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How To Filter Your Shower Water Very Efficiently

by Justin Thomas •

shower_filter_vitac_vitaminc.jpg

This post has been updated for 2011.

I recently wrote about Filtering Your Drinking Water Very Efficiently, but let us turn now to your shower water. When we shower, we absorb the substances dissolved in water through our skin quite readily. For example, 60% of the chlorine absorbed daily comes from showering in chlorinated water. The chlorine is absorbed directly from the water and from the chlorine gas released into the air.

Ideally, we would filter out all the undesirable chemicals from our shower water. However, unless you have a whole house water filter, this is not possible. This is because filtering water at the showerhead is problematic — the water moves fast, making filtering difficult, and the water is typically hot, which is also undesirable for filtering.

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So basically, if you are filtering your shower water at the showerhead, you can only really hope to remove chlorine from the water. Shower filter manufacturers who claim otherwise should probably be viewed with skepticism. But chlorine is certainly one of the first you’d want to remove from your shower water. Anyone who has swam in a swimming pool with high levels of chlorine, can tell you that it dries and irritates the skin, makes  hair brittle, and causes eyes to become red and itchy. Also, inhaling the toxic steam can aggravate the sinuses and lungs. But it’s not only chlorine that’s in municipal water these days, increasingly cities are adding chloramines to the water. Chloramines are more stable compound, containing chlorine and ammonia. Unfortunately chloramines are more difficult to remove from water.

However, there are filters out there that will remove 100% of chlorine and chloramines from your shower water: vitamin C-based shower filters. These filters have a simple method of operation: the shower water passes through the block of vitamin C, and the chlorine is converted to inorganic chlorides. Vitamin C shower filters are made by a few companies, for example VitaC Shower, Keosan and Sonaki. You can also get filters for your bath too.

Another common type of shower filter is the KDF filter, which uses copper and zinc for filtration. KDF filters remove free chlorine by reversing the electrochemical process that originally separated the chlorine from sodium in a brine solution. KDF filters, however, have a important limitation: they do not remove chloramines. Also, KDF shower filters are affected by water pressure. When the water pressure is not high enough, water can’t pass through the KDF powders. KDF filters also tend to get clogged very quickly. I’ve seen some buyers on Amazon reporting that their KDF filters get clogged after a couple months.

Some shower filters use activated carbon. This is effective in reducing certain organic chemicals and chlorine in cold water. Chlorine is attracted to and held (absorbed) into the surface of the carbon particles. However, the efficiency of absorption is quickly nullified when the water becomes warm. The lifetime of an activated carbon shower filter is very short. An activated carbon shower filter gets clogged very quickly by the dirt it is meant to stop.

So I recommend a vitamin C shower filter like the VitaC Shower brand filter. I’ve used these filters for years, they remove 100% of the chlorine and chloramines from your shower water, and will last about 6 months before they need replacement.

Comments 42

  1. Hi Justin,
    I read your article of 2008. I’m wondering if you still recomment the vita c shower in 2011. Also, according to you, which product works best for the bath?
    I just do not have time to do all this research so I really appreciate your blog…
    thanks
    stephanie-gregoire@hotmail.com

  2. Vitamin C Shower Head By Sonaki. Vitamin C Shower Filters remove 99.9% of chlorine and chloramines from your water. Sonaki makes a line up of sleek, hand held, shower heads that compliment any bathroom. If you like you current shower head but want the benefits of a vitamin c filter, then consider our Vitamin Max inline vitamin c shower filter that works with any shower head you already have.ring central

  3. No response at all from that website, which means I will never order anything from them. Their site seems unprofessional and I guess their customer service matches it.
    No reply, no buy.

  4. Justin,
    I did notice that. Apparently that VitaC Filter has essential oils in the cartdridge. Thats the last thing I want since I am fragrance sensitive. I don’t want to add anything to the water I just want to remove the bad stuff. I sent them an email to see if they can make it without the fragrance so lets see if they respond.

    1. Should be there hole on the bottom of filter? I got mine with no holes at all? how the filter works.. could anyone give an answer pls?

  5. The Aquasana didn’t remove chloramines so back it went.
    Tried a Sonaki Shower Filter. Leaked at the pipe no matter how much plumbers tape I used. The shower spray was really good though. Filter lasted only 2 weeks! That would cost $200/year-not good.
    Get this, the second filter and the entire 5 pack of filters I got were all defective-no hole on the bottom! So, water was going around the filter not through it. Back it went.
    This is very frustrating.

