Best Water Filter Pitcher – Guide and Reviews

Clean and pure water is not a new concern for people.  As far back as the Sanskrit and Egyptians are documented as following certain practices to keep water pure for drinking.  They used the sun to heat and boil water for purity.  There are descriptions of pouring water through course gravel and sand. There are images in Egyptian tombs depicting water treatment practices. The Greeks were reported to be interested in pure water.  Hippocrates created a crude water filter, the Hippocratic Sleeve, where boiled water was poured through a cloth bag.

With the invention of the microscope, water was able to be examined, and this led to the discovery of waterborne pathogens.  Methods of removing these pathogens were then being researched and tried.  Sand filters were first documented in 1804 in Paisley, Scotland.  After decades of refinement, the first treated water system was installed in London.  It was declared as the first public water filtration system and provided filter water to every resident in the London area.

John Snow, a British scientist, found that cholera was spread through contaminated water in 1854.  This discovery instigated some changes in water filtration and disinfection. Snow notice that regions that used slow sand filtration before distribution had fewer cholera cases.  By studying the outbreaks, he was actually able to trace the source of the outbreaks to a particular water pump that was contaminated with raw sewage.  Snow used chlorine to kill the cholera bacteria.  This discovery led to the rise of water chlorination as an effect method of disinfection.  His theory that good-tasting and odorless water naturally meant it was healthy and safe.  After his findings were published, many cities adopted the practice of sand filtration and chlorination before distribution to the public to ensure the safest drinking water.

Water treatment experimentation shifted from prevention of waterborne diseases to softening and removing minerals in water by the early 1900’s.  Water softeners use sodium ions to replace water-hardening minerals.  Using the theory of ion exchange was implemented in domestic water treatment systems.  Ion exchange removed calcium ions as well as lead and other heavy metals.

Modern day concerns regarding water quality are pointed to lead and byproducts of disinfection.  Lead is the main concern with municipal water treatment plants.  Water treatment plants provide disinfected and clean water to homes and businesses.  Water can become lead contaminated though through plumbing systems that may contain lead.  The secondary issue addressed at the water treatment plant is chlorine byproducts.  Chlorine and natural organic materials are reacting and causing the formation of harmful chemicals, THMs.  The most famous THM is chloroform, a poisonous gas that harms the respiratory system when inhaled.  The public water treatment plants are finding it too difficult to meet all these demands, and the market is coming to meet the missing safety filter.  There are whole home water filters as well as portable or tap specific water filters being sold directly to the end user.

Types of Filters

Water filters will remove many contaminants, but none will remove all.  There are 4 types of common water filters, Carbon, Reverse Osmosis, Ultra- Violet, and Distillers and what they are best suited for.

Carbon Filters – used in pitchers, faucet- mounts, under sink models and whole –house or point-of-entry systems.  They work by water passing though porous carbon.  The carbon absorbs impurities in the water.  Carbon will remove: lead, PCBs, chlorine byproducts, some parasites, radon, pesticides and herbicides, MTBE (a gasoline additive), trichloroethylene (used in dry-cleaning, organic compounds, some levels of bacteria and a small number of pharmaceuticals.

Reverse-Osmosis – water is pushed through a semipermeable membrane.  They are usually never used alone but in conjunction with carbon filters.  They waste a significant amount of water to get one gallon filtered (approximately 4-9 gallons lost). Reverse osmosis will remove though chemicals that carbon filters may miss such as: perchlorate, sulfates, fluoride, industrial chemicals, heavy metals, chlorine byproducts, chlorides and pharmaceuticals.

Ultraviolet Light – disinfect water by killing bacteria.  They are available in countertop units or whole-house units.  They remove bacteria only.  It is recommended to use them with carbon filters as well.

Distillers – very inefficient for home use because they boil water and then condense it.  There are countertop units, but distillers use so much electricity, generate so much heat and require a lot of cleaning they are really impractical for countertop use.  They remove heavy metals, particles, total dissolved solids microbes, fluoride, lead and mercury.

