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Best Water Filters of 2019

Though this pitcher does have a high flow rate  provided you don't exceed the capacity of the pitcher  as it takes a decent amount of time to filter more water.
Friday November 8, 2019
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After comparing close to 75 different water filters available today, we bought the top 12 models to test head-to-head and see which filter topped them all. We looked at under the sink, faucet-mount, and filter pitchers in this review, ranking and scoring their performance at extracting contaminants from water, how they made water taste, and their flow rates. We built a custom testing setup to compare the performance side-by-side and had an independent water quality lab measure our before and after samples to determine precisely what these filters do to your water. Take a look at the full review to see which pitcher came out on top, which is the best permanently installed model, and which is the best budget buy.


Top 12 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 12
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Awards Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award   
Price $35 List
$28.70 at Amazon
$38 List
$34.50 at Amazon
$200 List
$186.80 at Amazon
$530 List
$436.28 at Amazon
$260 List
$189.95 at Amazon
Star Rating
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Pros Fantastic at removing impurities, makes great tasting water, inexpensiveGreat contaminant removal, fairly inexpensiveGreat at removing both lead and chlorine, makes great tasting waterGreat tasting water, excellent at removing lead and chlorinePerformed well in our lead removal, chlorine removal, and salt removal tests
Cons Smaller capacity, takes some time to refill and refilterSlow flow rateMediocre flow rate, priceyVery priceyLow flow rate, pricey
Bottom Line Doing 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 dateThe HydroPerfection is a fantastic product but is prohibitively expensiveThis relatively expensive under the sink model was outperformed by products that cost much less
Overall Score Sort Icon
100
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94
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93
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91
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91
100
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90
Rating Categories ZeroWater 10-Cup... ZeroWater 23-Cup Jug iSpring RCC7 Home Master... APEC Essence ROES-50
Lead Removal (25%)
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
Chlorine Removal (25%)
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
Salt Removal (25%)
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
9
Taste (15%)
10
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9
10
0
9
10
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9
10
0
9
10
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9
Flow (10%)
10
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5
10
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4
10
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5
10
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7
10
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4
Specs ZeroWater 10-Cup... ZeroWater 23-Cup Jug iSpring RCC7 Home Master... APEC Essence ROES-50
Model 10 Cup Pitcher RCC7 TMHP Essence ROES-50
Replacement Schedule 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
Filter Set changed annually
RO changed every 3 - 5 years
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 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 Filter Set for $130
RO for $100
Stages 1-3 for $27
RO for $45
Carbon for $10
Pure Water to Waste Water Ratio N/A N/A ~1:3 1:1 ~ 1:5
Gallons Per Day (GPD) N/A N/A 75 75 50
NSF/ANSI certified for lead removal Yes Yes Yes N/A No
NSF/ANSI certified for organic contaminants removal No No Yes N/A No

Best Filter Overall


ZeroWater 10-Cup Pitcher


Editors' Choice Award
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$28.70
(18% off)
at Amazon
See It

94
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Lead Removal 10
  • Chlorine Removal 10
  • Salt Removal 10
  • Taste 9
  • Flow 5
Style: Pitcher | Capacity: 10 Cups
Inexpensive
Fantastic at filtering out impurities
Makes great tasting water
Mediocre flow rate if using more than 10 cups at a time

Earning the top score out of the entire group and outperforming models that cost over ten times as much, the ZeroWater 10-Cup is our top recommendation for most people. This filter delivered an exemplary performance in all of our impurity removal tests, delivering a particularly standout performance when it came to removing salts. It also did very well in our taste test, greatly enhancing the taste of our contaminated water and failing to impart any negative flavors on pure water.

However, this pitcher only has a 10-cup capacity, causing it to deliver an unimpressive performance in our flow rate test. It pours already filtered water very quickly, but it does take a decent amount of time to refill and re-filter the water. Regardless, this is still an amazing product at an even better price and is our absolute favorite water filter that we have tested.

Read Full Review: ZeroWater 10-Cup Pitcher

Another Great Filter Choice


ZeroWater 23-Cup Jug


Editors' Choice Award
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$34.50
(9% off)
at Amazon
See It

93
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Lead Removal 10
  • Chlorine Removal 10
  • Salt Removal 10
  • Taste 9
  • Flow 4
Style: Pitcher/Dispenser | Capacity: 23 Cups
Removed majority of contaminants in our test
Fairly inexpensive
Filtered water tastes great
Slow to refill

If you don't want to constantly be refilling the ZeroWater 10-Cup, then you should check out their larger 23-Cup Jug. This product uses the identical filter as the 10-Cup model, so it is just as impressive when it comes to removing contaminants like salt, lead, or chlorine from your water. Our judges agreed the resultant filter water tastes great and the filter didn't add any negative taste to clean water that passed through as well.

