There’s only one thing better than a fresh and cool glass of water that you know is totally free from contaminants.
Whether you live in downtown, the suburbs or way out in the boondocks, there’s no guarantee that what’s coming out of your tap is entirely safe for your family to be drinking.
But how can we know if what we’re drinking is contaminated? Most of the time we’re not able to taste, smell or see the nasty stuff floating in what we drink.
Some of the most common contaminants found in water supplies in the U.S. are heavy metals like lead, agricultural run-off and, in some places, even human feces.
This is a problem that goes well beyond Flint, Michigan and other cases of water contamination you may have heard about in the media. Some studies estimate that more than 40% of lakes in the USA are so polluted they’re now totally unfit not only for drinking but also swimming and fishing. (1)
Why do you need a water filter pitcher?
Water filter pitchers are designed for people who live in an area where the water is already potable but who want to try to make the water they drink as healthy as possible. Think of filtering through a filter pitcher as an alternative to buying bottled water.
If you live in an area that suffers from serious problems with water supply, you might want to look into a heavy duty option such as a whole-house water filtration system or a large gravity water filter.
If, however, you’re just looking to put your mind at ease and take some of that nasty stuff out of your tap water, a water filter pitcher is definitely the way to go.
There are tons of really usable, quality filter pitchers out there, ranging from simple, cheap pitchers to high-end filters for those with a bigger budget.
But with so many really great filter pitchers on the market, how can you make sure you’re picking the right option for you or your family?
Well, worry not. In this ultimate guide, we’ll be taking an in-depth look at the ten best water filter pitchers of 2021, so you can be sure you’re getting the top value for your hard earned money.
1. Aquagear Water Filter Pitcher - Best of the Best
The Aquagear claims to remove 20x more contaminants than other filter pitchers on the market. These include lead, chromium 6, chloramines, mercury, and chlorine. They also have third-party laboratory test results that show their filters are capable of removing more that 90% of Fluoride.
The Aquagear is one of the most expensive water filter pitchers out there, but it’s also one of the most popular.
What’s impressive about the Aguagear’s filters is that while they are so effective in removing all of the bad stuff from your water, they don’t remove any of the healthy stuff. So all of that magnesium and calcium that you need to stay healthy is still in there.
It's 100% vegan and BPA-free, so you can be sure no chemicals from the plastic will be leaching into your water. Not only this, their filters are completely recyclable and for every purchase, Aquagear promise to provide 6 months of clean water for a family in need.
The Aquagear is a fairly standard looking pitcher. There’s not much to say about its design, aside from that some users complain of an uneven flow that can cause spillage.
Most importantly though, the Aquagear is NSF certified to both 42 and 53 standard. They’ve even tested their filters in Flint, Michigan, where it showed brilliant results in reducing the levels of lead and copper.
Some users do complain that after some use, the rate of filtration in the Aquagear slows significantly, which can be very annoying if you’re waiting for a glass of water, or if you’re using it for something that requires more than one pitcher-full.
The AquaGear is a fantastic choice if you want a full filter service from a pitcher. It’s also one of the only certified vegan options, so if that’s important to you and your family then paying a little more for something definitely high quality and cruelty free will probably work for you.
2. ClearlyFiltered Water Filter Pitcher
The ClearlyFiltered Water Pitcher is a simple, top-fill water filter made from 100% BPA-free Tritan plastic. It comes with a filter pre-installed and each filter is capable of processing around 100 gallons of water (they estimate the life-span of a filter to be about four months).
It may cost a little bit more than some, but that is by means saying that it isn’t worth it. ClearlyFiltered claim that this pitcher eliminates 230 chemicals and contaminants from water (for comparison, the average Britta Filter only filters out six). Whereas Aquagear claim to be 90% effective in removing Fluoride, ClearlyFiltered say that they can remove up to 98%. However with no NFS or ANSI certification, these claims lose some of their validity.
The ClearlyFiltered pitcher is a fairly standard design. It’s not the most interesting looking pitcher you could ever imagine and if you’re after some pizzazz, you might want to look elsewhere. That said, it’s simple, sleek design will be appealing to many and, most importantly, it will fit easily into your fridge to make sure your filtered water is ice cold.
There are some reports that the plastic from which the ClearlyFiltered pitcher is made is quite weak, making it necessary to hold the pitcher by the bottom and the handle simultaneously to avoid breakage.
If you’re looking for high-end filtration that won’t break the bank, this might well prove the ideal filter for you.
3. PUR DS1800Z - 18-Cup Dispenser with Basic Filter
The PUR DS1800Z is a modern spin on the classic pitcher design. While it still fills from the top and filters in much the same way as a traditional pitcher filter, the PUR has a front facing spigot from which you pour the purified water into a glass.
