over a decade ago I became friends with Christopher Cogswell, who started the company. He's no longer running it, but I trust their authenticity and integrity.

David Getoff, the Vice President of the Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, independently analyzed the fluoride filtration results and said they were the best he'd ever seen. I don't know David well, but I trust his authenticity and integrity.

Katherine Morrison, executive director of the Ancestral Health Society and Atlanta-based lactation consultant, helped me think through this in a discussion within the Perfect Health Diet Facebook group (you'd have to join the group to see the discussion). I count Katherine as a friend and supremely trust her authenticity and integrity. She uses a different version of the Aquacera filter and had a friend from the EPA test her water. It showed good results all around and no detectable fluoride.

At the end of the day, it was important to follow through on a decision, and having some people I trusted supporting the Aquacera product gave me a good gut feeling that I couldn't get about any of the fluoride-filtering pitchers.

Between the Berkey and the Aquacera, the size was the deciding factor.

But there's one last difference that's worth noting. As you can see in the video below that I had posted on Instagram, the flow rate of the filter, while good, is slower than the sink, slower than the Berkey, and slower than a pitcher.

(The video replays, so just click it to turn it off if you're done watching.)

This then becomes the question: would you prefer to fill your glass 20-30% slower than you usually do each time, or would you prefer to fill up the Berkey or to fill up a pitcher each time it empties and wait for a full Berkey's worth or pitcher's worth of water to filter before using it again?

Notably, you can always fill up your own pitcher of water to save for later from the unit I bought, but you can never get water immediately when your Berkey or your pitcher run empty.

It's a minor lifestyle consideration about how you want to distribute your patience, but it's worth thinking about before you make your decision.

I should note also that you can't use the unit I bought with a sink that has a pullout sprayer. I don't have one, so that wasn't an issue for me.

If you do decide to purchase the Aquacera SS, I have one last little tip. When you check out, you get prompted to read the shipping policy. But if you actually do that, the system thinks you are hesitating and gives you a coupon code. Mine was SAVE10, and it saved me $10. I'd recommend entering that to see if it works. If not, stop mid-checkout and do something else for a minute and see if they give you a new code.

Question For You

Do you have a water filter? If so, what do you use? Are you trying to decide on one? If so, does this post affect your decision?

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  1. Thanks for the review. I have this unit as well as the Multipure countertop unit and both are fantastic. Aquacera is much smaller and says it removes flouride, but the Multipure testing data appears far more comprehensive and the carbon filter is much bigger (but i can’t find any flouride testing data for it).

    One thing i’m confused about. Your calculations for cost per gallon assume you must replace the filter after the recommended tine period as opposed to the capacity limit. I don’t understand why. If the filter life is 1000 gallons or 6 months, it was my understanding that the 6 months was an estimate on when a normal family (i believe of 4) would use 1000 gallons. If you use less, say 500 gallons a year, the filter should last you 2 years. If you’re only using 300 gallons per year like you say, it would seem like you are wasting 70% of your filters capacity life.


  2. Does anyone have actual water tests from a water testing facility to prove the results that Aqua Cera is boasting? I to have an aqua era under the counter unit EF300, which a aquametix filter. The drinking water taste great, better than any spring water I have ever had. I as of lately have been thinking of getting the water tested at a laboratory and test the results just so in my mind I know its actually filtering out what aqua era says. Chris have you ever taken the time to have the water tested?


      1. Thank you James, actually what I am looking for is someone outside of AquaCera. Has anyone that bought one of there filters ever had the water tested? I am not saying aqua cera would lie, but really it’s not a good idea to ask the company that makes the product to produce results on their product. Taste wise the water tastes great, but I would actually like to have the water tested and do a before and after just to see. I thought maybe Chris might have had the water tested just to make sure.

        1. Meggan, below has had it tested. Incidentally, Chris has now posted about his new Berkey and why it is better than this purifier. In that post he lists all of the ‘hindsight’ negatives about this unit. But he states he’s not had it tested.

  3. Thanks Chris for this deep dive into water filters. I too took a long time and was a Berkey filter user, until I discovered inconsistencies with their quality and lack of 3rd party verification. Aquacera’s Cerametix, on the other hand, IS a Doulton division and is 3rd party verified (NSF certified actually). I also have visually (above the tank and below) seen the difference and am very happy with my Cerametix gravity filters.
    Best of luck and thanks for the review!

  4. I have the Aquacera large unit
    I first had the Berkey

    I REALLY like the aquacera and I have had zero issue with particles from the filters as I did from the Berkey filters, and zero mold growth

    We have well water, but we have mines around here and I would rather not take the chance that contaminants got into the water, so we use this for drinking and cooking. I believe ours is the 3.5 gallon

    Testing done on the water showed fabulous results

    As I health coach who also works with nutrigenomics (meaning I know how the environment we now live can impact us) one of the biggest things I look at is water quality, then food quality.

    Hands down, after a decade of water purifiers, I go for the Aquacera.

