Water filter pitchers (also known as water filter jugs or water filtration pitchers) are an easy and effective way to filter your drinking water before it ever gets to your glass. Being much cheaper than something like a full fledged water purifier system and more lightweight and more affordable than a gravity water filter or countertop water filter, all while not requiring any of the installation like a whole-house system might, the water filter pitcher is in many cases the cheapest and simplest solution to filtering your drinking water at home.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the top water filter pitchers on the market to help you find the best one to suit your needs. To get there, we’ll do some water filter pitcher comparisons and review a few different pitchers, showcasing both the positives and negatives of what is available on the market.
Comparisons of the Best Water Filter Pitchers
We examine each of these selections in-depth below, as well as taking a look at a few runner-ups and another pitcher we think you’d do better to avoid! Either keep browsing to read through the complete article, or use the index below if you want to quickly jump to what you’re looking for.
- Overall Best Filter Pitcher: PUR Classic LED
- #2 Pick: Brita Stream Filter-As-You-Pour
- #3 Pick: Seychelle Radiological Water Filter Pitcher
- #4 Pick: Clearly Filtered Water Pitcher
- Runner-up: Brita Everyday Water Filter Pitcher
- Runner-up: Brita Grand Water Filter Pitcher
- Avoid: Invigorated Living Water Filter Pitcher with Ionizer and Alkalizer
- Avoid: ZeroWater Water Filter Pitcher
- Info: Water Filter Pitchers 101
- Info: What To Look For In A Quality Water Filter Pitcher
In-Depth Water Filter Pitcher Reviews
Best Filter Pitcher: PUR Classic LED 11 Cup Water Filter Pitcher (~$28 on Amazon)
On the surface, the PUR Classic LED 11 Cup Filter Pitcher is a pretty unassuming device. Made from a transparent BPA-free plastic and adorned only with the simple PUR logo, this PUR looks about as generic as a filter pitcher possibly could. Yet this simple appearance is only the friendly exterior to a remarkably well engineered product.
Independently evaluated with standards set by NSF International, this PUR filter has achieved the two certification standards assigned by the NSF, NSF 42 which tracks the reduction of chlorine, and NSF 53 which tracks the reduction of a wide range of contaminants, including lead and mercury. NSF testing is some of the most in-depth and rigorous independent evaluations available, and their results are highly respected.
Named the Best of the Best
The PUR Classic was named the Best Water Filter Pitcher by The Sweethome, a New York Times owned review network. Their extensive testing named the PUR Classic as by far the best filter pitcher on the market in terms of its ability to remove contaminants. To quote The Sweethome’s findings:
“The Pur’s NSF-certified filtration system successfully removed a total of 13 contaminants, including chlorine (for odor and taste), cysts (cryptosporidium or giardia), benzene (a common, carcinogenic hydrocarbon), carbon tetrachloride and tetrachloroethylene (common cleaning agents known to cause liver and nerve damage and cancer), three herbicides (2,4-D, atrazine, and simazine), particulate matter, zinc, and copper, mercury, and cadmium (metallic elements that can cause severe health problems). PUR additionally claims (from internal tests) that it reduces 12 waterborne pharmaceuticals by greater than 96 percent. In our own tests, the PUR virtually eliminated chlorine—the major culprit for bad taste and odor—and reduced lead levels by 97 percent in a water sample with 16 times the lead levels used for NSF testing. The American Dental Association also endorses the PUR as not removing fluoride.”
In addition to offering some of the best and most well-tested filtration of any pitcher, the PUR Classic is equipped with exceptional form factor and a great usability. Filling is easily accomplished by setting the pitcher into the sink and opening the 3″ diameter hole on the lid which allows for easy filling. The PUR has a very high capacity at 11 cups, or around 0.68 gallons. The upper filtration chamber is also pretty nicely sized, which means less hassle when filling it up. The flow-rate might leave a little something to be desired, as it can take awhile for water to drip from the filtration chamber down into the reservoir. The When full the PUR Classic can be a little on the heavy side, but its ergonomic handle grip and easy pouring action means it is always very easy to use.