This design makes it great if you want to keep a container full of purified in your fridge and have just have it handy whenever you get thirsty. The downside is that it takes away a lot of the mobility that you get with the traditional pitcher design. For example, you can’t have this sitting in the middle of the table while you eat dinner, instead you’d need to refill your glass from the fridge each time or risk contaminating your purified water in an interim vessel.
In terms of price, the PUR sits at the high end of the middle category. It comes with a PUR filter already fitted and this can only be replaced with the same brand of filter.
The filters have an estimated lifespan of one to two months (around 40 gallons), so considerably less than some of the others on this less and the cost of these should be factored in when thinking about purchasing.
PUR claims only to be twice as effective as a regular Britta Filter, reducing levels of carbon, mercury and some pesticides and pollutants. However, it doesn't remove Fluoride, so if that’s a big issue for you, you should look for some other great options in the list.
This filter pitcher is a great option for larger families. It can be stored in the fridge with no hassle and the innovative, easy to use spigot is perfect for even the smallest hands.
4. PH001 Invigorated Water Filter Pitcher - Best Alkaline Stainless Steel
The pH Vitality water filter from Invigorated Water stands out from the others on this list. For a start, it’s sleek stainless steel design makes it look more like something you’d expect to see in a minimally decorated millionaire’s penthouse than a family dining table.
It’s made from food-grade stainless steel and really does look very cool. The curvature of its body and its stained, wooden handle let you know that this is the sophisticated end of water filtration.
But it’s not only its appearance that sets it apart. The pH Vitality uses filter bags rather than the traditional plastic filters. They look like teabags and are much more environmentally friendly than their competitors’ disposable filters.
The filters are not only better for the environment, but also for your pocket. The bag design means they’re much cheaper to buy, but they also last for a staggering 105 gallons. The pitcher’s price itself is somewhere in the mid-rage category, but the money you’ll save when replacing filters is certainly something to think about.
The pH Vitality doesn’t seek to remove every contaminant 100% and, as such, has not tried for NSF/ASNI certification. It removes all of the chemicals and pollutants you would find in water that is already very potable, but could use a little freshening up. Think fluoride, chlorine, chloramine.
What's interesting about the pH Vitality is that it adds beneficial minerals like zinc, magnesium, selenium and iron, as well as removing harmful ones. This is perfect if you live in an urban area and worry that some of your water may be too recycled.
The design of pH Vitality make it much more versatile than some of the others on this list.
The filter is a bag that simply floats in the water and filters when you begin to pour. This is because there is an ice guard in the pitcher’s mouth that catches the filter bag and pours the water through it. This opens up the pitcher for many more uses. Want to make Sangria? Simply take the bag out and fill it with wine and your other ingredients. Want to infuse some lemon into your filtered water? Just pop some sliced fruit into the jug and the ice guard will catch them too.
This is the perfect pitcher for design aficionados who are nonetheless concerned about water quality! It’s probably the best looking pitcher on this list, but still a decent filter for municipally supplied water.
When it comes to design, the new ergonomic design makes it much easier to fill and pour from the pitcher. It also comes in a range of colors from the standard hot violet to a more understated black. As traditional, plastic water pitchers go, this is a great looking one.
The new design has also increased the water capacity of the Brita (hence the Grand in the name), making it perfect for larger families or dinner parties.
Now, I know what you might want to ask: a plastic pitcher that can hold such a large amount of water! Won’t that handle snap in a second? It’s a valid question, but the Brita Grand is made from remarkably sturdy plastic. The handle has a lot of strength and all movable parts are robust and fit snugly.
Another noticeable feature of this new Brita is its intuitive filter replacement system. The pitcher lets you know when it's time to change the filter so that you never need to worry about changing it too early or too late.
While we’re on the subject, the Brita’s filter can process an acceptable 40 gallons of water before needing to be replaced. While this isn’t the most out of all the pitchers on this list, it’s enough that you won’t need to change it more than once every couple of months.
With its greatly improved capacity and fast-working filters, you won’t be waiting around all day for a glass of clean water. This is probably a fantastic choice for a large family.
The design of the LifeStraw is pretty much simple. A filter sits inside the glass jug, you pour the water into the filter and it purifies it. The only problem with this design, in which the filter sits inside the main reservoir is that it severely diminishes the capacity of clean water it can hold. This wouldn’t be too much of a problem, but the design is tall and slim, meaning that it’s an awkward size and probably wouldn’t fit in most fridges. While it’s a beautiful pitcher, you are sacrificing some usability for aesthetics.
