Don’t be surprised to see this water filter on this list. Strictly speaking, we cannot call this a complete water filtration system. There are reasons for us to recommend this product to you. Right off the bat, the name of the company leaves no room for the introduction. 3M is a household name, and there are rarely any products by this company that has left us disappointed. So we were excited to test this water filter and see how it works, what it brings to the table, and can this tiny filter challenge the big names in the whole house water filter market? We tried to find out.
But before we start the review and get into more details, let us make one thing clear; It is not a complete water filter. It means that if your concern is removing stubborn contaminants such as lead, mercury, PFAs, VOCs, herbicides, pesticides, benzene, etc. This filter won’t do that, and if you want that, then this is not for you. So what does this filter do?
The 3M Aqua-Pure whole house water filter is more of a water treatment unit than a filter. It means that it is designed for three major purposes; to treat water with excess chlorine and remove some larger sedimentary contaminants. And lastly, it helps to reduce the hardness of water to a certain extent, but again, not powerful enough to call it a complete water softener. We can call this filter a filter that does some parts of water filtration and softening to some extent but is not great at anything in particular. It is a hybrid child of a water filter and a water softener.
With that explained, let’s begin the review of this filter. We ordered one for ourselves, and it was delivered to us in three days. Here’s how the experience went.
What’s In the Box?
The unboxing experience was fairly simple but good. There are only a few things that come in the box, but we are delighted to say that 3M did not cut corners in the quality of the unboxing experience. The box that it came in felt solid and looked premium. There was a decent amount of padding and packaging, which ensured a safer transit. We got the package with minimal damage to the box, and the packing was meticulous in keeping the filter intact. It is especially needed when you take a look at the UPS guy handling the packages as it owes them money.
You get the main filtration cylinder in the box, along with a head unit that is made of stainless steel. There are no hoses or pipes included in the box, and it is not needed as well since the filtration unit acts as the middle unit of your water supply, between the inlet and the outlet.
Coming to the quality of the product, we know the quality 3M provides, and we were not disappointed. This filter feels solid, and the build quality is top-notch. There are no compromises in terms of the metal in the filter unit. The weight of the filter is also very well distributed where it does not feel heavy but at the same time does not feel light and hollow as well. Everything feels solid and in no way feels that this filter is priced so low. So top marks in terms of unboxing, packaging, and build quality.
There’s not a lot to say about the looks of this filter, as it looks just like a plain ol’ filter. We put a little emphasis on the looks of some filters but only when they cost a fortune. Since this one comes in the budget section, we think we can ignore this part. Now, this does not look bad in any term. It’s just that it looks very basic and generic. Not an eye-pleaser. But not an eye-sore as well.
Looks and quality are one thing, but the most important part is how well the filtration is. As we said, there’s nothing extraordinary about filtration here since it is not a full-fledged water filter. But where it does shine is the part for which it is made of.
The 3M Aqua-Pure is an excellent water treatment unit that makes the water supply taste and smells better. Note that this taste and smell enhancement is not for drinking but for cooking and general topical uses. So how does this water treatment happen?
The filter has two main filtration units that do all the filtration and work. The first is a 5-micron sediment filter which removes the larger bits of contaminants such as sand, silt, clay, insects, grit, plastic, etc. Anything large enough to be felt and filtered is removed using this filter. It is also the most basic type of filtration.
The taste enhancement is done by removing the excess chlorine present in the water. Water from the state usually has a lot of chlorine as this chemical is used as a disinfectant. Too much chlorine is one of the biggest reasons for bad-smelling and that particular chlorine type taste. It also leads to health issues, poor food taste, skin issues, etc.
To remove the chlorine, the filter comes with an activated carbon medium. Carbon medium is excellent in trapping and removing chlorine. Since the filter uses a carbon medium, it can also provide a very basic level of filtration from other chemical contaminants such as VOCs, chloramine, etc. However, this filtration would be minimal and not something to trust.
That is all this filter can do: removing larger contaminants and chlorine. And that’s it won’t be wrong to call it a water treater and not a complete filter. So how does it perform in real-world tests? We put the 3M to the test to see how well it can handle large amounts of chlorine and sedimentary contaminants. Here are the results.
Testing The Filter
We took water samples spiked with excess chlorine and some heavy contaminants such as sand, silt, smaller bits of plastic, grit, etc. The size ranged from large to very small. The samples were treated by the 3M Aqua-Pure, and we tasted the filtered water.
The chlorine was reduced to safe levels, up to the point where we could not smell it. And after testing the water, it revealed that the filter had worked wonderfully in treating the chlorine. So if you want to improve the taste and smell of your water supply (and it is due to chlorine), then this filter will work just fine.
Now, coming to the sedimentary part, the filter was able to remove all the large or small particles easily. And we were surprised to see how well the filter cleaned the dirty water sample. But there is a catch. After the filtration, we looked at the micron filter, and we could see that the larger and higher amounts of contaminants had taken a toll on the filter. So much so that we think if you get a lot of sedimentary contaminants in your water supply, such as sand or silt (especially in areas like Texas), then getting a pre-filter add-on would be a smart move if you want the micron filter to last long.
But overall, we are very satisfied and happy with what the filter does. Even though it cannot do a lot of filtration, it does well whatever it is made to do. But that’s not all the good thing we want to say about this water treater. Here are some of the best things, apart from the great water treatment, that we loved about the 3M Aqua-Pure AP904.
What We Loved About The Filter?
- Water Softener
- Average Water Flow Rate
The absolute best thing about this filter is the price, and also one of the reasons why we are being so nice to it! The filter is priced (at the time of writing this article) at just $232. That is a great price for the kind of filtration and water treatment it offers. It is a chlorine and sediment filter that comes at a great price and has the reliable name of 3M, making it one of the sweetest deals you can get. So for the price to feature ratio and the performance of this filter, the value is so high up that it makes total sense to get this filter. We would have loved some more focus towards filtration of other contaminants as well but it is fine.
We are glad to say that at this price range, this filter can filter an astounding 100,000 gallons of water. We know that we have reviewed filters that can churn out a million gallons of filtered water, but those filters cost almost a thousand dollars. At the price point, this filter is offering a great filter capacity.
The filter is a single filtration unit, so it is easy to find any place to install it. Heavy and large filters are usually a headache since they require a lot of space and a lot of elbow grease to fit in the ideal place. But this filter is handled like a breeze. So brownie points for compactness.
4. Water Softener
Along with great chlorine removal and sediment filtration, this filter can also treat water hardness and make it soft only up to a certain degree. It prevents those annoying build-ups around faucets and pipes. A great extra feature to have, even though it is not full-fledged. If your house water is slightly hard, this filter will take care of it easily.
What We Did Not Like About The Filter?
There were not a lot of things that we did not like about the filter. There are no great compromises, and where there are, they are easy to ignore because of the great price. So here’s just one complaint that we have with the 3M Aqua-Pure.
1. Average Water Flow Rate
The company claims that the Aqua-Pure can give a water flow rate of 10 GPM. While this sounds great for the price, during the test, we could get a max of 7 GPM water flow rate. Now, this could be a plumbing issue, but it is worth pointing out. Even 10 GPM is not a great number for three to four bathrooms.
Make no mistake; this is not a filter but a water treatment system. And it is one of the best water treatment systems you can get at this price. It removes chlorine with great efficiency and is very capable of removing all the sedimentary contaminants that usually creep into your water supply. So if you are a small family with a small home, and you’re looking to get rid of that awful taste and smell of chlorine, then this is the filter to choose.
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