Access to clean drinking water is a basic necessity. Although most water that flows through the tap in homes around the country is safe to drink, its quality and flavor may not be up to par. Instead of spending money on bottled water, a more cost-effective way to have filtered water in your home is with a water filter pitcher.
Water filter pitchers are common gadgets found in many kitchens. Unlike plumbed water filtration systems, a pitcher doesn’t require installation and just minimal maintenance. Although most water filter pitchers are visually similar, features can vary significantly between brands. This guide includes dozens of options to help you pick the best water filter pitcher for your needs.
- BEST OVERALL: Brita Everyday Pitcher with 1 Longlast Filter
- RUNNER UP: PUR CR1100CV Classic Water Filter Pitcher
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: ZeroWater ZP-010, 10 Cup Water Filter Pitcher
- BEST SMALL-SIZE: Brita Water Pitcher with 1 Filter
- BEST LARGE CAPACITY: Brita UltraSlim Dispenser with 1 Stream Filter
- BEST BUILT-IN DISPENSER: PUR Classic Water Filter Pitcher Dispenser
- BEST ALKALINE: Seychelle pH2O Alkaline Water Filter Pitcher
- BEST CONTAMINANT REMOVAL: Clearly Filtered Water Filter Pitcher
- BEST FOR HARD WATER: AquaBliss 10-Cup Water Filter Pitcher
- BEST FOR WELL WATER: Hskyhan Alkaline Water Filter Pitcher
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Water Filter Pitcher
Although the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets strict regulations for the quality of water as it leaves public water treatment plants, it does not have control over all the pipes through which the water travels to flow out of your tap. Fortunately, water filter pitchers can help remove contaminants from water before you drink it. Here are some factors to consider when shopping for the best water filter pitcher for your needs.
Contaminants in Your Water
Water filter pitchers are designed to improve the quality of pre-treated drinking water from a municipal source—they do not actually purify water, and they are not designed to remove a large number of bacteria or other hazardous contaminants from water. The EPA defines water contaminants as “any physical, chemical, biological, or radiological substance or matter in water.” However, not all contaminants pose a health risk, such as chlorine and fluoride. Chlorine is added to public water to kill disease-causing pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, and protozoans. Fluoride is added to some municipal tap water to help improve the dental health of citizens.
Mineral contaminants in tap water can include mercury, cadmium, asbestos, copper, lead, and zinc. Most of the unpleasant contaminants are due to downstream contamination. This means that the contaminants are leached into the water from pipes as it enters your home. The older your home is, the greater the risk of downstream contamination. The EPA warns that “homes built before 1986 are more likely to have lead pipes, fixtures, and solder.”
With increased use by the general public, herbicides/pesticides and pharmaceuticals (prescription medications) are also appearing in tap water. As pesticides and fertilizers are applied to farmlands, gardens, and lawns, they can leach into the groundwater or surface water systems that feed drinking water supplies. Pharmaceuticals are synthetic or natural chemicals found in prescription medications, over-the-counter therapeutic medications, and veterinary medications. They can enter the water supply when people flush them down the toilet or when the medicine is not completely processed by a patient’s body and then he or she uses the bathroom. These contaminants are often referred to as either incidental contaminants and emerging compounds.
Not all filters will remove every contaminant from your water. Most water filter pitchers are made with activated carbon, also called activated charcoal. This is a form of carbon that has been processed to maximize the number of pores in it. When activated carbon is used to treat a liquid, the pollutant molecules are trapped inside these pores.
NSF International, an independent organization that develops public health standards for products, uses a process to rate water filters with an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) certification. This process determines which contaminants a water filter removes from the water and then awards a certification to each filter accordingly. Some filters can receive more than one certification.
Common certification standards for water filtration are:
- NSF/ANSI 42 filters will only remove specific, aesthetic-related contaminants from your water that affect taste and odor, such as chlorine and particulates.
- NSF/ANSI 53 filters remove health-related contaminants from water, such as lead, Cryptosporidium, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and chromium.