The 23-Cup is quite a bit larger and is much better suited to remaining in your fridge or on your counter as a dispenser rather than carrying it around like you would with a pitcher. We also wished that you didn't need to hold down the button to keep water flowing and that it filtered fresh water a bit faster. Regardless, it's one of our top recommendations for anyone who needs more filtered water readily available than a 10-cup pitcher will provide and isn't ready to make the leap to a large and expensive under the sink option or sacrifice performance with a filter-mount.

Read Full Review: ZeroWater 23-Cup Jug

Best Under the Sink Filter


iSpring RCC7


Editors' Choice Award
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$186.80
(7% off)
at Amazon
See It

91
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Lead Removal 10
  • Chlorine Removal 10
  • Salt Removal 9
  • Taste 9
  • Flow 5
Style: Under the Sink | Capacity: 3.2 Gallons
Large capacity
Great at removing lead and chlorine
Lower flow rate
Pricey

If you think that the continually filling up a pitcher water filter or you need a much larger capacity than a pitcher, then you should consider the ISpring RCC7. This under the sink filter delivered a fantastic performance in our lead and chlorine removal tests and a great job in our sodium removal assessments. This filter makes the water taste crisp and clean and doesn't impart any negative flavors.

However, this product is definitely on the more expensive side, both initially and when purchasing replacement filters. The RCC7 is a much larger system that will eat up a non-trivial amount of space under your sink and has a much more involved installation process. It also has a relatively mediocre flow rate. Despite all of this, it is still our first choice when it comes to under the sink water filters, making it a great option for someone who wants clean and great tasting filtered water on tap at all times.

Read Full Review: iSpring RCC7

Best Value for Under the Sink Filters


APEC WFS-1000


Best Buy Award
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$136.36
(24% off)
at Amazon
See It

72
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Lead Removal 10
  • Chlorine Removal 10
  • Salt Removal 2
  • Taste 5
  • Flow 9
Style: Under the Sink | Capacity: N/A
Great value
High flow rate
Poor performance in our sodium removal test
Mediocre results in our taste test

If you got sticker shock at the price of the iSpring but are still set on an under the sink filter, then consider the APEC WFS-1000. This product costs quite a bit less and has only a slight drop in performance compared to the iSpring, making it an excellent option if you are shopping on a budget. This model does an excellent job of removing both lead and chlorine from the water and has an exceptionally high flow rate.

Unfortunately, this model does a relatively abysmal job of extracting sodium from the water. It also didn't do an amazing job in our taste tests. It doesn't impart any bad flavors in pure water, but we definitely could taste residual traces of salt and chlorine in our contaminated water test. This filter also will take up a decent amount of the space under your sink and will take a bit of time to install. However, if you are trying to save some cash on an under the sink filter and don't mind salts in your water, then the WFS-1000 is an excellent choice.

Read Full Review: APEC WFS-1000

Best Faucet Mount Filter


Brita SAFF-100


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$21.29
(29% off)
at Amazon
See It

53
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Lead Removal 6
  • Chlorine Removal 9
  • Salt Removal 1
  • Taste 5
  • Flow 5
Key Metric: Faucet Mount | Capacity: N/A
Did well in our chlorine removal test
Inexpensive
Lackluster showing in our lead removal test
Did not remove any salts

While the BRITA SAFF-100 didn't distinguish itself overall, it is our favorite option of the faucet mount variety. It did very well at removing chlorine and has a mediocre flow rate.

However, this filter is a disappointment when it came to extracting lead or salts from the water. It also didn't do an amazing job of making contaminated water taste great. Regardless, it is a great value pick and the best option if you aren't interested in a pitcher or permanent under the sink system.

Read Full Review: BRITA SAFF-100


Testing multiple water filters required quite the tangle of tubing.
Testing multiple water filters required quite the tangle of tubing.

Why You Should Trust Us?


