Best water filter pitchers for 2020
A filtered pitcher is a quick and easy way to improve the taste and quality of your water. They’re simple to use: Just pour tap water into the pitcher and stick it in the refrigerator while the water passes through the filter and into the main reservoir. Some pitchers take several minutes to filter water, while others only take about 30 seconds.
Regardless, the best water filter pitcher will help remove some of the impurities in your regular tap water in relatively short order. I tested out seven top-rated pitchers, with prices ranging from $17 to $75. Each one has different specs, but they they all promise to make your drinking water better. Curious about the winner? Spoiler: Our choice for the best water filter pitcher isn’t Brita.
The $35 ZeroWater ZP-010 is by far the best filtered water pitcher of the bunch. It’s affordable, sturdy and it has a large 10-cup pitcher capacity and a water spigot, in addition to the standard pour spout. Your purchase comes with a two-pack of replacement filters and a total dissolved solids (TDS) water quality tester (I used a different TDS meter in my performance testing; I’ll talk more about the test methodology in a bit).
The ZP-010 removed the most TDS out of all seven pitchers (a whopping 93%), making it our top performer by far. A two-pack of replacement filters costs $30 and each one is supposed to last for up to 40 gallons. Brita and Pur, on the other hand, sell each of their filters for just $7 — and claim to have the same 40-gallon filter life. That said, the ZP-010 was much more effective at removing TDS and the filter itself is much larger than any of the others I tested.
At $17, the Pur PPT700W Basic is the most affordable of the seven pitchers, making it the best budget option — and a solid filtered water pitcher overall.
With a smaller 7-cup water capacity and slimmer dimensions, the PPT700W Basic is also a good choice if you have limited fridge space. It comes with one water pitcher filter, which is supposed to last for up to two months — or 40 gallons of water. Replacement filters cost $7 each.
It didn’t perform as well as the ZeroWater model, but it still removed almost 15% of the TDS in my tap water.
I’ll talk a bit more about alkaline water in my test section below, but in short, pH readings (measurements of how acidic or basic your water is) range from 0 to 14; 7 is a neutral reading.
Despite conflicting research on the topic, some people attribute health benefits to more basic (or alkaline) water. As a result, select companies make water pitchers with filters that actually add nutrients as your tap water passes through.
The $70 Seychelle pH20 pitcher I tested took my tap water from an already basic reading of 8.39 to 10.1, the largest increase out of the three alkaline pitchers in my test group. This pitcher uses two filters at a time, but they are supposed to last for up to 200 gallons. A two-pack of replacement filters costs $50.
Another alkaline water filter pitcher, the $53 Invigorated Water pH Vitality, also did a good job, increasing the pH of my tap water from 8.61 to 9.36. It’s also the only nonplastic model I tested out of the seven pitchers. The Invigorated Water pitcher is made of stainless steel and wood and has an 8-cup capacity.
It isn’t a good option if you aren’t interested in alkaline water, but its attractive design and lack of plastic are definite points in its favor. Also, instead of a standard filter, this pitcher has a unique filter pouch comprised of tiny balls designed to remove impurities while increasing the pH and adding minerals.
One filter pouch costs $18 and is supposed to last for up to 105 gallons.
To get started, here’s a list of the pitchers I tested:
- Brita 0B58
- Brita 0B56
- Clearly Filtered
- Invigorated Water pH Vitality
- Pur PPT700W
- Seychelle pH20
- ZeroWater ZP-010
And here’s a more detailed overview of each model and its key specs:
|Brita 0B58||Brita 0B56||Clearly Filtered||Invigorated Water pH Vitality||Pur PPT700W||Seychelle pH20||ZeroWater ZP-010|
|Estimated filter life (in gallons)||120||40||100||105||40||200||40|
|Replacement filter price||$17||$7||$50||$18||$7||$50 (two pack)||$30 (two pack)|
|Color||White||Red||White||Stainless steel||White and blue||White and blue||Blue|
|Capacity (in cups)||10||10||10||8||7||8||10|
|Dimensions (H x W x D)||10.22 x 10.29 x 5.82||9.65 x 9.65 x 4.57||10.25 x 11.25 x 5||11.73 x 6.1 x 4.8||11.3 x 10.9 x 4.8||10.25 x 11.5 x 5.5||11 x 11.63 x 5.93|
|Weight (in pounds)||1.86||1.39||2.48||1.19||1.68||1.52||2.59|
One key thing to consider from this chart is the estimated life of each pitcher filter versus its cost. The Brita 0B56, the Pur PPT700W and the ZeroWater ZP-010 all have a lower estimated filter life of up to 40 gallons. While the Brita filter and Pur filter models cost just $7 each, the ZeroWater filters cost $15 each (but are sold in a $30 two-pack).
