We researched over 65 of the top water filters on the market in 2019, then purchased the 10 most compelling models to try out for ourselves and see which one is truly the best. We tested all the main varieties of filters — faucet-mount, under-the-sink, and filter pitchers — comparing and ranking their performance at filtering our various contaminants, the taste of the filtered water, and their flow rates. We constructed a custom testing apparatus to compare their performance side-by-side and sent the filtered water off to an independent water quality lab to measure the exact amount of impurities removed. Check out the complete review below to see which filter came out on top, which is the best bargain buy, and which pitcher we thought was almost perfect.
Best Water Filters of 2019
$28.73 at Amazon
$183.43 at Amazon
$436.28 at Amazon
$189.95 at Amazon
$136.36 at Amazon
|Pros||Fantastic at removing impurities, makes great tasting water, inexpensive||Great at removing both lead and chlorine, makes great tasting water||Great tasting water, excellent at removing lead and chlorine||Performed well in our lead removal, chlorine removal, and salt removal tests||Inexpensive for an under the sink filter, removes tons of lead and chlorine|
|Cons||Smaller capacity, takes some time to refill and refilter||Mediocre flow rate, pricey||Very pricey||Low flow rate, pricey||Filtered water didn’t taste amazing, didn’t remove minerals well|
|Bottom Line||Doing a fantastic job in most of our tests, the ZeroWater combines an amazing performance with an even better price||The best filter for permanent installation that we have seen to date||The HydroPerfection is a fantastic product but is prohibitively expensive||This relatively expensive under the sink model was outperformed by products that cost much less||If you are set on an under the sink filter and are shopping on a budget, the WFS-1000 is the perfect choice|
|Rating Categories||ZeroWater 10-Cup...||iSpring RCC7||Home Master...||APEC Essence ROES-50||APEC WFS-1000|
|Lead Removal (25%)|
|Chlorine Removal (25%)|
|Salt Removal (25%)|
|Specs||ZeroWater 10-Cup...||iSpring RCC7||Home Master...||APEC Essence ROES-50||APEC WFS-1000|
|Model||10 Cup||RCC7||TMHP||Essence ROES-50||WFS-1000|
|Replacement Schedule||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
|Every 12 months|
|Replacement Cost||2 for $30
4 for $50
8 for $90
12 for $120
16 for $160
|2 year supply for $100||Filter Set for $130
RO for $100
|Stages 1-3 for $27
RO for $45
Carbon for $10
|Stages 1-3 for $40|
|Pure Water to Waste Water Ratio||N/A||~1:3||1:1||~ 1:5||N/A|
|Gallons Per Day (GPD)||N/A||75||75||50||N/A|
|NSF/ANSI certified for lead removal||Yes||Yes||N/A||No||No|
|NSF/ANSI certified for organic contaminants removal||No||Yes||N/A||No||No|
Best Filter Overall
ZeroWater 10-Cup Pitcher
Earning the top score out of the entire group and outperforming models that cost over ten times as much, the ZeroWater 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
Best Under the Sink Filter
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 the 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
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 at 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
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
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
To find out which water filter truly topped them all, we bought all the best and tested them against each other in a series of side-by-side challenges. We created a controlled testing setup that allowed us to add impurities to the water supply for each filter and then collect before and after samples to send to a lab for analysis. We used these results, as well as the results of our blind taste and flow rate tests to give a score to each filter in five different weighted rating metrics: Lead Removal, Flow, Taste, Chlorine Removal, and Salt Removal. Additionally, we also looked at the price of each product relative to its performance to help you pick the best product if you are shopping on a tight budget.
Related: Buying Advice for Water Filters
Surprisingly, our overall winner, the ZeroWater 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.
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 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.
Five filters tied for the top spot, with the ZeroWater Pitcher, the Home Master HydroPerfection, the iSpring RCC7, the APEC Essence, and the APEC WFS-1000 all meriting a 10 out of 10. These filters all removed 99% or more of the lead from the supply, bringing the lead levels in the water well below the EPA limit.
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 and the BRITA Pitcher came next, reducing the lead levels to 0.16 ppm and 0.38 ppm, respectively. This translates to exceeding the acceptable level by about 10.5 times and 25 times, 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.
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 Pitcher, and the Home Master HydroPerfection all earned a 10 out of 10 for their superb showing when it came to removing chlorine.
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.
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 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 and the BRITA Everyday Pitcher both received a 7 out of 10. This pair of filters both did very well with the moderate concentration supply, with the Woder reducing it to 0 ppm and the BRITA Everyday dropping the concentration to 1 ppm. However, both 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
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 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 Pitcher is the sole filter at the top, earning a 10 out of 10 for its unmatched performance. This filter completely removed all of the dissolved salts, with our TDS meter either reading 0 ppm or 1 ppm.
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, 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.
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 Zero Water, 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 earned the second-highest score of 6 out of 10, slightly redeeming its previously lackluster performance. This filter didn't impart any negative taste on the pure water, but it couldn't quite remove the negative flavors in our contaminated water test. Our tasting panel didn't think that it necessarily tasted bad but unanimously agreed that something tasted off with it.
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.
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 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 , 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 BRITA SAFF-100 and the PUR both just have reduced flow rates for faucet filters, taking about 25 and 30 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 review has helped you in your quest to get the best tasting and cleanest water for your home. Remember, these filters are all designed for taking already potable water and removing impurities and aren't designed for backcountry use and are definitely not a substitute for a dedicated camping or backpacking filter.
— Austin Palmer, David Wise, and Jenna Ammerman