Drinking tap water shouldn’t be difficult. After all, it’s been treated by our public water systems so that its safe to drink directly from the faucet. And yet most American households will still boil tap water before drinking it.
This is because tap water can taste and smell unpleasant. During water treatment, chemicals like chlorine and chloramine are added to the water in order to disinfect it. This makes the water taste metallic and smell like sewage.
In situations like these, a water filter pitcher is a handy thing to have in a household. It’s simple and easy to use since you don’t need to install it under a sink. Just fill it up with tap water and wait for the water to pass through the filter and into the main reservoir.
But more than making tap water taste fresh, it’s also one way to conveniently make your tap water safer to drink. That’s because it can screen more than just the chlorine. It can also screen toxic metals like lead, which can leach from old water pipes, or pesticides, which can get into the water through a leak in the underground pipes.
In fact, this is a major selling point of all the pitcher brands on the market. They try to outdo each other in terms of the number of substances that they can filter out from the water. Some will have more than 3 stages of filtration. Others will claim to filter out even radiological contaminants.
The most popular ones are those that have a 10- to 11-cup range which is good enough for an average-sized family. There are also the dispenser types which are essentially large pitchers that are designed for refrigerator storage. They’re great for large families or for households with high water consumption.
One thing to understand about this product though, is that it relies on gravity to filter the water (much like gravity water filters for camping). This means that it will take time for a pitcher to fill up. And the more filters it has, the longer it will take.
In general, when people use this, they just fill it up with water and stick it into the fridge while waiting for it to fully undergo filtration. So if you’re looking for a quick filtration ( in the order of seconds), this is probably not for you.
But in terms of cost-effectiveness though water pitcher filters are relatively inexpensive, with the top-rated brands often under the $40 range. And while I’ve taken into account their affordability, the products I’ve picked on this list reflect the best ones that perform quite well in making tap water safer to drink.
Here are my top 5 picks for the best water filter pitchers.
The Best Water Filter Pitchers
- Waterdrop Chubby
- PUR Ultimate
- Brita UltraMax
- Epic Nano
This pitcher uses a 5-stage water filtration system that uses an Ion Exchange Technology to complement the standard carbon filtration method of filtering water.
According to the brand, its filtration process will remove 99.6% of total dissolved solids, which is twice as much as the leading brand.
- Stage 1 removes dust and rust
- Stage 2 removes additional suspended solids
- Stage 3 removes organic contaminants, pesticides, chloramine, and bacteria
- Stage 4 removes toxic metals, plastic, and radiological contaminants
- Stage 5 filters out whatever suspended solids are left in the water.
Its pour-through filter is certified by NSF/ANSI to reduce lead and other heavy metals. This is also the only filter that has been certified to remove chromium.
This model is made from BPA-free plastic and comes with a spigot and water quality meter reader that’s powered by 1.5-volt batteries. It comes with a 90-day warranty.
- Filters need to be changed every 6 months
- Filter design is efficient and helps prevent spillage
- The filter is not designed for fluoride reduction
- Some users say that the filter is not cost-efficient for water with high TDS count
2. Waterdrop Chubby
This water filter jug uses a 7-stage water filter technology that reduces arsenic, fluoride, lead, and other heavy metal contaminants that might be present in the water. It uses a silver-loaded activated carbon and a highly efficient ACF sourced from Japan to ensure maximum filtration performance.
The filter can be used to produce over 2 gallons of water. The use of of the water filter pitcher can replace over 1,600 standard 16-oz plastic water bottles.
It’s NSF 42 certified for the reduction of chlorine taste and small. It’s also NSF 372 certified for lead-free material.
It’s stylishly designed; it has a wooden handle and a spout lid that keeps out dust and other particles from getting into the pitcher. The profile is slim enough so that it can be placed on most fridge doors.
It is also equipped with an intelligent LED indicator that monitors the use of the filter element. This product comes with a 30-day warranty.
- Lid is spill-free
- Relatively fast filtration rate, according to users
- Replacement filters are hard to come by; the manufacturer promises a new stock by December 2020
- Only to be used for tap water, not for heavily contaminated water
3. PUR Ultimate
This pitcher uses a filter that’s certified to reduce lead contamination in the water. NSA and WQA have certified it to remove contaminants by up to 99%. According to the manufacturer, it’s 3x more effective than its closest competing brand, Brita.
The filter uses granulated activated carbon and ion exchange media to reduce pesticides and heavy metals. It is also equipped with advance pleated paper which works to reduce lead, particulates, and microbial cysts. It’s capable of filtering 40 gallons of water which will last about 1-2 months of use.
Its pitcher, meanwhile, features an easy-fill lid and a Clean Sensor Monitor to show the filter status so that you’ll know when to replace it. There’s also another version of this product that includes a dispenser which can accommodate more than 11 cups of water.
Using this pitcher will help you save up to $1,000 per year in bottled water costs.
- Large 11-cup capacity
- Filters install easily
- Lid design isn’t user friendly; one has to figure out how to pour water without spilling
4. Brita UltraMax
This isn’t a pitcher but a BPA-free dispenser that can hold 18 cups of 1.13 gallons of filtered water. This is best for large families that require more than a pitcher of water for their drinking needs. It’s also designed to fit neatly on a countertop or refrigerator shelf.
