Categories
ideahacks.com

10 No-Brainer Ways to Cut down on Waste with Eco-Friendly Gifts

We’re all trying to do our part to help the environment, which means doing away with unnecessary waste. Even seemingly minute efforts, like giving your loved ones zero-waste and eco-friendly gifts during the holidays, could have an impact on our Earth’s future.

Swapping out single-use items for reusable ones can make a big difference in the amount of plastic going into our landfills — the more people who make the switch, the greater the benefits.

And plastic isn’t the only type of waste we need to worry about. The average person creates paper and food waste each and every day. Much of this could be eliminated, reused, or recycled with minimal effort.

So if you know someone who can’t have a drink without sipping through a straw or uses single-serving coffee pods every morning, here are the best eco-friendly gifts to get them:

10 Everyday Consumables to Replace with Eco-Friendly Gifts (That Are Better Than the Originals)

We produce so much waste without realizing it. Many everyday items have reusable alternatives, yet we still turn to single-use items for our needs.

There are reasons for this. Often, the single-use versions are cheaper and more convenient. At the same time, consumers don’t always realize that reusable products exist.

So next time you’re shopping for the holidays or a special occasion, shine some light on these eco-friendly alternatives with your gift-giving.

1. Straws

Phasing plastic straws out of existence has, at this point, become a meme. Unfortunately, many people opposed to the switch think the only alternative to regular straws is to use soggy paper ones or go without.

Plastic straws are far from a necessity. But why are they so demonized in the first place? After all, they’re tiny when compared to other sources of plastic pollution.

The danger of plastic straws is actually a direct result of being so small. Straws are too small to be processed by most recycling plants — if they make it into the recycling bin at all.

People use straws at an astounding rate. Industry experts estimate the United States alone uses 500 million straws each day.

The Swig Life Telescopic Stainless Steel Straw Set is a collapsible straw that fits inside a tiny carrying case that easily attaches to a keyring or slides into a pocket or bag. The included brush is also collapsible and fits right in the case so that you can clean the straw on-the-go.

The Rain Straw is a recent Kickstarter success story that easily slides apart for cleaning. You don’t need a special brush or sprayer to clean the inside — just wash them with a sponge, towel, or in the dishwasher.

2. Water bottles

Getting in enough water while also steering clear of plastic bottles isn’t easy. It doesn’t help that most reusable water bottles are difficult to carry or stow in a bag when not in use.

Whether you’re shopping for a hiker, a college student, or just someone who can’t be bothered to haul around a giant Hydro Flask everywhere they go, eco-friendly hydration is within reach with a collapsible water bottle.

The Nomader Collapsible Water Bottle is great for anyone trying to cut down on their plastic bottle consumption. It holds up to 22 ounces, and the flexible body folds up tightly for storage. When you’re ready to fill it, the sturdy locking mechanism instantly adds support.

The HYDAWAY Hydration Travel Pack is another great style of a reusable water bottle. This water bottle uses an accordion-inspired design to collapse down. Although it holds an impressive 25 ounces when full, the entire water bottle collapses down to a mere 1.5 inches.

3. Shopping bags

Many countries have banned single-use plastic shopping bags altogether. In the United States, eight states banned their use. In England, large retailers must charge a fee for plastic bags to reduce the number used (and it seems effective).

On top of limiting the amount of waste produced every day, reusable bags are more durable than single-use versions. No more worrying about heavy items ripping straight through!

We all know that plastic is bad for the environment. But plastic shopping bags are also terrible for wildlife. Animals can easily get caught inside and suffocate. Plus, all it takes is a tiny gust of wind to send a plastic bag flying into a wetland, forest, ocean, or prairie.

Whether your giftee lives in an area where single-use bags are banned or not, reusable shopping bags just make sense.

The Houswork Reusable Grocery Bags are large, sturdy, and collapse down for storage in your car or pantry. Each bag features an upright design for easy loading and unloading. The manufacturer also uses recycled materials.

Of course, regular shopping bags aren’t the only plastic bags at the grocery store. The Ecowaare Reusable Produce Bags are a great alternative to single-use bags available from the store. They feature lightweight, see-through mesh and convenient drawstrings.

4. Food storage

Tupperware-style containers are great for storing leftovers or meal-prepping. However, when it comes to reusable food storage, there are far more options than you might realize.

Here are some of the newest reusable storage solutions your giftee is sure to love:

We all know someone who washes and reuses their ziplock bags. The Stasher Reusable Silicone Storage Bags are just the next logical step in cutting down on unnecessary plastic waste (and saving money!).

The Bee’s Wrap Reusable Food Storage Wraps Variety Pack includes seven sheets made of organic cotton and beeswax — no plastic here. You can use these sheets to wrap small food items or cover a bowl. They last for about a year, and you can compost them.

5. Coffee machine pods

Keurig and its competitors revolutionized the world of at-home coffee-brewing with their single-serve pods. Despite their overwhelming convenience, though, these pods add up to a lot of unnecessary waste.

If someone you know is wishing for a Keurig this holiday season, be sure to add one of these to their stocking. The YEOSEN Reusable K-Cup is a metal filter that works with Keurig 1.0 and 2.0 machines.

Is there someone on your shopping list who’s constantly on the go or doesn’t need to make an entire pot of coffee? Skip the Keurig and instead gift them a Bodum Travel Press. It features a built-in French press plunger for brewing coffee right in the mug.

6. Cotton toiletries

Following any skincare routine means using single-use items like q-tips, makeup wipes, and cotton rounds. When you do this every day (or even multiple times per day), it quickly adds up.

Reusable toiletries are becoming more and more popular. In some cases, they’re even gentler and more effective than their single-use counterparts.

If you’re on the hunt for the perfect stocking stuffer for a beauty aficionado in your life, why not help make their routine just a touch greener?

The Green Estate Reusable Makeup Remover Pads are great for removing makeup and applying skincare products like toner. These microfiber pads are extremely durable, easy to wash, and can replace thousands of single-use cotton rounds.

There are plenty of sustainable cotton swabs on the market, but you can do one better with the LastSwab Beauty Reusable Cotton Swab. It eliminates the need for paper or plastic swabs to clean up smudged makeup or achieve the perfect application.

7. Paper towels

Paper towels are yet another household item that is far more wasteful than we realize.

When you put together every household in the United States, the country goes through a whopping 13 billion pounds of paper towels per year.

Other countries prefer more sustainable clean-up methods, such as dish towels and sponges. So paper towels are far from necessary to keep a clean and tidy home.

There are plenty of eco-friendly gifts that will do the trick for those on your holiday list that is caught up in the United States’ obsession with paper towels.

The Natissy Reusable Paper Towels easily roll up to resemble a regular roll of paper towels. They’re made of thick cotton fabric and last up to five years.

If you don’t mind ditching the roll altogether, Swedish Dishcloths are durable and versatile. These cloths combine the best of a paper towel and a sponge. Cleaning them between uses is also super easy — just toss them in the dishwasher or the laundry.

8. Packaged soft drinks

Soda and sparkling water will probably never fall out of favor, at least not within our lifetimes. But drinking one or more bottled drinks a day can really add to the plastic sitting in our landfills.

If you’re looking for a green gift that will wow everyone, get your loved one a SodaStream Sparkling Water Maker.

Despite pushback from competing soda and water companies, SodaStream has been very vocal about cutting down on plastic and saving the planet. According to SodaStream, each of its reusable bottles can prevent up to 2,000 plastic bottles from entering landfills.

The company also has a recycling program for its carbonating cylinders. Rather than throw out their empty canisters, SodaStream owners can exchange them for new ones. SodaStream then refills the empty canisters, so they stay in circulation and out of the trash.

9. Fertilizer

Composting is, without a doubt, the best and most natural way to boost your soil quality. It keeps food waste out of landfills and reduces the need for chemical fertilizer.

Sadly, not everyone has the space for a DIY composting pile. So if you know someone who wants to try composting, here are some eco-friendly gifts to get them started:

The Miracle-Gro Small Composter is a self-contained composting bin that requires very little space. You can use it on a porch, patio, or rooftop. More importantly, it’s hassle-free and great for beginners.

If your giftee needs somewhere to keep kitchen scraps before adding them to the composter, get them something like the Bamboozle Food Composter. While this bin won’t actually compost anything, it offers a convenient and odor-controlled storage solution for the kitchen. That means no more wasted compostables when you don’t have time to take them outside.

10. Toilet paper

Across the globe, we use close to 184 million rolls of toilet paper each year. As you can probably guess by this point, the United States uses the vast majority of this.

Not only does toilet paper consume trees, but it also takes several gallons of water to transform raw tree pulp into the stuff you find on the supermarket shelves.

If there’s someone on your gift-giving list you feel particularly close to (or who has a good sense of humor), why not help them cut down on their toilet paper use while also enjoying a cleaner bathroom experience?

The TUSHY Classic Bidet Toilet Seat Attachment gets rid of the need for toilet paper almost entirely. It’s easy to install on any toilet, so your giftee won’t need to call a plumber.

On average, bidets use just one-eighth of a gallon of water with each use. This bidet also uses zero electricity, so you don’t need to worry about wasting power.

Wrap Your Gifts in Something Green

There’s no shortage of ideas for eco-friendly gifts, even for the pickiest people on your holiday shopping list. So if you want to make a difference this year, opting for eco-conscious gifts is a great place to start.

While you’re at it, ditch the single-use wrapping paper and go for something more environmentally friendly.

If you just can’t part with wrapping paper’s traditional look, try the Wrappily Eco-Friendly Reversible Wrapping Paper. It’s made from recycled newsprint and can be recycled or composted itself.

For the gardeners on your list, wrap your eco-friendly gifts with Triumph Plant Gift Wrap That Grows. This wrapping paper is made of recycled materials and contains wildflower seeds. Just make sure your giftee knows that the wrapping paper is a gift, too!

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with using a reusable gift bag or foregoing wrapping altogether. We all know the gift (and the thought behind it) is what matters.

