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Are you sure you know exactly what your water contains? That weird taste you’re getting is certainly something you should not ignore. Chances are, if you’re drinking municipal water, you might be tasting chlorine and other contaminants that sometimes sneak their way into your water.
Of course, a water filter is a perfect solution to this as it’s sustainable and cost-effective. However, with so many water filter brands on the market, it can be difficult to choose the right one. In this guide, I’ll go through a list of the best water filters you can buy, based on your needs.
Best Water Filter in my opinion:
Some water filtration systems can get pretty expensive, but the Brita Everyday water filter pitcher brings healthy water to an affordable price point.
This one comes with Brita’s Longlast filter that’s good for over 100 gallons. Since you only have to replace the filter every six months, you’ll save money in the long run with these filters. It’s also a simple filter to use. You just fill it up from the top and the gravity will pull the water down through the filter and into the drinking reservoir.
The water from this pitcher filter tastes crisp and pure. Brita filters remove lead, asbestos, chlorine, and more, but they don’t remove fluoride, so if you want fluoride filtration, you’ll have to look somewhere else.
Brita filters also don’t remove bacteria, so if that’s a concern of yours, the Brita pitcher won’t be your first choice. The Brita Everyday Pitcher is the perfect entryway into filtered water since it’s easy to use and affordable.
- Longlast filters good for over 100 gallons
- Affordable water filtration
- Simple to use
- Water tastes great
- Doesn’t remove fluoride
Water filtration pitchers have come a long way since they were first introduced. Early filters were designed more to make water taste better — this filter also makes it safer to drink.
It’s twice the cost of its nearest competitor, and I’m not thrilled that it’s smaller by two cups, but if you want the highest level of filtration for safety, this is the best water filter pitcher money can buy for a household of three.
Big Berkey is an established name in filtration technology, and they produce the industry’s best countertop water filter. It removes harmful chemicals including pesticides, herbicides, and organic solvents while reducing heavy metals including lead.
Like the Aquagear pitcher, it doesn’t remove beneficial minerals, but unlike others in its class, it makes up to seven gallons of water per hour biologically safe to drink. Its countertop footprint is just 8.5-inches, and the stainless steel exterior is attractive and durable. For travel, its upper chamber nests in the lower making it only 13 inches high. It’s perfect for RVs.
- Makes water biologically-safe
- 2.5-gallon, expandable filtration capability
- Attractive stainless steel exterior
- Small size is perfect for storage or travel
- Lifetime warranty
- Uses valuable countertop space
- Actual fluoride reduction may be significantly less than maximum claims
Q: How much fluoride does the Big Berkey remove?
A: Up to 95-percent
Q: How much does it weigh — empty and full?
A: It weighs 7 lbs empty and 26 lbs full.
Q: Does this filter use electricity?
A: No, it uses only gravity.
No water filter removes all contaminants, especially pint-size countertop versions, but the Big Berkey comes close. It’s not the best at reducing fluoride, but it’s so good at removing everything else that meets the definition of a water purifier — something you might otherwise spend thousands for.
Hands-down, if you want a filter that makes any water safe to drink in emergencies or on the road, the Big Berkey is the best countertop water filter.
Reverse osmosis (RO) systems are the kings of water filtration, but they’re complicated and costly. This under-sink model by Home Master solves those problems and more at an almost too-good-to-be-true price. Seven-stage filtration technology removes 98-percent of chemicals including chloramines, and filter changes are a breeze compared to typical RO models. It’s easy to install and requires no electricity to operate.
A built-in non-electric permeate pump reduces wastewater by 80-percent, and the flow rate is remarkably noticeably brisk. Change the filters just once a year and enjoy fresh-tasting water for a fraction of the cost of bottled water.
Though the Home Master may be one of the most expensive options on this list, it’s a seven-stage, reverse osmosis, under-sink filter that will also add minerals like calcium and magnesium to your water. The filters are among the longer-lasting ones we’ve seen, requiring replacement just once a year or after 2,000 gallons.