We bought all the water filters in this review ourselves — no free or sample models from manufacturers. We have been testing water filters for over 12 months now, even going so far as to build a custom testing rig with an isolated water supply so we could control the contaminants going in and out of the system. We used various contaminants and testing methods to measure the actual filtration power of each filter, even going so far as to send samples out to a professional water quality testing lab to get extremely accurate lead results.

Related: How We Tested Water Filters


Analysis and Test Results


We divided our review process into five weighted testing metrics: a trio of impurity removal tests, a taste test, and a water flow rate test. For the impurity removal tests, we used an isolated contaminated water supply with either lead, chlorine, or salt, then ran it through each filter and sent both the supply and the filtered water off for analysis. We had a panel of judges rate and rank the taste of each water for the taste metric, looking both at how well each filter removed unsavory compounds and if it added any undesirable tastes to clean water. Finally, we measured how long it took to dispense and filter a quart of water in each product for our flow metric.

Related: Buying Advice for Water Filters

Value


Surprisingly, our overall winner, the ZeroWater 10-Cup Pitcher is an excellent value. This product delivered the best score overall and has one of the lowest prices of the entire group. If this one is still too expensive, the BRITA SAFF-100 is a few bucks cheaper, but this reduction does come with a substantial drop in price. If under sink filters are more your style, then either the iSpring RCC7 or the APEC WFS-1000 Super Capacity are fantastic options. The RCC7 performs a little better, but the APEC is a better option if you are looking for a better bang for the buck.

Proper precautions were used when handling and disposing of lead.
Proper precautions were used when handling and disposing of lead.

Lead Removal


Our Lead Removal metric accounts for 25% of the total score for each filter. To score the performance of each filter, we conducted a single test: the percentage of lead removed from the supply. We dissolved lead shavings in vinegar and hydrogen peroxide, then seeded the isolated water supply tank until it reached a concentration of 2.3 ppm — well above the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) legal limit of 0.015 ppm for drinking water. We then ran this contaminated water through each filter and collected samples to send to a local lab for testing.


Several filters tied for the top spot, with the ZeroWater Pitcher, the ZeroWater 23-Cup Jug, the Home Master HydroPerfection, the iSpring RCC7, the APEC Essence, and the APEC WFS-1000 all receiving perfect scores for their fantastic performance. Each of these products removed at least 99% of the lead from the contaminated water, dropping the lead levels in the filtered water to well below the safe limits as defined by the EPA.

Unfortunately, the remainder of the filters in the group failed to mitigate the contamination to a level below the acceptable amount. The closest to the EPA level in our test was the BRITA SAFF-100, earning it a 6 out of 10. This pitcher filter reduced the lead levels to about 0.066 ppm — still over four times the acceptable level.

The Aquagear was next, reducing the lead level considerably, but still leaving it about nine times higher than the EPA acceptable level. However, we added this filter as a subsequent update and its initial lead level was much higher than many of the other ones, so it still removed 99.0% of the lead in our tests, so we did award it a 9 out of 10 for its lead removal performance.

The Woder, the BRITA Pitcher, and the BRITA Ultramax all followed, reducing the lead levels to 0.16 ppm, 0.38 ppm, and 0.38 ppm, respectively. The Ultramax and the BRITA Pitcher use interchangeable filter cartridges, so we used the same results for both products. This translates to exceeding the acceptable level by about 10.5 times for the Woder and 25 times for the BRITA products, earning these filters a 4 and a 3 out of 10.

Finishing at the back of the group, the PUR delivered extremely poor performance. The PUR did very poorly, only reducing the lead concentration to 0.91 ppm, a whopping 60 times more than the EPA level. Consequently, the PUR earned the lowest score possible of 1 out of 10 when it came to lead removal.

We used both testing indicator strips and a TDS meter to measure the level of contaminants in the water.
We used both testing indicator strips and a TDS meter to measure the level of contaminants in the water.

Chlorine Removal


Next, we looked at how well each filter did at removing chlorine for this metric, also worth 25% of the total score for each water filter. To assess the performance of each filter, we conducted two tests: a chlorine torture test with incredibly high levels and one with more moderate levels. This translated to about 1370 ppm in the torture test and 20-50 ppm in the moderate level, with the typical pool having 1-4 ppm for reference. We used chlorine bleach to spike the levels in our supply and measured the concentration using chlorine test strips. These strips use a color scale to show the approximate ppm, but the differences between filters were quite severe, making it fairly easy to score their performance.