Do you have any eco-friendly gifts on your own wishlist this year? Let us know in the comments below!

Categories
yourcoffeebuzz.com

10 Delicious Holiday Coffee Flavors That Are Not Pumpkin Spice

In its first 15 years on the menu, Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte sold close to 424 million cups worldwide. Even non-coffee drinkers are familiar with the chain’s so-called PSL, thanks to the countless memes born from its craze-inducing popularity. Unfortunately, this popularity has overshadowed many delicious holiday coffee flavors that have nothing to do with the autumnal gourd.

After all, even if you’re just brewing a cup at home, coffee is rarely just coffee anymore.

Roasters are constantly exploring new prep methods and releasing unique flavors to customers. At the same time, high-tech espresso machines and professional ingredients are becoming more and more accessible to the average coffee lover.

Put all of these factors together, and you have a recipe for innovative and delicious coffee-making without the hassle or expense of visiting a chain.

10 Festive Holiday Coffee Flavors to Make Yourself

As the temperatures drop and the days draw short, nothing is more tempting than a warm, caffeinated beverage. Even for fans of pumpkin spice, though, variety is the true spice of life.

From the first fallen leaf to the season’s very last snowflake, here are some of the best holiday coffee flavors to try making for yourself this year.

1. Maple

We enjoy maple syrup on our pancakes and waffles year-round, yet maple is decidedly seasonal in the world of coffee. Most coffee shops roll out their maple recipes at the end of summer or beginning of autumn — right alongside their beloved pumpkin flavors.

No breakfast spread would be complete without maple syrup, so it’s no surprise that maple-inspired coffees are pretty commonplace.

Our favorites are the Fall in Love Vermont Maple Grove Ground Coffee and the Crave Coffee Vermont Maple Flavored Coffee Pods. Maple-flavored creamer will up the intensity, but definitely isn’t necessary.

You can also easily transform an everyday latte into a maple one with a few servings of Torani Maple Flavor Syrup. Or use pure maple syrup from a local sugarmaker for a more authentic flavor.

2. Caramel apple

Before pumpkin spice stole the spotlight, no flavor was more synonymous with fall than apple. Personally, we love the trend of infusing caramel apple flavors with brewed coffee.

The simplest way to enjoy some caramel apple coffee is with The Original Donut Shop Caramel Apple Pie K-Cup Pods. Keep in mind, though, that these coffee pods are only available during the fall!

You can use flavoring syrups, like the Monin Caramel Apple Butter Syrup, to make a fall latte. Add a tiny bit to your regular cup of joe for a caramel apple twist you can enjoy year-round.

If you find yourself craving a quick-and-easy mug of hot cider or have little ones who probably shouldn’t have caffeine, Grove Square Spiced Apple Cider Single Serve Cups work just like any coffee-filled pod or K-Cup.

3. Black Forest

Black Forest cake probably isn’t the first thing to come to mind when brainstorming holiday coffee flavors. But it just makes sense and sounds delicious.

What’s not to love about rich, dark chocolate paired with the tartness of wild cherries?

At this time, no major coffee roasters have come up with their own version of this flavor. So if you want to try Black Forest coffee, you’ll need to make your own.

Start with your favorite dark chocolate mocha recipe. You can melt down chocolate bars or use a ready-to-go drink syrup like the Monin Dark Chocolate Flavored Syrup. Once you have your mocha, mix in a little bit of tart cherry juice or syrup to taste. Whipped cream is optional but always recommended.

For a Black Forest mocha that stays true to the cake’s roots, you can use d’arbo Sour Cherry Syrup imported from Austria.

4. Crème brûlée

Even if you’ve never taken a bite of this creamy dessert, you can probably picture its creation with ease. Once the dessert has set, a hand torch melts a thin layer of sugar on top.

The name crème brûlée, translating to burnt cream, succinctly describes the process of creating the crisp upper-shell.

While crème brûlée doesn’t “belong” to any particular season, its presence on the Starbucks winter menu has earned it a place on our list of holiday coffee flavors.

Crème brûlée’s creamy flavor pairs excellently with brewed coffee, so it’s not hard to find flavored beans. If you like the coffee chain’s seasonal drinks, try the Starbucks Crème Brûlée Flavored Coffee K-Cup Pods. For something from a smaller bean roaster, we like the Lola Savannah Crème Brulée Flavored Coffee.

Do you prefer lattes over plain, old brewed coffee? Then you’ll be thrilled to hear how easy it is to make a crème brûlée-inspired drink.

Torani has its own Crème Brûlée Latte recipe that uses its own syrups if you need some inspiration. But you can make a latte with any combination of caramel and vanilla you prefer.

5. Gingerbread

Gingerbread isn’t just for nursery rhymes and holiday decor. This mix of sugar and spice is the perfect complement to roasted coffee beans or decadent lattes.

When it comes to flavored ground or whole bean coffee, you have plenty of options. Most of these flavors only sell during the Christmas season, so stock up while you can.

For Keurig owners or similar single-cup brewers, we recommend the Brooklyn Bean Roastery Gingerbread Man Single Cup Coffee. Coffee lovers who prefer a traditional machine, French press or Aeropress should try the Tis the Season Gingerbread Ground Coffee.

You can absolutely create your gingerbread latte with spices from your pantry. However, we suggest using flavored syrup, like Torani Gingerbread Syrup, for coffee. Use the dry spice mix for garnishing your holiday drinks instead.

6. Christmas cookie

Of course, gingerbread men aren’t the only cookies left out for Santa. For a simple, sweet, and festive pick-me-up, look to Christmas sugar cookies for inspiration.

While many families have their heirloom recipes, the actual Christmas cookie flavor is unmistakable. You can replicate the taste and aroma of late-December with little more than cinnamon and sugar.

This flavor combo brings a subtle sweetness to roasted coffee beans. We like the Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Cinnamon Sugar Cookie K-Cup Pods or Cameron’s Coffee Cinnamon Sugar Cookie Coffee, depending on what brewing style your home uses.

You can also add Christmas cookie flavoring to your everyday coffee or create your own latte. The Torani Brown Sugar Cinnamon Syrup is an all-in-one option. If you’re on a low-sugar diet, try the Jordan’s Skinny Syrups Christmas Cookie Syrup as an alternative.

7. Candy cane

Peppermint went hand-in-hand with winter long before pumpkin spice became the “it” flavor of autumn. Its association with Christmas and winter as a whole, dates as far back as the 1600s, with the introduction of the candy cane.

Peppermint and coffee make a delicious combo — doubly so if you add chocolate to the mix. With the right ingredients on hand, you can enjoy peppermint with your coffee at any time of the year.

If you prepare your everyday coffee with a Keurig or other single-serving machine, we recommend trying the Cameron’s Coffee White Chocolate Peppermint Single Serve Coffee or The Original Donut Shop Peppermint Bark K-Cup Pods for your minty fix.

For traditional ground coffee beans, try Starbucks’ own Peppermint Mocha Flavored Ground Coffee.

You can create an at-home candy cane latte or peppermint bark mocha with a simple flavoring syrup like the Amoretti Premium Peppermint Syrup.

8. Eggnog

Served with or without a spike of alcohol, eggnog is one of those seasonal food items backed by an incredibly loyal fan base. Love it or hate it, eggnog is undeniably quintessential to the Christmas season.

The easiest way to enjoy an eggnog-infused coffee is a lot simpler than you might think. Just replace regular creamer with your favorite eggnog brand or homemade recipe! Use French vanilla coffee beans as a base to up the flavor.

If you prefer your coffee without cream or want to savor eggnog-flavored java outside of the creamy beverage’s brief sales window, opt for flavored beans instead.

This season, we’re enjoying the New England Coffee Eggnog beans and the San Marco Coffee Egg Nog Flavored Coffee.

As always, if you can imagine a flavor, a concentrated syrup exists to replicate it. Many big brands sell eggnog syrups during the winter months — some may be available all year. Two to try right now include the Torani Italian Eggnog Syrup and the DaVinci Gourmet Classic Egg Nog Syrup.

9. Chocolate orange

Over in Great Britain, Terry’s Chocolate Orange is a modern Christmas tradition. Don’t be fooled by appearances — it’s solid chocolate shaped like an orange, not a chocolate-coated orange.

Still, Terry’s does use a touch of orange oil to make these confectionery treats.

You might just be surprised by how well chocolate, orange, and coffee go together! If you enjoy coffee containing fruity notes, this combo is sure to be a hit.

Several roasters offer chocolate orange-flavored coffee beans, so we recommend checking your favorite local brand for this flavor. If you come back empty-handed, the San Marco Coffee Chocolate Orange Flavored Coffee and the Arbuckle’s Chocolate Orange Autodrip Ground Coffee are two great options.

Want to pay homage to this quaint stocking stuffer with a creamy mocha? Add a few drops of the McCormick Culinary Pure Orange Extract to your favorite dark chocolate mocha recipe.

10. Chestnut

Nearly everyone knows the line, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire.” But have you ever enjoyed roasted chestnuts during the holiday season?

While the tradition has faded over time, chestnuts were once a staple of winter diets in the eastern United States.

Cooked chestnuts are rich and slightly sweet, making them the perfect partner to a warm cup of coffee. Starbucks even features the flavor in its holiday exclusive Chestnut Praline Latte.

For your basic cup of coffee with just a hint of chestnut, we recommend the San Marco Coffee Roasted Chestnuts Flavored Coffee. Try the Christopher Bean Coffee Salty Chestnut Praline Flavored Coffee if you want to enjoy notes of caramel as well.

Sadly, chestnut isn’t a popular enough flavor to warrant its own selection of latte syrups. Instead, you can add similar flavors of nutty sweetness to your espresso drinks with praline. We suggest the DaVinci Gourmet Classic Praline Syrup, but any praline-flavored sweetener will do the trick.

Spread Good Cheer With Coffee This Year

Do you like brewed coffee or rich espresso? Are you a fan of cream and sugar, or do you take your coffee black? It doesn’t matter because there’s a way for every type of coffee drinker to enjoy a festive cup of joe.

