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The Best Water Filter Pitchers

We rank the top filtered pitchers available right now. Discover which is the most effective, best value, and the wildcard choice in our guide.

Best water filter pitcher guide

Water filter pitchers are an attractive option because they are one of the cheapest forms of home water filtration.

They are also completely portable, which gives them much greater scope for use.

We've all probably used pitcher filters at some point, but just how good are they? Read on to find out as we recommend the 3 very best on the market. 

Discover the best value, most effective, and our overall top pick in today's big guide to filtered pitchers.

The Best Water Filter Pitchers Compared

In our opinion, these are 3 of the very finest pitchers available. We've been careful to cover a range of budgets too. We're confident that one of these pitcher filters will suit your home perfectly.

Start with the table below where you can compare the basic features at a glance. Then read our detailed reviews that follow. Find out what's so great about each of these models and why they are each deserving of a place on our list.

Model

Details

Removes

ZeroWater 10 cup pitcher

The Wildcard

ZeroWater

Price: $

Capacity: 10 cups

Filter Cost: $

Filter Life: 25 gallons

Certified: NSF

Herbicides, pesticides, chlorine, chloramines, mercury, lead & other heavy metals

Aquagear pitcher

OUR TOP PICK

Aquagear

Price: $$$

Capacity: 8 cups

Filter Cost: $$$

Filter Life:150 gallons

Certified: No

Fluoride, lead, chromium 6, chloramines, mercury, chlorine, arsenic, VOCs and more

Brita 10 cup filter jug

Best Value

Brita

Price: $

Capacity: 10 cups

Filter Cost: $$

Filter Life: 120 gallons

Certified: WQA

Lead, chlorine, cadmium, mercury, benzene, asbestos & more

The Top 3 Water Filter Pitcher Reviews

You've seen how they compare at a glance, and now get the full picture with our comprehensive reviews. Find out how good the filters are and how much they'll cost in the long-term.

Aquagear Pitcher - Our Top Pick

This pitcher from Aquagear uses one of the most refined filters we've seen in a pitcher model. It removes a huge range of harmful water contaminants with rejection rates as high as 99.9% in some cases.

However, this does make it the most expensive model of our recommendations and the replacement filters aren't cheap either.

Let's take a look at this filter in more detail:

water pitcher jug icon
  • Ion exchange media - this removes heavy metals like lead and mercury and also agricultural and industrial pollutants. It does this using a variety of techniques including absorption, adsorption, chelation, chemical bonding, and depth filtration.
  • Activated carbon - the coconut shell carbon removes organic compounds and treats disinfectant chemicals like chlorine and solvents. It will also treat the taste and odor of the water.

The filter is rated as lasting for 150 gallons of use, which is a lot more than the standard lifespan for a pitcher. It's actually the longest lasting filter that we're aware of with the new Brita Longlast filters the nearest competition at 120 gallons.

The lifespan of the filter definitely helps offset the more expensive initial cost. But, this still ends up being one of the more expensive filter pitchers by a margin.

The filters exceed NSF standards 42 and 53 for reduction of chlorine, lead, and VOCs (among other things), but it should be noted they aren't actually officially certified by WQA or NSF International, the two leading independent certifiers. The independent testing that Aquagear have had done, produces impressive results but at this moment it doesn't have that gold seal of approval that the big names have.

The filters actually target as many as 70 contaminants and reduce them to a very high degree. Here's an idea of the strength of filtration it offers:

Reduction Rates

  • ​Chlorine 99.9%
  • Lead 99.9%
  • Arsenic 99.8%
  • Fluoride 90%
  • Chromium 99.8%
  • Nitrate 97.6%
water pitcher jug icon

These are just a few of the figures available. You can view the complete test data for the Aquagear pitcher here. This level of filtration in a pitcher is very rare and the reason why you pay what you do for this jug and its filters.

Another reason for this pitcher costing what it does, is that it reduces fluoride. This is a really rare feat in a water pitcher filter, and one which earns this model rave reviews. Fluoride is a notoriously difficult contaminant to remove by any filtration device, so for a pitcher to remove to levels of up to 90% is impressive.

However, this does bring with it another downside. Reducing fluoride in water requires a long contact time between the water and the filtration media. That means this pitcher has been known to take a bit longer to fill than its competitors.