  6. I would also like to know if there is a combo. I’ve used the vitashower filter and had problems with the last time I tried them. They all leaked and one of them never changed color in the clear window to orange so I didn’t even know if the vitamin c was released. They are made in China and the build quality is unfortunately very poor.
    I am currently trying an aquasana filter and it doesn’t seem to be helping my dry scalp but the build quality is very good. I don’t think it can reduce chloramines however.

  7. Does the Vitashower also have a filter to eliminate or reduce the VOC’s, heavy metals and such? If not, do you know of a shower filter with the dual Vitamin C filter and Ceramic or chlorogon filter to do such?

  8. I bought 2 vita showers from E-bay. 39.95 with free shipping. His name is
    tom90 on ebay. He shipped really fast. I love this product! After my second shower my skin has changed completely! No more scratching my skin to death, my itchy dry skin is completely gone! Even my hair looks and feels beautiful. I give this a TEN.
    Nicki

  9. I bought 2 vita showers from E-bay. 39.95 with free shipping.
    tom90 on ebay. He shipped really fast. I love this product! After my second shower my skin has changed completely! No more scratching my skin to death, my itchy dry skin is completely gone! Even my hair looks and feels beautiful. I give this a TEN.
    Nicki

  10. I’m back. 2 showers so far. I couldn’t tell much upon my first use, but after the second shower, my hair was smoother and softer. The conditioner actually seemed to work better than before. And to think that I was going to try switching conditioners before getting this filter.

    I have no way to actually test the chlorine content, but I don’t smell any chlorine in the water and it tastes like normal water. It still feels like the same Los Angeles hard water. My skin just feels less dry and my hair is silkier. I would recommend it.

    Although, I must admit that the Culligan filters are tempting to try because they reduce scale. Maybe I’ll try it when this one needs to be replaced.

  11. I just ordered 6 vitashower SF1’s from inspiredliving.com for $25.17 after their 30% off! These will be christmas gifts for my family. I can’t wait to try it myself. I’ll make sure I report back here.

  12. Hi – this is Sean from 2 posts ago with an update. I got the vitashower from http://www.inspiredliving.com/health-wellness-center/index1.html for about $35 and it arrived as advertised. I noticed before I ordered it that this model drops the height of the showerhead by a couple of inches. Being that I already almost need to bend down under my showerhead, I thought I could get an extension tube that boosts the height of the showerhead for tall people as I remember seeing one in a hardware store not too long ago. Well, I searched a couple of places for the showerhead extender and couldn’t find it and in the mean time have decided to sell my house. So anyway, I won’t be installing the filter as it would drop my showerhead too low. So I can’t report on the change in the water quality, but if you can deal with a couple inch decline in the height of your showerhead easily, this seemed to be the one that gave most bang for the buck for vitamin showers.

    As a side note, I got a drinking water filtration unit about the same time and can offer nothing but complete raves about it – the Multi-Pure Water Guardian – absolutely the best drinking water filter I have ever used.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000J3A67K?ie=UTF8&tag=metaefficient-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B000J3A67K

    Good luck everyone.

    Sean

  13. Except that it is the chloramines in the air that make many hotels smell like pools, because they are UNDERCHLORINATED (improperly treated). Chloramines are most assuredly volatile, in that they leave water quite readily. Free chlorine does not leave water very readily, except at very low pH’s. Chloramines (mono-, di-, and trichloramine) are significant irritants.

  14. The first thing you need to find out is whether your municipality adds chlorine or chloramine to the tap water. Chlorinated water can be a problem in the shower–skin irritation, inhaling the steam, etc. But chloraminated water does not cause these issues. Chloramines are not volatile like chlorine. So if your tap water is treated with chloramine, I wouldn’t bother with a shower filter.

  15. It looks like reviewguy was trying to direct traffic to a particular brand of vitamin c shower – specifically the ronin company website. It also looks like ronin got sued by the original makers of the vitashower for name infringement. Anyway – I wouldn’t believe what reviewguy says (his research link is dead BTW) and I don’t even know if there is such a thing as a chlorine meter. Regardless, I think vitamin c filtration is the way to go for high flow hot water showers. I spoke with a friend who had used the traditional KDF filter (aquasana, etc) and said they clogged up so fast – in less than a month – that they were useless. And being that our municipality (SF Bay area) just switched to chloramine from chlorine in its water supply, I’ll be giving vitamin C filtration a try. The sonaki seems kind of expensive and has small filters at $10/3,000 gallons, so I’ll try one of the other makers (vitaCshower, vitashower, vitashowers, etc) and see. You can email me at pleasuresean@yahoo.com in a few months if you want to see how I like it.