While you’re at it, try combining flavors for something brand new. Or swap in your favorite local brands for the ones suggested.

We’ve recommended some of the best methods to create these holiday coffee flavors at home, but don’t be afraid to take some creative liberty. You might just stumble on a caffeinated masterpiece!

Christmas inspires most mainstream holiday drinks, but we know this is just one of the countless holidays celebrated during the season. We’d love to hear your suggestions for fall and winter coffee flavors inspired by other holidays and seasonal traditions in the comments below!

Categories
dailyshooting.com

Are You Ready to Make the Most of Deer Season?

Deer hunting is a beloved tradition throughout much of the United States. While numbers overall have dwindled, each deer season sees plenty of new hunters trying out the sport for the first time.

As any experienced deer hunter knows, taking the shot is just one piece of a much bigger puzzle. Tons of prep work goes into a successful hunting season, much of it taking place long before the deer opener itself.

Whether it’s your first or your fiftieth, it’s never too early to start getting ready for the upcoming deer hunting season.

10 Things to Check Off Your To-Do List Before Deer Season

In prepping for the hunting season, it’s easy to overlook the little things. Once you’re out in the field, however, the little things are what matter most.

Here’s what to do in the weeks and months leading up to your next deer season:

1. Scout your location

Unless you hunt in the same spot each year, it’s never too early to find a good location. Don’t be that hunter desperately trying to gain access to private land the week before hunting season kicks off.

Many landowners are happy to host hunters as long as they are safe and responsible.

Waiting until the last minute not only pits you against other hunters who are location-scouting but can also leave a bad impression on your local landowners.

If privately owned land isn’t an option, check out your local public access land. Some, but not all, public land is open to hunting.

Keep in mind that public land often comes with its own set of hunting guidelines. Not all publicly owned land is open for the entire deer season. There may also be restrictions on what time of day you can hunt.

2. Monitor the trails prior to deer season

When you plan ahead and have access to your hunting location long before the season starts, you also gain access to a whole host of information related to the native wildlife.

Trail cams may have turned into a hobby all on their own, but these little gadgets are invaluable to novice and experienced hunters alike.

By setting up trail cams in your planned hunting area, you can get a better idea of the local deer population and its movement patterns.

Some hunters set up trail cameras as soon as winter begins to turn into spring. For the average deer hunter, though, installing a few cameras at the end of summer should be plenty.

3. Prep your cover

Your hunting blind or tree stand is home base when out in the field. Achieving the perfect set up is a must for a great deer season. It can also be tedious, time-consuming, and super noisy.

Once you have your hunting locale narrowed down, get out there and prep your stand or blind. Ensure everything is sturdy and well-disguised. Be sure to account for any upcoming seasonal changes like falling leaves.

Ideally, you shouldn’t need to make any changes or adjustments on your first day out. Just show up and hunt.

Checking this off your to-do list early isn’t just about convenience. If you mess with your stand or blind too close to the deer season-opener, you’re going to scare away the exact animals you plan to hunt.

4. Clear all bait before deer season starts

Does your area permit deer bait or salt licks? More than half of all states ban this practice. But if your state is one that does allow baiting, be sure to remove all bait before your state’s cut-off date.

Most states require removal of bait one month before hunting season begins. Always check with your local Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for exact cut-off dates.

Deer baiting laws can change drastically from year to year. It’s a good idea for all avid hunters to stay up-to-date on the latest rules and regulations in their area.

Baiting laws can also vary greatly between private and public land. If you are hunting in a new location this deer season, double-check which laws apply.

5. Take annual inventory

Even if you hunt every year, a lot can happen during the off-season. Start each new deer season by checking all your gear and supplies.

The most obvious thing to look at is your weapon and ammunition of choice. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Check your hunting apparel and cold-weather gear for damage or excessive wear-and-tear. The earlier in the season you can replace these items, the easier it will be to find them in stock.

Once the big-ticket items are sorted out, make sure you have ample amounts of small necessities like hand warmers, first aid supplies, duct tape, and anything else you regularly use during the hunting season.

6. Noise-proof your gear

It’s difficult to describe the sheer silence of the undisturbed wilderness. No amount of visual camouflage will prevent the local deer population from hearing your every movement.

First, ensure all of your wearables are as quiet as possible. This is also a good time to trial-run any brand new gear for the season. Better to discover that noisy zipper pull or creaking pair of boots now rather than out in the field.

Second, address any sound issues with your shelter (this is just another reason why setting up early is so important!).

You can DIY your noise-proofing with insulation tape, rubber paint, pool noodles, and tons more household items for cheap.

7. Eliminate odors at the source ahead of deer season

Even if deer can’t see or hear you, they can smell you. And it’s much easier to kill odors at the source than to try and cover them up out in the field.

The best prep starts when you stow away last season’s gear. Storing everything in a garage or closet won’t be enough — invest in an airtight tote or sealed bag for everything.

When you pull out your gear for the season, give everything a good wash. Do not use any scented laundry products. You might want to clean your washer and dryer first to remove any residual odors.

8. Know your entrance and exit strategies

Good hunters know that even the best location is useless if you can’t get in and out undetected. Don’t sacrifice a great season for the sake of an unrealistic tree stand or blind setup.

There’s only one rule to nailing the perfect entrance and exit strategy: Steer clear of the places in which deer spend their time.

If you set up trail cams earlier in the year, use them to identify deer hangout spots and paths. This can take much of the guesswork out of getting to and from your shelter.

Of course, you should also use line-of-sight to hide your movements — even if you’re a good distance away from any deer.

Use dense tree lines and small hills to your advantage. An aerial view of your hunting spot can reveal a lot about which routes to try and which to avoid.

9. Monitor the forecast

Hunting in inadequate gear isn’t just uncomfortable. It can also be quite dangerous for those hunting in northern states or at high altitudes.

If you’re hunting in an unfamiliar climate, reach out to local hunters. You’ll be surprised just how valuable their advice can be, especially when it comes to braving harsh weather.

10. Know the process

Prepping for deer season often feels like a bunch of build-up to that perfect bow or gun shot. But there’s a lot you’ll need to do after landing that star buck or doe.

Will a successful hunt happen every season? No. But you need to assume you’re bringing home a deer regardless. Without a solid plan for processing, you’ll be left scrambling.

Many deer hunters process their own animals, but not all have the necessary space or resources. If you’re in a popular hunting area, some professional processors are so busy that getting in a last-minute deer isn’t always possible.

Before the season begins, know exactly where you’ll be transporting your kill for processing (and how you’ll get it there).

You’re One Step Closer to Landing the Perfect Shot

If you’re like many hunters, the days leading up to deer season are hard to patiently sit through. Fortunately, there’s nothing stopping you from getting started right now with some important planning and prep work.

Do you have any of your own must-do tasks for the hunting pre-season? Let us know about them in the comments below!

Categories
stayhunting.com

Insulated Rubber Hunting Boots Review: 10 Pairs You Need to Try This Year

From forest to field, there’s no shortage of great insulated rubber hunting boots on the market. While a big part of choosing the right boots for yourself relies on which shoes fit your feet best, you should also take a close look at the features offered by each model. Our rubber hunting boots review can help.

Sore, blistered feet can ruin even the greatest hunting excursion. To help you find the right pair for trudging through mud, snow, and everything in between, we’ve taken a look at some of the most popular boots available.

How to Choose the Right Hunting Boots for You

Before running out and buying one of the models listed in our rubber hunting boots review, it’s important to know what separates an okay pair of boots from an excellent one.

Insulation rating

Some insulated hunting boots advertise a rating, typically formatted as something like 800G or 1200G. This number refers to the insulating fabric’s weight — specifically, the number of grams per square meter. 3M Thinsulate is one of the industry standards for neoprene insulation.

Generally, the higher this rating, the greater insulation offered by a pair of boots. However, other construction details and materials can make a lower-rated pair more suitable for colder temperatures, and vice-versa.

Noise and odor reduction

You want your footwear to help you hunt, not hinder you. Improper hunting boots can make noise and release odors, scaring away game before you even get the chance to take a shot.

Look for a pair of rubber boots that are noise-free and include odor-blocking materials. These features are of equal importance whether you’re hunting with a firearm or bow.

Proper fit

If you’re going to be donning one of the shoes from our best hunting boots review, chances are you’ll be wearing them for several hours at a time. Whether you’re traveling over rough terrain or sitting up in a stand, the last thing you want is an uncomfortable or even painful fit.

Along with general fit, think about what socks or pants you’ll most often wear with your new boots. A pair of boots might fit fine with everyday socks, but throw on a pair of thick wool ones, and you’re in for a bad time.

For women and those with smaller feet, look into specific rubber hunting boots for women.

Insulated Rubber Hunting Boots Review: Top 10

We’ve looked at some of the most popular models currently available from a variety of the industry’s top brands for our rubber hunting boots review. While the following boots are numbered, they are listed in no particular order.

1. LaCrosse Men’s Alphaburly Pro 18″ Realtree Edge 1600G

The LaCrosse Men’s Alphaburly Pro 18″ Realtree Edge 1600G boots lead the pack in more ways than one. These hunting boots feature scent-free rubber covered in Realtree Edge camouflage that will blend into the natural environment year-round. With 1600G neoprene insulation, these boots offer protection down to minus 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

The gusseted design ensures your feet stay dry while also providing plenty of room for different leg sizes. LaCrosse’s Burly Pro outsole is one of the brand’s best for handling all types of tricky terrain, including mud and sludgy snow.

These rubber hunting boots will stay secure and comfortable throughout the day while still being easy to slip off when you finally call it a night.

Pros

  • Rated down to minus 70 degrees
  • Official Realtree Edge camo pattern
  • Flexible calf gusset for a better fit
  • Tread pattern resists mud build-up
  • Easy to put on and take off
  • Each boot weighs less than three pounds

Cons

  • Too warm for temperatures above freezing
  • Not as warm as expected
  • May not fit all feet

2. Irish Setter Men’s Rutmaster 2.0

Owned by parent company Red Wing Shoes, the Irish Setter Men’s Rutmaster 2.0 are some of the top bow-hunting boots around. These rubber boots for men feature a composite outer material that’s super lightweight and 800G neoprene insulation.

