The Refillable Water Filter That Will Cut Down on Your Brita Waste

Phox Water
Phox Water

If you’re not lucky enough to live in a city with great-tasting, safe-to-drink tap water, you probably go through your share of plastic water filters. But while filtration systems like Brita or PUR pitchers make your water tastier and healthier, those disposable filters aren't great for the environment. A new eco-friendly water filter aims to change that.

The Phox water filter features a reusable cartridge that you can refill with packets of filtration mixture once a month. The five-stage filter design—which you fill with the company’s coconut shell-based purification powder—softens hard water, improves taste, and removes chlorine, copper, lead, and mercury. The 1-liter pitcher takes roughly eight minutes to filter.

A woman pours a filtration packet into the Phox water filter cartridge
Phox Water

The purification packets come in two different mixture options. The Clean Pack removes contaminants, odors, and heavy minerals, but doesn’t add any flavors. It makes the pH of your water neutral or slightly acidic, perfect for water you're going to use for coffee or tea. The Electrolyte Option, meanwhile, removes all the same contaminants, but also adds in sodium, calcium, and magnesium. This makes the water alkaline, with a pH somewhere between 8.0 and 9.5. (There’s little scientific evidence to show that alkaline water provides any health benefits, but some athletes swear by drinking alkaline water to improve performance. Others just enjoy the taste all those minerals lend the water.)

A cardboard box and three Phox refill packs
Phox Water

The Glasgow-based Phox Water estimates that 100 million plastic water-filtration cartridges end up in landfills every year. To make a more environmentally responsible product, Phox’s pitcher and refillable cartridge are made out of recycled plastic, and its refill packets are shipped in cardboard and paper. Each filtration pack lasts approximately 45 days (or 44 gallons).

Buy it on Kickstarter for $59 and up, with shipping scheduled for August 2019. Refill packets will cost about $9 each for a 45-day supply.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

ThinkGeek Is Merging With GameStop, and Everything is 50 Percent Off Right Now

ThinkGeek
ThinkGeek

ThinkGeek, that beloved destination for nerdy goods like Star Trek bathing suits, Game of Thrones doormats, and astronomy-themed jewelry, is moving. While the site isn't going out of business, it is merging operations with its parent company, GameStop, and shutting down its website in the process. "After this move, you will be able to shop a curated selection of unique items historically found on ThinkGeek.com via a ThinkGeek section at GameStop," the site explains. And that's good news for you, if you're looking for a bargain. 

ThinkGeek is clearing out inventory by offering 50 percent off everything on its website. That includes 20-side-die-themed waffle makers, constellation lamps, unicorn wall sconces, and more. There are whimsical goods and apparel designed for fans of everything from Doctor Who to The Avengers to Star Wars to J.R.R. Tolkien to Harry Potter to Firefly to Pokemon. Love Funko POP! figurines? ThinkGeek has you covered. What about Super Mario Bros.? Heck yeah. This would be a great time to search for a Halloween costume.

Here are a few things that we would buy if we were you, but there are more cool designs available than we could ever highlight here. 


This 34-ounce TARDIS French press coffee maker is just $20.


ThinkGeek has a bunch of pop-culture themed wallets, but this Star Trek one is extra cool. And it is now just $10. (The NASA one is also great.)


This constellation backpack is out of this world. It's just $24 with the discount.


For $7.50, it's hard to resist this Mario-themed soap dispenser. Add a Mario-themed toothbrush holder to really make getting ready in the morning fun. If you're all about that bar soap, there's also a soap dish.


Wrap yourself in happiness with this Bob Ross-themed blanket that is just $17.50.


If you want to wear your fandom, this Harry Potter Deathly Hallows necklace set is an attractive choice. They're just $7.50 for two.


This handsome Mars watch doesn't have typical hour and minute hands. The moon Phobos orbits the Red Planet as the minute hand, the moon Deimos is the hour hand, and a miniature Mars rover takes the place of the second hand. It's a steal at just $20. 


When it's filled with hot liquid, this Game Boy mug changes from a blank screen to an image of Mario rescuing Daisy. It's only $7.50.


Several '90s cartoon-themed lunch boxes with puzzles are on sale, including ones celebrating Rocko's Modern Life, Hey Arnold!, and Rugrats. The puzzles that come inside the tin lunch boxes are 500 pieces. At less than $5 each, you should go ahead and buy all three.

Shop the sale here using the code MOVINGDAY until July 2. Unfortunately, because of the nature of the sale, all purchases are final, and you'll have to pay for shipping.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

10 Surprisingly Cheap Items Everyone Should Have in Their Kitchen

iStock.com/4kodiak
iStock.com/4kodiak

When shopping for certain kitchen gadgets, sometimes paying a little extra is worth it. But there are plenty of supplies that can greatly improve your cooking skills without hurting your wallet. Some of the most essential tools to have in your kitchen are available from quality brands in the $10 to $30 range. If you want to take your food to the next level on a budget, these are the products you should own.