  16. Re: NEGATIVE effects
    Any combination of chloride ion (very present in nature) and acidic water (also very present) becomes hydrochloric acid by definition. A classic example of scare-tactic rhetoric. Chloride ion produced from the reduction of 1 ppm chlorine is negligible compared to the chloride already present in tap water anyhow.

    1. Hi. I have also seen the claims about vitamin C and chloride creating hydrochloric acid. Through a link provided in a review on Amazon, I discovered what appears to be an INDEPENDENT (unbiased) report on this. Here’s the link to the report: http://www.swwrc.wsu.edu/conference/Papers/Greg_Peterka.pdf

      It concludes that the Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) chloride filters are indeed safe, and that the combination does NOT create hydochloric acid. It creates “a milder and safer acid, dehydroascorbic acid.”

      The article also states that, “Vitamin C was recently certified by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) for the Integra
      Chemical Company as a recognized chlorine neutralizer. NSF certification is mandatory for every chemical that is used to treat water consumed by humans.” I found the article to be very helpful.

  17. What whole house filter are you using DM? If you keep the shower filter, it will just give you extra protection (it won’t have as much to filter, and it will last longer) so that is good. It won’t hurt to have extra protection.

  18. Hey again, If I put a whole house filter on, then a shower filter would that be okay. or would one cancel the other out?
    Thanks so much, if you do not post my quesstions could you please email me with answers. I really would apprieciate it.

  19. IF you use the Vitamin C filter, Is there a smell from the Vitamin C. Like oranges?? or any smeel at all? I am extremly sensitive, to odors.
    What studies have been done to the saftey of the Vit C filters?
    Why isn’t the Vit. C filters on the top ten list of shower filters?
    What is the guy talking about mixing clorine & vitiamin c reaction?
    Is there still a leakeage problem with the Vita C despenser, with orange flo in the water?
    Is that harmful?
    How long has this been on the market,and has it been tested by any water safety commitee, or the EPA or FDA etc. ?
    Thanks for a quick response as I would like to make my decsion soon as which to buy, tired of burning skin, eyes, etc.
    Has anyone considered a class action law suit against the water companies for putting such harmful chemicals in our water,and then telling us it is safe.??
    Are the KDR or charcoal filters harmful?
    so many questions, so little room left thats not itchy. and forget about breathing…

    1. I used my Vitashower for the first time this morning, and the water smelled like something from my childhood, which I finally remembered: RUSTY PIPES. Or “old” pipes. Not a very pleasant smell. So far, my skin & hair feel about as dry as always.

      The water in my kitchen sink (unfiltered) doesn’t have this smell …

      1. It just has Vitamin Ç in the filter, so I doubt that the filter is causing the odor.

  20. GS the Aquasana has KDF in it along with another stage (I thnk carbon block, not sure though). SO your water is gettig double KDF filtered! KDF does not get 100% of the chlorine though because (I heard that) it is temperature and exposure time dependent so double KDF filtation might me a good thing if you do not use Vit C filtration.

  21. GS, you’re actually able to attach one filter onto another? I had thought of doing the same thing, but didn’t think it was possible. That sounds like a really good combination. I think it might be a good idea to take out one of the KDF filters and swap it for the vitamin C filter. Do you have to buy any special attachments to attach the filters to each other?
    thanks!

  22. Hi…I use 2 filters in tandum. First is a KDF (Sprite HO) then Aquasauna. Hope im on the right track because just cant fit another filter on the shower head. Any comments on the effectiveness the combnation? Should I swap out the KDF for a Vita-C filter or the Aquasauna? My unscientific results on the said combo are Great! Very Clean Feeling, No burning eyes, gel lathers/rinses great! Yet I dont know how BUT I still get a build-up or scaling on the showerhead. Review Guy, care to test the different combos? Thanks….GS

  23. Both Brandon and Justin are right. It has to do with the application. “Some hazard warnings state that inorganic chlorides can cause permanent lung damage and may even be fatal if inhaled. In many instances, decomposition of the chemicals by heating can produce hydrochloric acid when it comes into contact with the moisture in the respiratory tract.”

