If you've been looking for a countertop gravity filter that makes water more alkaline and also removes fluoride, you know it's about impossible to find one.
Santevia has been making alkaline water filters for more than 10 years. Their popular gravity filter has always been able to remove a variety of contaminants, but it couldn't remove fluoride.
Well, Santevia recently made a big change to the filter. It has all the great features of the older version, with the added benefit of fluoride reduction.
What are the features? How does it work? Does it really make the water more alkaline? What are the good points, and are there any shortcomings?
Keep reading to find out the answers to these questions and what I learned through my research and by actually using the Santevia in my home.
Santevia Gravity Filter Features
Works by Gravity
Just pour unfiltered water into the top part of the system, and gravity does the rest. The water seeps down through all the layers of filtration and collects in the bottom holding chamber until you're ready to use it.
So there's no messing with your plumbing and no need for electricity.
You can keep it on your kitchen counter or a table, and you can take it with you when you travel.
9 Stage Filtration
Stage 1: Ceramic Pre-filter
This ceramic disc-shaped filter has tiny 0.3 micron pores that allow water to pass through while blocking bacteria, parasites, microplastics, rust, and dirt.
It's located in the top chamber of the Santevia system, where you pour in the unfiltered water.
The water seeps through into the main fluoride filter cartridge, which contains Stages 2 through 7.
Stage 2: Activated Alumina
Here's where the fluoride removal takes place. The material is NSF certified, and it reduces fluoride up to 98%.
Activated alumina is one of the few effective ways to filter out fluoride. And don't worry - this is not the same thing as aluminum, and it won't harm you or the environment.
Suggested Reading - Activated Alumina Fluoride Removal Myths (at Clear Choice Water)
Stage 3: Granular Activated Carbon (GAC)
GAC, made from coconut shell, is great for removing many of the worst contaminants from drinking water.
It takes out bad tastes and odors, and reduces chlorine, heavy metals, and a wide array of chemicals.
Stage 4: Kinetic Degradation Fluxion (KDF)
KDF works alongside GAC to help remove chlorine and heavy metals like lead, copper and mercury.
Another benefit of KDF is its ability to inhibit the growth of bacteria and mold. So it helps to keep the system fresh and clean.
Suggested Reading - KDF: How It Works
Stage 5: pH Mineral Balls
These balls add calcium, magnesium, and other trace minerals to the water. This raises the pH level of the water, making it more alkaline.
Stage 6: Mineral Stone Infusion
Small pieces of Maifan stones add minerals to increase alkalinity, plus they help to oxygenate the water.
Suggested Reading - Benefits of Maifan stone (Osmio Water Technology)
Stage 7: Natural Silica Sand
Silica sand is commonly used in water filtration. It's made of tiny grains of quartz rock and serves to polish the water.
Stage 8: Mineral Stones
Two types of stones are placed in the bottom holding chamber of the system.
- Energy balls help stabilize the pH and break up large water molecules to allow for better absorption of the minerals.
- Maifan stones add magnesium, calcium, potassium, zinc, and other trace minerals to the water.
Stage 9: Magnetic Energizer
This final stage takes place in the spigot. You can't see them, but there are magnets inside the nut that holds the spigot in place.
According to the manufacturer, the magnets "activate, realign, and energize water molecules for greater absorption."
I haven't done any research on magnetized water, myself, so I can't say whether or not there is truly any benefit to it.
Other than the filtration media and the magnets, the system is made entirely of plastic. The plastic, however, is BPA free.
A big advantage of this system over pitcher type alkaline filters is its size.
The Santevia holds almost 4 gallons of water - 1.3 gallons in the upper tank, and 2.6 gallons in the lower tank.
Please note, however, that if the bottom chamber is full of filtered water, you shouldn't put any more water in the upper tank, or it will overflow.
But, if you're taking water out, you can go ahead and add more to the top. That way you'll have a good amount of water ready to drink all the time.
What are the dimensions?
It stands 23.5 inches high and has a 12.5 inch diameter.
And it does take up a lot of space on your kitchen counter. You can see in this photo how large it is in relation to my counter and cabinets, and how it compares to the Santevia pitcher.
What does the Santevia filter out?
Of course, if you're going to invest in a water filter, you'll want to know if it can handle the contaminants that you're most concerned about.
Here's a list of the contaminants Santevia claims their gravity filter will remove or reduce:
- organic chemicals
- pesticides and herbicides
- heavy metals
- bad taste and odors
How do we know this is true?
Well, I'm afraid we'll just have to take their word for it.
There is no published third party lab test data that we can use to verify the claims.
That's not to say that they're being dishonest. I have no reason to think that. But it would be helpful if they would share this information with the public. A little bit of transparency goes a long way.
Santevia does do in-house testing against the NSF Standard 42 for aesthetic impurities (in other words, bad tastes and smells).
And, they state on their website:
We also have our products tested by an independent third party laboratory on a regular basis to ensure that our products meet the standards set out for quality and performance.