The pitcher itself is made from BPA-free plastic and is effortlessly filled from the top. There is one thing missing here and that is a filter life indicator. If you're an organized person then this shouldn't be an issue. Just make a mark on your calendar or set a reminder on your phone. However, for a pitcher that costs what this does, it is a bit of a design oversight. 

It's also one of the smaller jugs we've seen at 8 cups or 0.5 gallons capacity. This is unlikely to keep up with the water demands of anything but a small family, so bear that in mind.

If you're on the fence about forking out for this pitcher then perhaps this will make your decision for you. Aquagear offers a lifetime guarantee on the pitcher. They even go as far as to say that if you break it, they will replace it for free.

    Pros

  • High contaminant rejection rate
  • Removes huge range of contaminants
  • Removes fluoride
  • Lifetime guarantee
  • Doesn't remove minerals

    Cons

  • Expensive
  • Slower fill rate

     Bottom Line: The Aquagear pitcher is definitely not our budget buy. However, it offers some of the most refined water filtration available to a filtered jug. If you're looking for a water filter pitcher to be your primary water filter at home then you won't do much better than this one.



ZeroWater - NSF Certified

This ZeroWater pitcher is deserving of a place on this list of recommended water filter pitchers because of its thorough filtration. It's actually one of the very few pitchers that has NSF International certification proving its effectiveness.

Let's start by discussing that filter.

5 Filtration Stages

water pitcher jug icon
  • 1
    Removes large solid matter like dirt & rust
  • 2
    Removes further solids
  • 3
    Removes organic contaminants like herbicides, pesticides, chlorine, mercury, & chloramine
  • 4
    Removes inorganic compounds like heavy metals & radiological contaminants.
  • 5
    Removes any remaining particles 

Reducing almost any contaminant that is likely to cause harm, the water filter is certified reduce contaminants to exactly the levels that ZeroWater claim. This means lead and chromium reduction levels of as much as 99% are verified and true.

The NSF/ANSI 53 standard that this model adheres to is one of two safety standards (the other is NSF/ANSI 42) that only the top water filters meet.

Nobody can deny the filtration power of this pitcher filter, however performance like this does lead to two unfortunate downsides.

The first of which is the price of these filters. Now, the initial cost of the pitcher jug (including a filter and water meter) is very reasonable, in fact it's really good value. But the true cost of a water filter is more heavily weighted towards the cost of the replacement filters and their lifespan. The replacement filters for the ZeroWater pitcher can be be considered quite expensive due to their relatively short lifespan. 

The other caveat here is the time to filter. The jug fills pretty slowly when compared to the competition. That's a direct consequence of the thorough filtration that it produces.

So what exactly does it filter?

Well, it's a long list but to name a few harmful contaminants: lead, chlorine, aluminum, lead, zinc, nitrate, pesticides, herbicides, and chloramines. Being a filter pitcher it's not the most refined of filtration devices out there, and it's no match for something like reverse osmosis, but as far as pitcher filtration goes, it's one of the most effective out there.

What about the rest of it?

Well, at 10 cups (0.5 gallons) it's an average size jug. It's not going to cut it with a large family without frequent timely refills. However, it's well suited to smaller households.

It comes with a water test meter, which is a really nice touch. This meter allows you to test the water before and after filtration to see just how much work that filter is doing. This is also a great way to monitor the current state of the filter. If it's nearing the end of its lifespan and needs replacing then there will be a noticeable drop-off in performance.

It will noticeably improve the taste of your water too. Users frequently comment on the great tasting mineral water that it produces.

    Pros

  • NSF certification
  • Water test meter included
  • Reduces wide range of contaminants
  • Effective filtration

    Cons

  • Relatively expensive running costs
  • Can be slow to fill

     Bottom Line: The amazing filter is one of the most effective for pitchers currently on the market.

However, this pitcher isn't without its flaws. If a relatively high running cost (for pitchers) doesn't deter you, then this is a great little jug!



Brita - Outstanding Value

This 10 cup pitcher from Brita deserves a spot on this list due to the amazing value for money that it offers. The new LongLast filters improve on an already solid product and make it a contender for one of the best around.

It's the new filters that shine here. Called 'LongLast' they now last for 120 gallons of use, which is just shy of the monstrous 150 gallons offered by the Aquagear pitcher, but smashes the rest of the competition. The important point here though is that they cost about 1/3 as much as the Aquagear filters and just a fraction more than the relatively short lifespan ZeroWater filters.

