Why use this type of filter?
Whether on the go or in the home, a water filter pitcher is a convenient, manual solution to filtration. Despite being the most affordable type of filter in this list, a good quality, regularly replaced filter cartridge will reliably purify your water for a better taste and smell. So, if your concern is more culinary than health-hazard, a pitcher filter is a good option.
Cheap. Most pitcher filters come in around the $20-50 mark, while filter bottles and the like can vary depending on the build quality, brand, and overall trendiness. In general, filter refill cartridges cost near, or sometimes even more than, the price of the pitcher itself.
Ease of installation
Other than a quick swap-out of filter cartridges every few months, there’s no installation to worry about here. Just fill up and you’re good to go!
Level of filtration
According to the same Consumer Reports article, the purifying power of pitcher filters varies widely—the most of any type of filter on this list—so buyer beware!
As far as the well-known brands go, you can feel confident that a pitcher filter will improve water flavor, remove odors, and protect you from a certain level of irritants and pollutants. Most pitchers and bottles use carbon/charcoal filtration, which works through adsorption. This means that contaminants are naturally bound to the surface area of the carbon as water passes through the filter.
Most carbon filters are only able to capture organic (carbon-based) chemical contaminants and do not filter for bacteria or viruses. But they should be effective at filtering chlorine and most metals.
With pitchers being such a simple solution, it can be easy to forget to change filter cartridges. Most pitchers use a timer or pour-counter to estimate filter lifespan, while many bottles and charcoal filters have no way of marking filter purity level.
If your taste-buds are on point, you could rely on your senses to detect when you need a new filter (if your tap water is noticeably bad, this isn’t so difficult). Alternatively, most filters come with an estimated lifespan, so it’s simple enough to mark a calendar or set yourself another kind of reminder.
If the filter has suddenly started running very slowly, that’s another signal that it’s time for a replacement.