It uses a spigot for easy pouring. It uses the standard Brita filter that reduces the taste and smell of chlorine; and filters out copper, mercury, zinc, and cadmium metals in the water. It comes with a sticker indicator on the water dispenser to keep track of when the filter should be replaced.
The filter should be replaced every 2 months or after being used for 4 gallons of filtered water. According to the brand, the use of the Brita filter can cut down the consumption of 300 16.9-oz plastic bottles.
It’s easy to install and requires no pre-soak for its filter. It’s certified by WQA and carries a 90-day limited warranty.
- Filter is easy to install
- Relatively quick filtration rate
- Not easy to carry; doesn’t have handles or notches along its sides
- The spigot placement needs to be improved; it isn’t flush with the bottom of the tank
5. Epic Nano
This water filter pitcher is designed to fit on refrigerator shelves and is great for families. It uses a nanofiber filter that’s made in the USA and designed to remove bacteria, lead, PFOA, PFAS, 1-4Dicoxane, haloacetic acids, and microplastics.
According to the manufacturer, the nanofiber filter will remove 200% more contaminants than the leading filter brand. It is also smartly selective enough to keep healthy trace minerals like calcium and magnesium which a reverse osmosis system will filter out.
The filter will produce 150 gallons of clean water and will last 4 times longer than the leading brand of water filter pitcher. It has also been rigorously tested against NSF/ANSI standards 42, 53, 401, P231, and P473.
At only .22¢ per gallon of fresh water, this is the most cost-efficient of all water filters on this list. It also comes with a digital filter indicator to help the user monitor filter quality.
- Good for filtering out biological, heavy metal and microplastic contaminants
- Has the most NSF/ANSI certifications
- Best for use with tap water
- Will not remove radiological contaminants
Buyers Guide To Picking Your Water Filter Pitcher
A filter must be certified to industry standards. For water filter pitchers, these are standards set by the American National Standard Institute (ANSI) and the NSF International. They test these products under rigorous standards, using samples that are far more polluted than ordinary tap water in order to determine the quality of the filters. Fail one, and it won’t get certification.
If you want a water filter pitcher to screen out a particular contaminant, then pick one that’s been certified for that specific substance. At the very minimum though, your filter should be certified under the main standards—Standard 42 and Standard 53. This means that your pitcher will be able to filter out heavy metals and chlorine from your tap water.
Of course, having more certifications isn’t a bad thing. But these will probably cost you more. Just remember though that a water pitcher is best used for filtering average tap water. If you think that your water is more contaminated than usual, then it may not be enough to solve the problem. You might want a more comprehensive water filtration system.
Another thing to look out for is a Water Quality Association (WQA) certification. It’s also an important indicator for a filter’s trustworthiness.
Replacement Filter Costs
No filter lasts indefinitely. It can only filter so much until it gets clogged down by the particulates and other contaminants. Even the activated charcoal that’s used to absorb odors and flavors will also give up eventually. That’s why filters need to replaced every 2 months or after 40 gallons. Any longer than that, and the filter will become a source of contamination because the moss and bacteria will grow in the filter.
In general though, filters aren’t that expensive, although there are some brands that won’t come cheap especially if your water is really bad and you need to change the filter often.
Some brands are even compatible with generic but efficient filters. These will cut costs even lower. If you don’t like settling for one that uses generic filters, then pick the brand that offers the most cost-efficient filter.
Because these water pitchers rely on gravity, it takes longer for them to filter tap water than a filtration system that uses water pressure. That being said, the filtration speed can still vary among brands because of the type of filters used.
A pitcher that has a multi-stage filtration system will take 15 minutes longer to filter a quart of tap water than a filter-as-you-pour model which can do it in just over a minute.
These days though, there are new technologies that produce filters that have quick filtration rates that absorb and filter just as well as the multi-stage filters. Pick the best one according to your needs.
Many products offer a lot of features that make them more convenient to use. Look for one that’s designed to be durable for long term use. This includes the type of material that it’s made from. All products I have reviewed used plastic because it’s lightweight and easy to clean. Pick the one that’s made from thick plastic and look for one that has a BPA-free label.
Check the jug, lid, and reservoir if they all fit together tightly. The most complaints I’ve run into were about the lid design of some brands which are prone to falling off when pouring water. If you don’t want that, you can look for one that has an auto-open lid.
The pitcher should also be designed in a way that makes installing and replacing filters quick and easy. Another useful feature is a pitcher that comes with an indicator (usually powered by a small battery) that tells you when the filter needs replacing.
Also look for ergonomic handles. If you have a senior citizen in the household or someone coping with arthritic hands, they should be able to use the pitcher easily.
Some brands don’t reveal their warranty outright and when you don’t have the time to send an email to inquire about it, then pick that one that clearly states its warranty period. Some products will have different warranty periods for the pitcher and its filter. So it’s best to read the fine print to find out which warranty guarantee is for what part of the product.
Check also the quality of their after-sales service by going over the user reviews. The best ones are those that offer quick responses to inquiries and troubleshooting concerns. They’ll less likely to frustrate you when you’re looking to replace a faulty product.