Comparison: Water Filter Pitcher vs Bottled Water (2021)

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

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If you are still distressed in the wake of the horrible water crisis in Michigan and want to get the best from your drinking water, filtered water is the only way forward.

Perhaps this is the reason why bottled water is America’s most favorite beverage. Undoubtedly, millions of people have blind faith and trust in the safety and hygiene a packaged water bottle can provide.

With that said, there is no debate or confusion amongst environmental sophisticates. In fact, the choice between water filter pitcher and bottled water is crystal clear for them – filter pitchers all the way.

If you want to know our expert opinion, we are team filter pitchers! Allow us to explain why we believe they are more affordable, sustainable and safer.

So, here is our guide on water filter pitchers vs bottled water!

What’s a Water Filter Pitcher?

Woman filling water filter pitcher in kitchen sink

Undoubtedly, if you are looking for the easiest way to filter water at home, pitcher-type filters are the way to go.

Water filter pitchers are simple gadgets that perform well for years, as long as you change the cartridges on time. Thankfully, most filter cartridge replacements are as easy as changing your remote control’s battery!

But how do filter pitchers work? The sleek and compact units feature a small filter element inside the jug. As you pour water from the top, it passes through the cartridge and settles in the reservoir at the bottom.

The entire process takes, on average, around 15 minutes, depending on the model and type of filter. Most models require you to wait until all the water has trickled to the bottom before you can pour out a glass. On the other hand, some dispenser-style units can pour while filtering, making it a better option for large families.

Besides improving the taste and smell of drinking water, water filter pitchers can also be used to purify out a wide range of impurities to make your water safe for consumption.

It is essential to point out that the quality and contaminant removal capabilities vary greatly amongst brands and generic models alike. So if you have a known contaminant in your source water like lead or pharmaceutical runoffs, you need a system designed and certified to eliminate those impurities.

Some filter pitchers feature a small GAC (granular activated carbon) cartridge that only removes chlorine making your water taste and smell better. In contrast, top-quality ones like the Clearly Filtered are tested to remove over 200 harmful contaminants.

In short, pitcher-type filters are user-friendly, affordable and durable.

On Bottled Water

Bottled water refers to packaged water that may have been treated to make it safe for drinking. When the quality of source water at home is in the grey, most people opt for bottled drinking water since it’s convenient and deemed safer than tap or well water.

This is precisely why Americans spend over $16 billion a year on bottled water, according to Beverage Marketing Corporations.[1]

There’s a catch, though: Most people don’t know what they are paying for. You’d be surprised to know that almost ¼ of all bottled water is just tap water filled from another source. Alarming, isn’t it?

Then why are millions of people readily paying 300 times more per gallon for packaged water bottles as compared to tap water? The answer lies in solid and influential marketing that has led people to believe otherwise.

Bottled water may be marked as “glacial”, “spring fresh” or “mountain”, but in reality it doesn’t even come close to those landmarks. Instead, it may be sourced from any municipal board, treated in a filtration plant, and packaged to be readily available to you.

Regulations

The Food and Drug Association (FDA) regulates bottled water[2], and the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) sets the standards for tap water. Surprisingly, the EPA has stricter restrictions and inspection criteria.[3]

The FDA does not mandate bottled water manufacturers to reveal their sources, treatment processes, nor the level of contaminants the water may contain. In contrast, the EPA binds all water utilities to test their water annually and publish a public report highlighting the source and contamination levels.

In the broad sense, the water that passes through your tap is supposed to follow far more rigorous standards than packaged water, for which you pay an enormous amount.

However, not all bottled water is exactly the same. The quality and taste of packaged waters vary considerably depending on where it was sourced from (tap, springs, aquifers), how it was treated and the circumstances in which it was transported.

Types of Bottled Water

Here are the 5 main types of bottled water available.

  • Spring water: Spring water refers to the purest of waters enriched with minerals from the rocks it passes through.
  • Purified water: It refers to being purified at a water treatment plant, either using RO, or another multi-stage filtration process to remove contaminants. The source is usually municipal water or groundwater reserves.
  • Mineral water: One of the most favorite and famous types of bottled water, mineral water, tastes refreshing and is full of healthy minerals such as potassium and magnesium.
  • Artesian well water: Unlike traditional wells that use a pump to bring water to the surface, artesian well water is a specific type of free-flowing well water brought to the surface by the pressure of the surrounding rocks.
  • Sparkling bottled water: Contains dissolved carbon dioxide gas, either infused under pressure or naturally occurring due to geological processes. It is also known as carbonated water, soda water, seltzer or tonic water.

Bottles of water

Pros of Water Filter Pitchers

Here are a few advantages of using water filter pitchers to clean your drinking water at home.

Improved Water Taste and Smell

Water filter pitchers solve the most common complaint with tap water, i.e., chlorine taste and odor. And with proper pre-treatment, they work equally fine with water sourced from a well.