Cleaning and maintaining the pitcher is simple, and it doesn’t have difficult to clean spots which you need to worry about. Durability is more or less what you’d expect from a plastic pitcher, but it is certainly capable of taking a beating and 100% BPA-free. The lid is equipped with a filter replacement indicator, which will flash yellow when the filter is nearing the end of its 40 gallon lifetime, or red if the filter has been exhausted and needs immediate replacement.
The MAXION 2-stage water filter pitcher replacement elements cost about $25 for a set of four replacement filters. This is a very reasonable price, and makes the PUR Classic extremely affordable, compounding the already bargain price of the pitcher itself with highly affordable filters. Their 40-gallon lifetime is fairly standard for water filter pitchers.
As great as it is knowing some of the best laboratories around have certified the PUR Classic as a top filter, the real practical test comes when its time to actually filter and drink some water through the thing. In all of our testing, the PUR Classic does a fantastic job of removing all of the funk and undesirable taste from our home tap water. In side-by-side taste comparisons, no filter pitcher has outperformed the PUR Classic. Water is delicious and refreshingly pure with every sip.
One known problem with the PUR Classic’s MAXION filter elements is their tendency to clog. We have not personally encountered this issue, however it is widely reported on other reviews, including The Sweethome piece linked above. PUR has acknowledged this issue and offers instructions for unclogging (which are not always effective,) and promises to assist any customer with a defective product.
PUR has announced their intention to release an updated version of the filter elements to address this defect sometime in 2017, but has not yet provided further details. We will update this page when they are made available.
An additional problem some users have encountered is a cracking on the handle or in the plastic. This seems fairly common, but is likely due to mishandling. Our own PUR Classic pitcher has done a good job of standing up to typical kitchen wear-and-tear, but it is certainly not bullet-proof and does require a bit of care when handling, though it is equipped to handle a few drops and dings.
Overall, these problems are things to watch out for, but not deal breakers. Given the extremely affordable price tag and remarkable performance of the PUR Classic, we award it the distinction of Best Water Filter Pitcher.
Brita is an innovator in a field which sees minimal change. While sometimes their creative spirit seems to steer them in strange directions, like their rather silly digital “Smart” filter pitcher, with the new Brita Stream Water Filter Pitcher they have introduced something truly useful and desirable into the rather sterile landscape of water filter pitchers.
All of the filter pitchers on this list are a form of gravity filter. Water is poured into an upper filtration chamber before being pulled down under the force of gravity through the filter elements and into the pitcher’s reservoir. Generally speaking, this is how all filter pitchers operate (one exception to this being the Clear2Go Filter Pitcher, which hooks up to a sink a pressurized filter system.)
With the Stream Filter Pitcher, a new addition to their lineup from the first quarter of 2017, Brita has done away with this traditional reliance on gravity and instead created a pour-through filter element, a unique offering in the world of filter pitchers. To use the Brita Stream, you simply fill up the reservoir and pour out your filtered water when you’re ready for it. It’s that simple.
The New Brita Stream Filter-As-You-Pour Elements
The main perk the Brita Stream offers users is pure convenience. And we have to admit: it is very convenient. If you’ve gotten used to the wait after filling up your old-school gravity-fed filter pitcher, the luxury of going straight from filling to pouring the Brita Stream is quite impressive. While we haven’t put the claim to the test, Brita’s advertising asserts that the Stream is 10x faster than any filter pitcher on the market, and this does not seem unreasonable.
When pouring from the Brita Stream, the flow-rate is definitely impeded by the filter and is not exactly rushing by at breakneck speeds. However, it does get the job of filtration done much faster (and in a much more proactive, satisfying manner) than classic filter pitchers.
Filter lifetime is the industry standard at 40 gallons. A 2-pack of replacement filter elements is around $15, making the Brita Stream an extremely affordable filter pitcher to maintain. On the pitcher’s lid is an indicator which lets you know when its time to change the filter, or if it needs immediate replacement.
How Well Does It Filter?
Brita offers some data on the Stream filter elements on their website. Tested with NSF 42 and 53, the Brita Stream has been independently certified to remove copper, mercury, chlorine, and zinc by NSF standards. Aside from these tests, it is hard to find others, but is safe to assume that the Brita Stream will also remove other common contaminants, particulates, and some microbes such as cysts or parasites. While the Brita Stream doesn’t offer quite as extensive filtration as the PUR Classic reviewed above, it does a good job of filtration and does a good job of cleaning up standard tap water contaminants.