Customers also reported at Home Depot that it was easy to install as well as maintain for years.
- The low total cost of ownership
- Exceptionally energy efficient
- Reliably improves the taste of water
- Five-year warranty and an excellent customer service team
- Requires use of a second faucet
- Faucet aesthetics could be improved
Q: Does this filter remove beneficial minerals?
A: The actual filtration removes them, but Home Master’s remineralization technology puts them back to make your water both healthy and slightly alkaline.
Q: Does it remove fluoride?
A: Up to 93.9-percent
Q: Can I use this for well water?
A: Yes, but the well should be biologically safe. An additional sediment filter is recommended to prevent premature clogging if levels are high.
This system has one of the lowest total cost of ownership in its class, and it’s virtually effortless to use. If your water tastes bad, the catalytic carbon in the filters excels at removing the taste of chlorine. That, plus its comprehensive filtering capability makes this my best under-sink filter. If Home Master cares to make it perfect, it only needs to improve the look of the faucet to match better home fixtures.
Along with Brita, PUR is one of the most well-known names for in-home water filtration. This faucet filter attaches directly to the head of your kitchen faucet. It has a selector level that allows you to choose between filtered water from the PUR device or allowing the flow from the sink to pass through for normal kitchen use.
This means you can still easily do dishes and other normal sink tasks with this filter attached, but it is rather large and cumbersome and tends to get in the way a bit. The PUR FM-3700 Advanced is one of the most affordable ways to start getting filtered water in your home. It’s also a very common filter so you should have no problem finding replacement cartridges.
That said, each filter cartridge is good for 100 gallons, so you won’t need to replace them too often. When you do, you’ll be able to find them online or locally without any issue. These filters remove lead, chlorine, and more, for a total of over 70 contaminants it can help you avoid drinking.
- Each filter good for 100 gallons
- Affordably priced
- Easy to find filters
- Removes lead and chlorine
- Can get in the way of normal sink use
We gave Springwell the best overall value due to their quality standards and use of certified materials and the very effective method of 4-stage water filtration processes it filters. This system filters up to 1,000,000 gallons of water without any loss in water pressure and safely removes harmful contaminants such as PFOA, PFAS, PFOS, among other chemicals that we don’t need in our water.
Above all, Springhill is made in America and backs their quality products with an industry-leading 6 monthly money-back guarantee.
- Eliminates 99.6% of germs contained in water
- Lifetime warranty
- High-quality filtration system
- Backed by a 6-month money-back guarantee
- Industry-leading Gallons per Minute rating (GPM)
- Nothing really worth complaining about.
The SpringHill system is an investment-level purchase at a great price overall. Low maintenance means a rock-bottom total cost of ownership, and while I wish installation was more DIY-friendly, the peace of mind that comes from knowing the job was done correctly by a professional — plus the lifetime warranty coverage — makes it well worth the effort.
Overall Springhill is my top pick for the best home water filtration system.
When it comes to backpacking, hiking, or camping, weight, size, and dependability are critical aspects of any water filter. The Sawyer Squeeze checks off all of those boxes and more. It’s compact enough to fit in the palm of your hand. Weighing in at a meager two ounces, you can definitely call it lightweight. For dependability, it features no cartridges to fill up and need replacement and no moving parts to break.
The Sawyer Squeeze filter is good for 100,000 gallons of water filtration. If it starts to lose some flow, you simply backflush it and it will return to full output. The Squeeze filters down to 0.1-micron for very thorough filtration. It can remove sediment, bacteria, protozoa, and tons more, but it won’t filter out viruses.
It’s a very affordable piece of equipment, and it’s also extremely versatile. You can squeeze water through it to fill a container with clean water. You can also use it in-line for a gravity system or a hydration bladder. But my favorite way is to screw it on a bottle full of dirty water and drink straight through it, saving us loads of time sitting trailside filtering out the water.
