There are several acts in place, such as the Clean Water Act, to help keep drinking water safe and clean. Unfortunately, not all water sources meet the federal requirements for water quality. Even if you have city water that is already treated, it can pick up several contaminants in the pipes on the way to your tap. Picking up a water filter pitcher is an easy way to reduce at least some of these contaminants and achieve better tasting water.
Some of these contaminants are relatively harmless, while others are extremely dangerous and potentially deadly, such as lead. (source)
The increasing problem of water contamination across the country has gave way to a new era of water filtration. There are tons of pitcher filters out there from various manufacturers, but they all work similarly. Most of them have a pour tray, which is an area on the top of the pitcher that hold water while it is waiting to be filtered. Once water drips down through the filter, it goes directly to the lower reservoir, where it is ready to be poured and drank.
Among the most popular brands are PUR, Brita, ZeroWater, MAVEA, and Clear2o. We've taken some of their most popular models and compared them below.
We've compiled all of the important features of each water filter pitcher in the following table.
|PUR Classic 11-Cup||Brita Everyday 10-Cup||ZeroWater ZP-010||MAVEA Elemaris 1005727||Clear2o CWS100AW|
|Capacity||11 cups||10 cups||10 cups||9 cups||9 cups|
|Filter Capacity||40 gallons||40 gallons||Varies||Varies||50 gallons|
|Corresponding Filter||Pitcher Filter CRF-950Z||Standard Brita replacment||ZR-017||MAVEA 1001122||CWF101|
|Contaminants Reduced||21||21||99.6% of all dissolved solids||Unknown||53|
|Filter Material||Coconut Shells, carbon granules||Carbon granules||Carbon granules, micro cloth, & more||Carbon granules||Solid carbon block|
|Warranty||90 days||90 days||90 days||Unknown||90 days|
|Filter Indicator Mechanism||LED light||Sticker||TDS meter||MAVEA Smart meter||Smart filter indicator|
Mobile users may have to rotate to horizontal to view the entire table
As you can tell, the pitchers filters have their similarities and differences. Picking the best unit boils down to finding the one that suits your exact needs (countertop space, specific aesthetic preferences, output needed, and filter applications). We discuss more about their specific functions below.
The thumb activated lid of this pitcher makes it super easy to refill. The lid also has a spout cover which helps prevent spills, a plus for anyone with children. The water does not come out too hard or fast like with some other pitchers. The spout cover also keeps out any odor and particulates, keeping your water fresher - which is great if you're keeping it in the refrigerator with other foods.
PUR also included an LED indicator light. The light lets you know when it is time to change the filter by turning red. When it is almost time to change it, the light turns yellow. This is a useful feature because this gives you a little time to buy a new filter before it is actually time to replace it.
If you know your water has mercury in it, or if you live close to an industrial site, this filter would be a good choice for you. It reduces mercury levels by up to 96% and industrial pollutants by up to 95%. Per NSF certification, this filter pitcher reduces 21 different water contaminants. This falls in the middle on our list in terms of filtration power.
As the largest filter pitcher on this list, the PUR Classic holds up to 11 cups of water. This means you have to refill it less than you would have to refill the other pitchers. Although it is not a drastic difference from the other pitchers, it is still larger, so it would probably work better for a big family. If you've owned a water pitcher before, refilling it can oven be the most annoying part.
Measuring less than a foot tall, and weighing only around 2 pounds, this compact water filter pitcher is very simple to use and easy to store. To use it, you must first soak the filter for 15 minutes in cold water. Then, you install it in the pitcher and fill up the pour tray. The filter will then filter the water in the pour tray and move the clean, filtered water to the reservoir in the bottom of the pitcher.
The carbon filters are made from coconut shells and utilize ion exchange technology. The filters are heat treated, which creates thousands of small nooks in the carbon granules. The tap water is then passed through, and with over 200,000 square feet of nooks, the contaminants in your water are trapped and absorbed.
When you buy this pitcher, it comes with a less durable filter. Typically the filters last about 40 gallons, however, the initial filter sometimes can sometimes not last as long. It's almost like a trial run. However, refills are pretty inexpensive and they should all last for the full 40 gallons.
Like most units on our list, the Brita Everyday Water Pitcher has some sort of mechanism to let you know when it is time to change the filter. However, unlike the other pitchers, the Everyday uses a sticker indicator which simply serves as a reminder that you place on the pitcher itself or on your fridge. If this isn't your thing, Brita does make other electronic models.