Again, we had a large group of products tie for the top spot, with the APEC Essence, the WFS-1000, the iSpring RCC7, the ZeroWater 10-Cup Pitcher, the ZeroWater 23-Cup Jug, and the Home Master HydroPerfection all earned a perfect score for their excellence at extracting chlorine from water.

All of these filters removed essentially all of the chlorine from the water, with the test strip failing to indicate any color in both our torture and moderate chlorine test — a particularly impressive feat, given the extremely high concentration of chlorine in the supply water for the torture test.

Following this top performance, the BRITA SAFF-100 and the Aquagear both merited a 9 out of 10 for their excellent performance. While SAFF-100 removed all of the chlorine from the 20-50 ppm supply water, it left some residual chlorine after the torture test — somewhere between 10-20 ppm.

The Aquagear matched the performance of the SAFF-100 in the mellower chlorine removal challenge, also removing all of the chlorine to the point that both the meter and the test strips registered 0 ppm. However, it did even better than the BRITA with the chlorine torture test, dropping the level to below 10 ppm.

The Aquagear ready for testing.
The Aquagear ready for testing.

The PUR FM-2000B came next, again removing all of the chlorine from the lower concentration supply. However, our test strips indicated over 20 ppm remaining in the water from the high concentration supply after we ran it through the filter. This earned the PUR an 8 out of 10.

The Woder 10K-Gen3, the BRITA Everyday Pitcher, and the BRITA Ultramax each received a 7 out of 10. These filters actually did fairly well at removing the chlorine when the supply was only moderately chlorinated, with the Woder reducing it to 0 ppm and the pair of BRITA filters dropping the concentration to 1 ppm — according to our chemical test strips. However, all three of these models left a concentration of well over 20 ppm behind when we ran the high concentration supply water through them, exceeding the maximum range of our test strips

The test strips change color in response to the concentration of various contaminants.
The test strips change color in response to the concentration of various contaminants.

Salt Removal


Similar to our other two impurity removal metrics, dissolved salt removal also is responsible for 25% of the total score. We used standard table salt as our sample salt and used a Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) meter to measure the concentration. We found that this meter would tend to give us slightly different results each time, on the order of plus or minus up to 20 parts per million (ppm), so we conducted multiple trials for each filter and took the median result to determine scores. Our supply water started with a concentration of about 445 ppm, with many of the filters struggling substantially in this test.


Breaking the trend, the ZeroWater 10-Cup Pitcher and the 23-Cup Jug are the top filters of the entire group in this metric, meriting a 10 out of 10 for their unparalleled performance at purifying water with dissolved salts in it. These filters completely extracted all of the salt in our test, with our TDS meter showing a reading of either 0 ppm or 1 ppm in the freshly filtered water.
Using the included TDS meter to measure the filtered water produced by the ZeroWater.
Using the included TDS meter to measure the filtered water produced by the ZeroWater.

Next, the iSpring RCC7 and the APEC Essence both earned a 9 out of 10 for their excellent performances. These filters removed the bulk of the dissolved salt, leaving concentrations of about 21 ppm and 16 ppm, respectively — over a 95% reduction from the supply!

The Home Master HydroPerfection came next and is the last of the filters that did well in this metric, earning an 8 out of 10 for its efforts. This under the sink filter reduced the salt concentration to around 49 ppm.

Finishing next, the APEC WFS-1000 proved to be a bit of a disappointment, delivering a very poor performance that was a stark contrast to its prior excellent showing. This water filter merited a 2 out of 10, only reducing the salt concentration by about 40 ppm, putting it around 405 ppm in total.

Rounding out the back of the group, the remaining filters (BRITA SAFF-100, BRITA Pitcher, BRITA Ultramax, Aquagear, PUR, and Woder) all earned a 1 out of 10. These filters all have activated carbon filters, which the majority of aren't designed for removing dissolved salts, though there are a few that will with multiple stages. None of these five filters reduced the concentration of salt in the slightest, with any reductions being well within the variation of the TDS meter.

We had a panel taste and rate the filtered water produced by each filter.
We had a panel taste and rate the filtered water produced by each filter.

Taste


After our impurity removal triad, we moved on to what most people will immediately notice when using these products: Taste. To assess the performance of each filter in this metric, worth 15% of the overall score, we made a batch of foul-tasting water by mixing a decent amount of both salt and chlorine into our supply tank. We then ran this water through each of the filters and had a panel of tasters blindly taste and score each water. Additionally, we also ran pure water through each filter and repeated the process, to see if any of the filters degraded the taste of the water.