Compared to some of the other pitchers, LifeStraw is serious about removing a lot of impurities. They claim to remove bacteria, parasites, micro plastics, heavy metals including lead, mercury, and chromium III, and organic chemical matter like pesticides and herbicides.
LifeStraw work with charities to provide safe drinking water for communities around the world who don’t have access to it. They claim that for every LifeStraw you buy, they’ll provide safe drinking water for a schoolchild, for an entire year!
The LifeStraw offers that all important balance between price and performance. With this filter you can be assured that most of the nasties will be removed from your water, without your bank account being emptied too!
7. ZeroWater ZP-010 - 10 Cup Water Filter Pitcher with Water Quality Meter
The ZeroWater is an interesting looking pitcher. Its blue and white colour scheme and triangular shape make it look something like an outboard engine for a speedboat. But, looks aside, the ZeroWater is an impressive filter pitcher.
The pitcher’s five-stage filter system is proven to remove more than 99% of all dissolved solids. And most importantly, this claim is officially backed by NSF!
Weighing up that level of effectiveness against the incredibly reasonable price, the ZeroWater is a serious contender here.
The ZeroWater is one of the cheapest pitchers on this list but you really do get a top value for your money. The ZeroWater comes with a TDS water tester so you can be confident that what your family is drinking is as pure as they say it is. Even the batteries are included!
Another interesting feature of the ZeroWater is the spigot placed just beneath the handle. This means that it’s perfect for any situation. People coming over or dinner with the kids? Put it on the table and use it as a traditional water pitcher. You just want an occasional glass of cold, purified water? Put it in the fridge and use the spigot. You don’t even need to take it out.
ZeroWater provides excellent value for your money, especially when considering its NSF certification. Large, effective and multifunctional this is one of the best options out there for budget-conscious buyers.
The Brita Slim uses the standard Brita filters, meaning it doesn’t offer any additional purification. I’m sure most people are familiar with Brita filtered water – it has an improved taste and a silky feel, while removing that chlorine-y smell you often get with tap water. It removes copper, mercury and cadmium which can be harmful.
What it won’t do is get rid of some of the more heavy-duty pollutants and pesticides or fluoride, so if that’s what you’re after you’ll have to keep looking.
The benefit of the new slim design (with a capacity of around five cups) is that it’s perfect for out of home use. Looking to drink healthier water while at the office? This is ideal. It can fit into a shared refrigerator in a staff room without taking up so much space that your workmates will hate you.
The design is very simple – white plastic filter and lid in a clear plastic pitcher. It won’t be winning any awards for its looks but it’s equally unlikely to offend anyone.
The filter lasts for around 40 gallons, which might not be the most we’ve seen but considering its size, means you won’t be changing it too often.
Small, transportable filter pitchers can be about as easy to find as wild unicorns, but if you're looking for a pitcher for taking with you to work the Brita Slim might just be the filter for you.
9. LEVOIT Upgrade Water Filter Pitcher
The Levoit looks like it is built to last. Its chunky looking handle and sturdy lip belie its very reasonable price tag. Aside from that, it doesn’t look anything out of the ordinary. It has the classic white plastic filter and lip with a clear plastic jug that we have come to expect from filter pitchers.
The Levoit is built for simplicity, its easy-clean design means it’s simple to use and its built in electronic indicator means you’ll always know when it’s time to replace the filter.
The filters, however, are better than you would expect for a pitcher of this price. They use a five level filtration system that claims to significantly reduce chlorine and heavy metals found in many water systems. This pitcher may look like a filter that’s only interested in aesthetic changes, but it has the heart of a serious filtration system.
While it’s not NSF/ASNI certified, it is fully FDA, RoHS, and LFGB compliant, meaning you can have some confidence in its effectiveness.
The filters last for a fairly standard 40 gallons and, importantly, they’re cheap replace, making the Levoit an overall budget friendly alternative to some of the more expensive, heavy duty machines.
This is a truly fantastic budget filter that provides more than just smell and taste filtration. Its five-stage filter is really impressive for such a low priced pitcher. If you’re concerned about contaminated water, but also about your budget, give the LEVOIT a go!
Well, to start with it claims to remove most odors, chlorine, chloramine, mercury, copper, cadmium, zinc and all sediment, so it gets rid of slightly more than a lot of the filter pitcher at this price range.
The filters last a little longer than its direct competitors too, claiming that you only need to replace them once every four months – a significant improvement on some more expensive filter pitchers.
Where the AquaBliss really comes into its own, is in the time it takes to filter the water. While some filters need to be left upwards of half an hour to filter a few liters, the AquaBliss can do a full load of two and a half liters in around two minutes. Pretty speedy.