They're also certified by the Water Quality Association (WQA). They'll remove up to 99% of harmful contaminants in your water. Common contaminants that they'll remove include lead, chlorine, copper, mercury, benzene, asbestos, and cadmium.

These filters offer outstanding value for money and are very effective (for a pitcher filter) too.

This 10 cup pitcher also includes a filter life indicator. However, a small thing to note is that it simply measures time and not how much work the filter has actually done. The lifespan of a filter should be judged by how much water it has filtered and how polluted that water is. I you want something a bit more accurate, then water testing devices (TDS meters) can be bought relatively cheaply at around $10.

    Pros

  • WQA certified
  • Amazing value
  • Filter life indicator
  • New long life filters

    Cons

  • Doesn't remove fluoride

     Bottom Line: It's tough to beat this for value for money. The initial price-point is really low and the filters offer outstanding long term value. WQA certification isn't to be sniffed at either!



Woman with water filter jug, glass and lemon in the kitchen

Conclusion

We've given you the three best water filter pitchers currently available. But which one should you choose?

Well, that's dependent on your individual needs. Let's break it down...

If money was not a barrier we'd choose the Aquagear pitcher. It removes the widest range of contaminants and even targets fluoride, which is a hard thing to do for a pitcher. The downside here is the cost, and even though the filter has a huge lifespan of 150 gallons (the biggest lifespan on the market for filter jugs), it's expensive.

If money is a buying concern then the Brita jug deserves your close attention. It really does offer amazing value for money. At the time of writing, the running costs of this jug are about 2.5 time cheaper than the ZeroWater and Aquagear models. If you want to read more about this, check out the 'Value for Money' section of the Buyer's Guide below.

The new Brita filter is no joke either. It's WQA certified to remove high levels of all the common contaminants found in tap water.


Recommended Reading: Don't miss our guide to the top alkaline water pitchers next!


White water filter jug with spare filters

Buyer's Guide

If you're new to the world of water jugs then we recommend you give this section a quick read before reading our water filter pitcher reviews.

We go over the key factors that need to be considered before you buy. This is filtered water pitchers explained.


Effectiveness

The effectiveness of a water filtration device is measured by the rejection rate of its filter. For example, a filter with 99% rejection of chlorine is much more effective than one with just 70%.

However, water filter manufacturers can be very misleading with the figures that they claim. Some will even claim rejection rates without publishing independent tests for the public to see.

Make sure that a water filter pitcher has some kind of independent verification or even certification to backup the claims that are made about it.

The two most popular and trusted authorities that do this are the Water Quality Association and NSF International, but smaller labs are used too. 

For example, if a filter jug is NSF International certified then you can relax knowing that it rejects contaminants exactly as claimed.

The two safety standards that you should look for are NSF/ANSI standards 42 & 53. 

A dependable water filter will have its certification proudly on display.

Of our recommendations, the ZeroWater pitcher is NSF International certified, the Brita pitcher is WQA certified, and the Aquagear pitcher is independently tested with the test results available on their website (there's a link in our review).

If a water filter manufacturer isn't transparent with their test results then forget them!


pouring a filtered water pitcher

Value for Money

To calculate the value for money offered by a water filter device isn't just as easy as looking at the price tag. Water filters will typically be used over the course of many years and the price you pay initially will likely be dwarfed by the cost of the replacement filters over this time.

So the real questions here are:

How much are the filters and how long do they last?

We've done a bit of math for our recommended water filter pitchers to get the price per gallon.

It should be noted that this price is just for comparison's sake and that the actual price per gallon can be reduced further in each case by buying the filters in bulk. We've come to our answers using the cost of purchasing one single filter.

Model

Price per Gallon ($)

Aquagear

0.33

ZeroWater

0.32

Brita

0.13

What we can see from the table is that there's a clear winner.

The Brita pitcher is also the cheapest (joint with the ZeroWater model at the time of writing) initially when purchasing the jug, and is significantly cheaper than the Aquagear model.


BPA Free?

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a synthetic chemical that's added to plastic to make it more durable. Until recently it was found in pretty much any plastic goods you can think of. 

Studies over the last 20 years have found BPA to cause a variety of adverse health effects. Young children are particularly at risk as their systems aren't developed enough to combat harmful chemicals.

BPA is a big concern because it is easily absorbed and ingested through skin contact. It has been found to leach into food and water through the plastic that it strengthens.