Hunters can choose from several different camo prints, including those by Realtree and Mossy Oak.

Each pair of boots features the brand’s ScentBan technology, which essentially kills off odor-causing bacteria that can build up over time. The backs of these boots are specially constructed to expand and contract, making it easy to put them on or take them off.

During wear, however, this flexible back helps lock the boots in place for a secure fit.

Pros

  • Made with lightweight RPM material
  • Thin, 800G-rated insulation
  • Outsoles resist mud and slippery surfaces
  • ScentBan technology prevents odor build-up
  • Available in several camo prints

Cons

  • Flexible heel is a known weak point
  • Older versions feature defective design
  • May run large

3. Muck Men’s Wetland Tall Boots

As the name implies, the Muck Men’s Wetland Tall Boots are for trudging around in the mud, water, and everything in-between. The top half of this boot is soft and flexible for easy movement while also sporting a snug-fit opening to keep out cold air.

Despite being entirely waterproof, these boots feature a breathable inner-lining to prevent moisture build-up and nasty blisters.

The neoprene insulation is 5mm thick and suitable for temperatures from 50 to minus 20 degrees. These boots are versatile enough for yard or farm work in cooler weather.

Pros

  • Specifically created for wetland conditions
  • Waterproof insulation keeps you warm and dry
  • Hard rubber layer protects against harsh terrain
  • Breathable mesh lining
  • Suitable for hunting, farming, fishing, and more

Cons

  • Not rated for extremely cold temperatures
  • Only available in solid colors
  • Poor traction on smooth, slippery surfaces
  • Soft upper is prone to snagging and ripping

4. LaCrosse Women’s Alpha Agility 1200G

The LaCrosse Women’s Alpha Agility 1200G boots are another great offering from the brand, though these obviously come in a smaller size range. These rubber boots are waterproof and equipped with 1200G neoprene insulation.

In other words, these will keep your feet warm and dry in temperatures from 30 to minus 60 degrees.

Built for an active lifestyle, the flexible shin panel and calf gusset offer tons of comfort and maneuverability. Plus, each boot weighs just over two pounds.

Pros

  • Built for temperatures down to minus 60 degrees
  • Secure heel with hands-free, kick-off design
  • Adjustable calf gusset for a custom fit
  • Each boot weighs less than 2.5 pounds
  • Thin, waterproof insulation

Cons

  • Not available in camouflage patterns
  • Too insulated for mild conditions

5. Bogs Classic High Mossy Oak

The Bogs Classic High Mossy Oak boots might not look as sleek as the competition, but these hunting boots are still worth a try. In many ways, their simplistic design is what garners support from hunters and outdoorsmen of all sorts.

Built with a hard exterior and a flexible inner-bootie, each boot is 100 percent waterproof and weighs just 2 pounds. These Bogs rubber boots feature 7mm Neo-Tech neoprene and are rated down to minus 40 degrees.

Pros

  • Comfortable in temperatures as low as minus 40 degrees
  • Available in camouflage and solid colors
  • Inner-bootie stretches for a perfect, comfortable fit
  • Rugged, non-slip outsole

Cons

  • Longer break-in period than expected
  • Inconsistent sizing
  • Poor grip on smooth surfaces
  • Shorter than other rubber hunting boots

6. HUNTSHIELD Men’s Neoprene Muck Boot

While not an industry heavy-weight product, the HUNTSHIELD Men’s Neoprene Muck Boot is popular among hunters. These boots feature a waterproof, hard-rubber exterior and odor-resistant fleece lining inside.

A layer of 4mm neoprene adds extra insulation, though HUNTSHIELD doesn’t provide a specific temperature rating for these boots.

These rubber boots offer many of the same details seen from big-name brands, including an adjustable calf gusset, reinforced toe, and a hands-free heel kick.

Pros

  • Elastic cuff keeps out cold air and moisture
  • Scent-free fleece and neoprene insulation
  • Soft insoles for added comfort
  • Hands-free heel kick design
  • Great option for hunters with large calves

Cons

  • Reinforced toe does not feature steel or composite material
  • Sizing runs small
  • Best suited for mild-to-moderate cold temperatures

7. Muck Women’s Wetland Tall Boots

If you need women’s sizing, the Muck Women’s Wetland Trail Boots are another excellent choice. Like the men’s version, these rubber hunting boots for women are also great for fishing in marshy areas or slushy snow. The bob-style outsole offers plenty of traction without adding weight or bulk to the boot’s overall design.

These boots feature 5mm Flex-Foam neoprene that is waterproof, insulating, and designed to prevent blisters.

The AirMesh lining also stops painful chafing by wicking away moisture trapped inside the boot. Like the Men’s Wetland Tall Boots, you can expect to stay comfortable in temperatures from 50 to minus 20 degrees.

Pros

  • Offers traction without a bulky, heavy outsole
  • Built specifically for women
  • Waterproof and moisture-wicking materials
  • Extra insole layer for added cushion

Cons

  • Not available in camo patterns
  • Too heavy for some wearers
  • May run large
  • Mud easily builds up on soles and sides

8. Rocky Sport Pro Rubber 1200G Insulated Waterproof Outdoor Boot

The Rocky Sport Pro Rubber 1200G Insulated Waterproof Outdoor Boot is rugged, comfortable, and easy to put on and take off. Unlike most other insulated hunting boots, these boots feature a heavy-duty zipper.

Not only does this small detail add convenience, but it can also minimize wear-and-tear caused by yanking your boots on and off.

Aside from its zipper, this boot is waterproof, includes a removable memory foam insole, and sports Realtree Edge camo across its exterior. And the 1200G 3M insulation is extremely thin while still providing plenty of warmth and protection from the elements.

Pros

  • Convenient waterproof zipper design
  • Optional memory foam insert
  • Official Realtree Edge camouflage overlay
  • Features 3M Thinsulate Ultra neoprene
  • Thick and rugged outsole

Cons

  • Heavier than other rubber hunting boots
  • Some customers report issues with the zipper
  • May run small/narrow
  • Not as warm as expected

9. HISEA Neoprene Insulated Hunting Boots

The HISEA Neoprene Insulated Hunting Boots are simple, functional, and often more affordable than other popular hunting boot brands. Available in several classic solid colors or camouflage, these insulated rubber boots are the perfect option for hunting or day-to-day.

Keep in mind, however, that they probably won’t hold up to heavy wear-and-tear.

Each boot features a waterproof layer of 5mm Flex-Foam insulation and a mesh inner-lining for breathability. The flexible upper material and rubber calf gusset work together to create a comfortable, custom fit.

The elastic cuff ensures warm air stays in while cold air, water, and dirt stay out.

Pros

  • Simple and affordable
  • Versatile enough for hunting or daily wear
  • Available in several colors and camo patterns
  • Snug, waterproof design
  • Hypoallergenic inner-lining

Cons

  • Less comfortable than other insulated boots
  • Not built to last
  • Waterproof exterior is prone to leaks
  • May run small

10. LaCrosse Men’s Burly 18″ 800G Thinsulate

If you’re in the market for versatile rubber insulated boots from a tried-and-true company, the LaCrosse Men’s Burly 18″ 800G Thinsulate boots are probably the best choice. These mid-weight boots are the perfect combination of sleek and outdoorsy design.

Whether you’re hunting or running errands in the mud and snow, the 800G insulation will keep your feet warm and dry without weighing you down.

These boots are entirely waterproof and include a wool midsole for natural insulation and odor-prevention. The adjustable cuff and molded ankle design help ensure a comfortable, secure fit.

Pros

  • Versatile enough for almost any occasion
  • Lug-style outsole offers increased traction in mud and snow
  • Rated down to minus 40 degrees
  • Wool midsole wicks moisture and repels odors
  • Durable and long-lasting

Cons

  • Only available in a single solid color
  • Not specifically designed for hunting
  • No insulation above the ankle
  • Reports of strong rubber odor

Conquer the Outdoors in Unbridled Comfort

For heavy-duty insulated boots that will keep you hidden, go for a pair like the LaCrosse Men’s Alphaburly Pro 18″ Realtree Edge 1600G or Bogs Classic High Mossy Oak boots.

For rubber boots that work for hunting or day-to-day chores, consider the Muck Wetland Tall Boots or LaCrosse Men’s Burly 18″ 800G Thinsulate boots.

At the end of the day, any of the styles listed in our rubber hunting boots review will get the job done. It’s all about what you want out of your new footwear.

So, which brands have you tried before, and what was your experience? Let us know in the comments!

Categories
pestkilled.com

Are Millipedes Poisonous? What You Need to Know About Pesty ‘Pedes

In 2004, scientists uncovered a fossilized millipede dating back 420 million years — that’s about twice as far back as the first known dinosaurs. Millipedes are literally prehistoric, so it makes sense that these wiggly bugs make our skin crawl. But are millipedes poisonous? Or even dangerous at all?

What Is a Millipede?

The term “millipede” does not refer to just one species. Across the globe, there are around 10,000 known species of millipede. In the same sense that the words “spider” or “insect” could refer to thousands (or even millions) of different species, the same is true for millipedes.

Speaking of which, millipedes are not a type of arachnid or insect. However, all of these creatures — along with crustaceans like lobsters and crabs — fall under a single taxonomical phylum known as arthropods.

Millipedes are segmented animals with lots and lots of legs. Every millipede has two pairs of legs on each segment of its body, minus the head. But despite their name, millipedes don’t actually have a thousand legs.

How big can a millipede get?

Every species of millipede grows to a different size, with some growing several inches long. However, the vast majority of millipedes are quite small. If you stumble across a millipede in your own home, chances are it will be about an inch long.

What do millipedes eat?

