One of the great privileges of living in an industrialized nation is access to sanitized water uncontaminated by pathogens.
Even so, even from the tap, there are contaminants in water that have no place in the human body–chemicals like chlorine, lead, arsenic, mercury, and fluoride. This makes finding the best water filter beyond important for your health and safety.
There are three types of water contaminants: physical, biological, and chemical. Because most tap water has been purified of physical and biological contaminants, with some exceptions, this article will largely focus on the chemical contaminants hiding in tap water. (I’ll still share some info and tips valuable for campers and travelers!)
Unfortunately, most popular in-home water filters have their downsides and fail to remove many harmful chemical contaminants (don’t be so certain yours is not one of these!). It can also be difficult to find truly clean water to refill your water bottle while you’re on the go.
So how do you know which is the best water filter for you and what contaminants in water do you need to remove? In this article, I break down:
- What you want to remove from your water.
- What you want to keep in/add to your water.
- Why you want to remove/keep/add those things.
- Why those things are still in your water even post-treatment by a water treatment plant.
- How to test for contaminants in your water.
- What makes filtered water quality filtered water.
- Which popular water filters you want to avoid.
- My picks for the best water filters for your home (under the sink, countertop, and pitcher).
- My picks for the best portable water bottle filters to take with you on the go.
Types of Contaminants in Water
Before I break down my recommendations for the best water filters, it’s important I clarify what defines contaminants in water. Because my recommendations are based on how well each filter removes these toxins.
“Contaminants” is actually a very broad term when used to describe the contaminants in water. Basically, “contaminants” refers to anything in water that isn’t a water (H2O) molecule.
The size of contaminant-particles varies greatly—from often visible physical contaminants to chemicals and bacteria you can’t detect with your senses.
The three main types of contaminants in water are physical, biological, and chemical.1
Physical contaminants affect the appearance of water and typically are easy to detect.
- Pieces of glass
- Metal staples
Since these are easier to see in water, it’s less likely you’ll accidentally drink these. However, if you do drink physical contaminants, they could irritate your gastrointestinal tract causing digestive discomfort or blockages.
The more serious health effects come from the other types of contaminants in water likely present if physical contaminants are also present.
Microscopic organisms, or microbes, in water are biological contaminants. These include bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi, protozoans, and toxins from plants, mushrooms, and seafood.
Often, infections caused by biological contaminants feature symptoms similar to foodborne illnesses, such as:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Flu-like symptoms
- Blood in stool.
In addition to gastrointestinal symptoms, neurological disorders, and fertility issues can result from exposure to biological contaminants in water.
Chemical contaminants are one of the more complicated groups because some are intentionally added to water and some are even healthy for you to have in your water.
Remember what I said before? A contaminant in water is anything that isn’t a water molecule. This means even minerals that are good for you are considered “contaminants.”
So let’s take a closer look at the different types of chemical contaminants.
Disinfection and Industrial Chemicals
It seems obvious that chemicals are a contaminant in water that would be removed from water, but this isn’t always the case.
A few toxic chemicals known to make their way into sewer water and then tap water include:
- Pharmaceuticals from improper disposal of chemicals.
- Herbicides and pesticides from stormwater runoff.
Water treatment plants don’t filter out these chemicals so they remain in water and make their way into pipes and then homes.
However, the biggest chemical offenders are chlorine and chloramines (the latter a derivative of chlorine and ammonia), which are used to disinfect water. At first, the amount of these chemicals in drinking water may seem innocent because they’re kept at low levels. But that doesn’t mean they won’t affect your health over time.
Chlorine is a major biological disruptor. Among its many dangers, chlorine
- Kills your gut microflora when you drink it in tap water or inadequately filtered water. Drinking chlorinated water is bad news. When you consider your gut microflora comprises about 80 percent of your immune system and is a major regulator of your body’s inflammatory response, that’s kind of a big deal. I’m talking increased disease-risk, allergies, digestive problems and more–a lot more. (Learn more about immunity in this article Germ Theory vs Terrain Theory: Building A Stronger Immune System.)