Unfortunately, despite Brtia being a massive company, less testing data is available for the Brita filter pitcher elements than the PUR elements. It is clear the Brita does not offer filtration as extensive as PURs, though if the standard user will ever make note of this is a question worthy of debate. Which brings us to our next topic.
Knowing that, per NSF testing at least, the Brita appeared to have less comprehensive filtration that the PUR, we were eager to see if we could discern any difference in flavor between the two filter pitchers. To put weeks of testing and debates into a single word: nope. While laboratory results clearly indicate the PUR can filter out a wider range of contaminants than the Brita, this was not an issue, at least not for us. We caution, however, that this was merely our experience and your own may vary. If you live in an area in which the tap water contains high levels of one of the chemicals the PUR removes and the Brita doesn’t, you might be telling a much different story.
This is why testing your home water quality and contents is an important step to determining what kind of filtration system will work best for you.
Marketed as a “radiological water filter,” this Seychelle is supposedly capable of tackling radioactive compounds many other filters can’t remove, like Radium 226, Radon 222, Cesium, Plutonium, and Uranium. As the Seychelle website explains:
“Each radiological product filters out of drinking water up to 99.99% of the major contaminants that can be found after a nuclear event.”
Hopefully for most of us, the need to filter out even minute traces of these radiological elements will be unnecessary, but it is nice to know you have the capability. For those concerned with worldwide radiological contamination from events like the Fukushima disaster, this Seychelle can provide some peace of mind.
One thing this capability does say for the Seychelle is that it is equipped with quite the filter. In fact, this Seychelle may well be one of the most advanced filter pitchers on the market. The filter gets rid of pretty much every tap water contaminant you are likely to happen across, including heavy metals, arsenic, chlorine and chloramines, and even removing 90% of fluoride, a particularly difficult additive to get rid of due to its tiny molecular size. Tested to comply with NSF standards 42 and 53, Seychelle does a great job of offering extensive documentation on their independent filter testing. Evaluations of the Seychelle’s filtration performance are very impressive and too extensive to detail here. For a complete chart of contaminants the Seychelle reduces, and links to further studies, visit this page on the Seychelle website.
Using the Seychelle Filter Pitcher
The filter is installed into a high quality, BPA-free 16 cup (1 gallon) pitcher. The pitcher itself is pretty durable and has a huge footprint in the fridge or on your counter, where it can sometimes make things tricky as you maneuver around its bulk. According to the manufacturer, filter lifetime is around six months or around 150 gallons. This is much higher than the general standard of 40 gallons for filter pitcher lifetime, however the Seychelle’s filter is a different beast compared to most filter pitchers on the market. Because there is no filter meter on this Seychelle, you’ll need to keep track of each six month cycle and be sure to change out the filter to get the most from your Seychelle.
With a massive 16-cup capacity, the Seychelle is by far the biggest water filter pitcher we have reviewed or owned, beating out the 11-cup PUR Classic which is the number one pick for best water filter pitcher, but decidedly the runner up in terms of the biggest we tested, coming in a full 5-cups smaller than the huge Seychelle.
Since the Seychelle’s filter is definitely the most complex part of this filtration pitcher, it is unsuprising that replacements are a bit expensive, coming in at around $40 on Amazon.com.
So is this Seychelle worth the price tag? In our personal testing, it is a great filter pitcher. It has one of the most capable filter installed into a filter pitcher that we know of. It is easy to clean, easy to change filters, and makes tap water taste great. But without a doubt, the ~$80 pricet tag is much higher than just about any other filter pitcher on the market. For those seriously concerned with unusual contaminants, the Seychelle maybe a worthy investment, and we felt compelled to include it on account of its formidable filtration prowess.
Looking at this Clearly Filtered filter pitcher, it looks remarkably similar to the Seychelle above. However, as similar as they look and despite the fact they likely come from the same manufacturer, there are a few key differences between the Clearly Filtered and the Seychelle above.
The specifications advertised are different on the filters, so there are certainly some differences, even if they look nearly identical on the surface. Most importantly, the Clearly Filtered pitcher is not advertised as a “radiological filter,” and does not make some of the same claims as the Seychelle, although it is certainly a capable filter in its own right. Clearly Filtered recently revisited their filter pitcher elements, releasing the second generation of their filter elements, which offer the Clearly Filtered some beefed up filtration possibilities compared to the original filter element.