- Good for 100,000 gallons
- Ultra-lightweight at just 2 ounces
- Many ways to use it
- Affordably priced
- 1-Micron filtration
- Doesn’t filter viruses
If you’ve heard anything about personal water filtration, then you’ve likely heard of LifeStraw. They’re one of the biggest names in emergency filtration, but they’ve moved over into the daily drinking market with the Go Water Filter Bottle.
This bottle incorporates their famous LifeStraw straw into a carry-along bottle that filters your water as you drink it. It’s an affordable way to start drinking filtered water today. The LifeStraw filter removes over 99% of waterborne bacteria and protozoan parasites. It requires no batteries or chemicals. The bottle can carry 23 ounces of water to help you stay hydrated all day long.
It’s not enough to fuel more than a single person though. For convenience, a side clip with a carabiner makes it possible to clip to your side and leave your hands free for activities. With this filter, you can only use this bottle. You won’t be able to use it on another bottle since it is a specific fit. Luckily, the bottle is available in several stylish color variations so you can pick one that suits you.
- Many color variations
- Portable water filtration
- Removes bacteria and protozoa
- Affordable filtered water
- 23-ounce capacity is only enough for one person.
Clean water throughout the entire house includes your shower(s) so that your body’s overall exposure to chemicals will be reduced for more moisturized hair and skin. Another benefit is improved indoor air quality, as less volatile chemicals evaporate from the shower water.
And because the Rhino’s main tank applies to upflow filtration the risk of clogging is slim.
Did we mention that you get a limited lifetime warranty on all Rhino systems? The warranty covers defects in materials or workmanship in manufacturing.
The Aquasana well water filter uses a salt-free softening method that relies on something called Scale Control Media (SCM) softening technology to naturally condition water. This technology alters the structure of the hardness-causing minerals and converts them into crystals, preventing them from binding and forming scale build-up on your surfaces.
Designed specifically for well water contamination to protect from bacteria, viruses, and other contaminants commonly found in private well water, this system features the added starlight UV filtration and simply soft salt-free water softener. Get healthy, clean, great-tasting water from every tap in your home by removing up to 97% of the chlorine in regular tap water
With a larger capacity filter, less frequent backwashing is required, which allows you to avoid backwash solids.
Some of its features:
- Filter tank x1 and conditioner tank x1.
- Pre-filter and post-filter.
- Brass fittings for 1 inch or ¾ inch pipes and bend support for installation.
- Shut-off valve for preventing water flow while performing maintenance and filter changes.
- Easy to follow Instruction manual for installation.
The Aquasana well water filter and conditioner have clear performance benefits over a standard water softener. With its added filter, you’ll be able to benefit from soft water that tastes fresher and doesn’t contain harmful contaminants. It’s a good option if you’re looking to actually improve water taste as well as consistency.
The system’s salt-free descaler is designed to hook up to the filter system and provides scale prevention for the entire house without the use of chemicals or salt. This means you won’t need to bother with salt top-ups, and the system won’t need to regenerate, so you won’t have to factor in water waste either.
With a fairly average flow rate of 7 GPM, the Rhino water filter and conditioner would work well in many households. You can make sure your flow rate is at its highest by changing your pre and post-filters every 1 to 3 months depending on the sediment levels of your water.
- 2-in-1 softener and conditioner for additional water-cleaning benefits.
- The Saltless system requires less maintenance and is suitable for low-sodium diets.
- Doesn’t require electricity to run.
- Good quality components designed for durability.
- Doesn’t waste water or need to regenerate.
- Warranty does not void if you install it yourself
- Filters need to change fairly regularly for the system to work.
- Not the most cost-effective system on the market, even considering its additional benefits.
- Customers have complained about poor customer service from the manufacturer.
- Not easy to install, and may take a professional plumber several hours.
- Some customers have mentioned not having all the appropriate parts for installation included in the package.
The Aquasana Rhino well water Water Filter with Salt-Free Conditioner is a 2-in-1 water filter and conditioner for people looking to filter and soften their water. The system treats water at its point of entry into a home, altering the ionic charge of hardness causing minerals and filtering out harmful contaminants from water before they can get into your plumbing.