- NSF/ANSI 401 filters remove incidental contaminants and emerging compounds.
- NSF/ANSI 244 and 231 filters remove microbiological contaminants and are commonly used in water filters designed for areas in which microbiological contamination of the public water supply occurs on an intermittent basis or in remote areas where people are using a water supply while backpacking and camping.
Filter Replacement Frequency
How frequently you need to replace a water filter depends on the level of contamination in your water and the amount of water you filter per day. Each manufacturer will provide the average lifespan of a water filter, including the number of gallons of water it can process.
Most water filters will last an average of two to six months. If you notice changes in the odor and/or taste of your water, or the filter begins to process the water at an unusually slow rate, then it’s time to change the filter. Some pitchers feature an LED light that flashes when it’s time to replace the filter so you know exactly when to do it.
While some water filters are naturally faster than others, the speed of a water filter depends on the number of filtration substance layers it has and which contaminants it is rated to remove. In general, longer filtration time means more contaminant removal. Of course, water filters nearing the end of their life span will pass water more slowly due to the contaminants trapped in it.
Although filter speed may not be the feature that will sway your decision, it does make a difference if you are in a hurry to fill your water bottle or coffee pot in the morning.
On average, most carbon filters will pass water in less than a minute.
Ceramic or reverse osmosis filters take longer because of the multiple layers of substrate in the filter. Expect most water pitcher filters to take between 40 and 90 seconds to filter one 8-ounce cup of water.
Most water filter pitchers are made from plastic. This makes them lightweight, durable, and affordable. The quality of plastic will vary from brand to brand, and all plastics are not created equal.
Pitchers made from BPA-free plastics are the most preferred material for any container that holds water. These kinds of pitchers do not leach chemicals into the water and also won’t give the water a “plastic” taste.
Jug Size/Water Capacity
Water filter pitchers are available in various sizes and shapes. When shopping for the best size for your needs, take a look at how much water the pitcher can filter at a time. Bigger is not always better in some cases. The more water the pitcher filters at one time, the longer you will need to wait for the water.
However, you can filter plenty of water for three or more people using a 5-cup jug; you’ll just have to filter water more often. The best way to determine the pitcher size you need is to determine how much filtered water you and your family consume each day and then select the size that will accommodate that need.
pH Balance/Mineral Addition
While no scientific proof exists as to the benefits of drinking alkaline water, it’s gaining in popularity. Proponents of the trend claim that drinking alkaline water—with its higher pH levels—aids in neutralizing acid in the body, which can reduce inflammation and help to prevent chronic disease. It’s possible to alter the pH of your water or enhance its mineral content with an ionized water filter. Ionized water filters contain alkaline minerals or other acid-reducing minerals that transform and ionize the water without using electricity. These filters separate water into two types: alkaline water and acidic water.
Untreated natural water in streams and lakes is mostly alkaline, and it typically has a higher pH of 8 or 9. Alkaline water also has a higher mineral content before it enters a water treatment facility. Conversely, most of the water coming from the taps has a pH range between 6.5 to 8.5.
Large water filter pitchers with a built-in dispenser have the added feature of convenience as they will allow you to easily pour water into your glass, water bottle, or another container. These pitchers are typically rectangular in shape. Since they are too heavy and cumbersome to pour from a handle, they are equipped with a tap near the bottom to dispense your filtered water.
Although pitchers with built-in dispensers are ideal for a crowd or even just a large family, they can sometimes take up more space and are more prone to leaks.
Our Top Picks
The best water filter pitchers will deliver great-tasting water. These choices are based on reputation, quality, and practicality. One of these pitchers is likely to meet the needs of your busy home.
Brita is one of the most well-known manufacturers of water filter pitchers. The company produces a variety of pitchers and filters with different NSF/ANSI certifications. The classic Everyday Pitcher is made of BPA-free plastic and holds 10 cups of water. It features an easy-fill locking lid and an ergonomic handle that makes it comfortable to pour. The pitcher is also space efficient and will fit perfectly on a refrigerator shelf.