However, this increased filtration capacity also carries an increased price-tag. The new 2nd generation filter elements cost about $50, which is more than a new Clearly Filtered pitcher can be purchased for! This makes sense once you understand that by default the Clearly Filtered Pitcher ships with the original first generation filter elements, which appear to have been discontinued. Second generation filter elements have an advertised filter lifetime of 100 gallons, making them substantially more expensive than the type of replacement filters for a filter pitcher like the PUR or Brita options we reviewed above. This is also a 50-gallon reduction in filter lifetime from the Clearly Filtered’s first generation filter elements.
Clearly Filtered offers some extensive documentation of their filter evaluations readily available on their website. Their testing complies with EPA, ANSI and NSF standards and protocols of testing. The Clearly Filtered eliminates up to 98% of fluoride, >99% of chlorine, chloramine, arsenic, lead, mercury, 99.9% of 13 pharmaceutical drugs, 4 endocrine distruptors, as well as potentially harmful microorganisms such as E. coli and Cryptosporidium.
Evaluating the Clearly Filtered Water Pitcher
As similar as the Clearly Filtered and Seychelle may look the pitchers are pretty different. The Clearly Filtered is a small pitcher, the smallest on this list with only about 8 cups or 64 ounces, pretty tiny compared to the whopping 1 gallon, 16-cup Seychelle.
Originally we deemed the Clearly Filtered a sort of a “Seychelle-lite:” still packed with a powerful filter capable of removing chloramines, 90% of fluoride, and other hard-to-filter contaminants, the Clearly Filtered is quite a bit smaller and more suited to disappearing in your fridge, rather than asserting itself on your counter. With the updated second generation of filter elements, the Clearly Filtered offers some impeccably high quality filtration able to go toe-to-toe with any other filter pitcher on the market.
In our testing, we’ve found the Clearly Filtered to be an exceptionally great selection in filtered water pitchers. You can read our complete review of the Clearly Filtered Pitcher to learn more of our thoughts on this selection.
Best Water Filter Pitchers of 2015
This article was originally published in December of 2015. It was the result both of our personal experience and extensive testing in the first half of 2015 to determine which filter pitchers performed the best and offered the best value. While all of the pitchers we tested in 2015 are still available on the market (and many of them are still great buys,) we’ve substantially updated this article in order to better reflect the current options.
Since yesteryear’s filter pitchers are still some of the best around, below you will find our in-depth look at some of the selections which made the list back in 2015. These picks are still worthy investments, but have been edged off the top four list in favor of the latest and greatest.
For only about $20, this Brita performs its job admirably, getting the chemical taste of city tap water out of drinking water as well as some more expensive filters. The Brita filter gets rid of heavy metals and helps improve taste, odor, and clarity of water. While it’s a pretty good filter for $20, it is more or less a “last step” for treating already decent quality tap water. If you have serious contaminants, or want to filter more difficult to tackle additives like disinfectants or fluoride, you’ll want to look into something with more heavy duty filtration.
However, if you just want an extra layer of filtration, or have tap water that tastes a little “off,” this Brita filter pitcher is an affordable way to tackle the issue. It fits comfortably into a refrigerator, is easy to wash, fills up relatively quickly and has a 10 cup capacity. The capacity is suitable for smaller families or more than enough for a single person.
Replacement filters are quite affordable at about$15 for a 3-pack on Amazon.com, and the filter is very easy to replace. The Brita Everyday water filter pitcher even includes a sticker monitor to let you know when the filter needs to be changed.
We started off our testing for these water filter pitcher reviews with a cheap, entry-level Brita pitcher, and this entry is sort of its big brother. Making use of the same type of filter as the other, cheaper Brita we just looked at above with, this model justifies its increased price tag by adding a bunch of neat features to the pitcher itself, even though the filtration is the same.
Which features, you ask? The electronic filter meter is handy, letting you know exactly when to change the filter. The handle is much improve on the Brita Grand water filter pitcher, making pouring easier. The lid also incorporates an advanced locking anti-spill mechanism, which works very well to prevent spills and is easy to fill. The whole thing is brilliantly simple to clean, and overall a very well-designed pitcher. The filter itself is nothing to write home about.