Featuring carbon & KDF filtration media combined with scale control media, the Aquasana well water filter, and conditioner are particularly effective at filtering out chlorine and sediment from drinking water.
Best Water Filter: Value Editorial
Clean water is on everyone’s mind lately. Contaminated municipal supplies and wells spoiled by industrial chemicals are in the news. Having an extra layer of protection for the water you drink is always a good idea, but with a dizzying range of filtration products on the market today, how do you know which one is the best water filter for you?
There are, however, countless types of water filters available on the market, each differing in what they remove from your water. These include under-sink filters, faucet attachments, whole-house filtration systems, pitcher filters, and more.
While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all filter solution, I will help you narrow down the list of the best water filters based on your needs. Each item included in this roundup has either been certified by the NSF, a health and safety standards testing company or tested and certified by an independent third party to NSF standards.
What Kind of Filter Do You Need?
No filter will remove all contaminants, so it’s important to select the right type for your water source.
We looked into all kinds of filters, from under-sink and countertop systems to faucet attachments, pitchers, and dispensers. The price range of water filters is vast, ranging from reverse osmosis models that cost hundreds to $20 pitchers.
In addition to your water source and budget, you should consider the speed of the filter and your household size as well as how easy it is to install and maintain. You can search some filters in NSF’s database to learn in more detail about what contaminants each is designed to protect you from.
The most common NSF/ANSI standards to be aware of include 42 (for removing chlorine and other bad tastes and odors), 53 (for reducing health contaminants like heavy metals), and 401 (for “emerging contaminants” like pharmaceuticals).
Where Will You Use It?
If you can answer this question, you should be able to narrow down your choices a lot. Each type of water filter is best-suited for certain places, and won’t do well in others. For example, if you need to provide your whole family with filtered water, then a water filter bottle isn’t going to do the job.
Likewise, if you need a portable filtration device that you can take with you for hiking or store for emergencies, then a water filter pitcher or under-sink RO unity aren’t going to do you much good. Let’s take a look at a few places you may want access to filtered water and which options are best for those situations.
Home is where I spend a large portion of my time, so it makes sense that you would want filtered water there. But what type of water filter is best for use at home? Well, you have several options.
Water Filter Bottle
How many people are going to be sharing this filter? If it’s just you, then a water filter bottle may be adequate and serve double-duty as the bottle you drink from at work as well. However, if you have a family of people to keep hydrated, a single-person water bottle isn’t going to cut it.
Water Filter Pitchers
Water filter pitchers are the perfect way to get started quickly and cheaply with filtered water for the whole family. They’re very easy to use and require only a small investment to get started with. You will have to replace filter cartridges at regular intervals though, so keep that in mind. You could pick one up today and start drinking filtered water almost immediately without worrying about breaking the bank.
Countertop Water Filter
A slightly more convenient option that takes more initial investment of time and money to get started with is a countertop water filter. These units attach to your sink faucet and sit on the counter beside your sink.
They will supply you with nearly endless filtered water at the flick of a lever. It’s a level of convenience that’s hard to beat, but you’ll be sacrificing some sink-side counter space and these filters aren’t always attractive to look at.
They’re not the most expensive, but they’re more of a monetary investment than a water filter pitcher.
Under-sink Water Filter
Moving up the list, you could go for an under-sink filter. There are several types of these, including high-capacity in-line filters and RO filters. Both require a considerable investment to get started with. Both also connect directly into the main water line of your kitchen sink, meaning you’ll have filtered water whenever you turn on the faucet. That’s pretty incredible.
So, which of these is the better bet? Well, reverse osmosis systems strip far more from your water, leaving it virtually devoid of anything besides water.
You’ll need to do basic maintenance with these systems like changing the filters every six months. With an in-line high-capacity filter, you won’t have to think about it again for quite some time. Just install it, then it’s good for 50,000 gallons without worry.
