When it comes to living a healthy lifestyle (or just living at all), drinking water is at the forefront.
While many United States citizens have access to water faucets, the number of containments found within some of that running water can make it nearly undrinkable. Thankfully, we have water filter pitchers and filtration systems to save the day.
Although many different brands sell water filters, they’re not all created equal. In an effort to give you the cleanest water possible and products that actually work, the New York Post spoke to Brian Campbell, water treatment expert and the founder and “lead water geek” at WaterFilterGuru.com.
Before diving into his top five picks for the best water filter pitchers, we asked him about all the ins and outs of choosing the best water filter pitcher, how to test your water quality, the health benefits of filtering water and more.
To skip the Q&A, jump to Campbell’s recommendations here.
How do I choose a water filter pitcher?
According to Campbell, shoppers should consider a few things when choosing a water filter pitcher for their home: Testing & Certifications, Filter Lifespan (Capacity) & Replacement Costs, Filtration Speed, Filtered Water Holding Capacity, BPA-Free Plastic and Warranty.
What makes a good water filter?
While this answer seems obvious — Campbell took us step by step.
“A good water filter is one that is capable of removing the contaminants present in the source water being filtered,” Campbell told The Post. “Not all water will have the same contaminants present, and not all water filter technology is capable of removing the same contaminants.”
“It’s always recommended to first test your water to better understand what exactly you are dealing with. From there, use your test result data to identify a water filter that is capable of reducing the pollutants present.”
How do I test my water quality?
There are a few ways you can test your water at home to find out what contaminants you might be dealing with, depending on how much you want to spend.
Free option: Obtain your local water authorities’ Consumer Confidence Report
“All municipal water providers are required by law to publish an annual report on the quality of water they are delivering to their customers. While a good starting point, these reports are limited in that they only provide information from when the sample was taken at the treatment plant,” Campbell said.
“They will not show if the water becomes recontaminated as it travels to your home. The most infamous example of this is lead contamination from aging infrastructure or plumbing,” Campbell explained. “If your water source is from a private well, a CCR will not be available. You can use this tool from the EPA to look up your local CCR.”
Budget option: Use an at-home test kit or strips
“Widely available online and at your local hardware or big box store, DIY test kits or strips will indicate the presence of a select set (typically 10-20) of the most common contaminants found in city water,” said Campbell. “The downside is that these kits are neither comprehensive nor conclusive. They will not provide the full picture of all possible contaminants present. They will not tell you specific concentrations of contaminants.”
Expensive option: Send a sample to a certified lab
“Lab testing is the only way to get the full picture of your water quality. You will receive a report that indicates both what contaminants are present and to what concentrations,” Campbell told The Post. “This is the only method of testing that will provide the exact data you need in order to determine the appropriate treatment necessary — if any.”
Campbell recommends using Tap Score by Simple Lab, calling it “hands down, the best lab testing product out there.”
Testing & Certification
“A third-party certification from NSF International or the Water Quality Association (WQA) is the best indicator that a filter lives up to the performance claims made by the manufacturer,” he said.
Here are the most common certifications you will see for water filtration pitchers:
- NSF/ ANSI 42 – Reduction of contaminants affecting taste and smell (primarily chlorine)
- NSF/ ANSI 53 – Reduction of health-related contaminants (such as lead or arsenic)
- NSF/ ANSI 401 – Reduction of emerging contaminants (those that have not yet or only recently been regulated — like pharmaceuticals, pesticides and plant hormones)
- NSF/ ANSI P231 – Reduction of disease-causing microorganisms
- NSF/ ANSI P473 – Reduction of PFAs, perfluoroalkyl substances — “forever chemicals” — a group of over 4,000 man-made chemicals currently unregulated by the EPA, can cause numerous potential health impacts. They’re notoriously called “forever chemicals” due to the length of time they linger in the environment, specifically in the air and bodies of water.
Filter Lifespan (Capacity) & Replacement Costs
“Filters’ capacity refers to the amount of water that can pass through it before it becomes saturated with contaminants and needs to be replaced,” said Campbell. As previously stated, “it’s important to understand what you will be removing from your water in order to determine how often you will need to replace the filters.”
“For water with higher concentrations of contaminants, a filter will reach its capacity sooner than less contaminated water,” Campbell said.
“Typically, water filter pitcher filters have a capacity of 40-100 gallons, which should last 2 to 4 months. This will help you determine the yearly filter replacement cost associated with maintaining your system.”
Note: Filter replacement is critical to ensure your unit continues to function correctly.
“Water filter pitchers rely on gravity to pull the water down from the top reservoir through the filter,” Campbell explained. “You can expect the entire filtration process to take [up to] 20 minutes, depending on how old and saturated with contaminants the filter cartridge is.”