Some familiar faces claimed the top spot, with the ZeroWater 10-Cup, the ZeroWater 23-Cup, the HydroPerfection, the iSpring, and the APEC Essence all earning a 9 out of 10 for the superior tasting water that they produced. This quartet all removed any taste of chlorine and salt, producing clear, crisp, and refreshing water. They also failed to impart any taste on the pure water, leaving it untainted.

The Aquagear Filter Pitcher followed, earning a 7 out of 10. This filter made the nasty tasting chlorine/saltwater taste significantly better by removing most of the chlorine taste, but the taste of salt was still quite prevalent. However, it did do well in the second test by leaving already clean water tasting fine, although some of our judges did note that the filtered water tasted a bit more "bland" after it went through the Aquagear.

Next, the BRITA Everyday Pitcher and the BRITA Ultramax earned the second-highest score of 6 out of 10, slightly redeeming their earlier lackluster performances. These didn't impart any negative taste on the pure water, but neither could completely remove the gross taste of our tainted supply water. Our tasting panel didn't think that it necessarily tasted bad but unanimously agreed that something just didn't taste quite right.

The Brita failed to reduce our heavily-leaded supply water to levels considered safe by the EPA.
The Brita failed to reduce our heavily-leaded supply water to levels considered safe by the EPA.

The APEC WFS-1000 and the SAFF-100 both earned a 5 out of 10 for their mediocre performance. This pair also didn't degrade pure water, but there was a noticeably undesirable taste left behind. The water samples weren't quite undrinkable but were well on the way there.

The FM-2000B and the Woder came next, both earning a 4 out of 10 for their substandard performances. The PUR left behind distinct traces of chlorine when filtering the tainted water, while the Woder created significantly saltier water. At this point, none of our testers felt that they would continue to drink this water voluntarily. On top of that, this pair also imparted a slightly funky taste to the pure water, with the Woder, in particular, leaving an odd salty aftertaste.

The iSpring is our favorite of the under the sink filters.
The iSpring is our favorite of the under the sink filters.

Flow


For the final metric of our test, responsible for the residual 10% of the total score, we evaluated and scored the flow rate for each product. We timed how long it took to fill up a quart container. Each filtration system was full at the start of the test with that time not included in our score, but we did keep the clock running if the system ran out of filtered water and had to filter more. There was a bit of a shift to the usual order.


The Woder claimed the top spot in a stunning upset, earning a 10 out of 10. This filter only took 12 seconds to fill a quart container — just slightly longer than the 9 seconds it took the unimpeded faucet.

Next, the APEC WFS-1000 earned a 9 out of 10 for its exceptionally high flow rate, almost matching the top models. It only took about 15 seconds for the APEC to fill the test container.

After this top trio of performers, there was a bit of a drop in performance, with the Home Master HydroPerfection taking close to a minute and a half — 84 seconds — to fill the quart container.

The bulk of the filters came next, with the SAFF-100, BRITA Everyday, iSpring, PUR FM-2000B, Aquagear Filter Pitcher, and ZeroWatcher Pitcher all earned a 5 out of 10. The ZeroWater 10-Cup , the Aquagear, and the BRITA Everyday both have exceptionally high flow rates, being pitchers, but all three take a decent amount of time to filter new water, so if you need more water than what is currently in the tank, expect to be waiting for a while.

The ZeroWater 23-Cup, the BRITA Ultramax, the BRITA SAFF-100 and the PUR all just have reduced flow rates for faucet filters, taking about 24, 25, 30, and 34 seconds to fill a quart container, respectively. The iSpring is the slowest of this group, taking 35 seconds to accomplish the task.

Finishing last, the APEC Essence has the lowest flow rate of the overall group, taking 38 seconds to output a quart of water.

Hopefully  this has helped you find the perfect filter!
Hopefully, this has helped you find the perfect filter!

Conclusion


At this point, we hope that we have been helpful when it comes to buying a new water filter in your search for better tasting and cleaner tap water. The main point to take away from this review, even if you forget everything else, is all of these filters are only designed for making potable water better and shouldn't be used to purify non-potable water for drinking use. They aren't a substitute for a dedicated filter designed for camping or backpacking.


Austin Palmer, David Wise, and Jenna Ammerman