The Everyday Pitcher includes Brita’s newer Longlast filter that has NSF/ANSI 42, 53, and 401 certifications. This filter reduces 99 percent of lead, chlorine, cadmium, mercury, benzene, asbestos, and more. Unlike Brita’s standard filter that lasts two months or per 40 gallons of water, the Longlast filter lasts for at least six months or per 120 gallons of water.
The pitcher itself has a basic sticker filter indicator so you can track the lifespan of your filter. However, even without the extra bells and whistles, it’s a solid product with a highly-rated filter for an affordable price.
PUR is another company known for its impressive line of water filtration systems. This PUR Classic is a popular water filter pitcher among consumers due to its overall efficiency and performance.
The pitcher offers an 11-cup capacity and is made from BPA-free plastic. It features an easy-fill lid that you won’t need to remove to refill the pitcher. It also features a comfortable grip handle with a no-leak spout that won’t spill water even when you fill the pitcher to the brim. A built-in LED filter life indicator lets you know when it’s time to change the filter.
The pitcher comes with PUR’s standard PPF900Z filter, which has NSF/ANSI 42, 53, and 401 certifications. It’s certified to reduce over 60 other contaminants as well, including mercury, copper, pesticides, and industrial pollutants. It does not reduce lead; however, PUR sells a specific lead-reducing filter separately. This standard filter lasts for two months or per 40 gallons of water.
ZeroWater delivers advanced filtration for an economical price. All of ZeroWater’s filters feature a 5-stage filtration system that is guaranteed to remove 99 percent of total dissolved solids (minerals, salts, chemicals, fluoride, metals—including lead—and more) in treated tap water. The filter has NSF/ANSI 42 and 53 certifications and features five layers of substrate that target specific pollutants.
The pitcher provides a 10-cup capacity and is made with BPA-free plastic. It offers a “Quick Fill” spigot on the back of the handle so you can fill a cup without lifting the pitcher. It also includes a water quality meter that allows you to continually monitor the water throughout the life of the filter.
This filter is rated to last for 40 gallons or more, but it does filter much slower than other competing filters due to the five layers of substrate. However, if you are looking for a filter that removes a litany of contaminants for a reasonable price, the ZeroWater pitcher is a good option.
If you are short on space, consider Brita’s 5-cup standard water filter pitcher. It’s compact and fits snugly on a refrigerator shelf or kitchen countertop without occupying much space. The pitcher is BPA-free and comes with Brita’s standard filter, which is NSF/ANSI 42 certified to remove chlorine and other contaminants that negatively affect the flavor and odor of tap water.
The filter will last two months or per 40 gallons of water. The lid features a helpful status indicator that notifies you when it’s time to replace the filter. Overall, this Brita water filter pitcher is a solid, no-frills option that saves space for an affordable price.
The UltraSlim Dispenser is Brita’s largest-capacity dispenser with a space-efficient design that fits in most refrigerators. The dispenser provides a 25-cup capacity, which makes it ideal for larger households. It’s made of BPA-free plastic and features a SmartLight LED filter indicator that lets you know when to change the filter. The indicator glows every time you dispense water—green means your filter is still operating effectively, while red means it’s time to replace the filter.
The dispenser also offers a built-in spigot that makes it easy to pour water into cups or containers. It comes with Brita’s standard filter that has NSF/ANSI 42 certification to reduce chlorine and other contaminants that negatively affect the flavor and odor of tap water. This filter lasts for two months or per 40 gallons of water.
For larger families that need to filter more than five to 10 cups of water at a time, this PUR water filter dispenser features a built-in spigot for easy access to its 18-cup capacity. In fact, you can even dispense water during the actual filtering process.
The dispenser is made of BPA-free plastic and includes PUR’s standard filter with NSF/ANSI 42, 53, and 401 certifications. The filter is also certified to reduce over 60 other contaminants, including mercury, copper, pesticides, and industrial pollutants. However, it is not rated to remove lead—PUR sells a specialty filter for that purpose. This standard filter will last for two months or per 40 gallons of water.
