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BRITA Ultramax Review

Overall, the Ultramax didn't impress us all that much
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Price:   $32 List | $28 at Amazon
Pros:  Did well at removing chlorine, easy to dispense
Cons:  Didn’t do well in the lead, salt removal metrics
Manufacturer:   BRITA
By Austin Palmer, David Wise, and Jenna Ammerman  ⋅  Nov 8, 2019
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41
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#11 of 12
  • Lead Removal - 25% 3
  • Chlorine Removal - 25% 7
  • Salt Removal - 25% 1
  • Taste - 15% 6
  • Flow - 10% 4

Our Verdict

While the BRITA Ultramax did do alright in some of our tests, it overall delivered a fairly lackluster score and isn't one of our favorite filters that we have tested to date. It did do well at removing chlorine in our tests but wasn't terribly impressive at removing lead or salt. It also can take a long time to filter more water once it runs empty.


Compare to Similar Products

 
This Product
BRITA Ultramax
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award  
Price $32 List
$27.99 at Amazon
$35 List
$28.73 at Amazon
$38 List
$34.50 at Amazon
$200 List
$186.80 at Amazon
$260 List
$189.95 at Amazon
Star Rating
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Pros Did well at removing chlorine, easy to dispenseFantastic at removing impurities, makes great tasting water, inexpensiveGreat contaminant removal, fairly inexpensiveGreat at removing both lead and chlorine, makes great tasting waterPerformed well in our lead removal, chlorine removal, and salt removal tests
Cons Didn’t do well in the lead, salt removal metricsSmaller capacity, takes some time to refill and refilterSlow flow rateMediocre flow rate, priceyLow flow rate, pricey
Bottom Line Overall, the Ultramax didn’t impress us all that muchDoing a fantastic job in most of our tests, the ZeroWater combines an amazing performance with an even better priceThe ZeroWater 23-Cup Jug is the best bet for anyone who wants a little more filtered water on hand than the standard pitcher providesThe best filter for permanent installation that we have seen to dateThis relatively expensive under the sink model was outperformed by products that cost much less
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Rating Categories BRITA Ultramax ZeroWater 10-Cup... ZeroWater 23-Cup Jug iSpring RCC7 APEC Essence ROES-50
Lead Removal (25%)
10
0
3
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
Chlorine Removal (25%)
10
0
7
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
Salt Removal (25%)
10
0
1
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
9
Taste (15%)
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
Flow (10%)
10
0
4
10
0
5
10
0
4
10
0
5
10
0
4
Specs BRITA Ultramax ZeroWater 10-Cup... ZeroWater 23-Cup Jug iSpring RCC7 APEC Essence ROES-50
Model Pitcher 10 Cup Pitcher RCC7 Essence ROES-50
Replacement Schedule Brita Standard (White) Filter: every 40 gallons (about 2 months) 18,000 mg of disolved solids; 1-40 gallons 18,000 mg of disolved solids; 1-40 gallons Stage 1 - 3 every 6 months
RO every 2 - 3 years
Post carbon every 12 months
Stage 1, 2, 3 Pre-Filters Every 6 - 12 months
Stage 4 RO Membrane Every 2 - 4 Years
Stage 5 Carbon Post-Filter Every 2 - 4 Years
Replacement Cost Standard: 1 for $7, 3 for $15 2 for $30
4 for $40
8 for $90
12 for $115
16 for $150
2 for $30
4 for $40
8 for $90
12 for $115
16 for $150
2 year supply for $100 Stages 1-3 for $27
RO for $45
Carbon for $10
Pure Water to Waste Water Ratio N/A N/A N/A ~1:3 ~ 1:5
Gallons Per Day (GPD) N/A N/A N/A 75 50
NSF/ANSI certified for lead removal No Yes Yes Yes No
NSF/ANSI certified for organic contaminants removal No No No Yes No

Our Analysis and Test Results

We did like the dispenser on the Ultramax, as water keeps flowing once you open it and you don't have to keep holding it open like you do with other models. However, we didn't think this even came close to redeeming its otherwise lackluster performance in our tests.