In terms of diet, millipedes are a crucial part of nature’s life cycle. These creatures feed on and help decompose decaying plant matter. Without millipedes, many ecosystems around the world would struggle to function.

Are millipedes and centipedes the same thing?

Millipedes and centipedes, while related, are not the same.

Like the term “millipede,” the name “centipede” refers to around 8,000 different species. Centipedes live in a wide variety of ecosystems all over the world.

Centipedes have just one pair of legs per body segment. Centipede species also vary in size, ranging from less than an inch to longer than a foot. On average, centipedes are bigger than millipedes.

Centipedes are largely carnivorous and hunt smaller arthropods for food.

How do you tell the difference?

If you get close enough, telling the difference between a millipede and a centipede is as simple as looking at the critter in question.

Centipede legs splay out away from the body while millipede legs sit underneath. Sometimes, you can’t even see a millipede’s legs from above, making it look like a very, very fast worm!

The environment you found the millipede or centipede in can also tell you something. Millipedes greatly prefer very moist, soil-rich locations. Centipedes can be found pretty much anywhere.

You can also make an educated guess based on how the millipede or centipede behaves. When disturbed, centipedes tend to run away as quickly as possible. On the other hand, most millipedes will curl into a tight ball as the first line of defense.

Are Millipedes Poisonous?

As we all know, even the smallest critters can be dangerous to humans and pets. Just look at the black widow spider.

Fortunately, millipedes are not poisonous. They also are not venomous and do not bite. When it comes to these many-legged animals, they are definitely more afraid of you than you are of them.

The one defense mechanism millipedes do have is a liquid toxin. When threatened, a millipede might release this toxin onto its body or even spray it at an attacker. Keep in mind that not all species of millipedes have this capability.

This toxin does contain some nasty chemicals, mainly hydrogen cyanide and hydrochloric acid. But the amount released is so, so small that it has no real way of harming a creature larger than the millipede itself.

In rare cases, touching this toxin can cause an allergic reaction. Symptoms normally include redness, itching, irritation, or small blisters.

What about centipedes?

Now that you know the answer to the question, “Are millipedes poisonous?” What about centipedes? They are more aggressive than their millipede friends, it makes sense that they would also be a bit more dangerous.

Centipedes use venom to hunt, and they do bite. While an extremely threatened centipede could bite a human or pet, it is rare. Most centipedes will run and hide rather than try to attack something much larger than themselves.

The larger the centipede, the more severe the bite is likely to be. Some species are even too small to break through human skin.

If a centipede does bite a person or pet, the symptoms are normally very mild. The bite location can turn red, swell, or itch, but just slightly.

In rare cases, a centipede bite can trigger a systemic allergic reaction. Potential symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Extreme swelling
  • Nausea
  • Heart palpitations
  • Itching

This response is similar to how some people are allergic to bee stings. At least one person has died from a centipede bite after going into anaphylaxis, so see a doctor immediately if any of these symptoms occur.

Millipedes Are in Your Home: Now What?

So you can rest easy knowing the answer to, “Are millipedes poisonous?” is no. But that knowledge probably doesn’t change your desire to rid your home of the multi-legged creatures.

Here’s what to do if you suspect millipedes have infested your home:

Identify the culprits

Before going any further, take a moment to confirm whether or not you’re dealing with millipedes or centipedes. The easiest way to do this is by catching one in a clear cup or jar — just long enough to get a good look without physically touching it.

While you have the offending creepy crawly in your possession, you can also try to identify the species of millipede or centipede. Look up common species in your area and see if any of the photos are a match.

Find what attracts them

Here’s the thing: Millipedes won’t invade your home without good reason. Instead, there’s likely something about your home that’s encouraged them to take roost.

Moisture

Millipedes love moist environments. If moisture builds up in your basement, garage, or shed, there’s a good chance the millipedes won’t be far behind.

Plant matter

We now know that millipedes primarily eat decaying plant matter. If you let your yard become a millipede’s gourmet buffet, they will come.

Keep plant debris away from your home’s foundation and outbuildings. Things to watch out for include grass clippings, fallen leaves, lumber piles, and excessive mulch.

Debris

Millipedes hate being out in the open, so the fewer hiding places you provide, the better. Upturned buckets and similar items can also collect moisture underneath.

Clean up large debris around your yard, garage, basement, and outbuildings to discourage the local millipede population from moving in.

Remove the infestation

Making your home inhabitable to millipedes is the most important step, but it won’t always clear out an infestation as quickly or as thoroughly as you’d like. You can use pest killer to help control the infestation. You might also find tons of dead millipedes left behind.

Use a broom or vacuum to pick up the remnants and take them outside. Living millipedes can live for quite a while inside a vacuum canister, so don’t forget to empty it right away.

When Should You Call a Professional Exterminator About Millipedes?

Professional exterminators are an invaluable tool for many homeowners. However, their services are rarely required for a millipede infestation.

Millipedes are overall harmless. Plus, they require a very specific environment to survive. As soon as your home no longer meets these needs, the millipedes will either naturally die off or pack up and leave.

One way professional exterminators can help control millipedes is with a perimeter treatment. This process essentially creates a chemical barrier around your home’s foundation, stopping unwanted pests in their tracks.

Perimeter treatments work on a wide variety of pests, such as ants, termites, and boxelder bugs. Different chemicals work better on different bugs, so tell your exterminator to treat specifically for millipedes.

Rid Your Home of Thousand-Legged Pests

So, are millipedes poisonous? No, but that doesn’t mean you need to live with them in your home. Taking just a few simple steps to rid your home of moisture and debris can make a huge difference in whether or not a millipede colony wants to set up shop.

If cleaning up your home doesn’t solve the problem, calling a professional exterminator is the next step. An exterminator can also treat your property to prevent future millipede infestations before they can occur.

Ultimately, a few millipedes living in your home aren’t a huge concern. Bu,t millipedes canindicatef another serious problem, such as a leaking pipe, cracked basement wall, or rotting debris. Millipedes might be harmless, but they shouldn’t be ignored.

Have you ever dealt with a millipede or centipede infestation? How did you deal with it? Let us know in the comments below!

Categories
smarthousetoday.com

ecobee vs. Nest: What You Need to Know About These Smart Thermostats

Smart thermostats are one of the most popular types of high-tech devices in today’s homes. If you’re ready to invest in one of these devices for yourself, you’re probably stuck on a big question: Which is better between ecobee vs. Nest?

Both ecobee and Nest make great products, especially when it comes to smart thermostats. In many ways, these two companies have shaped the smart home market we know today.

With that said, you can only have one smart thermostat in your home. So which will it be?

What Makes a Smart Thermostat so Smart?

Before we dive into comparing ecobee vs. Nest, what exactly differentiates a “smart” thermostat from a normal one?

On the surface, you might think a smart thermostat is just one with a digital interface. But the differences run much deeper than that.

What is a smart thermostat?

Smart thermostats are those that connect to WiFi or another local network. Once connected, users can control these devices via smartphones, computers, tablets, or voice assistants.

Obviously, the ability to control your home’s environment from your smartphone (yes, even when you’re not physically at home) is super convenient. But the value of a smart thermostat becomes even more apparent when you consider its energy-saving and home maintenance capabilities.

Are smart thermostats more energy-efficient?

If you take advantage of their energy-efficient features, yes. The ability to control different rooms and automatically adjust the temperature when no one is home are just a couple of examples of energy-saving features.

According to ENERGY STAR, the average U.S. household puts half of its energy spending toward heating and cooling. Because smart thermostats offer so much more control than traditional ones, making the switch can save you a ton in energy costs.

Can smart thermostats be installed in any home?

In most cases, yes. As long as your home has central heating and air, you can switch your normal thermostat to a smart version.

Many newer homes come wired specifically for a smart thermostat, making for quick and easy installation.

In older homes, you may need to update the existing wiring. A professional electrician should always take care of this process.

Also, not all HVAC systems are compatible with all thermostats — smart or not. Double-check which models will work with your existing system before jumping straight into the installation.

What You Need to Know About ecobee

Ecobee is a Canadian company that started making smart home devices in 2007. Of these devices, the brand is most famous for its smart thermostat systems.

Rather than rely on a single thermostat, ecobee makes SmartSensors that you can place in high-traffic or important rooms, like a family room or bedroom, to monitor the environment. They can also detect when a room is occupied or empty, adjusting the temperature accordingly.

Energy-efficiency is also a top priority for ecobee products. The eco+ software adjusts for peak usage times and takes advantage of cleaner, cheaper energy sources whenever possible. It can even pull in cool air from outside your home to prevent unnecessary AC use.

Right now, ecobee’s top smart thermostats include the SmartThermostat with Voice Control and the ecobee3 Lite.

ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control

The new ecobee SmartThermostat with Voice Control does away with the need for a separate voice-operated device. Instead, Amazon Alexa is built right into the thermostat itself.

On top of adjusting your home’s temperature, you can make phone calls, control audio, ask questions, and more with just your voice. You can also control the ecobee SmartThermostat from your smartphone, tablet, or computer.

This thermostat works with HVAC accessories like humidifiers and dehumidifiers, something not seen in most models. It also includes one ecobee SmartSensor, with additional sensors sold separately.

Pros

  • Amazon Alexa software built-in
  • Includes one SmartSensor
  • Sleek design and user interface
  • Compatible with one- and two-stage HVAC systems
  • Adjusts humidity in compatible homes
  • Connects to Android and Apple devices

Cons

  • Reports of WiFi connectivity issues
  • Lack of integration with other Amazon Alexa devices
  • Smartphone app is slow and clunky
  • Resets in the case of a power outage

ecobee3 Lite

As an older, budget-friendly model, the ecobee3 Lite #EB-STATE3LT-02 misses a few notable features seen in the SmartThermostat.

First, it does not have built-in voice control via Amazon Alexa. You can still use voice commands with the ecobee3 Lite, but you will need a separate Google Home, Amazon Echo, or similar device.

Second, it does not come bundled with an occupancy sensor or SmartSensor. The ecobee3 Lite is compatible with SmartSensors, though, so you can always purchase them separately.