This water filter pitcher uses Ionic Adsorption Micro Filtration (IAMF) technology to create alkaline water. The filter features a multi-layered filtration process during which each layer is designed to target the removal of different types of contaminants. It is NSF/ANSI 42, 53, and 401 certified and increases the pH level of water up to 9.5, all while maintaining healthy minerals.
The pitcher provides a 64-ounce capacity and can filter up to 200 gallons of water before you will need to replace the filter itself. While the Seychelle water filter pitcher is one of the more expensive products on the market, it can save you money over the long run, especially if you’ve been purchasing alkaline water by the jug.
If you want a water pitcher filter with extensive contaminant reduction power, the Clearly Filtered water filter pitcher contends that it removes more contaminants than all of the top water filter pitcher brands are capable of removing, combined. Its filter offers a proprietary blend of filter media the company calls “Affinity” that removes fluoride, lead, microplastics, per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), glyphosate, and more, for a total of 232 of the most harmful and dangerous tap water contaminants. Overall, this filter has NSF/ANSI 42, 53, 401, 244, and P473 certifications.
The pitcher, the easy-grip handle, and the lid are all made from medical grade “Tritan,” a superior quality, BPA-free plastic that holds its 10-cup capacity. Unlike most water filter pitchers, this pitcher continues to filter while you pour since the reservoir keeps the unfiltered water separate from the spout and prevents it from mixing with the filtered water.
The Clearly Filtered water filter pitcher is one of the most expensive water filter pitchers on the market. However, the filter’s lifespan is 100 gallons—more than double most standard water filters. For the cleanest tap water you can filter at home, Clearly is the clear winner.
The hardness of water is determined by the amount of dissolved calcium and magnesium it contains. The higher the concentration of minerals, the harder the water. Although there are no adverse health problems associated with drinking hard water, it can be unpleasant to drink and to smell. Moreover, hard water leaves stains and sediment in your sink and on plumbing fixtures.
The AquaBliss filter removes chlorine, mercury, copper, cadmium, zinc, and sediment from tap water. The manufacturer does not list its NSF/ANSI certifications, but this capability aligns the filter with full NSF/ANSI 42 certification and partial NSF/ANSI 53 certification. It does not remove lead.
The filter’s lifespan is roughly four months, depending on the hardness of your water and how much water passes through the filter. The pitcher provides a 10-cup capacity and a comfort grip handle. It’s easy to dismantle and clean and economically priced.
Featuring a 7-layer alkaline filtration system, this water filter pitcher removes metals, chlorine, dirt, and other contaminants that are found most often in well water.
Well water is untreated groundwater (rain that has moved through the soil and into an aquifer). Since the water is filtered through the ground, it can absorb a lot of contaminants along the way. To ensure that your well water is safe to drink, it’s recommended that you conduct regular water quality tests.
The Hskyhan water filter pitcher features a filter with seven layers of substrate to remove fluoride, chlorine, lead, dirt, and harmful metals while also improving the odor and taste of water and making it more alkaline. The manufacturer does not list its NSF/ANSI certifications, but its filtering capabilities align it with products that are NSF/ANSI 42 and 53 certified.
The filter’s lifespan is around 70 gallons, and the pitcher also includes a spare filter. An indicator on the handle lets you know how many days remain before you need to replace the filter. The pitcher’s 10-cup capacity is large enough for the whole family to enjoy fresh, filtered water daily.
The Advantages of Owning a Water Filter Pitcher
Clean water is essential to your health. It’s recommended that the average person drinks at least eight glasses of water per day, and fresh-tasting water makes it easier to reach this goal. Fortunately, you don’t need to spend a lot of money on a whole-house water filtration system in order to have great tasting water. Instead, water pitcher filters make it convenient and affordable to have clean, healthy drinking water in your home.