While quite simple, and lacking any of the fancy new fangled filter pitcher technology Brita seems to be rolling out, the Brita Grand is a simple and effective workhorse of a filter pitcher which will get the job done. In 2015 it was a great pick, but these days it has definitely been edged out by some of our more competitively priced and feature-rich pitchers like the ones we began this article with
(UPDATE: While in previous versions of this article we named the Invigorated Living Filter Pitcher as the #5 Best Water Filter Pitcher, after testing some newer models we have decided to reverse this decision, officially pushing the Invigorated Living off the “Best” list. Although it does a good job of filtering water, the host of unnecessary features and the questionable associations with unscrupulous practices such as review manipulation and promoting scientifically questionable health practices such as alkaline ionized water.)
This offering from Invigorated Living does quite a few things none of the other filtering pitchers on this list can claim to do, although we have to wonder how useful some of these features really are. Incorporating mineral balls, ion exchange resins, and activated carbon filters, the Invigorated Living water filter pitcher filters out common tap water contaminants while also raising the pH (alkalizing) and ionizing the water. For those interested in the alkalized ionized water movement, this is a great way to make sure all of your water is alkalized before drinking it, relatively cheap compared to full-blown alkalizer machines which can cost thousands of dollars.
The filter in this pitcher is enough to handle tap water contaminants like heavy metals, some disinfectants and pesticides, and even chloramine. It is not fine enough to filter out fluoride, however. While the filter is definitely up to par for the price, it is hard to comment on many of the other claims made by the Invigorated Living advertising, such as the merits of its “micro-cluster water molecules,” and ability to improve metabolism and energy levels through alkalized water. These claims have been put to little scientific scrutiny and the jury remains out on the benefits of alkalized ionized water itself, let alone many of the other claims introduced by this filter pitcher. Alkaline ionized water has been a particularly questionable practice, and we have pointed our our less than stellar views of it before.
One other important thing to note about this Invigorated Living is that, according to Amazon reviews, the manufacturer is soliciting 5-star Amazon reviews in return for a full refund on the purchase price of the filter pitcher. This unscrupulous practice has probably led to some of the reviews being fabricated or unreliable. However, in our testing of the product, it is of reasonable durability and build quality. The filter performs well and the water tastes good. It also does raise pH as claimed. As for the other health benefits claimed, we can’t comment.
Filter lifetime is about 2 months, and the pitcher includes a lifetime meter to help you know when you need to replace it. The 2 month lifetime is pretty slim, but replacements are only about $20 on Amazon.com.
Although when we originally wrote this review the manufacturer advertised the filter lifetime as being 2 months, Invigorated Living has now seemingly changed their filter elements with an improved 2017 model that advertises as a “life-long filter,” although on closer inspection they rate the filter lifetime at 96 gallons. They also appear to have doubled-down on their vague and confusing alternative health claims, now boasting that of the filter’s “PARTICLE CATCHING MICRO NETS” and “KDF, STONE & CERAMIC BALL BLEND.” Other silly psuedo-science dominates their Amazon listing, like this gem:
“MICRO-CLUSTERED STRUCTURED WATER MOLECULES IMPROVES ABSORBTION – so water can more easily penetrate our cells, keeping us better hydrated. Hydration is a key to mental clarity, energy and overall health.”
We don’t take this kind of thing seriously and have spent significant efforts debunking “magic water” scams, so we don’t take too well to what Invigorated Living is doing here. These kind of claims have no backing and they should not be able to make them, as they only serve to mislead and confuse customers seeking to improve their health.
NEGATIVE REVIEW: ZeroWater ZP-010 10-Cup Water Filter Pitcher (~$40 on Amazon.com)
Typically here on Hydration Anywhere we strive to bring our readers great products and content, so we try not to focus too much on the negatives. This article is about the Best water filter pitchers, after all. But we have to give a bad review to this ZeroWater water filter pitcher, because we had a really poor experience with the product, and looking around at fellow reviewers across the internet, we are not alone.
