Readers of my blog know that posting critical product reviews is not my thing, but this company appears to be perpetrating one of the most sophisticated healthy product cons I’ve seen in awhile. This is textbook greenwashing and I’m compelled to expose it.
Humans are impressed by beautiful things, and the Soma water filter is certainly that.
Dubbed by many as a “Better Brita”, Soma describes their product as a “beautifully innovative, sustainable water filter”.
And at first glance, I have to admit, it is quite the attention getter.
The Soma boasts a german-engineered glass carafe, and a filter made entirely from biodegradable materials, including coconut shells, silk, and a plant-based plastic casing instead of chemical-based plastic.
$99 bucks gets you the Soma carafe and a 1 year supply of filters. The filters need replacing every two months at an eventual annual cost of about $78 per year.
And after baiting you with all of the eco-friendliness, they set the hook with charitable consciousness. A portion of the proceeds from every sale goes to charity:water (a personal favorite) to help install clean water wells around the world.
Exhibit A: Picture of a guy sporting a charity:water hoodie and t-shirt.
Soma was named one of “25 Companies That Will Change the World” by Inc. Magazine, and the #1 Design Story of the Year by Fast Company in 2013.
And they raised $100,000 on kickstarter in 10 days.
With a quick google search you will find what appears to be every website on earth praising this product, including Tree Hugger, Techcrunch, Glamour and GQ, and influencers like Tim Ferris and Oprah.
Ok well I guess that about sums it up, this might just be the perfect product,
a healthy hipster must-have.
But I feel like I’m forgetting something…
Oh yeah, so how well does the filter work?
Employees scatter… Crickets chirp… A tumbleweed rolls by…
Apparently it doesn’t?
In fact I’m not sure what even qualifies this as a “water filter”, as it doesn’t appear to filter out anything.
If you’ve done any research on water filters, you may have noticed that a major selling point of a water filter is its ability to remove contaminants from your drinking water, and of course most water filter companies tout the degree to which their filters are able to do that.
But not Soma.
They make absolutely no claims that their “filter” filters out anything, choosing instead to seduce you with sexy curves and global consciousness. See for yourself.
On this page Soma states that “chlorine is carcinogenic and toxic,” implying that you really should filter your water. I agree!
The product description page says, “Proven to reduce aesthetic chlorine, taste and odor.”
Ok they mention reducing chlorine, but the precursor “aesthetic” seems a bit odd…
On their FAQ page they answer the question, “What does the Soma filter out?”
With this: “The Water Quality association (WQA) tested Soma to NSF/ANSI Standard 42 requirements for materials safety, and chlorine taste and odor reduction.”
The Soma was tested for using safe non-toxic materials, and for its ability to reduce the taste and odor of chlorine, aka “aesthetic chlorine”, but notice two things:
1) They fail to mention how well it did in that test, only that it was tested.
2) They are not claiming to actually reduce any measurable amount of chlorine (or anything else) from your drinking water, only the smell and taste.
So it’s essentially a water deodorizer. AKA Total Imposter.
Soma seems to be clean water what Healthy Choice cookies are to health food.
Also I can’t help but find it strangely ironic that they chose the name Soma, which was the name of the drug in Brave New World given to the population to keep them passive and docile. And there’s a chemical added to our drinking water which also does that… Fluoride.
Fluoride is an ingredient in both PROZAC (FLUoxetene Hydrochloride) and Sarin nerve gas (Isopropyl-Methyl-Phosphoryl FLUoride).
Oh, and fluoride calcifies your pineal gland, wrecks your thyroid, and causes a host of other problems in the body.
If you want to go further down that rabbit hole, read this post:
How a toxic poison ended up in our water supply
So yeah, chlorine and fluoride are super bad, but there’s a lot more to be concerned about.
Mercury, lead, aluminum, cadmium, chromium 6, copper, arsenic, viruses, bacteria, parasites, toxic chemical fertilizers like glyphosate and atrazine, and antibiotics from the meat and dairy industry have polluted our ground water, rain water and tap water. These are serious contaminants that are literally making people sick and causing cancer.
Earth to Soma, do you copy?
I appreciate the spirit of what you’re trying to do. Really I do. But in the grand scheme of things, making our drinking water taste and smell a little less like chlorine is really not helping people or the planet.
I sincerely hope you figure out how to make an eco-friendly and effective water filter. That would be amazing. But for the time being, the product you are selling right now is, in my opinion, worthless. All form, and no function.
Thinking about the fact that people are buying Soma filters under the false pretense that it is removing contaminants and improving the purity of their drinking water makes me one frustrated fellow. It is unconscionable. And that is why I stayed up past my bedtime to write this. Only people who know me know what a big deal that is!
After I posted this article, the two founders of Soma booked a coaching call with me and then when I got on the phone introduced themselves (gotcha!) and then asked me to take down this article. We actually had a nice conversation and I explained to them that if they could send me test results that verified which contaminants the Soma filter actually removed, then I would update this article.
They said they would me test results. And never did.
[Two year later… December 2016 Update]
The founder and CEO of Soma emailed me asking me to take down this post again.
Soma’s latest claim is “Our new and improved filter is tested and certified by the Water Quality Association (WQA) against NSF/ANSI Standard 53 for the reduction of mercury and copper, and Standard 42 for the reduction of chlorine taste and odor and zinc. You can find us listed on the WQA website as a certified product.”
Sounds like they’ve made some improvements (great!), but when I tried to verify their listing on the WQA website link above which they provided, it wasn’t there… (hmmm)
Here’s a wild idea Soma… How about posting independent lab test results on your website that show how much of each contaminant is actually removed.
Claims like “certified for the reduction of x element” don’t hold much water (ahem) unless the consumer knows how much reduction is actually happening. Is it 99%, 50% or 1%?
To my readers, water is a critical element of life, without it you die. But we live in a toxic world, so it is imperative that you purify your drinking water.
I recommend investing in a proven, highly-effective filtration system proven. The sad reality is that most water filters are pretty lousy and filter out very little. So do your research.
There are three types of filtrations systems that remove upwards of 99% of contaminants: reverse osmosis, distillation, and my personal favorite the Berkey Water Filter.
Here’s to truly clean water.
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