Performance Comparison


The Ultramax didn't do the best in our lead removal test.
The Ultramax didn't do the best in our lead removal test.

Lead Removal


To test and score the lead removal abilities of each filter, we ran lead-tainted water through each product, then took samples of the filtered water and the contaminated supply and sent them to a water quality testing lab for precise analysis. This accounts for 25% of each filter's final score, with the BRITA Ultramax, unfortunately, scoring below average.


The Ultramax removed about 83.4% of the lead from the contaminated supply but the filtered water still had lead concentrations that were significantly higher than what the EPA considers a safe level.

This filter couldn't handle the high concentrations of chlorine in our torture test  letting a noticeable amount through.
This filter couldn't handle the high concentrations of chlorine in our torture test, letting a noticeable amount through.

Chlorine Removal


Next, we moved on to assessing the dechlorinating skills of each filter, which also makes up 25% of each product's total score. The BRITA Ultramax did quite a bit better in this metric, earning an above-average score.


In this metric, we used chlorine bleach added to the supply as our contaminant and measured the before and after concentration with chemical test strips. We scored each filter's performance in two separate tests: one with extremely high levels of chlorine (1300+ ppm) and one with more moderate levels (20-50 ppm).

The Ultramax did do fairly well when the supply water only had moderate chlorine levels.
The Ultramax did do fairly well when the supply water only had moderate chlorine levels.

The Ultramax didn't do very well with the heavily chlorinated water, with the test strip continuing to max out after filtration. However, it did drop the chlorine levels to around 1 ppm with the moderately chlorinated supply.

The Ultramax failed to impress with its salt removal abilities.
The Ultramax failed to impress with its salt removal abilities.

Salt Removal


The Ultramax's performance dropped again in our salt removal test, which is equivalent to lead and chlorine removal in importance, also accounting for one-fourth of the final score. We measured the concentration of dissolved table salt with a TDS meter before and after filtering, with the BRITA Ultramax delivering one of the worst performances of the entire group.


This filter pitcher essentially failed to remove any salt, with the concentration only dropping by 4% or so according to our meter.

The Ultramax didn't score the best in our blind taste tests.
The Ultramax didn't score the best in our blind taste tests.

Taste


Our taste testing process is twofold. First, we ran purified water through each filter and tasted it to make sure the Ultramax isn't adding any unsavory flavors. Second, we ran some very unpleasant tasting water through the filter — flavored with chlorine and salt — to see if this pitcher from BRITA could make it taste a bit better. We had a panel of judges rate the taste of the water before and after to determine scores. The BRITA did a little better than average in this metric — worth 15% of the total score — compared to the rest of the group.


The Ultramax did improve the taste of the salt & chlorine water by dechlorinating it but still left it tasting solidly salty. However, we did like that it didn't impart any negative taste to clean water.

The Ultramax is a little slow to filter more water and refill.
The Ultramax is a little slow to filter more water and refill.

Flow


We focused on the flow rate of each water filter for this final metric, which is responsible for the remaining tenth of the final score. We awarded points based on the time it took the BRITA to filter and dispense a quart of water. It was a little on the slower side in our tests, earning it a fairly lackluster score.


This pitcher took 34 seconds to fill up a quart container if it was already full but takes just over four minutes if you need to wait for it to filter more water.

We did appreciate that you don't have to hold down the lever while filling up a glass or pitcher.
We did appreciate that you don't have to hold down the lever while filling up a glass or pitcher.

Value


The Ultramax isn't too expensive but overall scored quite badly in our tests, so it isn't the best budget buy we have seen.

Conclusion


While we did find a few things to praise about the BRITA Ultramax, it overall failed to impress. It can remove chlorine from your water but based on our tests but didn't do well with salt or lead. It's not the worst we have seen but we vastly preferred similar models that perform better at roughly the same price point.


Austin Palmer, David Wise, and Jenna Ammerman