    KDF and Vitamin C shower filters work by reacting with the chlorine in water to turn it into inorganic chlorides. For example, KDF reacts with chlorine to turn it into zinc chloride. No more inorganic chlorides will be produced than there is chlorine available; therefore, I believe that the idea is in part that if the chlorine is within safe limits, the inorganic chlorides will be, too. Or, that the resulting inorganic chlorides are less volatile or less harmful than chlorine at the same levels. However, we are exposed to higher concentrations of chlorine when showering, and I have not seen anything concerning the concentration or safety of inorganic chlorides when inhaled as a vapor from atomized shower water.

  24. I bought the Sonaki Vitamin C shower filter 6 months ago and I highly recommend it to anyone who doesn’t want chlorine or chlormanine in their shower water. I haven’t done extensive tests like the review guy and other people on here to test its effectiveness, but i can tell you this. I know it gets rid of chlorine and chlormanine, because when I wash my hair in the bathroom with the filter, my hair doesn’t get any blonder. When i shower in the other bathroom (with no filter), my hair is blonder after I get out. Hair turning blonder is due to the chlorine (which is like bleach). Plus my skin doesn’t smell like chlorine any more (from using the Sonaki Vitamin C Shower filter) I really like the hand held device, it’s clean, easy to install, never gets cruddy, and seems sturdy. It looks like people on here are giving props to the vitashower (that i’ve never used) but i just wanted to say that I LOVE the Sonaki one, and if you want a shower head that’s hand held, this is the one to pick. Might be a tiny bit more $$ but it’s worth it if your existing shower head isn’t all that great.

  25. It sounds like Justin knows his stuff. I take my hat off to you for taking the time to do some meaningful research about a product. Misinformation, both intentional and unintentional, has always run rampant on the internet.

    An excellent alternative to the Sonaki is the Vitashower Vitamin C shower filter. I buy mine at http://www.ronin-online.com for $39.95 + shipping. They seem to have the most comprehensive information backed by actual independent lab results that can be viewed on their website. I even called and talked to a very nice gentleman that very patiently answered each of my questions prior to my first purchase.

    I’ve used both the Vitashower & Sonaki chlorine shower filters. I’ve even tested them in my home with a digital chlorine meter and found them to be virtually identical as far as their effectiveness at removing chlorine from my shower. The only differences between the two are the format (fixed vs. hand-held) and the Sonaki requires you to buy refills where the Vitashower does not. You simply toss it into the recycling bin when it’s used up and attach a new one. My wife and I get close to 6 months usage out of each Vitashower.

    I personally prefer the Vitashower because it’s less expensive and doesn’t force you into purchasing their flimsy hand-held shower arrangement. It can be a hassle if you already have a high dollar hand-held unit (Moen, Delta, etc) that you don’t want to part with, as in my case.

    I’ve also just completed a head-to-head in-home comparison of the top 10 chlorine shower filters on the market today. The results may surprise you. I know I was.

    Email me if you would like to know which shower filter came out on top.
    mailto:reviewguy@comcast.net

    Just my 2 cents worth….

  26. Brandon,

    I’m sorry but your friend is incorrect.

    Vitamin C dechlorination has a lengthy history. It has been used in EPA and APHA methods for the dechlorination of lab samples. In the medical industry, it is the standard for critical applications such as dialysis, where the introduction of chlorinated water or toxic chemical would be catatrophic. Breeders of rare fish also choose this method of dechlorination.

  27. I bought one of these and it actually made my skin worse! I found out from a friend that when you mix vitamin C with chlorine, that you get Hydrochloric acid! I do not recommend this filter system to anyone.

  28. What is an electric light shower?

    Its when a bunch of bearded guys from the 70s are making synth pop and peeing on you.

    Or is this is a shower head that bathes you in chromatherapeutic light. What’s chromatherapy, you ask? It is an incredibly advanced science designed to allow ex-…

  29. Both Amazon and Sanicare are out of business/stock. The AlerG store seems to be only one carrying these now.

  30. Amazon only has this for a price of $66.95 now. You can buy this unit at a better price of $49.95 at Sanicare.com, you can also buy 5 replaceable Vitamin C filters for only $9.95 through them. There is no charge for shipping also! Great Deal!

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