Typically, pitcher-style filters use activated carbon, which effectively removes chemicals like chlorine and its disinfection byproducts.

Removes Contaminants

Besides improving the taste and smell of water, a good quality filter pitcher can make water healthy for you to drink.

Generally speaking, the water supply in the US is deemed safe for the most part. However, it could still contain traces of chromium, pesticides, pharmaceutical runoffs, salts, nitrates, microplastics, PFOS/PFOA, etc.

Also, as water flows downstream and finally enters your house’s plumbing, it can pick up many contaminants on the way. Thus, it might be high in lead or something similar.

Depending on the filtration technology used, you can find a filter pitcher suited to treat your unique water problem.

Thanks to efficient design and controlled filtration, all essential minerals stay intact, and your water is healthy and wholesome.

Unlike bottled water, water filter pitchers are made of BPA-free plastic, so you can be sure that your water is safe from harmful plastic substances leaching in your water.

Inexpensive

Generally, you can buy some good quality water filter pitchers for under $40 and maintain them annually under $100.

Compared to bottled water priced at close to $10 a gallon, pitcher-style filters are a bargain.

Sustainable

Filter jugs are the epitome of sustainability, ensuring you make the best use of the available resources without destroying the planet. These units last almost a lifetime and create no waste.

Moreover, some water filter pitchers feature eco-friendly activated charcoal sticks that can be used as compost once they have served their life.

Endless Supply of Clean Water

Unlike bottled water that you need to buy every month, filtered pitchers liberate you from frequent trips to the grocery store.

As long as you have water running through your pipes, you can never run out of filtered clean water.

Cons of Water Filter Pitchers

Let’s take a look at a few problems associated with water filter pitchers.

Filter Replacement Cost

Water filter pitchers need frequent cartridge replacements to keep working. Unless you replace the filters at the prescribed time, you’ll end up with dirty, unfiltered water. If you have a bigger family or more contaminated source water, you might find yourself replacing filter cartridges in as little as two months’ time.

In all honesty, it can get tiring very soon. Not to mention, the costs add up too.

pitcher water filter cartridge submerged in water

Difficult to Clean

You have to regularly soak, scrub and wash a pitcher to maintain cleanliness. Unless you clean it every few days/weeks, there are severe chances of bacterial growth, mold and fungus.

Naturally, a dirty pitcher provides no filtration at all.

Advantages of Bottled Water

Here are the chief benefits of bottled water.

Convenient

The main benefit of bottled water is the convenience it provides.

No doubt, due to our fast-paced lives and busy routines, we favor bottled water due to the convenience and may even readily splurge over 300 times more compared to tap water.

Safe Water

As long as the water comes from a reliable source, bottled water can be high quality and rich in healthy minerals.

Even if it’s purified tap water, the level of industrial purification is remarkable and provides you with the healthiest form of water. But, sadly, it’s not true for all brands.

Disadvantages of Bottled Water

Here is why we are not fans of packaged water.

Expensive

Bottled water may be safe to use and provide you with utmost convenience, but it is insanely expensive. If you compare the estimated annual costs of packaged water and any in-house treatment options, the difference is nothing but frightening.

Chemical Leaching

The plastic used in water bottles is actually a threat to your health. When the plastic is exposed to warmth, it can leach dangerous chemicals into your water, making it unsuitable for drinking. This process even takes place under normal temperatures, only slower.

Moreover, it can expose you to multiple health risks, including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and reproductive issues in both males and females.

Unsustainable

Unfortunately, 80% of all plastic bottles end up in landfills which are already overflowing with 2 million tons of discarded plastic bottle waste.

It takes up to 1000 years for every single bottle to disintegrate. While it decomposes, it leaks harmful chemicals into the environment.

Ethical Complications

Do you know where most of your bottled water comes from? Many bottlers have set up their plants in drought-ridden areas like California. It’s a shame how major brands are profiting over natural resources, spending just pennies and charging exorbitant prices from the final customer.

Verdict: Water Filter Pitcher vs Bottled Water

Water Filter Pitcher vs Bottled Water Thumbnail

Water filter pitchers are smart, fuss-free and convenient gadgets that provide you with clean filtered water at a nominal cost. On the other hand, bottled water is unsustainable, wasteful and insanely expensive.

The verdict is out: Invest in a water filter pitcher and save your wallet and the Earth from the disasters of bottled water.

Conclusion

In conclusion, using a water filter pitcher is probably the easiest way to filter water at home. A quality unit performs well and can remove a wide range of harmful contaminants.

In contrast, bottled water which is much more expensive than pitcher-filtered water remains highly popular in the US.

The quality of bottled water varies depending on its type, meaning where it was sourced from.

In general, however, regulations for tap water are stricter than those for the packaged water industry.

This is one of the reasons why we prefer filtering our own water using a water filter pitcher: Better drinking water quality (less contaminants and better taste/smell).

We’ve also talked about the cost and sustainability advantage of using filter pitchers rather than buying bottled water.

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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