1. Wooden Spoon; $15 for Three

Three wooden spoons
OXO, Amazon

There are many fancy kitchen utensils available to home cooks today, but the best type of spoon for cooking is one that’s been around for centuries. Wooden spoons have several advantages over spoons made from metal or plastic: They don’t conduct heat well, they won’t scratch the bottom of your expensive pan, and they won’t leach chemicals into your food. They’re also just as durable as they are versatile. Wood is naturally antibacterial, and if you care for your spoon properly, it will last you through countless meals. OXO sells a set of three different wooden spoons for under $15. (We also like OXO's single corner spoon, which is sold out on Amazon right now—but you can still get it from Bed Bath & Beyond for $6.)

Buy it: Amazon

2. Silicone Mat; $25

Silpat with macarons.
Silpat, Amazon

Neater than cooking spray and less wasteful than foil or parchment paper, silicone mats are essential for home cooks and bakers. These reusable mats turn any surface into a nonstick surface. When a baking sheet is lined with a silicone mat, temperamental items like cookies slide off in one piece. The mats are also easy to wipe down and can survive thousands of baking sessions. They can also make cleanup easier when roasting savory items like vegetables and chicken wings.

But it from Amazon

3. Kitchen Shears; $20

Kitchen shears.
Apogee Culinary Designs, Amazon

Quality knives are vital in the kitchen, but no collection of cutting tools is complete without a good pair of scissors. A home cook needs kitchen shears for butchering jobs, like spatchcocking a chicken. Kitchen shears are also useful for trimming pie crusts, snipping herbs, and even cracking open lobster claws. And unlike decent chef’s knives, a great pair of shears can cost as little as $20.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Digital Scale; $18

Digital kitchen scale.
Etekcity, Amazon

If you’re serious about baking, invest in a kitchen scale. Baking is all about precision, and it’s hard to be precise when working with measuring cups and spoons. A digital scale, however, can measure your flour and sugar down to a fraction of an ounce. It’s also great for making recipes written in metric units. (Say, if you're cooking from Great British Bake Off recipes.)

Buy it: Amazon

5. Mortar and Pestle; $25

Mortar and pestle.
Fox Run, Amazon

A bulky mortar and pestle may seem antiquated in today’s modern kitchen, but it’s necessary if you want to take your cooking to the next level. Some spices—like fennel seeds, cardamom, and peppercorns—taste much better freshly ground than they do out of the jar. Using a mortar and pestle is also the key to making professional-tasting sauces and condiments, such as aioli, pesto, curry paste, hummus, and guacamole.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Box Grater; $12

Box grater.
Cuisinart, Amazon

Think of a box grater as more than a basic cheese grater. Each of the four sides serves a special purpose, from slicing to zesting. You can use it to shred potatoes for latkes, grate nutmeg for desserts, or slice zucchini for ratatouille. Of course, the cheese-grating capabilities alone are worth it if you like to make mac and cheese at home.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Instant-Read Thermometer; $27

Instant-read thermometer.
Lavatools, Amazon

There are many tricks you can use to gauge if your meat is cooked properly, but none are as foolproof as an instant-read thermometer. The tool makes cooking steak, chicken, and roasts much simpler and less stressful. It’s also essential for deep frying food or making candy like caramel at home. Sometimes an extra minute of heat is all it takes to push an ingredient from perfect to inedible, so the time it saves you compared to analog thermometers is definitely worth the price.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Citrus Juicer; $15

Citrus hand juicer.
Zulay Kitchen, Amazon

Fresh citrus juice is superior to the packaged stuff, but squeezing halved fruits by hand can get messy. With a manual press juicer, you can add bright, acidic notes of lemon and lime to your meals without stinging your fingers. This tool also catches the seeds for you, making squeezing citrus juice over your food almost as easy as squeezing it from a bottle. Even if you don't use it often while cooking, it's an essential component of any good bar cart.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Locking Tongs; $13

Pair of locking tongs.
OXO, Amazon

Bare hands are underrated tools in the kitchen, but some jobs just can’t be done without tongs. If you’re flipping hot meat on the grill, tossing wings in buffalo sauce, or serving pasta, you’ll need a decent pair of locking tongs to keep your hands clean and unburnt. Fortunately, durable, stainless steel tongs with smooth, pinch-free locks are easy to find for less than $15.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Cast Iron Skillet; $15

A cast iron skillet
Lodge, Amazon

Cast iron skillets seem like they should be expensive. They’re heavy, long-lasting, and they make food taste amazing. Steaks, potatoes, and hamburgers all benefit from the material’s unique heat-conducting properties. But you don’t need to blow your paycheck to own this tool chefs swear by: Some of the best cast irons available cost less than $25. As long as you care for it properly, buying a cast iron skillet is one of the cheapest ways to improve your cooking.

Buy it: Amazon

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

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