At School or Work
When you’re at school or work, you don’t have the option to attach something to the sink faucet or mount it underneath in the cabinet. You don’t even usually have access to a fridge to keep your drinks cold!
In these scenarios, you need something small and discreet that can filter your water while you drink it. Water filter bottles are perfect for these situations. They hold enough water to keep you from making repeated trips to the fountain for refills, several times the size of a standard water bottle.
But they’re still small enough to fit in your bag, pack, or purse, and they won’t take up much desk space. They’re also pretty inexpensive, so it’s not much of an investment to lose if someone decides to snatch it.
Camping, Hiking, or Backpacking
When you’re going out into the backcountry, you never know what you’ll encounter. You may be planning a multi-day excursion and know that you’ll need to be able to filter the water you find for survival. Alternatively, you may just want to carry a filter so that you’re prepared in case of emergencies. Either way, you need something that’s small, versatile, and reliable.
You could consider a water filter bottle. They’re small, portable, and generally reliable. But they have some limitations that prevent them from being the best option in this circumstance.
They have a limited holding capacity and most can only be used in one way. On the other hand, squeeze filters allow for many different manners of use. You can use them in a gravity system, squeeze water through them, use them in-line with a hydration bladder, or even screw it on a water bottle and drink straight through it. Plus, a squeeze filter weighs just two ounces, so it’s perfect for backcountry use.
When emergencies happen, it pays to be prepared. An emergency is the first time that many people even give thought to how they would get clean water if there were no longer easy access. If you want a filter to keep on hand for emergency preparedness, then you’re looking for very specific traits. You don’t want anything battery-powered since the batteries could die.
You need something reliable that can be used in many different ways to fit many situations since you never know what you’ll encounter in a crisis scenario. You also need a filter that’s small enough to store away where it will be waiting for you when disaster strikes. Plus, it needs to be simple enough that you can use it in the heat of the moment.
Contaminant Filtration Capability
If you drink municipal water, it’s been disinfected and should be biologically safe, but it could contain:
- Chemical and pharmaceutical residue
- Dangerous lead from aging pipes
- High levels of minerals
- Disinfectants like chlorine and chloramines
Well water typically has no disinfectants or added fluoride, but it could be harboring:
- Naturally-occurring heavy metals
- Radioactive contamination
- Agricultural and industrial chemicals
- Heavy sediment and silt
- Potentially harmful microorganisms
The idea is to identify your risk level for major contaminants and choose a filter based on your unique needs. If you have a well, learn what’s in it with a water test. DIY kits are available over the counter or samples can be sent to an independent lab. For a breakdown of what’s in city water, contact your local water treatment authority.
System Type and Size
Once you know which contaminants you need to filter, the next step is to consider the size and type of system you need. For filtered water from every tap, you need a whole-home system like the Home Master HMF3SDGFEC, or the Fleck 5600SXT 48,000 Grain Water Softener if minerals are the only issue.
To treat drinking and cooking water from a single tap — filtration pitchers, faucet-mounted and countertop filters, and under-sink systems are affordable alternatives — but you’ll need to consider capacity. The Aquagear 8-Cup Water Filter Pitcher, my best water filter pitcher, is perfect for a small family to drink from, but it won’t make water fast enough for cooking or a large group.
Faucet-mounted filters like the Culligan FM-25 produce plenty of water for both drinking and cooking, but they have small capacities and must be replaced often. Countertop systems take space, but they have a larger capacity than pitchers and faucet-mount filters, and some, like the Big Berkey, reduce a significant number of potential contaminants.
For large families or heavy cooking needs, under-sink filters treat the largest quantity of water short of whole-home systems, and filters need to be changed less often.
A filter’s water capacity is the number of gallons it can process between changes in filter cartridges. Pitcher cartridges and faucet-mounted filters rarely last more than a few months.
Countertop and under-sink filters have a higher capacity, but some have contaminant-specific pre-filters for sediment or iron that have less longevity. In general, fewer changes mean less maintenance, and in most cases, a lower total cost of ownership under normal conditions, but it’s best to look at the capacity as just one part of the bigger picture.