- May increase your risk of bladder and rectal cancer.2
- Is an irritant when you inhale it as vapor during hot showers or baths. Did you know, chlorine gas was used as a chemical weapon in WWI, the Iraq War, and Syria? That’s because it irritates the eyes, nose, bronchial tubes, and lungs. A high-enough dose can kill via asphyxiation.3,4
That said, it’s arguably unsafe for water treatment plants to remove disinfectants post-disinfection. Treated water still has to travel through pipes before it reaches your home. The risk of biological re-contamination remains.
For now, the responsibility to filter out contaminants in water remains in the hands of citizen-consumers like you. Sadly, the majority of water filters fall short when it comes to disinfection and industrial chemicals. Only the best water filters address these nasty contaminants.
Although you might not think of minerals as contaminants in water, technically they are.
The exact types and amounts of minerals in your water depend on where you live. Mineral levels in water are affected by
- The soil where the water is sourced.
- Whatever naturally-occuring minerals happen to be in that soil.
Common minerals found in water include:
- Fluoride (this is also artificially added to water in the United States–more on this later).
Minerals are an important part of your diet, consumed both through what you eat and drink. They help with a variety of bodily functions, from building healthy bones (calcium) to supporting thyroid hormones (iodine).
Minerals are only needed in small amounts. Typically, the levels naturally present in water aren’t enough to cause mineral toxicity.
Two minerals are exceptions to this rule: nitrates and fluoride. When consumed in water at high levels, they can negatively affect your health. Only a handful of the best water filters is capable of removing fluoride.
Nitrates are what nitrogen is called when it is added to water. Nitrogen-bearing minerals and nitrate mineral salts (NMS) are uncommon. Nitrogen-bearing minerals are sometimes found in fertilizer and may find their way into ground water via fertilizer runoff.5 (Learn more about the importance of sustainable fertilizer in my article The Transition to Veganism: Is It Actually Good for the Planet?)
While uncommon, too many nitrates is dangerous, especially for children and pregnant women.
Fluoride’s history as an allegedly-beneficial water additive sharply contrasts extensive research that exposes its dangers to health. Let’s take a closer look at this controversial mineral.
Should You Remove Fluoride From Water?
Fluoride is a mineral that most definitely falls under the umbrella of contaminants in water.
While fluoride is naturally found in soil and water, it’s added to water based on the belief it will help prevent tooth decay. But research demonstrates fluoride can have a negative effect on tooth enamel and contribute to significant health risks.
Ever since water fluoridation—a process that adds fluoride to water—started in 1945, it’s been surrounded by controversy because its benefits don’t outweigh its risks.
The National Research Council reviewed the EPA’s standards for fluoride in drinking water in 2006, the report stated
“Excessive intake of fluoride during enamel development can lead to enamel fluorosis, a condition of the dental hard tissues in which the enamel covering of the teeth fails to crystallize properly, leading to defects that range from barely discernible markings to brown stains and surface pitting.“6
Research continues to report the risks of overexposure to fluoride. A 2020 article in ScienceDaily.com explains:
“Exposing teeth to excessive fluoride alters calcium signaling, mitochondrial function, and gene expression in the cells forming tooth enamel – a novel explanation for how dental fluorosis, a condition caused by overexposure to fluoride during childhood, arises.”7
Fluoride toxicity could increase the risk of
- Cognitive impairment
- Discoloration of teeth
- Imbalances in enzymes, hormones, and electrolytes
- Uterine cancer.8
A 2019 research study explored the effects of fluoride on sleeping patterns in adolescents. The study found that “fluoride exposure may contribute to changes in sleep cycle regulation and sleep behaviors among older adolescents.” Increases in water fluoride was associated with a 1.97 greater risk for
- Sleep apnea
- Later bedtime
- Later morning wake time.9
The risks associated with fluoride have been recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which designates the maximum amount of fluoride allowed in public water as 4.0 milligrams per liter.10 But even that amount could pose a serious danger to your health.