    1. Meggan,

      I too have had a Berkey for over 12-13 years and have experienced the mold. I thank you for the comment and the fact you’ve had you’re water tested. Incidentally, Chris has now posted about his new Berkey and why it is better than this purifier. In that post he lists all of the ‘hindsight’ negatives about this unit. But he states he’s not had it tested.

  5. I went through the same scenario over 3 years ago. I’ve owned the SS Aquacera since then and it’s great! I’ve been using Doulton Ultracarb filters in it (for cost) but just came back to compare filters and see what else might be out there I may have missed years ago. I’ll be purchasing the Cerametix next and hope to send a sample of filtered water out to get tested. I too live in a small apartment on the other side of the Hudson where the water might not be so good (ppm @320). The SS counter unit is perfect for an apartment and easy to move to another location (although I had to replace the kitchen faucet when I moved to accommodate the filter unit).

  6. I’ve just spent more time this afternoon doing research on water filters (with the primary goal being to remove fluoride) and as usual, am overwhelmed and frustrated trying to figure out which is best. It shouldn’t have to be rocket science to get inexpensive drinking water. This post was very helpful, thank you!

  7. Hey Chris,

    I would recommend you hit up Ben Greenfield and Dr.Mercola on water filtration. I listen to a load of health podcasts and these two take it most seriously. Ben’s father is also in the water filtration business. What they propose maybe a bit more expensive but there you go. The water goes through a 3-stage process: 1. Reverse osmosis, 2. Remineralizing salts are added in 3. It goes through a vortex to ionize it and make it ‘structured’ just like in nature. All this takes place under the counter.

    Also please bear in mind the water from your shower. According to them, it is your biggest exposure. Now if you use the above system, this is taken care of as it takes place at the place of entry into your home. However, you may need a filter for your shower head as the fluoride can get through into your skin. Also the chlorine is very important. Is it bad for the beneficial bacteria on your skin? Probably. If we didn’t have bacteria we’d grow mould. They also switch between using soap and just water, alternate days. Daily showers.

    Hopefully you reach out or take a look on their sites. Mercola will deff have something, Ben’s is probably hidden away in a podcast.

  8. I use a big reverse osmosis filter, it removes everything even minerals, but it has remineralization , don’t know exactly what it puts back.

    In my area water quality fluctuates widely because weak filtering at water station, we have pretty clear river source, but after bigger rain it gets muddy.

    I use it for 10 years already.
    It costs me 60$ per year to change all filters.

    And I use it for drinking and cooking.

  9. Thanks for the fair and balanced review of our HCS countertop system with the CeraMetix filter candle. As the manufacturer of this product I wanted to share with you that the filter does NOT use activated alumina or any derivative of alumina in our filters. AquaMetix is a carbon and zeolite formulation. What is proprietary about it is how we formulate it. This is not to hide what it’s made of but how it is made. Think of Coke and Pepsi- they both taste great and we have a general idea how they are produced but we don’t know all the processes and such as that would destroy their businesses. It is the zeolites function that removes fluoride and a great many other traditionally challenging contaminants from water. It is adsorbing, absorbing, and exchanging ions to treat the drinking water.

    Our fluoride test results are based on real-world/real-water in Chicago, Illinois. Better results for lab grade third party testing have been done but not posted since we wanted to show a filter that really works. Testing of other fluoride reduction technologies on real tap water have shown vastly poorer results but unfortunately are never posted due to the negative reaction that would follow.

    We stand 100% behind our American made products and are committed to you, the consumer to provide the best water filtration products we can. Thank you.

    1. Thanks for this info. I wish to ditch my 13 year old Berkey for something that doesn’t use aluminum to filter fluoride. Had I known, I obviously would not have bought long ago. Nor would I have bought the largest one. And I don’t like the aluminum filled, plastic fluoride filters sitting in the water so you have to always monitor what you pour in the top because in truth, you don’t have as much room as stated in the bottom. And if ever you see a thread discussing the Berkey; you’ll find the rabid owners defending it like a group of scientologists. But, they’re only regurgitating the info given by Berkey which seems to be looking for more sellers at all times. Yet, they won’t pay $6,000 to get clearance to sell in CA. There is great info de-bunking the Berkey claims and in fact, proving they did not have the testing done that was claimed in the beginning. What company doesn’t want to post the results of their ‘great’ findings? Look it up.

      Thanks for this article. I’ll be buying this and gaining space.

      1. You can use Aquacera candles (filters) in Berkey unit. They fit perfectly. That’s what I have been doing for 2 years now.

  10. I get the small apartment/kitchen challenge but aesthetics and design seem like strange stipulations when making health decisions. Your link to the cerametix test results indicate that it still leaves some fluoride in the water. Additionally, in the other tests you reference, how comprehensive were they? This is what I use:

    1. It’s all so confusing. There are many choices…and who really knows if the pure water systems RO system, with “proprietary” design is the answer. For example, the 2.2 gallon reservoir makes me really nervous..there are tankless, pressurized RO’s available. Also, RO systems remove minerals and destructuring the water.
      If money and space were no object, there are some good options out there.
      But money and space are real restrictions for most people, so the choice largely, for most people, is how much they can improve their water over what comes out of the tap. I think the system in CM’s article is a good choice when you consider everything. Any filter is better than no filter.