The flow rate is the amount of time it takes for water to travel through a filtration system to the tap. It’s measured in gallons per minute, and it tells you if a filter can produce water fast enough to meet your needs.
For a whole-home system, flushing a toilet and taking a shower take about 5 gallons per minute combined, so to do both at the same time, you’ll need a flow rate at least that high.
Systems that filter water at a single tap don’t need a particularly high flow rate, yet waiting minutes to fill a drinking glass or coffee carafe can seem like an eternity. In general, a higher flow rate is better, but only when it also removes target contaminants.
The term “filter” is used interchangeably to describe both an entire filtration system including the outer housing and the individual, replaceable cartridges that do the actual work. In most cases, it’s the quality and longevity of the cartridges that matter most in terms of performance and cost, so that’s what we’ll look at here.
What makes it difficult to assess the quality of filters is that performance ratings are based on so-called normal or average water. For example, if your well produces twice the sediment of your neighbor’s, expect your filters to clog faster.
If your water has extraordinarily high levels of chlorine, an average filter will struggle. Specifications tell only one side of the story.
The number of cartridges can also have a bearing on the types of contaminants removed. Multi-layer filters are designed to remove particles in order of size and type to extend the life of subsequent filters in the system.
For example, a filter with tiny pores that capture bacteria will clog prematurely if large particles of dirt and rust bombard it. Systems with sediment pre-filters capture those particles and extend the life of the other cartridges.
The total cost of ownership for a water filter comes both from its initial price and the cost of maintenance. On our list, the Culligan FM-25 and the Aquagear pitcher are the least expensive.
Both have a similar capacity – 150 and 200 gallons respectively — but the pitcher is near twice the cost. If you have a pull-down faucet, however, and can’t use a faucet-mounted filter, the pitcher is a good choice.
Whole-home and under-sink filters cost more to buy, but if your filtration needs are high, they could be the better deal in the long run. Two hundred gallons of water from the Culligan FM-25 fills about 1600 single-serve water bottles.
The Big Berkey countertop filter fills 24,000 before its primary filter has to be replaced. For the price, the Big Berkey fills 15 times more bottles at only ten times the cost of the Culligan. When considering cost, look carefully at capacity, the price of replacement filters, and how often they need to be changed.
There’s an ideal filtration system for everyone. The trick to choosing the best water filter is to clearly identify your needs — something that can be easier said than done. Let’s take a look at six factors that should help you make a buying decision.
Best Water Filter: Final Thoughts
Clean water is a must for good health, but if what’s coming from your tap isn’t as pure as it could be, the good news is that a simple filter can reduce potentially harmful contaminants and make it more appetizing to drink. It’s a sensible and cost-effective precaution.
At one time, there were very few ways to get reliably clean water anywhere, and they were all difficult. Today, water filtration can be a very easy endeavor, provided you have the right equipment. My reviews have covered several different types of water filters to help you decide which ones you’ll trust for your drinking water. For backpacking and camping, I trust the Sawyer Squeeze with its 100,000-gallon lifespan, 0.1-micron filtration level, and meager weight of just two ounces. My favorite countertop filter was the Apex filter that raises the pH of your water to provide you with filtered alkaline water with the pull of a lever.
For us, the best water filter pitcher was the Brita Everyday Pitcher. It has a Longlast filter with a 100-gallon lifespan and it’s one of the most affordable ways to get filtered water in your home today. For the most convenience, my favorite RO system was the iSpring RCC7 High-Capacity Under Sink RO System with five stages of filtration and a 75-gallon per day capacity. The PUR FM-3700 Advanced was the best faucet attachment filter with an affordable price and easy-to-find filters that last 100 gallons between replacements.
Austin is the lead water consultant and blogger for Water Filter Data. With 10 years of experience in the water quality industry, Austin can instantly pinpoint the cure and the cause for the water pollutant.