Metals with high densities are called heavy metals. Heavy metals act as free radicals in the body, creating oxidative stress and damaging the cells in your body. They are dangerous contaminants in water and can be toxic, even at low concentrations.
The damage caused by heavy metals can increase your risk of developing cancer and diseases of the brain and nervous system.
Common heavy metals that can pose a threat to your health include:
How to Test For Contaminants in Water
When you’re researching the best water filter for your home, it’s important to understand which contaminants are in your water. Even if your water comes from a water treatment plant, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t filter it before you drink it (more on this later).
There are multiple ways to get your water tested, ranging from hiring a professional company to using an at-home test kit.
Professional Water Testing
If you opt for professional water-testing, a technician will come to your home to collect water samples. The technician will then send the samples to a lab where they’ll be tested for common contaminants in water.
If you go this route, be sure to check which contaminants the company tests for. Some companies only test for big offenders like bacteria, nitrates, and arsenic. You’ll want to make sure any water-test addresses all the harmful contaminants listed in the article.
Home Testing Kit
An at-home testing kit is an easy way to check for contaminants in water. The directions for testing kits are easy to follow, and most can provide you with results in minutes. All you need is a few glasses filled with water.
Some tests will tell you how many parts per million (PPM) of contaminants are present in your water. In general, the lower the number of harmful contaminants the better.
TDS meters (like this one: Water Tester Digital TDS Meter) are small, inexpensive at-home devices that can provide valuable information about how many PPM of contaminants are in your water.
With the right water filter–like the ones I’ll recommend below–you won’t need to worry about unwanted contaminants hiding in your water.
Why Do We Need Water Filters?
After learning about all the negative health effects of contaminants in water, you might be wondering why water treatment plants don’t remove more contaminants before they reach your home.
In a perfect world, your water would be contaminant-free. Unfortunately, clean water isn’t a given, even in industrialized countries like the United States and Canada.
So let’s review why we need the best water filters, whether for water straight from a creek or for tap water.
Unsanitized Water Needs Filtration
For hikers or avid travelers, access to safe drinking water is a non-negotiable. You never know what’s lurking in water–whether from a stream, lake, or well. It’s also unrealistic to carry a full supply of fresh water with you on long trips.
My three cents: if you aren’t sure if water has been sanitized, just assume you need to filter all three types of contaminants found in water–physical, biological, and chemical.
Sanitized Water from Water Treatment Plants Needs Filtration
Water treatment plants in the United States serve an important role in providing safe drinking water and removing waste. They remove:
- All physical contaminants in water
- Most biological contaminants
- Many chemical contaminants
- But they also add in chlorine.
By now, the reason for this article’s focus on chemical contaminants should be clear: this is where water treatment plants most often fail us.
Namely, water treatment plants don’t remove chlorine or arsenic. But they should.
Just because chlorine does a good job of disinfecting water doesn’t mean it should remain in tap water that will be drunk or inhaled (as vapor). Even experts think chlorine has no place in water once it’s reached your home.
The father of two of my high-school friends was the former director of Los Angeles’s water treatment plant. He made sure to install water filters in his house. My friends told me their dad always told them the water in Los Angeles is clean in terms of pathogens, but you should still remove the chlorine before you use it.
Arsenic is another offender known to cause some serious health complications. It wasn’t until 2001 that a new standard for arsenic was adopted, lowering the standard from 50 parts per billion to 10 parts per billion.11 Sadly, even at this seemingly low level, arsenic is still toxic and unacceptable for humans to drink.
And earlier in this article, I already covered fluoride as a contaminant in water that shouldn’t be there.
Case in point: even sanitized water needs to be filtered with the best water filters.
Bottled Water and Water Bottles
Contaminants in water are not limited to tap water or water from a stream. Bottled water often contains contaminants that are bad news for your health. Below are some reasons why bottled water and even reusable bottles aren’t the cleaner options you might think they are.