  11. Nice research and write-up, Chris! I am lucky enough to have non-fluoridated tap water, and in the past I haven’t been concerned enough about 0.7 ppm F- to take the plunge into higher end filters. I have been using PUR and Brita carbon filters for over a decade (both sink-mounted and pitchers) and am satisfied that they remove most of the chlorine, heavy metals, and organic chemicals that may be lurking in my water. At some point in the future I may move back to a place with fluoridated water and will refer back to your review then!

  12. I use an Aquasana, and have used one for about 15 years or so. I’m on my second or third one. I have two complaints: it doesn’t remove fluoride and it leaks occasionally. On the plus side it does remove most other impurities including cryptosporidium. Based on your post I’m going to consider an Aquacera. Thanks for the tip!

  13. Interesting little unit. I presume you can turn it on to fill a bigger container while you do other things in the kitchen. I wonder how the water compares to reverse osmosis water from the machines they have at places like Krogers and my co-op, which is what i get for 30 cents per gallon. They have more steps than just RO, and give very pure water. I add back the minerals using Concentrace and restructure the water with prill beads. That makes excellent, long lasting water, and also means I have an ample supply of water on hand in case the city water fails, which it has done here near Lake Erie.

  14. I just went through the same basic research after recently moving in to a short term rental for 4 months…house we moved out of had well water which was amazing. But now on city water with fluoride…yuck.
    The only thing that make me nervous about the filter you selected is that the manufacturer does not tell you exactly how it filters out fluoride…their spec sheet says “AquaMetix® is a proprietary matrix comprising of at least two types of activated carbon, combined with proprietary
    zeolite minerals, structurally bound with polymers into a highly porous block”.

    I hate that word “proprietary” when it comes to products that affect my health.

    I believe there are only three ways to get fluoride out:
    -reverse osmosis,
    -deionizers (which use ion-exchange resins)
    -activated alumina.

    Pretty sure your filter uses activated alumina…as does mine….but they disclosed it. I am concerned about aluminum…as alzheimer’s runs in my family and I’m APOE4.

    I got the Home Master TMJRF2 Jr F2 Counter Top Water Filtration System from Amazon. Long story, but it did not fit in the bar sink which has fittings that are not common. Went to Home Depot, got a few plumbing supplies and installed in under counter, which actually is awesome…as we only use that sink for drinking water.

    The slow flow rate I think is good on your unit, as the higher the flow, the less the filter is able to work…so they probably restrict flow on purpose.

    Anyway…sorry for the long note, but thought you might have a comment on the activated alumina.

    Thanks so much for your website/content.

    1. Mike,

      I don’t think the activated alumina is a concern. I did look into it a little when I was considering Berkey, and I didn’t think the concern about the alumina made sense.

      Yes I would prefer transparent disclosure. But it would appear that even I bought the Aquacera, so I don’t prefer transparent disclosure enough to put my money where my mouth is, and thus market forces aren’t that powerful to drive the transparency.

      I can understand wanting to prevent easy replication. Ultimately what I want is evidence of clean water. But I also wanted a quick decision because more research meant more expensive spring water in plastic bottles.

  15. I live in rural Iowa, and my household water supply is rainwater catchment off the roof in a 15,000 gallon cistern, with pond water backup. Treatment is sediment filtration down to one micron, followed by a UV light and a carbon block filter. Drinking water is filtered with reverse osmosis and then remineralized. The reason for using RO on rainwater is mercury pollution from coal burning power plants. If I hooked up to rural water, the source would be a sand point next to the Des Moines River, and it would likely have ag chemical runoff in it; no thanks, I’d rather have the hassle of being my own water utility.

  16. Hi Chris thanks so much for this review. Right at the same place in my decision-making. Only question is the carbon filter portion : is that replaced on a cycle and how much is that. Or is it the same as the fluoride filter all built-in to one and you replace a single filtration element on a six-month basis?

    1. Ted,

      For the Aquacera unit, there is one single filter that you replace on one single schedule.

  17. I’ve used Zerowater pitchers continuously for nearly five years, and yes, they do hit this very abrupt tipping point where they tend to have a very negative effect on the water quality. But given that 89 out of 90 days the water quality is excellent — and that the “waiting time” comes *after* the water need has been met (empty it; fill it) rather than *when* I have the need, I’m totally happy with the pitcher.

  18. I have 2 Clearly Filtered pitchers in my fridge, which take up 2/3 of bottom shelf. I appreciate the research you’ve done and I will look into the Aquacera. I mostly want to filter out fluoride, chlorine, Rx drugs. Looking for the Holy Grail of water filtration.

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