Water Filter Pitcher Brands

Brita – Founded by German, Heinz Hankammer in 1966 and named after his daughter, Brita.  He created a simple water filter that produced completely desalinated water.  It started out as a one man operation, well family members were great laborers, and quickly grew into an international company growing at exponential rates.

CamelBak – in 1989 Michael Eidson, a cyclist, was competing in the “Hotter’N Hell 100” and needed to be able to carry large quantities of water for hydration since there are very few places to refill a water bottle.  Eidson was a professional EMT and had a brilliant idea of taking an IV bag, slipping it into a white tube sock and then stuffing it into the back of his bike jersey.  He used the hose from the IV bag as a straw and threw it over his shoulder.  To prevent the water from just leaking out he used a high technology clamp, a clothes pin.  Thus the first camelback and hands-free hydration is born! Most racers were laughing yet struggling with their own water bottles.  Jeff Wemmer was not one of those laughing.  He was highly impressed and started bringing packs to races and selling them.  He was only a fan!  CamelBak took note and hired him in 1993 and sent him on the road to spread the word.

Clearly Filtered – committed to coming up with better solutions to water filtration to keep you healthy but not harming the environment.

MAVEA – is actually Brita reborn in 2008.  Brita started in 1966 and was manufacturing water filters.  It joined forces with Clorox in 1988.  In 2000 Clorox received the rights to the brand, Brita, in North America but Brita had to agree to a non-compete clause until 2005.  It honored the non-compete clause and in return started Mavea to market to the North American market.

PUR – created a 24-year-old Harvard economics graduate, Brian Sullivan.  Currently, it is a subsidiary of Helen of Troy Limited.

Seychelle – 72-year-old Carl Palmer just couldn’t quit.  Seychelle Environmental Technologies Inc is his third water filtration company.  He sold the previous two for millions each.

Pitcher Comparison

Pitcher Name Price RangeBest For
PUR 18 Cup Dispenser w/ 1 Filter$Removal of Mercury
Brita 10 Cup Everyday BPA Free Water Pitcher $Refrigerator Door Use
MAVEA 1018903 Elemaris XL$$Ease of Use
Brita 18 Cup UltraMax Water Dispenser$Frequent Use
Brita 10 Cup Grand BPA Free Water Pitcher$$ Pitcher for Families

The 5 Best Water Filter Pitchers

PUR 18 Cup Dispenser w/ 1 Filter

Best Water Filter Pitcher for Removal of Mercury $

PUR’s 18 Cup Dispenser w/ 1 Filter carbon water filter removes 95% of mercury, 96% of trace levels of pharmaceuticals and leaves behind the fluoride.  PUR’s MAXION filter technology blends carbon and ion exchange materials to maximize the reduction of contaminants.

Brita 10 Cup Everyday BPA Free Water Pitcher with 1 Filter, White

Best Water Filter Pitcher for Refrigerator Door Use $

Brita’s 10 Cup Everyday BPA Free Water Pitcher with 1 Filter is Brita’s largest basic pitcher.  The classic oval design houses Brita’s BPA – free filter.  The filter will remove zinc, copper, mercury and cadmium as well as reduce the chlorine taste and odor. The oval design fits into most refrigerator doors.

MAVEA 1018903 Elemaris XL 9-Cup Water Filtration Pitcher, Black

Best Water Filter Pitcher for Ease of Use $$

MAVEA’s 1018903 Elemaris XL 9-Cup Water Filtration Pitcher is made in Germany and leading the way in water filtration systems.  The bold European style looks so good you can leave it on your table or counter. The new filter shape gives consistent flow and filtration pitcher after pitcher for the life of the filter.  Filters are easy to use; no pre-soaking needed to activate the filter. Bacteria growth is reduced because the filter media is treated with silver.  The micro-screen in the filter minimizes black particle release.  So easy to fill, simply turn on the tap and the water flow opens the lid.  The MAVEA Smart meter measure water hardness and volume as well as the length of time the filter is in use taking the guess work out of how many times a filter has been used.