- Microplastics: In addition to being bad for the environment, microplastics from plastic water bottles can leach into bottled water and be hazardous to your health.
- BPA-Free Plastic + Aluminum: Even these allegedly sustainable refillable water bottles could leave behind toxic contaminants in otherwise clean water.
- Poor-Quality Stainless Steel: Many water bottles marketed as sustainable are made from stainless steel. But stainless steel is an alloy and not all alloys are created equal. Many bottles are made of cheaper low-quality alloys that can leach metals like nickel.
- Inadequate Filtration: Even bottled water brands purified for biological contaminants with UV lights can still contain chemical contaminants–from the source-water and from the bottle material.
- Glass + High-Quality Stainless Steel: These are the safest and most eco-friendly materials for your water. Fill them with already-purified water from home, or fill them on-the-go and drop a portable water filter inside. I like
- LifeFactory glass bottles because they come with a silicone sleeve that makes them super-durable.
- Rehydrate Pro double-wall high-quality stainless steel bottles–with lids that are stainless steel too. Seriously, entirely plastic-free lids are so hard to come by! Most lids are plastic on the inside, which can defeat the whole purpose of non-plastic bottles.
Now, read on for the best water filter recommendations.
Types of Water Filters
Now that we’re clear on the types of contaminants in water, I’ll break down the popular water filters you should avoid and my recommendations for the best water filters.
Faucet Filters and Pitchers
Just because a water filter is popular doesn’t mean it actually removes everything it should from your water.
Brita® pitchers are deceptively popular. Unfortunately, Brita does not get the job done when it comes to properly filtering your water. It’s not enough to simply use a Brita (or similar) pitcher because these filters don’t remove chlorine, only “chlorine taste.” They also don’t remove fluoride.
And faucet filters, like PUR®, claim to remove 99.95% of microbial cysts and 97% of chlorine taste and odor. Read that again. Even though faucet filters remove the unpleasant taste and smell of chlorine, the chlorine is still there.
To boot, popular pitchers and faucet filters don’t address all toxic heavy metals in water. And they don’t remove fluoride.
The nature of faucet filters doesn’t allow for sufficient water filtration. Too much water comes out of any faucet too fast for any filter to adequately filter it.
In theory, water pitcher filters could do a better job of removing contaminants in water than Brita does. But almost all water pitcher filters fall short. Except for one (more soon!).
The regulations that enforce water purification are clearly lacking.
It’s up to you to educate yourself and take informed action to ensure your water is free from harmful contaminants.
Now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for: my top picks for the best water filters that remove fluoride and chlorine (and all those other harmful contaminants)!
Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration Systems
Reverse osmosis is a multistage filtration system that easily makes the best water filters because it’s so effective at removing the vast majority of harmful contaminants in water.
R.O. does have a few downsides, but you can easily work around them, and its pros far outweigh its cons. Let’s investigate.
How Do Reverse Osmosis Filters Work?
Reverse osmosis purifies water by using pressure to move water from the unit’s more concentrated (unfiltered) section through a semipermeable membrane.
These filters can be installed under the sink or as a countertop filtration system.
Storage tank sizes of under-the-sink units can vary anywhere from one to five gallons.
Countertop units don’t have storage tanks. Instead, they connect to your faucet and deliver filtered water via a hose or spigot.
Depending on which type of unit (under-sink or countertop) and which brand, the reverse osmosis filtration process may consist of three to six stages.
A five-stage reverse osmosis system, like the APEC Water System 5 Stage Certified Ultra Safe Reverse Osmosis System, contains the following filters:
- Sediment filter: removes physical contaminants, like dirt, dust, and rust.
- Carbon filter: removes chlorine, cloudiness, colors, fluoride, and other chemicals.
- Carbon filter: further removes chemicals, tastes, and odors.
- Reverse osmosis membrane: removes up to 99% of contaminants, like arsenic, lead, fluoride, heavy metals, bacteria, and more.
- Carbon filter: removes any possible residual tastes or impurities immediately before you drink the water.