With a comfort grip handle and a removable lid, the reservoir is easy to pour and refill. The comfort grip handle reduces strain while picking up and pouring. This can be useful with kids, and even just clumsy adults. Instead of a thumb activated lid, the lid will come completely off and you can fill up the pour tray with ease.
Although it is not the largest pitcher on our list, it is a very close second. With enough room to hold 10 cups of water, this and the ZeroWater pitcher are great choices for people who require large capacity pitchers. The 40-gallon filter allows you to get about 60 refills on a single use. Typically, this will last you about 2 months before a refill is needed.
The oval design of this pitcher makes it easy to store in almost any refrigerator. The oval design of this unit allows the pitcher to hold a lot of water while taking up minimal space. The oval design also makes it easy to hold and support while you are pouring.
The first time you use the filter that is included with the pitcher, you will have to pre soak it. To do so, run it under cold tap water for 15 seconds, then it is ready to install. The replacement filters do not have to be pre soaked and can be installed immediately. Unlike the PUR Classic, and others on this list, the initial soak time is considerably less, 15 seconds versus 15 minutes.
This Brita uses a carbon filter and works similarly to the one the PUR Classic uses. As water passes through the filter, carbon granules trap and absorb various contaminants. However, it is recommended you discard 3 pitchers of water after you put in a new filter. Carbon dust can commonly be found in the first 3 pitchers, so it is best to throw them out or use them as gray water for watering plants. This is typical with many water filtration systems.
Well, this may not be a disadvantage for everyone, but the sticker filter mechanism could be easy to ignore. Rather than having a light that tells you when the change is needed. For some, this is difficult to manage as the sticker has to either go on your fridge or on the pitcher itself.
What sets this pitcher apart from others on the list is its 5 stage filtration system. This 5 stage filtration system can remove up to 99.6% of dissolved solids, which will be discussed more in-depth shortly . The comprehensive filtration system is what makes ZeroWater the only filtration system that meets the FDAs requirements for bottled water. And unlike reverse osmosis, which a lot of other filtration systems use, the ZeroWater system uses gravity, so it won't waste any water or electricity.
The ZeroWater filtration system is also the only one certified by the NSF to reduce lead and chromium. Chromium-6 can cause a myriad of health problems, including cramps, intestinal bleeding, and liver and kidney problems. Lead is also extremely dangerous, it can build up in your system over time and is unsafe at any level. While some of the other filters will reduce the presence of lead, the ZeroWater pitcher is the only one to be NSF certified to do so.
The one handed, push to dispense design makes this pitcher easy to use. You don’t have to worry about spilling it, since the spout is only open when you push the button on the handle.
You won't have to use two hands to steady the pitcher, either. It has a small plastic spigot towards the bottom of the reservoir. This makes it easy to get water directly from the pitcher without every taking it out of your fridge. It is easy to open and close and does not leak between uses.
This is one of the top recommendations for families with small children since the spigot is easy to use. Instead of having them pick up the entire pitcher, and probably spill it at least once, they can just open the spigot and get themselves a glass of water.
As mentioned earlier, this 5 stage filtration system on this unit can remove 99.6% of TDS (Total Dissolved Solids). The pitcher also comes with a free TDS meter. A TDS meter measures the amount of dissolved substances that can negatively affect your water. If the TDS is too high, above 006, that means it is time to change the filter, which is also easy to do.
Instead of relying solely carbon or reverse osmosis, ZeroWater allows gravity to do all of the work. The first step in the filtration process is passing the water through activated carbon infused micro cloth. Next, the water passes through a multi-layer system to reduce alloys, by using carbon and oxidation. Next comes the distributor, which maximizes the contact time of the water, which allows a high percentage of contaminants to be trapped and absorbed.
The water then goes through a comprehensive ion exchange array and finishes by passing through a non-woven membrane, designed to remove fine particles. At the end of the filtering process, you have perfectly clean, great tasting water.
Compared to the Brita Everyday and the Mavea 1005727, this pitcher is less sleek. The design is somewhat boxy and clunky, definitely not as smooth and balanced as some of the others. However, it is still easy to store, so if aesthetics are not the most important thing to you, this pitcher would be an amazing addition for your kitchen.
Also given the functionality of the spigot, aesthetics may not be an issue.