The AquaBliss is designed to measure capacity against storability and it succeeds on both fronts. Able to hold ten filtered cups of water, it still fits easily into any fridge without taking up too much space.
The AquaBliss is particularly suitable for busy families because its long lasting filters mean you don’t need to worry about the additional cost and hassle of changing them too often. If you’re always on the go, try the AquaBliss.
How to Choose a Perfect Water Filter Pitcher
There are several things you need to take into consideration when looking at which filter pitcher would be best for you. These include:
1. Lifespan of the filters
This is an important aspect to consider when you’re looking for the right pitcher, particularly if you’re on a budget. Some pitchers may seem incredibly cheap, offering all kinds of filtration and fancy add-ons for a low price, but you need to factor in the cost of replacing the filters.
If, for example, you buy a $20 pitcher but the filters cost an additional $20 to replace and need replacing monthly, what initially seemed like an amazing deal is suddenly revealed to be much worse value than the $95 pitcher with $5 filters that only need to be replaced every 4 – 5 months.
An important thing to look for is whether or not a filter is NSF or ANSI certified. A certification from these organizations is proof that a third party has conducted tests to provide evidence of the claims the company is making.
Many companies will claim to remove 99.99% of heavy metals like lead, but without the NSF/ANSI certification, you have no real way of knowing whether or not it’s true.
Often companies will link to the results of third-party laboratory tests on their websites, but unless you know how to read raw scientific data it can be very confusing.
For a filter pitcher, you will most often be looking for something that is certified to NSF 42 standard. This is perfect for smaller-scale filtration systems, improving the taste of potable water. For more contaminated water sources, you want to look for NSF 53 standard, although this is hard to find in a pitcher and often only for bigger filters.
3. What contaminants does it remove?
This is really the most important question, and people are looking for different levels of filtration in their filter systems so it’s quite personal.
Do you just want better smelling and tasting water? You’ll need to look for something that effectively removes chlorine, which most simple pitchers do.
Are you looking to reduce the amount of fluoride your family is consuming? Most pitchers that target fluoride will explicitly state that in their product description. If something doesn’t mention fluoride, it’s safe to assume it doesn’t target it.
If you’re looking to remove serious agricultural run-off or pollutants from a personal well, I’d recommend looking for a more heavy duty filtration system.
4. Is it easy to use?
Most pitchers are pretty simple to use: you lift the lid, pour in the water that you want to purify and let it drip through the filter.
There are other things to consider though. How easy is it to clean? Without proper cleaning, your pitcher can become a home to mold and bacteria, possibly even making the water less safe to drink than it was originally.
You’ll also need to consider how easy it is to change the filter. Most slide right in but some need priming before they can be inserted and some can be quite difficult to fit.
Make sure you read reviews from customers who’ve already bought the pitcher to see if there are any common complaints.
5. Capacity and speed of purification
This, again, will depend on your specific circumstances. If you’re using your pitcher for one person to drink from throughout the day, it’s fine if it’s small and doesn’t filter very fast. If you’re going to be using it for a large family or gatherings, you’re going to need something bigger and with a faster filter time.
Most pitchers will tell you the capacity in both gallons and cups, but filter speed can be a little harder to find. Again, look to customer reviews to see if there are complaints.
Remember that most manufacturers will be more than happy to answer your questions if you email them.
Design is important. Think about other design benefits like electronic filter indicators and extra spigots.
These are all things you need to consider when looking for a functional design.
- Will the pitcher fit in your fridge?
- Does the material it’s made from look sturdy?
- Will the lid stay attached when you pour?
Really, the best water filter pitcher for you will depend on your circumstances and what you plan to use it for.
Filter pitchers tend to be more for aesthetic changes to the water – appearance, taste, smell – and if you want more than this, you’ll have to pay some serious money.
In my opinion, the best mid-range option is the PH001 Alkaline Water Filter. It’s a great looking pitcher and it not only filters bad things out, it adds beneficial minerals. It’s a little on the expensive side, but when you factor in the cost of replacing filters, it comes in at really excellent value. I’m also a big fan of its filter bags. Better for the environment, incredibly easy to use and just a cool idea in general.
If you’re looking to spend a little bit more cash, you can’t go wrong with the AquaGear. It’s NSF 42 and 53 certified which is almost unheard of with filter pitchers, so you can be assured you’ll be getting the same kind of quality filtration you would be with a much larger filtration device.
If you’re on a budget, I have to recommend the LEVOIT. The five stage filtration is very impressive and it really is incredibly cheap for what you’re getting. I’m also a big fan of its sturdy design. Often cheaper pitchers can break easily, but with the LEVOIT, that’s not an issue.
But of course that’s only my advice. Your choice will have to be based on what’s important to you.