By now, you can probably see why those popular faucet and pitcher filters are just plain inadequate and not worth your money.
The comprehensive approach of the best reverse osmosis systems is what your body needs for good health.
What Contaminants Do Reverse Osmosis Water Filter Systems Remove?
Reverse osmosis water filters really do remove nearly all contaminants from water, including
- And more.12
Limitations of Reverse Osmosis Filters
Nothing is perfect. Even a filtration system as effective as reverse osmosis can have a few limitations, like the following:
- Strips Out Healthy Minerals: Reverse osmosis strips out virtually all contaminants in water–including minerals. For as long as I’ve used reverse osmosis I’ve been aware of this feature, and I’ve consciously responded by remineralizing my water and using mineral supplements. This “con” has always been a non-issue for me.
Ideal mineral needs and ratios are unique to each individual, so I’ll refrain from a long-winded discussion in this article (which is already very long!). In general, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium are some of the mineral-biggies you want to put back in your water, as well as trace minerals.
Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA) is a great cost-effective test that can help you determine your mineral status. Unlike blood tests, which only capture a snapshot of currently-circulating minerals, HTMA features a three-month assay of minerals your body has excreted into your hair tissue. As a practitioner, I favored HTMA over blood work to test for mineral-status (except for select situations where circulating mineral status was of interest). Be sure to order from a good lab (I like Analytical Research Labs) and hire a skilled practitioner to interpret results–proper HTMA-interpretation is complicated and far less straightforward than it may appear.
- Missed Contaminants: Reverse osmosis can filter 97% to 99% of contaminants in water. This means some contaminants can still slip in. Still, you’re not going to do much better than reverse osmosis. It’s important to keep things in perspective in the 21st century and support your health through holistic means beyond water. I support my body’s detoxification on a daily basis–through food, supplements and various practices–because I know each of us is regularly exposed to contaminants through more avenues than just water.
- Time: It takes time to effectively and comprehensively filter water. Water needs to move through all the stages of a reverse osmosis system. This can make a difference when you use a countertop reverse osmosis unit if you require large amounts of water throughout the day.
- Countertop reverse osmosis units are particularly slow because they lack the storage tanks featured in under-the-sink units. You’ll likely need to regularly fill bottles of water to use later. Just be sure to set an alarm because you don’t want those bottles to overflow!
- The storage tanks of most under-the-sink reverse osmosis units can hold a couple gallons of filtered water, making time-to-filter-water a non-issue. Personally, I’ve never run out of clean water with an under-the-sink unit. Of course, before you buy, you’ll want to note the storage capacity of any water filter you’re considering.
- Clogs: The filters in reverse osmosis systems are so effective at removing contaminants because they’re so fine. This means filters can become clogged if they’re not properly maintained. Pre-filters should be replaced every six months to a year, and post-filters at least once a year. It’s recommended to change the reverse osmosis membrane at least every 24 months. With proper maintenance, clogs shouldn’t be an issue (that’s what your calendar is for!). In the two decades of my using an under-the-counter reverse osmosis water filter, I’ve never encountered a single clog, or a single problem.
With all that said, reverse osmosis has been my top pick for the best under-sink water filter for the past two decades. Still, I regard a few other filters as very worthy options.
Berkey Water Filter
Berkey Water Filters are another effective option for purifying your water. It filters out many of the harmful contaminants in water while leaving behind the healthy minerals.
Sometimes you don’t have room to mount a water filter below your sink, but with the best countertop water filter, like the The Berkey filter, you don’t need to worry. The Berkey filter is a large countertop unit with a spigot.
How Does the Berkey Water Filter Work?
Big Berkey filters are made of high-grade 304 stainless steel, hold 2.25 gallons of water, and are designed to remove contaminants in water for households of 4 to 16 people.
These two-chambered countertop filters purify water using gravity. The top chamber holds the unpurified water before it goes through the filters, and the lower chamber holds the purified water.
The water gradually trickles from the upper chamber to the lower chamber as gravity pulls the water down and through the filter.