In terms of design, the ecobee3 Lite is slightly smaller than the SmartThermostat. It also utilizes a plastic screen rather than a glass one.

The ecobee3 Lite is compatible with most central HVAC systems but does not support accessories like humidifiers or dehumidifiers.

Pros

  • Compatible with all major voice assistants
  • Great for first-time smart thermostat users
  • Works with up to 95 percent of HVAC systems
  • Easy-to-use scheduling system
  • App works on Android and Apple devices

Cons

  • No built-in occupancy sensor
  • SmartSensors sold separately
  • Inconsistent energy data-tracking
  • Does not support HVAC accessories
  • Plastic screen may scratch

Taking a Closer Look at Nest Thermostats

In the world of smart home technology, Nest is probably one of the most recognizable names around. Since purchasing the company in 2014, Google slowly transitioned Nest products into its Google Home lineup.

Like ecobee’s SmartSensors, Nest uses Bluetooth-enabled Temperature Sensors #T5000SF to track different rooms’ activity and environment. Keep in mind, however, that these sensors don’t work with all Nest thermostats.

Nest products have a simple, user-friendly design. This attention to detail also extends to the brand’s energy-saving features. To encourage good habits, users receive real-time feedback for eco-conscious decisions in the shape of a Leaf icon on the thermostat’s interface.

The Nest Learning Thermostat is the best-rated model currently available, but the new Nest Thermostat offers many (but not all) of the same features at a more affordable price.

Nest Learning Thermostat

The Nest Learning Thermostat #T3007ES isn’t the company’s newest device, but it is one of its most popular.

The Nest Learning Thermostat is the last model to use the original Nest app. It’s unclear whether Google plans to migrate this model to the Google Home app at some point.

The Nest Learning Thermostat does not feature a built-in voice assistant. You need a separate device like the Google Home, Nest Hub, or Amazon Echo for integrated voice controls.

The Nest Learning Thermostat does not come bundled with any sensors but is fully compatible with them.

Pros

  • Automatically displays temperature, weather, and time
  • Compatible with most voice-control assistants
  • Optional battery backup
  • Available in several metal finishes
  • Adjusts to household schedule over time
  • User-friendly energy tracking features

Cons

  • Nest Temperature Sensors sold separately
  • Voice controls not built-in
  • Not currently supported by Google Home app
  • Lackluster custom scheduling capabilities
  • Frequent reports of Nest app crashing

Nest Thermostat

The Nest Thermostat #G4CVZ is the company’s newest model and the first to be fully integrated into the Google Home app.

One of the Nest Thermostat’s biggest selling points (at least compared to the Nest Learning Thermostat) is the affordable price. Customers will need to give up a few core features to take advantage of this deal, however.

The Nest Thermostat does not come with additional Temperature Sensors and, at least at this time, is not even compatible with them. For homeowners interested in mapping out their home’s different rooms, this alone could be a deal-breaker.

The Nest Thermostat is compatible with just 85 percent of HVAC systems, which is a big drop from the Learning Thermostat’s 95 percent compatibility rate.

Pros

  • Designed for use with Google Home software
  • Attractive casing comes in multiple colors
  • Touch-enabled screen
  • Offers full control over temperature schedule
  • Built-in battery backup
  • Works with standalone voice control devices

Cons

  • Only compatible with up to 85 percent of systems
  • Does not work with Nest Temperature Sensors
  • Downgraded occupancy-sensing
  • Does not adapt to users schedule on its own

ecobee vs. Nest: Which Is Better?

Looking at the thermostats above, it’s clear that both companies know how to cater to smart home enthusiasts of all walks of life. But which is the best match for you?

Temperature control

Let’s set aside the futuristic appearance and high-tech features for a moment to look at what you really want from a thermostat. In other words, which device offers the most reliable temperature control?

While Nest’s learning software is convenient, it lacks hands-on control and customization. Some users have trouble overriding the Nest Learning Thermostat’s schedule. The newer Nest Thermostat does away with this feature in favor of manual scheduling.

The ecobee thermostats are less intuitive at first, but most users agree they can’t beat the customization.

Energy efficiency

Whether you opt for ecobee or Nest, upgrading to a smart thermostat is almost guaranteed to save you money.

If you have zero desire to set up a custom schedule, the Nest Learning Thermostat is likely the best eco-bang for your buck. While not perfect, it’s a good option for hands-off users.

For those willing to fine-tune an energy-efficient HVAC schedule, though, ecobee tends to be more user-friendly.

Voice features

So, when comparing ecobee vs. Nest, which is better for google home? The answer is that it depends.

If you want but don’t already own an in-home voice assistant, the ecobee SmartThermostat is the clear choice. This thermostat practically replaces the need for a separate device like the Google Home or Amazon Echo. The only major downside is that you can’t choose where to place it.

If you already have a voice-control device (or don’t care to own one), then any ecobee or Nest thermostat will do.

Otherwise, both companies support all the major in-home voice assistants. You can also set up voice control from your smartphone or tablet.

User interface

Voice controls aside, the Nest user interface takes the lead in simplicity and aesthetics. Nest’s leaf icon, indicating when a user has made an energy-saving decision, is a favorite among users.

The Nest models also include Farsight, which automatically lights up with key information like temperature, weather conditions, or the time when someone walks past.

The ecobee and original Nest app both seem to suffer from slow loading times and crashes.

Appearance

Both ecobee and Nest make beautiful devices, especially when compared to traditional thermostats.

The ecobee thermostats are sleek and low-profile. The Nest Learning Thermostat is a bit bulky, but the newer Nest Thermostat is just as stylish as the ecobee models.

One advantage the Nest thermostats has over ecobee is the option to choose from several casing colors.

Product support

Both ecobee and Nest are large companies with overall positive reputations with customers. While some users have experienced lackluster tech support, these reports are fairly few and far between.

The ecobee SmartThermostat and ecobee3 Lite each come with a three-year limited warranty.

The Nest Learning Thermostat comes with a two-year limited warranty. The new Nest Thermostat only comes with a one-year limited warranty.

What Is Better: Nest vs. ecobee? The Result

In comparing ecobee vs. Nest thermostats, there is no clear winner. Both companies are at the forefront of smart home technology and manufacture great products.

The ecobee SmartThermostat is an easy choice for homeowners who want built-in voice control. If you want a thermostat that you can truly set-and-forget, go with the Nest Learning Thermostat.

The ecobee3 Lite and newer Nest Thermostat are simpler models with fewer features. For homeowners just dipping their toes into smart technology, though, they’re quite affordable and easy to use.

Whether you opt for ecobee or Nest, you’re sure to notice greater comfort in your home. You might even enjoy some energy savings, too.

Do you have experience with any ecobee or Nest products? What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below!

Categories
vacuummania.com

Top 6 Shark Vacuum Cleaners and Why You Need One for Your Home

It’s hard to imagine a time without vacuum cleaners, especially when you consider that the United States spends almost $10 billion on them each year. Much of this revenue is split between just a few major industry players, including Dyson, Bissell, Roomba, and Shark vacuum cleaners.

Shark is easily one of the biggest names in vacuum cleaners, offering a diverse range of products that include new technologies like cordless power and robotic vacuums. For the average consumer, it’s pretty clear that Shark has no shortage of models to choose from.

But are Shark vacuums good for every homeowner, or is it all just marketing? And while each of these vacuums promises to transform how you clean your home, some are bound to do a better job than others.

The 6 Best Shark Vacuum Cleaners You Can Buy Right Now

We’ve put together reviews for some of the best Shark vacuums currently available, ranging from traditional uprights to app-operated robots.

Expert reviews, product specifications, and consumer feedback were all used to make this list. The following vacuums are in no particular order.

1. Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away with Self-Cleaning Brushroll Upright Vacuum — ZU632

Whether you live in a multi-story home or a small apartment, the Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away with Self-Cleaning Brushroll Upright Vacuum is an undeniably innovative machine. While this vacuum looks like your typical upright machine at first glance, the entire canister lifts away to more easily vacuum stairs, upholstery, and other hard-to-reach surfaces.

As part of Shark’s Rotator line, this vacuum offers a decent amount of maneuverability for its size. This model also features front-mounted LED lights to illuminate hard-to-reach areas as you clean while the self-cleaning brush prevents annoying and potentially damaging tangles from human or pet hair.

This is also a decent option for allergy-sufferers since the Shark ZU632 is entirely sealed and includes a HEPA filter. However, emptying the canister can reintroduce dust and dander to the air, even with the anti-allergen filter.

Pros

  • Doubles as an upright and handheld vacuum
  • Sealed HEPA filtration traps allergens
  • Bright LED lights for more visibility
  • Self-cleaning brush bar won’t clog with hair
  • Easy to maneuver around tight spaces

Cons

  • Emptying the canister can release dust
  • Power cord is shorter than some other models
  • Most attachments sold separately

2. Shark Vertex Upright Vacuum — AZ2002

New doesn’t always equal better, but the Shark Vertex Upright Vacuum certainly steps up to the challenge. As the brand’s newest full-scale vacuum, this model offers pretty much every feature under the sun.

Along with a lift-away canister and self-cleaning brush head, the AZ2002 also includes Shark’s DuoClean PowerFins. This means the vacuum has two brush rolls that work simultaneously, one picking up small dust and debris while the other penetrates deep into carpet fibers.

At the time of its release, the AZ2002 is Shark’s most powerful vacuum. Like the brand’s other high-end models, this one includes sealed HEPA filtration to fight allergens.

Pros

  • Lift-away canister allows for handheld cleaning
  • Fully sealed filtration system
  • Dual, self-cleaning brush rolls
  • Front-mounted lights for added visibility
  • Extra-strong suction power

Cons

  • New release that may have unknown issues
  • More expensive than other Shark vacuums
  • Loud motor

3. Shark Rocket Pet Pro Cordless Stick Vacuum — IZ163H

As the name implies, the Shark Rocket Pet Pro Cordless Stick Vacuum is specifically designed to tackle the unique challenges of pet owners. Most importantly, it features Shark’s self-cleaning technology to prevent pet hair from getting stuck on the brush bar.