Water filter pitchers remove common contaminants found in tap water. They will also make tap water smell and taste better by removing the chlorine used to disinfect tap water. Best of all, water filter pitchers are portable and small enough to fit on countertops and most refrigerator shelves.
- A water filter pitcher provides effective filtration of common contaminants found in tap water.
- A water filter pitcher is a low-cost alternative to having a water filtration system in your home.
- A water filter pitcher is easy to use, portable, and will not take up much countertop or refrigerator space.
How To Change a Water Filter Cartridge
Water filters have a lifespan. How often you change the water filter depends on the level of contaminants in your tap water and how often you filter water. Changing a water filter is easy and takes only a few minutes when you follow these steps:
- Open a new filter cartridge and soak it in a clean glass of water according to the manufacturer’s directions. This activates the filter media and removes any carbon dust.
- After the soaking process, remove the filter from the water and allow excess water to drain.
- Remove the old filter and insert the new one. Reset the filter change indicator or make a note on the calendar of the date you placed a new filter in your water pitcher.
What Contaminants Does a Water Filter Pitcher Remove?
Officially, there are no federal regulations for water pitcher filters. However, most manufacturers follow the NSF/ANSI protocols to establish minimum requirements for the safety and performance of filters used in water pitchers.
These are the main certification standards commonly used for residential water filtration systems and filters for water pitchers:
Filters with NSF/ANSI 42 certification reduce specific aesthetic-related contaminants from your water that affect taste and odor, such as chlorine and chloramine, which is a group of chemical compounds that contain chlorine and ammonia. Chlorine and chloramine are added to drinking water for disinfection purposes. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the small amounts of chlorine and chloramine in drinking water do not cause harmful health effects. However, they can be unpleasant to smell and affect the water’s taste.
Filters with NSF/ANSI 53 certification remove health-related contaminants from water, such as lead, mercury, Cryptosporidium, VOCs, chromium, and more. Many carbon-based filters have this certification. It’s common to find water filters with both NSF/ANSI 42 and NSF/ANSI 53 certifications.
Filters with NSF/ANSI 401 certification remove incidental contaminants and emerging compounds. These contaminants are often pharmaceuticals or chemicals not yet regulated by the EPA. Some of these contaminants include over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen and pesticides like DEET that make their way into the public water system.
NSF/ANSI 244 and 231
Filters with NSF/ANSI 231/244 certification remove microbiological contaminants from water. These filters protect against intermittent microbiological contamination of safe drinking water, usually for water sources in remote areas or when there is accidental or irregular contamination of the municipal water supply. They use reverse osmosis or ceramic components to remove microbes, such as bacteria, yeast, mold, fungi, virus, prions, protozoa, and more. Most filters used in water filter pitchers hold NSF/ANSI 244/231 certifications.
FAQs About Water Filter Pitchers
Water filter pitchers are an effective way to improve the quality of tap water. However, with so many filter types and pitcher styles available, it can become confusing. Here are several questions and corresponding answers that will help you understand more about water filter pitchers.
Q. What are water filter pitchers?
Water filter pitchers are plastic pitchers with a self-contained water filtering system that removes contaminants from drinking water.
Q. How do water filter pitchers work?
Water filter pitchers are easy to use; just fill them with your tap and wait for the water to flow through the filter.
Q. What is a carbon filter in a water pitcher?
The filter used in most water filter pitchers contains granular activated carbon. The carbon removes certain chemicals and other contaminants as water passes through the filter.
Q. Why do people drink alkaline water?
Some people believe that alkaline water has health benefits. Advocates of alkaline water promote this belief that it can help neutralize the acid in your bloodstream. They contend that less acid in your bloodstream can lead to weight loss, clearer skin, reduced inflammation, and even an increased ability to fight off disease. However, there is no scientific evidence to support those claims.
Q. Is it OK to drink alkaline water all the time?
Alkaline water is considered safe to drink, but excess consumption can cause some negative side effects, such as lowering of natural stomach acidity.