Compared to a big countertop filtration system or a whole-house sediment filter, a water filter pitcher can seem rather kitschy. And many are! With something so popular, there are any number of shady manufacturers trying to sell you crappy pitchers which won’t do squat for your water quality.
In this guide, we’ll help you navigate the confusing marketing and manufacturer claims. We’ll break down all the key things to look for in a filtration pitcher, and show you our favorite models currently on the market!
Our recommendations are all independently tested and certified. They’re ergonomic, durable, and cost effective to use. We can confidently say they’re the best on the market!
Check out our favorites:
|BWT Water Filter Pitcher||Brita||KAZ INC. PUR 2-stage Dispenser|
|Our Rating: 4.4|
|Our Rating: 4.3|
Popularity: Very High
|Our Rating: 4.6
Popularity: Very High
“excellent ergonomics and very impressive filtration”
This 2.7L European water filter pitcher isn’t one of the top sellers in the States, but we think it ought to be! BWT’s award-winning design provides excellent ergonomics and very impressive filtration–all at a lower price than a lot of less-impressive models!
This one’s our top budget recommendation, but it may be as much as you need to spend if you live alone or with just one other person! While our pricier picks have larger reservoirs and more practical designs for households, none of them do a better job at removing contaminants.
While some awards for products like these are clearly bogus, it’s hard to ignore the sheer number of prizes this thing has won! It was named Red Dot’s Innovation of the Year for 2014, which is about as prestigious as design awards come. It’s also the EESC best product of the same year, and the recipient of the German Design Award.
All these different awards panels have recognized the BWT for its ergonomic design, highly-effective cartridge, and sleek appearance. You might not think design awards are a big selling point, but just imagine what a design panel would make of your average filter pitcher! It really says something when one of these makes the grade for a Red Dot!
Now that we’ve covered its accolades, what’s the BWT like in the real world? Pretty great! It all starts with the filters:
They’re unlike Brita models and most other setups in that they mineralize your filtered water, adding in magnesium. Many people prefer the taste of magnesium water, and it’s also full of health benefits. A surprisingly high number of people don’t get enough in their diet–some studies have shown that more than 2/3 are deficient!
The BWT is an easy way to get that practical health benefit while also making water more palatable. The added magnesium is great for tea and coffee as well as plain drinking water.
Aside from the addition of magnesium, the cartridges are as intelligently-designed as you’d expect on a Red Dot product. They also contain silver, which prevents bacterial growth and prolongs working life of cartridges. The media elements are designed to prevent settling, too, which solves a key problem with a lot of American companies’ offerings.
“certified by the WQA to NSF standards 42 and 53–the highest on the market for pitchers!”
Since it has so many purported advantages at such a low price, you’d be forgiven for lumping in the BWT with the countless generic pitchers on the market. It’s absolutely up to specs, though! This setup is tested and certified by the WQA to NSF standards 42 and 53–the highest on the market for pitchers!
The activated carbon and ion exchange cartridge reduces:
We particularly like that you can boil the cartridges to keep them sanitary. Try doing that with a Brita (don’t actually do this)! If you drink a lot of water, you probably don’t need to worry about this. But if you live alone and the filters last you awhile, it’s nice to be able to prevent any bacteria.
“more enjoyable to use than any other pitcher we’ve tried.”
There are lots of ergonomic tweaks which make this more enjoyable to use than any other pitcher we’ve tried. You can fill it without removing the entire lid, thanks to a flap. It has a built-in filter life indicator which actually works (!). There’s an excellent grip, it pours well, and most importantly, the lid doesn’t fall off!
This is a very sleek pitcher. It comes in lots of fun colors (white, blue, purple, green), and they all fit practically in a fridge.
The housing is made from completely safe plastics, BPA-free and made to European safety standards (which are much better than ours). The cartridges are made in Austria, and the whole package exudes quality.
The company has excellent customer service, and we haven’t seen any reports of bad interactions with them.
“very affordable for something so sophisticated and effective.”
It’s refreshingly inexpensive! The price tag is partly down to its small size, but it’s still very affordable for something so sophisticated and effective.
Much as we love this thing, it’s not practical for large quantities of water. This definitely isn’t the fastest to filter and it’s not very large (about half the size of the Brita below). The BWT isn’t great for big families. It’s best for singles or couples who won’t empty it constantly.
