Are Water Filter Pitchers Really Worth it in 2021?

Author: Jason Hollow - Published: 2021/09/30 - Updated: 2021/10/22

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When we hear the term water filtration, we almost instantly imagine a big bulky water plant that treats water 24/7. Therefore, most people are skeptical whether a tiny water filter pitcher is just another fancy piece of kitchen gadget (like the milk frother stashed in your bottom drawer) or a must-have accessory.

Undeniably, good-quality water filter pitchers are worth every single penny. Not only do they improve the aesthetics of your water and help you hydrate yourself better, they are also nifty and compact.

But, can they match the performance of the big sturdy filtration units that purify gallons and gallons of water on demand? Maybe yes, maybe no – there is no universal answer to this one!

Stay with us as we explore how these units work and whether they are a perfect match for your family.

So, here is our article answering the question, are water filter pitchers worth it?

Do Water Filter Pitchers Really Work?

Water filter pitchers are the second-most preferred filtration units across the USA, ranking next in line to inbuilt fridge filters. Thus, it’s evident that millions of Americans have given them a vote of confidence – they do work.

With that said, here we go through a few factors that influence the performance of your water filter pitcher.

Different Brands Equal Different Performance

To put it bluntly, some poor-quality filter pitchers simply do nothing while others are capable of removing tons of chemical and physical contaminants from your water.

Some pitchers feature a carbon-based cartridge with just a small quantity of granular activated carbon that only removes some odor and taste. Others feature multi-stage filtration processes featuring ion exchange and ceramic filter layers[1] etc. that remove a wide range of unwanted contaminants.

The latter type of water filter pitcher is certainly worth the money.

NSF Certifications

Thankfully, you don’t have to rely only on the claims of the manufacturer. The best way to find out if a water filter pitcher is worth it is to look for NSF/ANSI testing and certification.

NSF is an independent institution that tests and regulates products ensuring public health and safety. Look for Standard 42 and Standard 53, which address a filter’s ability to improve aesthetics, as well as reduce harmful stuff like heavy metals and organic compounds. Some pitchers also sport Standard 401 that covers emerging contaminants like PFOS and pharmaceuticals. Additionally, there is standard 244 and protocol 473.

Beware of manufacturers claiming that their products are “tested” according to NSF criteria. If that’s the case, insist on viewing a lab report or performance data sheet. That said, we prefer water filters that are “certified” by accredited labs.

It is also important to remember that no filter can remove all contaminants, and therefore, you must have a fair idea about your water chemistry.

Test Your Water

The ideal water filter pitcher for your household is one that targets your individual water problem.

Broadly speaking, water in the US is considered to be safe, but there are exceptions. Also, you never know the extent of downstream contamination the water goes through to make it to your house. As a rule of thumb, the older your house or neighborhood is, the higher the chance of contamination, due to lead pipes and solders for example.

Water sourced from a private well is another story since it has never seen the light of a treatment plant.

This brings us to an essential aspect of water filtration: knowing what you want to remove. Here is how you can test your source water:

  • Laboratory test: The safest and most reliable way to test your water is to send a sample to a certified private laboratory.[2]
  • DIY water test kits: Tests performed through water test kits might not be as detailed as a lab’s result, but they are generally accurate. A home water quality test can ease your fears by telling you whether your water is contaminated or not.
  • Consumer Confidence Report: Your water utility is bound to test the water annually and publish a report for the general public. However, it doesn’t take into account downstream contamination, which can significantly impact the quality of water.

Pros of Water Filter Pitchers

Are Water Filter Pitchers Worth It Thumbnail

We can go on and on about filtered water pitchers, but here are the main benefits of these units.

Outstanding Contaminant Removal

If you’re worried about the quality of your water, as many Americans justifiably are, you will be pleasantly surprised to know that some water filter pitchers can remove as many contaminants as any other filtration unit.

Contaminant-free water ensures your family remains in good shape. Here are a few impurities a good filtered pitcher can remove:

  • Arsenic
  • Cadmium
  • Chloramine
  • Chlorine
  • Chromium
  • Disinfection byproducts
  • Drug residues
  • Fluoride
  • Lead
  • Microorganisms
  • Microplastics
  • Perfluorinated chemicals
  • Pesticides
  • VOCs

Affordable

Most water filter pitcher models can be bought for under $40 upfront and they can be usually maintained for under $100 annually. Minimum prices of replacement cartridges, inexpensive initial costs, plus no installation charges make filter pitchers one of the most affordable methods of filtering water at home.

Cold Water

On hot summer days when tepid water just doesn’t cut it, a glass of cold filtered water is pure bliss. Thanks to filter water pitchers’ smart and compact design, they can easily fit in any refrigerator and provide you chilled water.

No Installation

Some forms of home water filters are plumbed in, including fridge, under-sink and whole house water filters. Pitchers, on the other hand, are lightweight and can be taken anywhere you go.

Ease of Usage

The chief advantage is the ease of usage. Just fill water and put it in the fridge. Within a few minutes, filtered water sets in the reservoir – all nice, fresh and clean.

Sustainable

Water filter pitchers have a lower carbon footprint than bottled water and are safe for the environment.

Cons of Water Filters Pitchers

Here are a few problems associated with water filter pitchers.

Replacement Filter Cost

The actual cost of a filtration unit should not be measured by the initial price tag but through replacement filter cost. Cost per filter and replacement schedule impact the annual total, which might pile up too soon.

pitcher water filter cartridge submerged in water

Substandard Filtration

Some poor-quality filters use nothing but a little activated carbon in their midst. As a result, the water spends minimum time with the media and trickles down so fast; it barely removes any contaminants.

Limited Capacity and Waiting Time

Unlike under sink water filters that produce continuous filtered water, water filter jugs can only treat a few cupfuls at a time. The largest one can hold a maximum of 12 cups that may be used up within five minutes by a family of four.

Cleaning

Apart from regular filter replacements, filter water pitchers must be soaked, washed and scrubbed at least once a month to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold. Failure to do so can result in germ accumulation inside your jug, implicating your family’s health.

Conclusion

In conclusion, how well water filter pitchers perform varies between models.

That’s why you need to check for NSF testing/certifications – the only way to verify if manufacturer claims about contaminant reduction rates are true.

Also test your water quality which allows you to match it with the ideal pitcher.

Generally, the main benefits of using a water filter pitcher are getting access to cleaner drinking water that’s also many times cheaper than bottled water.

Cons? Depending on your unit, the cost for replacement filter cartridges start to add up over time.

Further Reading

Resources

Meet Jason Hollow

Jason Hollow Jason is the founder of Water Masterz and head of content creation. After six years in the industry, he has tremendous knowledge and first-hand experience on all things related to water treatment.

His credo: Not a single American should have to drink unhealthy water at home.

Get in Touch with Jason

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