As one of Shark’s cordless vacuum options, this model leads the pack in convenience. Each battery offers up to 40 minutes of continuous use. Recharging the battery takes about four hours. Since the battery can be charged outside of the vacuum, you can invest in back-ups for longer cleaning sessions.

While this vacuum features a pretty small dust canister and will need frequent emptying, it does comes with the same HEPA filtration as Shark’s heftier models. It also comes with a crevice tool and pet multi-tool attachment for more detailed cleaning.

Pros

  • Lightweight design for upright or handheld use
  • HEPA filtration helps fight household allergens
  • Self-cleaning brush bar prevents pet hair buildup
  • Flexible wand makes it easy to reach under furniture

Cons

  • Top-heavy design prone to tipping over
  • Battery life limits cleaning time
  • Dust canister requires frequent emptying

4. Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+ Cordless Handheld Vacuum — CH951

For small spaces and small messes, a full-sized vacuum can be overkill. The Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+ Cordless Handheld Vacuum delivers much of the same convenience and cleaning power as the brand’s full-size models in a significantly smaller package.

Despite its small size, this vacuum is built to tackle pet hair and dander. The powered brush attachment is self-cleaning to prevent pet hair from getting tangled around the brush bar. It also includes a CleanTouch ejection button, so you don’t need to touch the dirty canister when emptying it.

The Shark CH951 handheld vacuum utilizes split filtration to separate out large dirt particles and protect the internal filter. However, the built-in washable filter does not protect against allergens as well as the brand’s HEPA-equipped vacuums.

Pros

  • Weighs under three pounds
  • Washable and reusable built-in filter
  • Includes a crevice tool and power brush
  • Hands-free dust canister ejection button
  • Large dust canister for its size

Cons

  • Not designed for cleaning large spaces
  • Maximum 10-minute continuous battery life
  • Does not feature HEPA filtration
  • Weak suction compared to full-sized models

5. Shark IQ Robot XL Vacuum — RV101AE

If hands-free cleaning is more your style, Shark also manufactures a few robotic vacuums. Of these, the Shark IQ Robot XL Vacuum is the most deluxe option by far.

Like most robot vacuums, this model won’t deep clean dense carpets or rugs. But the Shark RV101AE will pick up large debris on top of your carpets and can handle almost any mess that’s on a hard surface. If you have pets or family members with long hair, the self-cleaning brush rolls will ensure this vacuum doesn’t jam up in the middle of a job.

Compared to other robotic vacuums on the market, the Shark RV101AE offers tons of smart connectivity. You can use your smartphone or Amazon Alexa to control the vacuum, including designating specific rooms you want cleaned.

Pros

  • Available with or without self-emptying base
  • Compatible with most smartphones and Amazon Alexa
  • Customizable house and room maps
  • Self-cleaning brush rolls

Cons

  • Won’t replace a full-sized vacuum cleaner
  • Hard to target specific messes
  • May leave behind clumps of pet hair
  • Known to have software bugs

6. Shark Rocket Corded Stick Vacuum — HV302

For flexible, lightweight cleaning without needing to worry about a rechargeable battery, check out the Shark Rocket Corded Stick Vacuum. While this machine is more or less the predecessor of the brand’s newer cordless models, it still packs quite a punch of its own.

This vacuum is ultra-light, weighing in at just under eight pounds (just over three pounds in handheld mode). Fingertip controls placed at the top of the vacuum make it easy to switch between cleaning hard floors and carpet without bending over.

This model also has Swivel Steering for plenty of maneuverability and breaks down for compact storage. If you or someone you know has limited mobility and is looking for a vacuum, the Shark HV302 is easily one of the top contenders currently on the market.

Pros

  • Lightweight and very easy to maneuver
  • Converts to a corded handheld vacuum
  • Includes multiple attachments
  • Great for those with limited storage space
  • Multiple settings for different floor types

Cons

  • Very small dust canister
  • Not ideal for allergy-sufferers
  • Top-heavy design does not stand up on its own

How to Choose the Perfect Vacuum Cleaner for Your Home

Whether you opt for one of these Shark vacuums or another brand entirely, you’re about to make a big investment. Before you settle on a specific model, make sure your new vacuum cleaner is going to meet all of your and your household’s needs:

Floor type

Not all vacuums are created equal, and choosing the wrong one for your home’s floor type can greatly impact your new vacuum’s efficacy.

Unless your home is made up entirely of hardwood, tile, or linoleum (and you don’t plan to vacuum any large areas rugs), you’ll need a vacuum with a spinning brush called a beater bar.

Along with removing hair from your carpet fibers, the beater bar loosens ground-in dirt and helps maintain your carpet’s overall appearance. Some vacuums come with powered brush attachments for tackling dense upholstery, curtains, and small rugs.

Vacuums designed solely for hard flooring do not have a beater bar — some surfaces can actually be scratched or otherwise damaged by one. For homes with both types of flooring, choose a vacuum with an optional brush bar for the best results.

Corded vs. cordless

Take a look at any major vacuum brand’s current lineup, and you’re almost guaranteed to find a few cordless models in the mix. Since very few of us enjoy dealing with restrictive, tangle-prone cords, it’s easy to understand why these vacuums are gaining in popularity.

Unfortunately, owners of cordless vacuums give up a lot for added convenience.

For example, top-of-the-line cordless models max out at about an hour of battery life. Many cordless vacuums also have less suction power than similarly priced corded ones.

So before you jump at the opportunity to own a new cordless vacuum cleaner, think about if one of these machines can truly meet your home’s needs.

Attachments

Most vacuum cleaners come with at least one or two attachments, often designed for cleaning stairs or furniture. Some popular Shark vacuum attachments include the:

  • Crevice Tool
  • Dusting Brush
  • Wide Upholstery Tool
  • Pet Power Brush

Before deciding on a specific vacuum model, it’s also a good idea to research what type of after-market attachments are out there. Popular brands, including Shark, often have a wide variety of official and off-brand attachments available.

Remember: Every vacuum model is compatible with certain attachments. You can learn which official attachments fit your vacuum’s model number on the Shark website.

Bagged vs. bagless

As a whole, the modern vacuum cleaner market has a strong preference for bagless models. After all, once you purchase one of these vacuums, you don’t need to worry about hunting down and buying new bags every couple of months.

Still, some consumers (myself included) prefer bagged vacuums.

In many cases, bagged vacuums last longer because dirt and dust is trapped as soon as it enters the machine. Using a bag might be less convenient, but it also makes emptying the vacuum’s dust chamber easier and a lot less messy.

Allergy-sufferers, in particular, should take note. No matter how well your vacuum filters the air while it’s running, you’re going to reintroduce some of that dust back into your home when you empty the canister. Because of this, high-quality filtration is going to be even more important than with a traditional bagged model.

Discover a New Level of Clean

With so many models available, Shark really does have a vacuum for almost every household. If you want to go big, then the brand new Shark Vertex Upright Vacuum is the most obvious choice. Or if you need something lightweight and compact, try something like the Shark Rocket Pet Pro Cordless Stick Vacuum.

Many of Shark’s top vacuum cleaners also offer innovative technology like app-compatibility or cordless power. These machines might not be for everyone, but they certainly show why Shark is one of the companies at the forefront of vacuum cleaner technology.

Have you ever owned a Shark vacuum cleaner? What was your experience? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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The 8 Best Water Softener Shower Heads for Your Home

Why would you even consider a water softener shower head? Are you going through bottles upon bottles of conditioner just to keep your hair feeling soft?

Does your skin feel tight and itchy the moment you step out of the bath?

Do you notice an unpleasant odor coming from your shower head every morning?

All of these signs point to potentially harsh chemicals and minerals in your home’s water. While the compounds commonly found in tap water are generally harmless — if you’re at all concerned, please get your water professionally tested ASAP — they don’t always play nice with our hair and skin.

Fortunately, installing one of the best water softener shower heads on the market can help.

What You Need to Know About Water Softener Shower Heads

The home improvement sphere is full of tools and gadgets promising to upgrade your day-to-day life. So when it comes to water-softening shower heads, are they really worth your time and money?

Before you can make that decision, it’s important you fully understand what a water softener is and how a shower head filter can (or cannot) replicate one.

What is a water softener, and how does it work?

There are many different water filtration systems on the market, with water softeners being just one sub-type.

True water softeners work by exchanging harsh mineral ions for sodium (salt) ions. Calcium and magnesium are the minerals most frequently targeted by this method.

Other filtration systems use physical filters (like activated carbon ) to remove unwanted particles and chemicals in your tap water. These systems mimic the benefits of water softening without facilitating the actual process.

But this all begs the question:

Do water softener shower heads actually soften water?

Right now, we don’t know of any shower heads that qualify as true water softeners.

Why?

Because the water softening process takes a long time (much longer than it takes for water to pass through your shower head). Instead, the best water softener shower heads work hard to duplicate the benefits of soft water without the bulk or expense that comes with a full-size system.

Since each filtration medium targets specific contaminants, it’s never a bad idea to test your home’s water before choosing a shower head. The best water softener shower head for your home won’t always be the best option for someone else.

Can a shower head filtration system benefit the hair and skin?

Yes! Actually, healthier hair and skin is one of the most talked-about reasons for installing a water softener or filtration system in the home.

When we shower, our goal is to step out of the bathroom feeling 100-percent clean. But bathing in hard or unfiltered water can lead to a buildup of harsh minerals — no matter how hard you scrub.

Mineral buildup along the hair follicle can make post-shower styling more difficult and even cause your dye job to fade faster. Hard water can also interfere with the skin’s natural oil production, leading to dryness, enlarged pores, redness, and other unwanted side effects.

While the best way to combat hard water is with a whole-home water softener, investing in a physical filtration system for your shower can also make a huge difference.