While affordable, the cartridge replacements aren’t as inexpensive as the pitcher itself. They can get expensive if you drink a lot of water, especially compared to a Brita. That’s another reason we recommend this one to singles and couples.
2. Brita Everyday 10-cup
“ the most practical, reliable model we’ve found for the average household.”
Brita’s Everyday 10-cup model is a classic, and for good reason. It might not have any extra frills or flashy features, but it’s the most practical, reliable model we’ve found for the average household. This gives you a larger capacity than the BWT, without being as bulky as a dispenser.
We think it’s the perfect midpoint solution for the average buyer.
It’s a lot bigger than the BWT, with nearly twice the capacity. That allows you to get a lot more from each pitcherful. The Brita’s increased size is the key reason we recommend this to households, and the BWT to just one or two people.
At the same time, it’s compact enough to fit easily in the average fridge. There are bigger options, like the PUR below, but they only work if you have lots of fridge space to spare. This one’s a perfect compromise between convenience and size.
Brita’s cartridges are very inexpensive, which makes this a more affordable long-term buy than other brands. As far as we’ve seen, they’re the cheapest reputable filters on the market!
Even though they’re inexpensive, Brita’s Everyday cartridges are certified to NSF standards by the WQA. They’re still made in Canada, too.
The Everyday cartridges cover the basics well:
They’re certified by the same NSF standards as the BWT (although not for all the same substances! See our note in the “Cons” section). We haven’t found any other cartridges this inexpensive which meet those standards.
More importantly, the Everyday is designed to fit any of Brita’s cartridges, not just the standard ones which come with it! That means you can use it with Brita’s LongLast cartridges, which we recommend for anyone even remotely concerned about lead (they’re simply a more convenient option than the Everyday’s, too).
Everything’s BPA-free, on the cartridges and pitcher.
This one filters a bit faster than other large pitchers, if not noticeably faster than the BWT!
It doesn’t have any onboard monitor, but it does come with a sticker chart to help you remember when to change cartridges
“the most practical, user-friendly large pitcher we’ve reviewed”
It’s the most practical, user-friendly large pitcher we’ve reviewed. It’s a classic design, with an oval shape, soft grippy handle, and a lid which removes for filling. It’s simple to figure out, and it doesn’t have any major design flaws.
While anything this large won’t be as effortless as the sleek, refined BWT, the Brita is certainly better than the competition at its size. For instance, PUR’s pitcher has better filtration, but is absolutely horrendous to use. The Everyday gets the job done, without any real hassle.
It doesn’t reduce lead as sold. Depending on your water supply, that could be a major issue. It’s the main reason we recommend that you use this with Brita’s LongLast cartridges, rather than the ones that come in the box!
LongLast’s are the only Brita ones which handle lead. They have some other benefits, too. As the name suggests, they give you extended filtration life, so you don’t have to swap cartridges as often. One of these will last 6 months for the average family, or 120 gallons. That’s twice as long as most will do.
While its larger size makes it more practical for households than the BWT, the Austrian pitcher is definitely better-designed. For instance, the Brita doesn’t filter as you pour. It’s an inconvenience compared to the BWT, even though we don’t think that’s a deal-breaker at all. There’s no flap, either. You have to completely remove the lid to fill the reservoir.
It could be a lot sturdier. It’s pretty cheap plastic, and it’ll crack more easily than the BWT. Again, it’s better than any other large pitcher we’ve reviewed, but there’s room for improvement!
Unlike the BWT, it won’t add magnesium.
There are some other ergonomic flaws we’ve found. The lid can fall off, if you’re not careful. The weight isn’t distributed all that well, either. Most annoying is the fact that you can’t fill it all the way. There’s a line on the reservoir, but it’s easy to miss. If you overfill this thing, it’ll leak from the handle.
3. PUR 18-cup dispenser
“our suggestion to households where lots of water is drunk daily”
PUR’s 18-cup dispenser is our biggest recommendation in this category. We know it’s not technically a pitcher, but it serves essentially the same purpose on a larger scale. After all, even the 10-cup Brita is as much as we’d want to manage in a pitcher format!