Filtered Water Holding Capacity
“Filtration pitchers come in an array of sizes, but typically you can assume that they will provide enough filtered water for one person,” Campbell said. “You can also find dispensers with larger holding capacities that use the same filtration technology as their smaller pitcher counterparts.”
“This one might go without saying, but it’s important to make sure the pitcher will not leach chemicals into your filtered water! Most modern units are BPA-free, but it’s worth checking just to be safe,” Campbell noted.
A manufacturer’s warranty is a strong indicator of their confidence in their product,” Campbell said. “Look for those that provide a warranty of at least six months — the best filter pitchers come with a lifetime warranty which will replace the entire unit if it ever breaks!”
What are the main benefits of filtering your water?
According to Campbell, here are the top seven benefits of using water filter pitchers.
- Provides safe drinking water: The most obvious benefit, but worth laying it out plain. Using a water filter pitcher to remove potentially dangerous pollutants from your water can positively impact your health.
- Makes water taste better: Most water filter pitchers are designed to remove, at the very least, aesthetic contaminants like chlorine that affect its taste and smell.
- They are easy to use: There is little setup or maintenance involved with water filter pitchers. Install the filter cartridge, and you are good to go. Occasional filter changes and soapy scrub-downs are the only other actions you will need to take to keep your system in tip-top shape.
- Portable for clean water on the go: Going on a vacation to the in-laws’ for the Fourth of July? Great! Bring your pitcher with you. After all, it’s not connected to your home’s waterline.
- Cheaper than buying bottled water: If you compare the yearly cost of buying bottled water versus a water filter pitcher and replacement cartridges, the pitcher will be cheaper every time.
- Helps the environment by reducing plastic waste: By filtering your own water instead of buying bottles, you are doing your part to reduce environmental plastic waste.
- The most wallet-friendly option to get clean water: Filter pitchers are by far the easiest and most cost-effective way to get access to clean water, providing a solution for even the smallest budgets.
How to clean a water filter pitcher:
Here is the best and most effective way to clean water filter pitchers, according to Campbell.
- Take apart the pitcher: Empty any water, remove the filter from the top chamber and set it aside on a clean surface.
- Wash the lid and reservoir: Fill the bottom reservoir with hot, soapy water and scrub all the pieces with a non-abrasive sponge.
- Remove limescale and mildew (if present): Soak a sponge in a mixture of white vinegar and tap water, scrub the areas affected.
- Rinse and air dry the parts: Rinse the lid and both reservoirs with cold water. Place them upside down to air dry.
- Flush the new filter (optional): If replacing the old filter, flush and prime the new filter according to the manual’s instructions.
- Reassemble the pitcher: Twist the filter onto the top reservoir and slot everything back into place.
The best water filter pitchers, according to an expert:
1. Clearly Filtered Water Filter Pitcher, $110
The Clearly Filtered water pitcher is Campbell’s top recommendation.
“The Clearly Filtered pitcher has been tested to NSF standards 42, 53, 244, 401 and 473 to be capable of removing a whopping 365 contaminants,” Campbell said. “This includes difficult to remove pollutants such as fluoride, lead, arsenic, bacteria and more. It has a good filter lifespan of 100 gallons (depending on the source water being filtered).”
Plus, this pitcher comes with a lifetime guarantee, so if it ever breaks, the company will replace it for free!
2. Epic Pure Countertop Water Filter Dispenser, $75
“With a larger filtered water holding capacity than a pitcher, this dispenser is capable of removing fluoride as well as 199 other contaminants commonly found in city water,” said Campbell, who specifically loves this option because it’s designed to fit nicely in most refrigerators.
3. PUR Ultimate Filtration Water Filter Pitcher, $17
“The PUR pitcher holds an official NSF certification for standards NSF 42, 53 and 401. Although the filter doesn’t last as long as some others (only 40 gallons), this pitcher is a great budget option that will remove lead and 19 other city water contaminants,” Campbell said.
4. Propur Water Filter Pitcher, $105
Campbell recommends the Propur pitcher for those who don’t want to replace the cartridge too often.
“Coming in with a massive filter capacity of 225 gallons, you won’t have to worry about replacing the cartridges nearly as often,” he said. “The ProOne pitcher provides strong contaminant reduction [and is] capable of getting rid of 200+ impurities.”
5. Invigorated Water pH Restore Alkaline Water Pitcher, $38, original price: $42
“The pH Restore pitcher will remove aesthetic contaminants, improving the taste and smell of your water while at the same time increasing its pH by up to 2.0,” Campbell said. “Alkaline water [will] taste better and may provide additional health benefits.”
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This article was originally posted by The New York Post.