That's saying something, but not enough, in my opinion. I hope that in the future Santevia will publish third party lab test results like many of the other top water filter manufacturers do.
What kind of water can I put in it?
The manufacturer says to use only biologically safe, potable water.
So that basically means city water or well water that you know is free of bacteria. I'm not sure why this is, given that the ceramic filter removes biological contaminants.
But I wouldn't take a chance, and I wouldn't put water from a stream or pond in it.
How can I test the alkalinity of Santevia filtered water?
The best way to test for water alkalinity is by using pH test drops.
Paper pH test strips are good for mixed solutions, but they're not accurate for measuring the pH of plain water.
I ran a few tests on the Santevia system myself, using SANASTEC brand pH test liquid, which I bought on Amazon. (Check it out at Amazon here.)
You just add 3 drops of the liquid to a small sample of water. The water changes color, and you match the color to the chart to find the approximate pH. Neutral is 7.0. Anything lower is acidic, and anything higher is alkaline.
First, I tested plain water from my sink.
My water comes from a well, and it already has a lot of minerals in it. So you would expect it to be on the alkaline side straight out of the tap.
Adding the pH test drops turned the tap water teal, which indicates a pH of between 7 and 8 - slightly alkaline.
The filtered tap water turned blue from the test drops, which means a pH between 8 and 9. There wasn't much difference between the two. It's hard to tell in the photo below, but I could see a slight difference in real life.
So, the Santevia made my tap water a tiny bit more alkaline.
Next, I tested bottled distilled water.
Since distilled water has no minerals in it, I would expect to see more of a difference if the Santevia was doing its job.
Plain distilled water turned yellow with the drops, meaning a pH of between 5 and 6. That's somewhat acidic.
I ran a jug of distilled water through the Santevia and tested it with the drops. Again, it turned blue.
That means the filter raised the pH of the distilled water from about 5 to about 8. That's quite a difference.
So, what can we conclude from this?
It's clear that Santevia does indeed increase the alkalinity of water. How much it changes will depend on the pH of the water you put into it.
And, by the way, I thought the distilled water tasted much better after it had been filtered. Probably because I'm used to drinking water with minerals in it.
How long does it take to filter the water?
Just like all gravity filters, the Santevia works slowly.
That's not necessarily a bad thing, though. Longer contact with the filtration media means better filtration.
In general, after the initial setup, it takes about 3 to 4 hours for all the water in the top chamber to filter through.
But, the top chamber is smaller than the holding chamber. So that means it'll take about twice that long to get a full 2.6 gallons of filtered water.
The good news is that you don't have to wait for all the water to filter through in order to use it. As soon as the filtered level is higher than the spigot, you can start dispensing it.
To keep a steady supply of filtered water, it's best to keep putting more water into the top throughout the day. Or fill it at night before you go to bed so that it'll be full in the morning.
If you find that it slows down a lot, that might mean that the ceramic pre-filter is clogged up and needs to be scrubbed. Some people just go ahead and scrub it every week to keep it clean and flowing.
How long do Santevia filters last?
The answer to this question is a little complicated. There are three components to the filter system, and each has a different filter life.
Here's the breakdown:
- Fluoride (main) filter - up to 4 months
- Ceramic pre-filter - 1 year
- Mineral stones - 2 years
So, if you buy a new system, you'll need to replace the fluoride filter at months 4 and 8. At the end of one year, you'll replace the fluoride filter plus the ceramic filter.
The second year is the same as the first year, except that you'll also have to replace the mineral stones at the end of the second year.
Then the cycle starts all over again.
By the way, this information is not in the user manual, for some inexplicable reason. I had to do a little digging and found it at the Santevia website, in the FAQs and in the maintenance document.
Where can I buy replacement filters?
You can check the price and availability at Amazon by clicking on these links:
Replacement filters are also for sale at the Santevia website, both individually and in discounted bundles.
The replacement filters are kind of pricey in relation to the cost of the system, in my opinion.
I added up the cost of all the replacements you'd need over two years, and it was only a few dollars more than the cost of the entire system.
Given that the parts are made of plastic and not all that durable, you might be better off buying a whole new system every two years rather. Your call!
What's in the box?
When you buy a Santevia countertop system, you'll get everything you need to get started:
- All system parts
- Complete set of filters and mineral stones
- Scrubbing pad (for the ceramic pre-filter)
- User manual
Here's a photo of all the included parts, before putting it together.
Is it easy to set up?
Yes, it's easy to set up, but it does take a while. Like, all day, and then some.
Putting the system together, including proper cleaning and preparation of the filters took me about 45 minutes.
Then - and this is very important - you have to fill the top chamber and let it filter through completely, discarding the filtered water. And you have to do this twice.
The first fill took about 7 hours to filter. I'm not sure how long the second one took because I put it in before I went to bed. It was all done in the morning.
The third fill - the one I could finally drink - took about 4 hours.
So, don't expect to be able to drink filtered alkaline water the same day you get the system!
I thought about making a video of the set up process, but Santevia already has one. Here it is...
What kind of maintenance do you have to do on the Santevia gravity filter?