The PUR is our suggestion to households where lots of water is drunk daily, and where a smaller pitcher just won’t cut it. It meets all the same filtration standards as our other picks, and is better-designed than other dispensers we’ve reviewed.
This is as big as filter pitchers come! Well, of course, it’s technically a dispenser. Regardless of what you call it, the PUR gives you 18 cups of water to work with. That’s nearly twice as much as the Brita! This is a perfect choice for larger households and for folks who would rather refill their reservoir in big batches.
We especially like how space-efficient this model is compared to the competition. It still fits fairly easily in a fridge, despite the fact that it takes up a lot of space. The tall and long design leaves lots of space to the sides!
It’s surprisingly convenient for such a big dispenser. A built-in spigot makes it easy to pour glasses without actually taking the dispenser from the fridge! You can just store it in the fridge with the spigot hanging out past your racks, and pour whenever you’re thirsty!
Of course, the size and design don’t matter nearly as much as the filtration. Thankfully, PUR’s offerings are all certified to the same standards as our other picks, including this dispenser!
It meets NSF standards 42 and 53 for 13 different contaminants, as tested by WQA. You can rely on this to take out everything the Brita handles and more. Like the BWT, it’ll also remove lead!
You get a decent working life from each cartridge: 40 gallons each or so. They use a carbon and ion exchange combination, just like the others we’ve recommended.
PUR has the most thorough list of contaminants that it’s certified to remove of all the big filter brands out there! Technically, that doesn’t mean a great deal. Mostly, it indicates that Brita and BWT haven’t tested for all those contaminants which PUR have. It doesn’t necessarily mean the other makers’ products don’t do as good a job. Still, it shows you the confidence PUR have in their product, and it’s hard to argue with independent lab testing!
Like Brita, PUR’s cartridges are universal. You can use whichever of the brand’s cartridges you want in this dispenser. We suggest the standard 2-stage model, which reduces 22 contaminants and substances.
There are lots to choose from, though, so pick one which makes sense for your own water. The nice thing is that they’re all certified, so you don’t have to worry about ending up with something which won’t do the job!
“this one improves on other big dispensers.”
There are a couple of ways we think this one improves on other big dispensers. First, PUR’s cartridges lock in place, while others we’ve reviewed can leave gaps where unfiltered water runs down and escapes into the reservoir. Second, the whole thing is very easy to clean, while other designs leave hard-to-reach areas that can accumulate grime.
Obviously, this is quite a big filter. This isn’t something you’d take in and out of the fridge every time you want a drink! It’s designed to stay put when you’re not filling it or changing the cartridge.
It takes up a lot of space, too, no matter how space-efficient it is. That’s one reason why we think it only makes sense for larger households or for folks who prefer to have a big reservoir to draw from in the fridge.
PUR cartridges have some isolated issues with clogging, across the lineup. Some cartridges seem to settle more than others, which is why you’ll see a small number of buyer reviews from folks whose filters work super slowly or sporadically. That’s not something we’ve run into, though.
As with nearly every dispenser on the market, it’s built from all plastic. You’ll have to be relatively careful, or something could crack or leak.
The cartridges aren’t as affordable as Brita’s.
Like the Brita, it doesn’t add any magnesium or any other minerals to the filtered water.
It’s the priciest of the three.
Now that you’ve had a detailed look at all our recommendations, which should you add to your filtration routine?
The BWT is the best option if you’re on a budget, since it’s significantly cheaper than our other picks. We also think it’s the ideal choice for single people or couples! This works as well as anything on the market, and the magnesium it adds in makes water taste fantastic. It’s also the best-designed and most ergonomic option we’ve found to date!
The BWT isn’t practical for more than 2 people, though. And while it’s cheaper up front, it’s pricier to keep up with its cartridges than with the Brita’s. If you’re in a household, you may want to go for one of our larger picks.
The Brita is our top recommendation to the average buyer. That is, someone who lives in a house with several family members or roommates, and needs something with a bigger reservoir than the BWT. As long as you use the LongLast replacements we suggest, it’ll remove all the same things, without you having to refill as often. Plus, even Brita’s best cartridges are cheaper than the BWT’s.
The Brita isn’t as well-designed or as user-friendly as the BWT, though. It’s more awkward to use, and isn’t built as solidly. It won’t remove lead out of the box, either. You have to upgrade the cartridges to do that. And, of course, it’s not as big as the PUR, so folks in the largest homes will probably want to look at that model.