The ZeroWater filter pitcher makes a lot of claims and has some very convincing advertising, claiming it offers high quality filtration at a low price and even includes its own Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) meter, which allows you to electronically measure the purity of your water. This all seems well and good, but as soon as we started testing out the ZeroWater, something seemed wrong. First of all, there was an odd smell to the pitcher and filter as soon as we got it out of the box. This didn’t go away. Even after lots of flushing and testing, water had a weird funk to it after moving through the filter.
After about a day of testing, our filter developed a strong fish-like odor. We thought this was really weird, so started doing some research online and found out we are not alone in encountering this fishy aroma. It is a common problem people run into with the filter. The manufacturer’s website claims that this fishy smell can indicate the filter is used up, but we had hardly used ours at all. Other complaints online mention the short lifetime of the filter, in some cases as little as two weeks.
Water Filter Pitchers 101: How They Work
The water filter pitcher is quite a simple device. They typically incorporate a carbon block filter through which water passes as it enters or exits the pitcher, removing water borne contaminants and trapping them in the filter. This is suitable to eliminate common contaminants in tap water and leave drinking water pure and fresh. However, these filters are generally designed to make already potable water cleaner – that is, they aren’t made to make dirty water drinkable, rather to remove undesirable elements from your already drinkable tap water.
This means a water filtration pitcher is often the simplest way to remove water additives and contaminants commonly found in tap water, such as chlorine, fluoride, chloramines, heavy metals, and other compounds. If you don’t want the hassle and expense of installing a new home filter system, a water filter pitcher is the best way to make sure your home drinking water is as clean as possible.
What To Look For In A Quality Water Filter Pitcher
When it comes to selecting a filter pitcher, there are a few details to look for. But aside from minor variations, most water filter pitchers on the market function more or less the same way. If you have a specific contaminant in your water you are hoping to filter out, make sure to check the labeling and manufacturer’s provided information to ensure the filter you have selected filters for that particular compound. If you can’t find information on specific compounds you are concerned about, seek out the manufacturer’s website for more information. If none is provided, contact them for more details, or consider looking elsewhere.
Knowing what you want to filter from your water can make the difference between wasting your money and making a worthwhile investment. Fluoride, for example, is intentionally not filtered by many filter pitchers. Learn more about fluoride filtering in our “Best Water Filters That Remove Fluoride” article, or find out how to test for contaminants in your water.
Other than these specifics of the filter, other features to look out for are meters to measure the life of the filter, handy for getting the most purified water possible, and the lifetime of the filter. You’ll also want to take into consideration the price of replacement filters along with the lifetime of each filter. This detail can reveal some of the cheaper water filter pitchers to actually be pricy options when it comes time to replace the filter.
Lastly, it is important to have a look at the capacity of the pitcher and the lifetime of the filter. This will be important depending on factors such as how many people will be drinking water from the filter pitcher, and how much fridge or counter space you can sacrifice for its presence. Typically, filter pitchers filter water when it enters the pitcher, relying on gravity to draw water down through the filter and into the pitcher. While this system works great and requires no electricity, it can mean taking awhile to fill up as you wait for the slow flow rate through the filter. This is where high capacity comes in handy!
That’s All the Comparisons and Reviews for Now!
Thanks for checking out this guide, and hopefully it helps you make a great purchasing decision! Getting a filtered water pitcher is an excellent way to make sure your tap water is as clean, pure and great tasting as possible. Don’t skimp on your drinking water! It is one of the most important aspects of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and having clean and great tasting water is great for the body and for the mind.
Always remember that filtered pitchers are a form of final purification. They are not suitable for filtering water which is not already potable. Only use drinkable tap water in your filtered pitcher. If you attempt to filter non-potable water, you run the risk of fouling the filter and rendering it unsafe and unusable.
A final tip: never put hot water in your filtered pitcher! Heat can very easily damage the filter membrane and destroy the filtering capabilities. Avoid heating the filter element to preserve the lifetime of your water pitcher filter, and consider a replacement filter if you accidentally fill it with warm water.
Good luck and stay hydrated!
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Find the best water filter pitcher for your home with our in-depth guide containing comparisons and reviews of popular pitchers.
Jacob Hatch is the author and founder of Hydration Anywhere. He has been actively writing about drinking water since 2013. These days Jacob spends most of his time investigating water related news, studying environmental issues, reading health studies, and reviewing products like water bottles and water filters.