You'll need to do some maintenance to keep it clean and working properly.
First of all, the manufacturer recommends that you scrub the ceramic pre-filter on a weekly basis. This is done under running water with the scrubbing pad included with the system, or a similar pad.
Then, as I mentioned before, you should replace the fluoride filter every 4 months.
Every 6 months, disassemble the system and wash all the parts. At the same time, take the mineral stones out of the bottom chamber and put them in boiling water for 10 minutes.
At the one year mark, you'll also need to replace the ceramic pre-filter. And, at two years, you'll replace the mineral stones.
Where are Santevia water systems made?
The Santevia countertop system is designed and tested in Canada, and it's manufactured in Malaysia. This information is printed on the box.
Does it come with a warranty?
Santevia offers a 90 day warranty on the system and a 30 day warranty on the filters. They will repair or replace it, but you pay for the shipping.
There's also a 30 day money back guarantee. You'll be refunded if you return the unit in its original condition.
Please note: This policy only applies to products purchased on Santevia.com. If you have purchased the goods at another store/location, you will be subject to their return/refund policies.
What are the pros and cons of this system?
Based on my own experience and what others say, here's a quick summary of the pros and cons for the Santevia countertop system.
Santevia Gravity Filter Pros and Cons
What People Like
Don't Like So Much
Can I get it without the fluoride filter?
The Santevia countertop system only comes with the fluoride filter. This is a recent change.
But maybe your water doesn't have fluoride. Or maybe it does, and you'd rather not have it removed.
If that's the case, you can buy an original Santevia 5-stage filter separately and switch it out with fluoride filter. The 5-stage is exactly like the fluoride filter, but it doesn't have the activated alumina stage, so the fluoride stays in the water.
Click here to check the price and availability of the 5-stage replacement filter at Amazon.
Santevia vs Zen: What's the difference?
These two water filtration systems look and act a lot alike, but there are a few differences you'll want to note.
- Fluoride - Santevia removes fluoride; Zen does not.
- Ceramic pre-filter - They are shaped differently. Santevia's is a flat disc, and Zen's is dome-shaped. Functionally, they're the same.
- Mineral stones location - Santevia's are loose in the bottom of the holding chamber; Zen's are inside a case.
- Mineral stones replacement - Santevia's last 2 years; Zen's last 3 to 5 years.
- Available sizes - Santevia has one size (4 gallons); Zen comes in 4, 6 or 8 gallons.
(Check the price and availability of the Zen system at Amazon here.)
Santevia vs Berkey: What's the difference?
Are you wondering how the Santevia gravity filter compares to the Berkey gravity filter?
The biggest difference is that, although neither removes beneficial minerals from the water, the Santevia adds more minerals to the water, and the Berkey does not.
That's not the only difference, though. Let me break it down for you.
- Housing materials - Santevia is all BPA free plastic; Berkey is stainless steel (with the exception of the Berkey "Light").
- Fluoride filtration - Both use activated alumina, but Santevia's is included in the main filter; Berkey uses an additional (optional) fluoride filter.
- Contaminant reduction - Berkey removes more contaminants and has third party lab test documentation to validate claims; Santevia has no published data.
- Water source - Santevia should only be used with treated water; Berkey can be used with any water except saltwater.
- Filter life - Santevia fluoride filter lasts 4 months; Berkey fluoride filter lasts 6 months. Santevia 5-stage (no fluoride filtration) lasts 6 months; Berkey Black filter (no fluoride filtration) lasts 3 to 5 years.
- Available sizes - Santevia has 1 size; Berkey has 6 sizes.
- Setup - Berkey is much faster and simpler than Santevia.
- Warranty - Santevia's is 90 days on system and 30 days on filters; Berkey's is 12 months on system and 2 years on Black filters.
Suggested reading - For more information on Berkey, please see my Berkey filters buyers guide.
Where can I buy a Santevia gravity water system?
I'd recommend checking the price and availability at both Amazon and Santevia.
If you buy from Santevia, you'll get free shipping. Plus, if you subscribe to their email list, you can get 10% off your first order.
Verdict: Good choice if you want an alkaline water filter plus fluoride removal
The Santevia countertop isn't the only gravity filter out there that removes fluoride.
But, as far as I know, it's the only one that removes fluoride and adds minerals to the water.
There are other ways to make water more alkaline - like adding mineral drops or lemon juice to your drinking water.
But, if you like the idea of having that done for you while the water is being filtered, then you'll probably be happy with the Santevia.
The only hesitation I have is the lack of published data on the filter's effectiveness. As I said, I don't have any reason to disbelieve the company's claims, especially knowing that the filtration media used in the unit are well known to be effective in reducing contaminants.
See my review of the best gravity filters for more information about other brands.
Disclaimer: I was provided with a free Santevia gravity filter in return for my honest review. I have not - nor will I - receive monetary compensation from Santevia for this review. All opinions expressed herein are my own and not influenced by the manufacturer and/or its affiliates, in any way.
Last Updated on August 5, 2023