In the US, the FDA has banned BPA from products used for baby feeding, but it's not been banned from all food and drink sources. And, until it has been conclusively proven to cause the ill effects that it has been claimed to, it won't be.

So what does this mean for water filters?

Well, the top filtered pitchers will be made from BPA-free plastic. That means you don't have to worry about the ill effects that BPA has been claimed to cause. 

You'll be pleased to know that all three of our recommendations are made from completely BPA free plastic.

filter the water with a pitcher

Capacity

Water filter pitchers aren't known for their size and speed of water filtration. A drawback of this type of filter is that it will frequently need to be re-filled.

Even a small household of two people will find themselves refilling their pitcher multiple times a day. We have a rule in the house that the last person to use it always tops it up!

The capacity of a pitcher is generally measured in cups, with the average model being 10 cups. That's 0.5 gallons or 1.9 liters.

If you have what can be considered a large household then you might want to consider getting a couple of pitchers, or even getting a different type of water filter that's built for more demanding water use.


How do pitcher filters work?

Water filter pitchers all tend to perform water filtration using the same principle. They use a material called activated carbon that is common throughout all water filtration methods.

Activated carbon removes impurities and contaminants from drinking water using a process called chemical adsorption

This describes how undesirable molecules are trapped inside a very porous material.

The millions of tiny grains of carbon that are housed in a filter cartridge each have a very porous surface. This means they have an extremely large surface area for their size. Just one gram of activated carbon can have a surface area exceeding 3,000 m² or 32,000 ​square feet!

The larger the surface area of the filtration media the better. That means more pollutant molecules can be trapped inside the filter.

Another thing increasing the effectiveness of a carbon filter is the water flow rate. The more contact time with the carbon, the more contaminant molecules are caught.

The best filtered pitchers use a combination of filtration methods (including adsorption using carbon) but this is common throughout all of the models you'll come across.


Water Filter for jug

What contaminants will it remove?

A pitcher is usually pretty capable of removing chlorine but they can remove other common contaminants too. But, be sure to check the certification or test results of a specific model before making a purchase.

Here are a few contaminants you can expect to reduce by using a filtered water jug:

  • Chlorine - this is commonly used as a disinfectant agent in municipal water supplies. It kills harmful bacteria but it poses its own health risks too. Chlorine gas was actually used as a chemical weapon back in World War 1 and more recently in the war in Syria. 

Activated carbon is one of the most effective types of filtration media for the removal of chlorine. Pitchers are very good at reducing harmful levels of chlorine and removing the taste and smell.

  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) - these are discharged from factories as pollution in the air and find their way into our water supplies.

Chemicals like benzene and dichloromethane are examples of VOCs. Many of these compounds are cancerous or are linked to other harmful illnesses.

  • Trihaomethanes (THMs) -  these are by products of chlorine's reaction with organic matter in water. Chloroform is an example of a THM.

The activated carbon media in a pitcher is pretty good at reducing levels of these harmful contaminants.

The relevant health standards for the reduction of these contaminants are NSF/ANSI 42 and 53. Look for certification for these health standards when buying a pitcher.


Why get a pitcher over another type of water filter?

They're not the most effective form of water filtration available so why get a filtered water pitcher anyway?

Well for starters, they're totally portable and can work completely independently of your water supply. That makes them the perfect backup filter for emergencies. Water supplies off? Use another one and filter it with your jug.

They fit in your refrigerator. I know I'm not the only person that prefers instant cold water, and a pitcher can give you that. We've got a small one that stays in the refrigerator door for that cold water fix.

They're the cheapest form of home water filtration. Not everyone has the luxury of spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a water filter. And sometimes it's not even worth it. A good water filter pitcher can be purchased for little more than $20. 

They're really easy to look after. With just one filter to be changed, they're really low maintenance. Just give the jug a scrub every couple of months and that's it. Compare that to something like a reverse osmosis system that can have upwards of 6 filters and a tank.

    Pros

  • Cheapest form of water filtration
  • Very low maintenance
  • Portable

    Cons

  • Not as effective as something like reverse osmosis
  • Needs refilled frequently


That brings us the the end of our guide to the top performing water filter pitchers on the market right now.

If you've got any questions then make sure to leave a comment down below. We promise to reply promptly!

Likewise, if you have an experience with any of these models (good or bad!) then we'd love to hear from you.

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