Although not unique to this pitcher, its intelligent filter indicator is a very useful feature. The indicator, like the others, is green when the filter is in good condition, and red when it is no longer working correctly and needs to be replaced. Unlike the PUR, there is no yellow "warning light" to warn you when the filter has almost reached its capacity. So, once the light turns red, it is important that you change it as soon as possible.
The Clear2o pitcher attaches to your sink's faucet and utilizes the pressure from it to provide maximum filtration. This obviously makes it easy to fill. But, on top of that, it is also easy to install. Although it is not recommended on spraying faucets, many conventional faucets will work great with this unit. Some people would see this as an inconvenience, but it actually has a host of benefits. By utilizing your faucet's water pressure, this filter has superior filtering capability and will filter all the water you run through it. It is less prone to spills during filling and the pressure allows for quicker filtration.
This is perhaps the most broadly effective filter on our list, filtering out 53 different contaminants. However, the water may not be as pure as the ZeroWater. The EPA has designated 80 various possible contaminants that could adversely affect your health. Most tap water, especially if it was already treated by the city, will not have 53+ contaminants, but this is a great choice if you do not know specifically what is in your water and you want to cover all your bases.
Beating every other pitcher filter on this list, the Clear2o can last up to 50 gallons per filter. that may not sound like a huge difference, but it is 25% more than the other pitcher's filters. Over time, this can save time on replacements. The filter can be easily installed in just a matter of minutes.
The pitcher comes with an adapter kit that you must use to install and connect the pitcher to your faucet. Once the pitcher is attached, the pressure from your faucet forces the water through the solid carbon block filter.
A solid carbon block filter is similar to the other carbon filters that some of the other pitchers use, but instead of small granules of carbon that the water can easily pass through, this is a solid block of carbon that requires pressure to force the water through. Solid carbon is actually more effective than carbon granules and will remove more contaminants. As the water is forced through the carbon block, the carbon traps and absorbs the 53 different contaminants. Once the filter has reached the end of its life and it is time to replace it, you can easily remove the old filter and install the new one.
What really sets this pitcher apart, and not in the best way, is the fact that you must attach it to your faucet to fill. This isn’t especially hard to do, but it is one extra step that you wouldn’t have to take with any of the other pitcher filters. Also, if you have a sprayer style faucet, unfortunately, you will not be able to use this unit. Be sure to check your faucet against the required specs before buying.
Unlike any of the other pitchers, the Elemaris features a unique pour through lid. This means you can just turn on the sink and hold the pitcher underneath it. The lid opens when you put it under the running water, and when the reservoir is full, the lid shuts by itself. It is pretty much impossible to overfill, making it considerably cleaner than the other pitchers as well.
Another feature setting the Elemaris apart is its MAVEA Smart meter. The Smart meter measures hardness of the water, water volume, and how long the filter has been used. The Smart meter also lets you know when to replace the filter, taking the guesswork out of getting clean water. Although other pitchers on this list have some sort of meter or indicator, this is the only one that measures hardness and volume. So if water hardness is a concern for you, this is the best choice.
On top of the already sleek design, this pitcher also has rubber feet and a rubber handle. The rubber feet make it less likely to slip or slide around in the fridge. It also makes it less likely to be tipped over. In addition, the rubber feet help to prevent surface scratches. So, if you have nice countertops that you need to take special care of, buying the Elemaris is a good way to get some extra piece of mind.
The rubber handle makes it easy to hold and makes it harder to drop. Not that it is impossible to drop, but the rubber handle allows you to get a better grip and keeps you from holding onto slippery plastic.
If you have had a water pitcher filter before, then you know it is standard practice to have to rinse or presoak the filters before you actually use them. With the exception of the Brita replacement filters, the filters for the other pitchers must be pre-soaked. This can be a tedious and annoying step, and one that can be easily forgotten. And unfortunately, if you forget to pre-soak the filter, it can drastically affect its performance. Luckily, the filter for the MAVEA Elemaris XL does not have to be pre-soaked at all. This can save you lots of time and is a plus if you’re a bit lazy about changing filters. Not only will this save you time, it also means you don’t have to worry about the initial performance of the filter.
The MAVEA Elemaris utilizes a familiar, but unique filtration system. The filter uses carbon granules to reduce water contaminants. As you can tell, carbon granules are a very popular option when it comes to water filtering, because they are so effective. However, the major drawback of carbon granule filters is that some of the small, black, carbon flecks leak out of the filter and into the water. Thankfully, the filter on the Elemaris contains a micro screen, which catches any flecks before they can find their way to your water.