Brita 18 Cup UltraMax Water Dispenser with 1 Filter, BPA Free, Gray

Best Water Filter Pitcher for Frequent Use $

Brita’s 18 Cup UltraMax Water Dispenser with 1 filter can handle 40 gallons of water before filter replacement.  This is an excellent option for homes that filter their water for everything from drinking, heating in a kettle, ice cubes or pets.  The BPA-free filter reduces zinc, taste, and odor of chlorine, copper, mercury and cadmium.  The rectangular shape fits nicely on the refrigerator shelf or countertop.

Brita 10 Cup Grand BPA Free Water Pitcher with 1 Filter, Bubbles Black

Best Water Filter Pitcher for Families $$

Brita’s 10 Cup Grand BPA-Free Water Pitcher is a great size for families who use this to replace bottled water or small offices.  The taste and odor of chlorine as well as traces of zinc, copper, mercury and cadmium are reduced by the BPA-free filter. Fits nicely in the refrigerator for cold water on the go or leave it on the counter for room temperature.

Honorable Mentions

Buyers Guide

Before going out to buy a water filter pitcher it is good to look at a few things:

  • What contaminants affect your drinking water? Knowing what you have in your water will empower you to buy the filter actually work for your needs. Many households that are on city water will only need a basic filter removing taste and smell of chlorine while households that are still on a well system may require more intricate systems to remove pollutants and parasites.
  • How much water do you intend to filter? If you are looking to just replace plastic water bottles and use for drinking water at home, you may only need a water pitcher. If you are planning on using it for pets, cooking, drinking, ice and anything else you or animals will consume, you will be continually refilling even the large versions of a water pitcher and may want to consider a whole-house system.
  • Do you want your water to be permanent? If you are in a rental situation or want portability then either a pitcher, countertop or faucet-mounted water filter would be fine for your use. If you own your home and are prepared to make modifications and possibly hire someone for installation then, a whole-house system could be what you are in the market for.

What To Know About Water Filter Pitchers

Capacity – pitchers are available in sizes that vary from small enough for individual / personal use to large enough for a whole sports team or large family.       

Filtering Mechanisms – there are mechanisms out there for every type of contaminant. A carbon filter absorbs impurities and odor as water passes through the porous material. Multistage filters remove many more contaminants such as lead, chlorine, parasites, pharmaceuticals, bacteria and other harmful chemicals.  Reverse osmosis uses semi-permeable membranes to flush the highest percentage of contaminants from the water.

Flow Rate – Depending on the type of filter water will flow through at different rates.  Some filters actually slow down as they age and toward the end of their useful life it could be extremely slow.  While all water filters will be slower than just turning on the tap, if you pre-fill your pitcher you will have water on hand for instant drinking or whatever your need be.

Documentation – while water filters make claims of certain percentages of removal for contaminants, look for proof from notable independent organizations such as NSF International or the Water Quality Association.  Both organizations maintain databases that consumers can search for the reliability of specific models.

Filter Change Indicator – indicators are a handy perk on many water filters now.  The indicators can be based on how much water you have filtered and are most accurate or they can just include timers or stickers to count and remind you after a set amount of time has lapsed regardless of the frequency of use.

Warranty – water filter pitchers should be fine with just a 90-day warranty.  If you are looking into a more permanent filter system, you may look for a longer warranty.

Conclusion

Public water treatment systems while do a good job often leave the water tasting and smelling like chlorine as well as just missing some contaminants.  Some homes don’t use water that has been through a water treatment system.  Homes that use well water or reservoir water may need to consider whole-house filtration systems to remove pollutants, metals and bacteria.  For the average home that is on city water, a faucet water filter or even more convenient water filter pitcher will be enough.  It really comes down to how frequently and the quantity of water you need to filter.         

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