The PUR is our suggestion to those households which go through water fast and furious. It’s the best option we’ve found for filtering large quantities of water without having to refill several times a day. The dispenser is super convenient to keep in the fridge, and it’s as good a filter as our other recommendations.
Plan on dedicating some significant fridge space to this, though! It’s definitely overkill for most people, unless you simply prefer to refill less often, and in larger batches. If you like to be able to bring your filtered water to the table for serving, you might want to choose the Brita.
Even with only 3 pitchers making our cut for this guide, there’s quite a range to choose from. Here are some things to think about as you figure out which one suits you best!
Nearly everybody who uses a water filter pitcher keeps their vessel in the fridge. It’s more sanitary than leaving water at room temp, and it’s always more pleasant to get a cold glassful anyway. So, think about how much fridge space you can realistically devote to your pitcher.
Water filter pitchers are sized by the number of cups of drinking water that their reservoirs can hold at a time. Choose something that’s practical for the amount of people who will be using the reservoir.
Are you filtering just for yourself, or for yourself and a roommate? You can probably get away with something that’s 5-6 cups. If you’re in a household with more people, you should be looking for something that holds 10+ cups, so you’re not constantly refilling.
Think about how much water you drink by yourself, then factor in everyone else who will be sharing the pitcher.
As with any type of water filtration, you want to make sure you’re buying something that’s independently tested and certified to do what the manufacturer claims! Be sure to check for NSF and WQA certifications for both the pitcher components and the cartridges!
Make sure that the NSF standards apply to all the materials listed as being removed by the filter. Some manufacturers try to cover up exceptions, so it’s worth doing a bit of extra research to be sure. Look to see exactly what’s removed, and at what rate.
Look for BPA-free components, too! There’s no point filtering your water if you’re going to keep it in a container which leaches harmful chemicals.
When you’re comparing prices, and thinking about your own budget, be sure to think about the long-term. Assuming your pitcher lasts as long as it ought to, chances are you’ll spend more on replacement cartridges than you will on the pitcher itself!
That’s why it’s a good idea to go poking around before you buy, to give yourself some idea of what the long-term cost will be. Thankfully, most manufacturers offer steeply discounted package deals, or subscription plans which can cut a big chunk off the price tag.
Make sure you know how often you’ll need to change the filter cartridges, and how much the replacements cost. We’ve tried to include working life estimates in our reviews.
Pitchers can cost as little as $20, or as much as $70. We’ve actually seen models offered for less than $20, but they’re shoddy knock-off products which aren’t tested or certified at all. Still, you can get a decent pitcher for very little money.
There’s no reason to spend more than $75 on a water filter pitcher, even if you shell out for a premium, stainless steel model. We think you should be able to do fine for well under $50.
Know what these actually do
Before you start reading buyer reviews online, make sure you have a firm grasp of exactly what water filter pitchers are designed to do. Many people write frustrated reviews because they clearly didn’t understand what they were buying!
Water filter pitchers are primarily designed to remove pollutants, like heavy metals, chemical pollutants and chlorine. They’re not a substitute for a whole-house sediment filter, even though they’ll remove lots of sediment from your water. They won’t remove all particulate matter, and some mineral content usually makes it through
That’s why TDS meters aren’t the best way to measure performance with these. At lot of buyers try to assess their pitchers with these tools, and then panic, because they think the cartridges aren’t doing their job.
As we explain in our main buying guide, TDS is only a good measure for RO or sediment filters. It won’t tell you much about the chemical makeup of water. You could take two identical glasses of water, add bleach to one, and get the same TDS reading from both!
So ignore buyer reviews you might see which claim to “debunk” filtration rates based on their home TDS testing. While there are undoubtedly some less than reputable filters, anything tested and certified by the NSF or WQA is trustworthy.
Hopefully, you’ve seen at least one water filter pitcher in this guide which could work for you. If so, great! All you have to do is click on the links in our reviews to check current prices and make a purchase.
If you want to explore other means of cleaning up your water, no worries! We’ve got all your needs covered with comprehensive guides and recommendations for all sorts of filters. Head over to our main water filtration guide to learn more!
Or, if you’re interested in seeing what other products we review, check out our home page!