According to the company website, Berkey features three types of filters.
- Micropores to mechanically filter out impurities, like dust, rust, sediment, bacteria, and viruses.
- Absorption to trap harmful chemicals within the filter. This step reduces chemicals, heavy metals, and foul taste.
- Prolonged contact time. If water moves too quickly through a filter, harmful contaminants are more likely to slip through. Time is needed for filters to properly remove contaminants from water.
Berkey filters also feature the option to add more filters if you want to decrease filtration time. If you upgrade to the maximum number of filters, Berkey’s maximum purification flow rate increases from one to seven gallons of water per hour.
If you’re looking for something smaller, check out the Travel Berkey Water Filter. It holds 1.5 gallons of water and filters at a rate of two gallons per hour.
What Contaminants Does the Berkey Filter Remove?
According to Berkey, its filters remove a comprehensive array of contaminants in water. The filters
- “[R]educ[e] up to 99.999% of viruses and 99.9999% of pathogenic bacteria.”
- “[R]emov[e] or dramatically reduc[e]
- Inorganic minerals
- Heavy metals
- Petroleum products
- Perfluorinated chemicals
- And even radiologicals.”
- Additional filters can be purchased that remove “up to” 97% of fluoride.13,14
Berkey can reduce or remove harmful contaminants while leaving behind the good minerals you want in your drinking water. With these specs, it makes my list of the best water filters.
Limitations of the Berkey Filters
For all Berkey’s positives, its negatives are worthy of consideration.
- Technically, Berkey filters can remove fluoride, but fluoride filters aren’t included in the baseline Big Berkey Filter. Fluoride is definitely one of those contaminants in water you should filter out. But to do so with a Berkey, you need to purchase an additional element that attaches to the main unit, or order the upgraded unit. This adds both an extra cost and an extra step to remove this harmful contaminant.
- You can’t see water-levels because the units are opaque. The standard Berkey unit is made of high-quality stainless steel–a good thing. Unfortunately, you can’t see through steel, and the unit is so large you may not want to lift it to assess its weight the way you might a portable stainless steel water bottle.
- You have to manually–and repeatedly–add water to the filter to maintain a supply of purified water. Because you can’t see into the unit from outside, it can be difficult to know how much purified water you have on hand. Instead, you’ll need to figure out how much water you use on average and follow a schedule to refill it. This feature isn’t for everyone.
- The units are large and require maintenance and cleaning for proper function. The elements should be replaced every 1,000 gallons of water or every six months (whichever comes first). The more contaminated the water you’re filtering the more often you’ll need to replace filters and clean the unit to prevent clogs. That said, other non-Berkey filters require maintenance as well, so this negative isn’t unique to Berkey.
- The units are big and cleaning the storage tank may not come easily. The Berkey website says you should clean the storage tanks and spigots every month. A Big Berkey unit has a 2.25 gallon-capacity storage tank, which is pretty heavy to repeatedly lift while washing in your kitchen sink or bathtub. Some of my colleagues have Berkey filters and have talked about cleaning the storage tanks of their units to prevent mold growth and that the process isn’t for everyone.
- You can’t test water from Berkey filters at home with TDS meters. Because TDS meters can’t differentiate between healthy and harmful contaminants, and because Berkey filters leave behind healthy contaminants like minerals, you can’t use them to test the quality of Berkey Filters.
Deciding what’s the best water filter for you is a personal decision. The above-mentioned negatives may be deal-breakers for some and non-issues for others. All around, Berkey is very much worthy of your consideration.
Clearly Filtered Water Pitcher
Does any of the following describe you?
- You don’t have room under the sink or on a countertop for a large water filtration system.
- You don’t want to look at a countertop filter everyday.
- The slow filtration-rate of countertop reverse osmosis filters isn’t for you.
- You’re going on vacation and want to take a portable high-quality moderate-storage-capacity water filter with you instead of buying bottled water.