But as you can see in the picture above, the ZeroWater filter on the far right is massive compared to the others. Of course, that doesn’t automatically translate to better performance, but in this case — the ZeroWater filter did massively outperform the others. ZeroWater also claims its has a five-stage filter that’s supposed to be better at removing particles while preventing mold from growing with use.
(Keep in mind that filter life will vary based on the quality of your tap water and, essentially, how much your filter has to “work” to remove impurities.)
How we test
To test these water filter pitchers, I washed each one with mild soap and water — and followed the individual manufacturer instructions for soaking, rinsing or otherwise prepping each filter for use. Then I filled a marked mason jar glass with 16 ounces of tap water and used an Orapxi water quality tester to measure and note the pH and the TDS present.
While the results of my tap water varied slightly each time I filled a fresh glass with 16 ounces, the pH of my tap water always read between 8.15 and 8.61 and the TDS always read between 149 and 161 ppm, or parts per million. (Read more about TDS, or total dissolved solids, here and here.)
Then I poured all 16 ounces into a water filter pitcher, waited for it to filter all the water, poured it into a new glass and took the readings again. For the nonalkaline pitchers, you should expect to see a drop in both the pH and in the TDS readings, as impurities and other minerals are removed from the water. I repeated these steps a total of three times on each of the seven pitchers.
The three alkaline water filter pitchers I tested — the Clearly Filtered, Invigorated Water pH Vitality and Seychelle pH20 — actually saw an increase in both the pH and the TDS, since they’re designed to add minerals to your water.
TDS meters are not sophisticated enough to decipher which impurities, nutrients and other minerals each filter manages to remove (or add, in the case of the alkaline pitchers). For that reason, measuring TDS alone as an indicator of water quality has some limitations. But, in general, for a standard filtered water pitcher, we want to see a decrease in the TDS reading. Examples of the most common total dissolved solids include “calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, bicarbonate, sulfate, chloride, nitrate, and silica,” according to the US Geological Survey.
Here’s a table of my test results. The data represents an average of three test runs for each filter pitcher.
|pH (% change; negative reflects a decrease in pH)||TDS (% change; negative reflects a decrease in TDS)|
|Invigorated Water pH Vitality||8.71||81.21|
The ZeroWater ZP-010 managed to reduce the total dissolved solids in my tap water by a staggering 93%, from an average initial TDS reading of 159 ppm to just 11 ppm. The Brita 0B58 Lake pitcher came in second place with over 26% reduction in TDS. As you’d expect, the Clearly Filtered, Invigorated Water pH Vitality and Seychelle pH20 all saw an increase in pH and in TDS.
Taste was a bit trickier to measure, but every pitcher did help reduce the slight metallic taste of my tap water. Unsurprisingly, the ZeroWater model tasted the best to me, with no metallic taste or scent.
Overall, the ZeroWater ZP-010 made my job pretty easy here — it completely dominated in terms of removing TDS and also happened to have the sturdiest design with the bonus addition of a water spigot. But there are other good options here — the Pur PPT700W is a great budget pitcher that also saves space with its slimmer design; the Seychelle pH20 is the best pitcher if you want alkaline water — and the Invigorated Water pH Vitality is a solid option if you want to avoid plastic (and want alkaline water).
One major takeaway for me was just how widely filtered water pitchers can vary, both in terms of performance — and even in terms of their key their function, as in the case of the alkaline pitchers. As long as you identify your needs before you buy, you’re bound to find the right filtered water pitcher for you.
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