The Elemaris filter is also treated with silver. At first, this sounds strange because usually water filters filter out silver, but none of the silver gets into the filtered water. The silver is there to inhibit the growth of bacteria and provide antimicrobial protection, which extends the life-cycle of the filter. Replacing the filter less often means you will be saving time and money.
The Elemaris is incredibly sleek, and unsurprisingly, European designed. It has a very distinct, oval design that perfectly balances performance and aesthetics. The unique design shape also allows for a consistent flow rate over the filter. It is manufactured in 6 unique and vibrant colors. The colors include eggplant, ruby red, tangerine, black, and white. This means there is one for everyone, no matter what your style is, or how your kitchen is already decorated.
Unfortunately, this pitcher filter from MAVEA is tied for last in water capacity, alongside the Clear2o. The pitcher can only hold 9 cups at a time, which is fine for individuals or small families, but bigger families might want to opt for a bigger unit. Although there is not a huge difference between 9 and 10 cups, once you start comparing the MAVEA to the 11 cup pitchers, the difference starts adding up. If you have a large family or just drink a lot of water, a bigger capacity pitcher would simply be less of a hassle.
In the end, each pitcher filter is good for a specific type of person. For example, if looks are important to you, you probably would not want the ZeroWater pitcher, but the Brita Everyday or MAVEA Elemaris might be good options. Alternatively, if you are most concerned with how many contaminants are filtered out, the ZeroWater or Clear2o are the ones that would be best for you.
If you are having trouble picking one, start by eliminating 2 or 3 pitcher filters you definitely don’t want. Once you have it narrowed down to a couple of pitchers, compare all the features, including aesthetics and price, until you can choose one that makes the most sense.
All of the pitcher filters on this list are best-selling models and are known to perform well, so if you really can't choose one, picking one at random will still get you a high quality pitcher filter. They are all capable of significantly reducing water contaminants to keep you and your children healthy.
One of the most alluring aspects of water filters is the possibility of saving lots of money. Instead of having to buy bottled water over and over, you can simply use a filter and reusable bottle. Over time, the savings add up, and although you will still have to pay for the water you use a your house, it is considerably cheaper than buying the same amount bottled at the supermarket.
Of course, one person buying a water filter won't save the world. However, the Earth has finite resources and landfills continue to grow, so it important you vote with your dollar and be as mindful as possible.
Water filters are a great way to reduce plastic consumption and help save the planet. A single 40 gallon filter can keep 300 plastic bottles out of landfills. Considering a 40 gallon filter typically lasts about 2 months, that means each year you are saving 1,800 plastic water bottles. Most models on this list have a 40 gallon filter, so after 40 gallons you must replace it. But, the Clear2o CWS100AW's filter lasts for 50 gallons.
Some contaminants leave a foul taste in your water, such as chlorine. Others leave only a small taste that may have never noticed until trying quality filtered water. Filtered water simply has a cleaner, fresher taste than tap water or some bottled brands. Every filter pitcher on our list will provide you with better tasting H2O than you could get from your faucet.
Perhaps best of all, using one of the filter pitchers on this list will actually make your water healthier. Water filters can filter out various contaminants, some filter out more than others, but they all significantly improve water quality. Prolonged exposure to contaminants in your water can cause long term health problems such as bladder, liver, kidney, and prostate cancer, kidney and liver problems and/or failure, and vision impairment.
According to the Water Quality Association, some of the most common contaminants that can be found in your tap include lead, copper, nitrates and nitrites, chromium, cadmium, mercury, and bacteria and viruses. A telltale sign of poor water is obviously discoloration and any kind of odor. However, many water contaminants can be present in perfectly odorless, clear water.
The contaminants in your water will vary depending on where you live. No matter your location, it is important to remove these compounds before you and your family feel the effects. (source)
Some filters, such as the Brita Everyday and the Pur Classic, specialize in reducing mercury. Other filters, like the Clear2o, remove and reduce over 50 contaminants found in water. This is options are idea if you’re looking to cover the most bases possible.
We recommend getting a test done of your water supply and then picking an appropriate filter accordingly if you're overly concerned about your water supply.
However, the only filter pitcher to be certified by the NSF to reduce both lead and chromium, is the ZeroWater 10 cup pitcher.
Hey! I’m Michelle and I write product reviews for ThriveCuisine.com. I’m always preparing healthy / plant based foods and I’ve developed a knack for helping people get the best bang for their buck.