If this sounds like you, I have an effective option that’s right up your alley: the Clearly Filtered Water Pitcher that comprehensively removes harmful contaminants from water. It’s one of the best water filters around–and it requires zero installation in your home.
How Does the Clearly Filtered Water Pitcher Work?
According to the brand’s website, “The Clearly Filtered® Water Pitcher with Affinity® Filtration Technology changes everything, removing an average of 99.7% of 232+ harmful and dangerous tap water contaminants.” That’s more contaminants than any filter on the market. All while leaving behind the healthy minerals you want in your water.15
Clearly Filtered water pitchers work with gravity to remove undesirable contaminants by pulling water through an activated carbon filter. But instead of sending water straight down the unit, the pitcher-filter’s unique components feature various twists, turns, and angles to increase the amount of time water remains in contact with the filter. Remember: more time enables filters to more fully remove contaminants in water.
Here are some specs on the pitchers:
- Reservoir Capacity: The pitcher’s reservoir holds about half a gallon of water and it takes about 20 minutes for water to pass through the filter. So it takes about 40 minutes to produce one gallon of filtered water (if you refill the reservoir). Filtration time can take longer the more contaminated your water is.
- Storage Capacity: The pitcher has a storage capacity of 80 fluid ounces (10 cups).
- Pour Anytime: The pitcher’s design allows you to pour out filtered water while there’s still unfiltered water in the reservoir.
- Durability: The pitcher is made of shatter-proof Tritan®.
What Contaminants Does the Clearly Filtered Pitcher Remove?
Clearly Filtered water pitchers are small but mighty when it comes to removing contaminants in water. They remove:
- Benzene and VOCs
- Dirt and sediment
- And more.
Between Clearly Filtered’s effectiveness, awesome filtration rate, reservoir and storage capacities, shatter-proof design, and ability to pour even while the unit is filtering–all for around $100–it easily stacks up as one of the best water filters around.
Limitations of the Clearly Filtered Pitcher
- Filter Replacement: The filter in the Clearly Filtered pitcher needs to be replaced after filtering 100 gallons of water. On average, this equals about every three to four months. If you have heavily contaminated water, you’ll want to replace the filters more often. Personally, I don’t see this as a downside because all filters require upkeep. And this filter is so comprehensive, it’s worth it.
- Pitcher Capacity: A 10-cup capacity should be sufficient for many households, but could pose a problem for very large households.
- Material: According to the company’s website, “the pitcher is made of a material called Tritan®. It is a medical-grade, premium plastic free of BPA (Bisphenol A), BPS (Bisphenol S), and EA (estrogenic activity).”16,17
Many conscious, informed consumers, like you, know BPA-free plastics aren’t necessarily toxin-free. But Tritan® has a pretty solid track record. Check out the company’s website for yourself (links in the References section at the bottom of this article).
Plus, if this is your deal-breaker, you can always transfer filtered water to another container for storage. This pitcher-filter is so comprehensive in removing harmful contaminants in water it’s worth it to make use of the technology–especially if you can’t install an under-sink water filter and Berkey isn’t for you.
I’ve also spoken with Clearly Filtered’s owner and (as of the writing of this article) the company plans to make non-Tritan® pitchers (like glass) soon.
- You can’t test for contaminants at home with a TDS meter. Clearly Filtered pitchers remove the bad stuff but leave behind healthy minerals, which are technically contaminants. Remember: TDS meters can’t tell the difference between healthy and harmful contaminants. I don’t consider this a problem because the company has done such a great job of testing its technology.
With all that said, Clearly Filtered still comes out as one of the best water filters in my book.
The Best Portable Water Filters
You won’t always have access to the filtered water waiting for you at home. That’s why I compiled a list of my top choices for portable water bottle filters because we always need access to safe drinking water.
Puribloc’s GoPure Water Purifier
One of my top picks for the best water filter to remove chemical toxins from sanitized water on-the-go is PuriBloc’s GoPure Water Purifier.
