There are lots of reasons one might opt for a water filter pitcher for their fridge. It's not a secret that tap water isn't a taste for everyone, and some are wary of consuming the chemicals present in their municipality's water. Many swear that using filtered water makes a difference in the taste of their cooking, coffee, and even ice cubes. Stocking up your fridge with stacks of bottled water is not only expensive but isn't exactly environmentally friendly, and those giant cylindrical jugs of water are heavy to cart back from the grocery store and can be a pain to mount into their dispensers.
Both water filter pitchers we selected filtered out contaminants identified by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF International), and for comparison's sake, both pitchers are a standard 10-cup capacity size. We read reviews on the ergonomics and ease of use, taking into consideration how a pitcher feels to hold when it's full and how simple it is to take the lid on and off and switch out filters. We also made note of how quickly the water filters themselves work to produce purified water, realizing some families may end up refilling their pitchers more frequently and may find it an annoying inconvenience to have to wait minutes to access their water.
Unfortunately, neither of these products come with a particularly generous warranty policy, but according to reviews, both models are regarded as effective and reliable.
ZeroWater clarifies water so well that some say they actually don't prefer the taste of water in such a pure form. It even comes with its own meter device for determining how many dissolved solids are hidden in any given sample of water.
Where its competitors use two-stage activated carbon filters, ZeroWater filters deionize the water completely using Ion Exchange Technology. The five-step filtration process removes basically everything from the water, resulting in a "Total Dissolved Solids" (TDS) reading of "000" PPM (parts per million), where its competitors only remove half of those same detectable dissolved solids. When tested independently, ZeroWater beats all other commercial water filters compared to the number of dissolved solids leftover, though it does take a little long for the filter to do its work. At just under two minutes (1:50), some of its competitors take half that time.
The ZeroWater pitcher eliminates contaminants that are dangerous (like lead) and contaminants that commonly affect the taste of your tap water (like chlorine), but also purifies out chemicals that some find improve the taste of water, like magnesium. The handy TDS meter that comes with this product makes it easy to know when it's time to replace the filter, instead of just trying to remember how long it's been since it was last changed. The instructions recommend swapping out the inner filter when the TBS meter reads a "006" PPM, which won't be hard since the company's recycling program is excellent. ZeroWater actually pays you $5 back in coupons for every filter you return, so getting good, clean water doesn't have to mean contributing to landfills.
Yes, this filter pitcher is a little more expensive, but of every water filter on the market, this is the one that'll get you the absolute purest water, if that's what you're after. ZeroWater offers a 90-day warranty on manufacturing defects in their filter pitchers.
Probably the best-known water filter brand, Brita models account for over two-thirds of the water filter pitcher market. The Brita 10-Cup Everyday Water Pitcher is one of the speedier filters, taking only about 40 seconds to produce clarified water that reduces mercury, chlorine, copper, and other contaminants. Consider pairing it with BPA-free, 120-gallon life Brita Longlast Filters, which last the average family 6 months before needing to be changed. These filters are certified to remove 10 contaminants, including over 99% of lead, and filter out asbestos, benzene, and cadmium traces that can affect health if exposed to over a long period of time.
Brita filters work using a sieve and mesh system that act together to screen out larger particles in the water, in combination with carbon granules that soak up contaminants like a sponge.
The Brita Everyday pitcher is easy to use and clean, and is designed to conserve fridge space with its narrow, ovular design. The container itself is made of BPA-free plastic, and the pitcher is lightweight with a handle that's easy to hold onto.
Note that at the moment, only certain premium Brita pitchers on the market actually include the Longlast filter with purchase, but for longevity's sake it's worth buying the pack of 2 the first time your Everyday filter needs replacing. Brita products come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
When choosing any water filter pitcher, one of the biggest favors you can do for yourself is buying a size that accommodates your lifestyle. Pitcher sizes can range from tiny 6-cup capacities (where the filter itself takes up most of the room in the container!) to 12-cups... but past that is where you start entering water filter dispenser territory. You don't want the hassle of having to refill your pitcher multiple times in one day, though on the other hand, your pitcher shouldn't take up so much space in your fridge that you find yourself rearranging your fridge constantly to fit it inside. It's recommended that you take a peek inside your fridge and see what kind of space you're working with before you commit to any size or shape of pitcher.
Maintenance is also a factor to bear in mind. Most water filters will not be dishwasher safe, since the hot air, hot water, and harsh soap could scratch, melt, or otherwise damage parts of the filter. Unfortunately for those who rely heavily on their dishwasher, the majority of filters are meant to be hand cleaned gently with soap and water, so you'll have to look extra hard for a model that's dishwasher compatible.
Upfront cost is an obvious consideration, but many may not turn their mind to how often they'll have to buy new filters and how long those filters will last before another replacement is necessary. When you see a cheap pitcher, look into how long the filters included with its purchase will last before you're obligated to buy new ones. Calculate whether it makes more sense to buy a cheaper pitcher that will need more replacement filters more often, versus a more expensive model that doesn't require replacing as often.
The exact length of time a filter will last will depend on the size of your household and how many dissolved solids are in your municipality's tap water to begin with. If your family is larger and/or tends to drink lots of water, the filter will be used more often and require changing frequently.
As mentioned earlier, just because a water purification system filters out the most chemicals, doesn't mean it's guaranteed to taste the best to you. It turns out some people actually like the taste of water containing specific combinations of certain chemicals, so if you're mainly interested in a water purifier for the sake of taste, it's a good idea to try various water brands for a better sense of the type of filter to invest in.