I know a lot of folks wrote about the mold issue on the outside with this particular filter but the inside always remined perfectly clean. The water tastes delicious and we've been using it for about 10 years now. At first we used water from our shallow well so there was a lot of sediment and the filters needed an extra scrubbing. But lately we refill it with tap water and are totally satisfied with it. Yes, I would like to know how to maintain the exterior without so much effort but in the meantime, we will just keep enjoying our delicious, safe water!
As other reviewers have said, the terracotta is a MOLD MAGNET. Even in Colorado! I have submerged and wiped it with apple cider vinegar as directed, but the issue seems inherit to the unit and I think the constant mold is a **HEALTH RISK** that heavily outweighs any benefits customers are looking for. Who knows how this has already negatively impacted my family's health over time. If Epic has any conscious they'll send me a metal unit.
This cooler/dispenser was great to start. About a month in though, it started growing mold on the outside. 4-5 different colors of fuzzy mold (not the efflorescence, that's a different, expected problem). Nothing controls this, at least nothing that you want to put in your body. I was having to wash it down daily with straight vinegar. I could get 2-4 days without mold regrowth using a heavy lye solution, but the sour taste was so strong it would pollute the water on the inside. 2 fans, one on each side, worked fairly well, but that was annoying (noise and loss of precious counter space). I live in a pretty arid climate (5-15% humidity average), and I put this in a place it was being walked by constantly, so the environment was conducive to terracotta use. Anyway, now a year later, it developed fine cracks along the bottom curve that enough water seeps through to form a puddle at base. So, because I can, I recently glazed the inside to try to stop both problems. However, my glaze crackled (though I've used the glaze on terracotta before, clearly this terracotta has a different expansion/contraction rate, leading to a crackled glaze surface), so water still gets through the inside cracks in the glaze into the body of the clay and to the outside. So, this hasn't stopped the mold or the seeping. I think I'll be turning this into an overpriced planter now. Such a frustrating waste of money.
We had a terra cotta water purifier/dispenser that we used daily for more than 10 years and were extremely pleased. After ours developed some small cracks in the top section(ours was a model with terra cotta top and bottom), we knew we had to replace it. I spent a lot of time researching and finally decided on this one. We were excited to get it and followed the instructions and started using in back in the late spring. I noticed a white material would build up on the outside but thought that might be part of the process in the beginning so I wiped it off with a damp paper towel. Every couple weeks, I was having to continue to do that. I also noticed the outside had a bit of a slimy feel which we never had with our other one. I really began to feel concerned and annoyed. We lifted the top one day just to look and saw some small flecks of dark material floating in the bottom tank (treated water). We rinsed it out and started all over. Still having build up on the outside and a damp slimy feeling that build up and there are dark discoloration splotches on the outside. I sent an email to Bill who in the past when I was buying this and another metal unit (for family out of state)and extras (spigot to replace the original cheap one that came with it and we were afraid would quickly break), extra filters, was very quick and helpful to answer. But this time, no response. I think others who are considering spending this amount of money should be aware of the issues. I am not sure why this is happening and since I have got no response, I have no information as to why this is happening but am very disappointed. It's great to have a unit to purify your water so you feel safe with drinking and cooking water for your family. It's not great when you spend a lot and then feel it is unsafe to use.
We had been researching replacements for our sink mount filter for some time. The water where we live has a lot of crud that gunks up the PUR filters after about a month of regular use. After looking at the other options out there, we went with the LaNatural terra cotta filter because of the great filters that take out most all of the things we are concerned with. We also love how the the water tastes (yes, at first there was the earthy flavor, but soaking in ACV and just general use has removed that. The water is always fresh and clean tasting! As I mentioned previously, our water here has a lot of particulates (it's a municipal water system), so the filters do need to have the rusty scum wiped off after 3-4 weeks of daily use. No problem tho - just wipe and rinse and you are good to go.
I still gave 5 stars even though the stock spigot is a little cheap feeling - I just purchased the stainless spigot as a replacement and can't wait to upgrade.