From the company’s website: “Inside the Pod is an advanced, highly porous ceramic made from food grade minerals of biogenic origin. Processed with patented technology the GoPure Pod continuously attracts and adsorbs impurities, balances pH and releases valuable trace minerals. The result is fresh, great-tasting drinking water!”18
This little pod:
- Removes the big-offender contaminants in water: 99% of lead and arsenic, and 97% of chlorine and fluoride from tap water.
- Adds vital trace minerals.
- Is good for up to six months or 264 gallons of water.
- Can be used in any container. (Although, I would suggest using a non-plastic water bottle–either glass or high-quality stainless steel–because plastic leaches all kinds of chemicals.)
- Can even be used as a dedicated pod in your pet’s water bowl to purify and prevent biofilm build-up (that slimy stuff you don’t want your pet ingesting).
Plus, you can combine GoPure with your current high-quality at-home water filter to take purification up many notches–removing impurities your filter leaves behind and adding healthy minerals. Again, I said high-quality at-home filter. I wouldn’t be a fan of combining GoPure with the likes of inferior filters like Brita (and ew, that cheap plastic pitcher!).
Grayl UltraLight Water Purifier Bottle
My pick for the best portable water filter–that’s actually its own bottle–for unsanitized water is Grayl. It’s perfect for camping, backpacking, and traveling to non-industrialized countries that don’t have sanitized water.
Boy, did I do my research into Grayl and seemingly similar products. I spent days scouring Google, Amazon, you name it. I pored over countless websites, FAQs, and reviews. I compared and cross-compared. Grayl truly seemed like the best for purifying water from biological contaminants and more.
I read Grayl’s Amazon product page, which says the water bottle filter “removes 99.9999% of viruses (e.g. Hepatitis A, SARS, Rotavirus); 99.9999% of disease-causing bacteria (e.g. E. coli, Salmonella, Cholera); and 99.999% of protozoan cysts (e.g. Giardia, Cryptosporidium),” while also filtering “particulates (e.g. sediment, silt), many chemicals (e.g. chlorine, benzene) and heavy metals (e.g. lead, arsenic)” and has “zero aftertaste, eliminates bad odors, [and] improves clarity and flavor.”
Still, as I was researching, I wanted reassurance from a trusted personal and authoritative source. So I asked my good friend, Justin Klein, who runs Justin-Klein.com, the labyrinthine Calgon-take-me-away blog also known as “Life of a Traveling Programmer.”
Justin spends most months out of the year living abroad in non-industrialized nations–nations without the kind of water sanitization we take for granted here in the States, and the rest of the “developed world.”
I felt a gush of gratitude and confidence when Justin said he uses Grayl for all his travels abroad. Sold.
A few years ago, I traveled to Peru. I was stoked to confidently use my Grayl bottle to purify what I knew was super-contaminated tap water.
Clearly Filtered Pitcher
I know we’ve already discussed this powerful pitcher, but it deserves another mention as a portable water filter option.
Clearly Filtered straddles both categories, acting as both an in-home countertop pitcher water filter and a portable water filter for travel. Of course, you can’t tote the pitcher in your purse, but it’s technically portable and great for long vacations, especially those that involve multiple people (i.e. renting a house for a family vacation or reunion). It’s my top pick for the best water filter for extended vacations that require access to greater volumes of water.
Travel tip: you can put the pitcher in your suitcase and fill it with socks, underwear–anything really. This way, it will barely take up space in your suitcase.
- Even if you have access to sanitized water, there still are contaminants that could be hiding in your tap water. Don’t assume your water is safe.
- The three main categories of contaminants in water are physical, biological, and chemical.
- My top picks for the best water filters in-home are reverse osmosis, Berkey, and the Clearly Filtered pitcher.
- My top picks for the best portable water filters are Puribloc’s GoPure Water Purifier, Grayl Ultralight Water Purifier Bottles, and the Clearly Filtered Pitcher.
- Quality water is essential for good health every day of your life. You should never cut corners when it comes to water, whether with time or money. Incorporating a water filter is one of the best decisions and investments you can make for your long-term health.
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