8 Best Water Softener Shower Heads

There’s no shortage of shower head filters available on the market, with some offering better results than others. But for our review, we focused on the best filtration systems that provide results similar to soft water.

To select the best products, we compared customer reviews, product specifications, filter media, and third-party certifications. The following reviews are in no particular order.

Paragon Integrated Shower Filter WMF1

Rating: 5.0 out of 5.0 stars

The Paragon Integrated Shower Filter WMF1 offers a simple, low-profile way to improve your shower’s water quality. The shower head features five spray settings and an attractive chrome finish. Once installed, no one will even know it doubles as a filter.

The filter cartridge itself uses KDF (Kinetic Degradation Fluxion) and proprietary media to target harsh and unpleasant chemicals in your water. Each cartridge will filter approximately 10,000 gallons.

This shower head filter is NSF-certified for chlorine reduction, removing up to 99-percent of chlorine. It also claims to reduce water-borne chemicals like hydrogen sulfide, radon, and calcium.

Pros

  • Filters 99-percent of chlorine
  • May improve hair and skin health
  • Removes calcium found in hard water
  • No tools required for installation

Cons

  • Requires frequent filter changes with regular use
  • Limited shower head features

Culligan WSH-C125 Filtered Shower Head

Rating: 4.8 out of 5.0 stars

The Culligan WSH-C125 Filtered Shower Head is another option for softer water without the bulk of a large filtration unit. It features five adjustable spray settings and installs easily without any special tools.

Like the Paragon shower head, this one houses a small filtration cartridge inside the nozzle itself. Each cartridge filters up to 10,000 gallons (approximately six months of regular use).

The replaceable Culligan cartridge uses KDF media to remove chlorine, sulfur, and scale. It also includes a patented layer that specifically filters bacteria from your water and prevents bacterial growth inside the shower head.

Pros

  • Filters out 99-percent of chlorine
  • May reduce hard minerals like calcium and magnesium
  • Simple installation process
  • Covered by limited five-year warranty

Cons

  • Requires filter changes at least every six months
  • Massage spray setting is too powerful for some

Culligan ISH-100 Inline Shower Filter

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.0 stars

The Culligan ISH-100 Inline Shower Filter delivers filtered water to your shower with a slightly different shape than the other water softener heads we’ve looked at so far. While the shower head design is still compact, it’s not quite as streamlined as the Culligan WSH-C125.

This shower head only comes with one baseline setting. However, it does provide a slightly higher water output than the Culligan WSH-C125 (2.0 versus 1.8 gallons per minute).

In terms of filtration, the Culligan ISH-100 Inline Shower Filter works just like the Culligan WSH-C125. Both use the same Culligan WHR-140 filter, just housed in a different style of shower head.

This shower head effectively filters out 99-percent of chlorine, along with removing sulfur odors and other harsh chemicals. It also contains Culligan’s patented antibacterial layer to remove and prevent water-borne bacteria.

Pros

  • Removes 99-percent of harsh chlorine
  • Eliminates and prevents bacterial growth
  • May filter out chemicals that damage hair and skin

Cons

  • Filter must be changed at least every six months
  • Non-adjustable spray head
  • Not as attractive as other Culligan shower head filters
  • Some users report leaking around the filter compartment

Aquasana AQ-4100 Premium Shower Filter

Rating: 4.6 out of 5.0 stars

At first glance, the Aquasana AQ-4100 Premium Shower Filter is one of the bulkiest options out there. But that bulk hides a powerful filtration cartridge that promises to deliver.

The NSF-certified Aquasana filter uses coconut shell carbon and KDF media to remove up to 90-percent of chlorine and other harsh chemicals. It also claims to balance your water’s pH level.

Because this shower head attachment uses an upflow design, you don’t need to worry about weakened water pressure after installation. The extra-large filter compartment also maximizes the amount of contact between your shower’s water and the filter materials.

Pros

  • Multiple shower head options
  • One-year manufacturer warranty
  • Claims to improve the efficacy of hair and skin products

Cons

  • Filters must be changed twice per year
  • May not filter as much chlorine as competitors
  • Bulky filter housing
  • Some users say the filter is hard to change

AquaHomeGroup Handheld Shower Head with Filter

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.0 stars

If you prefer a handheld wand to a regular shower head, the AquaHomeGroup Handheld Shower Head with Filter is another great option. This stylish filter includes a sleek chrome finish and easily doubles as a wall-mounted shower head when needed.

While this water softener shower head only has one setting, its default spray and water pressure are well-liked by users. Many compare it to a smaller version of a luxury rain shower.

The standout feature of the shower head filter is its use of 15 filtration layers. Some of these layers use trusted media like activated carbon and KDF. Others claim to infuse beneficial vitamins and minerals (like vitamins C and E) into the water rather than remove harmful ones.

Pros

  • Filters out chlorine and fluoride
  • Doubles as a wall-mounted and handheld shower
  • Claims to add beneficial vitamins and minerals to water

Cons

  • Each filter lasts only six months
  • Layered filtration may affect water pressure
  • No adjustable spray settings
  • Chrome finish is prone to flaking off

WaterChef SF-7C Premium Shower Filtration System

Rating: 4.4 out of 5.0 stars

The WaterChef SF-7C Premium Shower Filtration System is yet another option that doubles as both a wall-mounted and a handheld shower head. With its flexible 60-inch hose and five spray settings, this filter is great option for homes with pets or small children.

The shower head itself features rubber nozzles to prevent clogs and make routine cleaning a bit easier. Similarly, the hose leading from the filter to the shower head is lined with silicone to prevent harmful buildup and odors.

While this filter uses catalytic carbon to specifically target chlorine, it may also remove other harsh chemicals. Each cartridge features ThermalGuard technology, which helps ensure effective filtration even at high temperatures.

This water softener shower head comes in three finishes to best match your existing bathroom fixtures. Compatible filters last an average of six months and are easy to replace.

Pros

  • Long, flexible hose for easy handheld use
  • ThermalGuard filter works at any temperature
  • Available in three attractive finishes

Cons

  • Too bulky for some showers
  • Requires frequent filter changes
  • May impact water pressure
  • Handheld unit is too heavy for some

SparkPod Filtered Shower Head

Rating: 4.7 out of 5.0 stars

The SparkPod Filtered Shower Head boasts an impressive 12-layer filtration cartridge. As we’ve already seen, more isn’t always better in the world of water filtration. But this shower head is still one of the top models currently on the market.

This shower head filter features three spray settings. The shower head itself is equipped with specialized nano nozzles that help maintain high water pressure at all times. Switching between settings is also made simple with the easy-to-access lever.

The filter cartridge includes activated carbon and KDF as two of its layers, both of which target chlorine, fluoride, and other harsh chemicals. Among its other ten stages, you’ll find ceramic balls, vitamin C, and magnets — though some of these materials aren’t proven to make a difference in overall water quality, they also won’t do any harm.

Pros

  • Easy to switch between spray settings
  • Nano nozzles help deliver higher water pressure
  • Uses filtration media that targets chlorine

Cons

  • Filter cartridges only last three to four months
  • 12-stage filtration may impact water pressure
  • Some filtration stages may not be effective
  • Users report little improvement in filtered water

The Reign Shower Head

Rating: 4.3 out of 5

Compared to many of the other filters we’ve reviewed, The Reign Shower Head is extremely sleek and modern-looking. Made entirely of metal (not painted plastic), this filtration system looks just like a normal shower head until you take it apart.

While this head only comes with one default setting, it delivers a rainwater-inspired shower that many users enjoy. The laser-cut micro nozzles help ensure the best water pressure possible.

The filtration cartridge claims to remove 80- to 90-percent of the chlorine in your water along with dissolved solids. Although each filter should last up to eight months, some users reported only getting two or three months out of one.

Pros

  • Sleek, luxury rainwater-style shower head
  • Easy to install in almost any shower
  • Filters up to 90-percent of chlorine

Cons

  • Filter cartridge lifespan varies greatly
  • Removes less chlorine than competitors
  • Micro nozzles may clog easily
  • Filter housing is prone to leaking

Is a Water Softener Shower Head the Right Choice for You?

As we know, shower head filters aren’t truly capable of transforming hard water into soft water. But many homeowners (and renters) still stand behind the benefits of such fixtures.

So should you invest in a shower filtration system of your own? Do you need to install a water softener to see real results? Or are you better off just leaving well enough alone?

Shower head filters vs. whole-house water softeners

Whole-home water softeners are expensive and require regular maintenance. For many homeowners, the investment is entirely worth it. For others, the slight benefit of having soft water falls short of the sheer cost of such a system.

Another key point to consider is whether or not a water softener will “fix” your home’s water. While these systems work great against hard minerals like calcium and magnesium, they won’t do anything to remove chemicals like chlorine.

On the other hand, shower head filters excel at removing harsh chemicals like chlorine and fluoride.

Although these chemicals are technically harmless in small amounts, some people find that their home’s unfiltered water dries out their hair and skin. By removing chlorine and other common chemicals, shower head filters can mimic the effects of a water softener without the expense of one.

Are there any drawbacks to using a water softener shower head?

Depending on the filter you use, some shower heads can negatively impact your water pressure. If this is a concern for you, stick to filtration systems that only use one or two different media to get the job done.

Fortunately, the issues most often associated with whole-house water softening systems don’t apply to shower head filters. And if you want to enjoy the benefits of cleaner hair and softer skin, there’s no need to worry about it affecting the water throughout the rest of your home.

Transform Your Shower Experience in an Instant

Oftentimes homeowners will jump straight to blaming hard water for their problems, but whole-home water softeners only target very specific minerals. In many cases, though, you can get similar results with a water softener shower head.

Whether you go for the Paragon Integrated Shower Filter WMF1, the Aquasana AQ-4100 Premium Shower Filter, or one of the other great filtration systems we’ve mentioned, you can start enjoying better water with your next shower.

Of course, water softener shower heads are just the beginning. For more information on the best whole-home water softener systems, be sure to read our review. Or to learn more about the water softening process as a whole, check out our blog post on how water softeners work.