With more than 30 hours spent testing water filters in our office, we came to the conclusion that the ZeroWater 10-Cup Pitcher is the best water filter pitcher for those who are interested in having the safest and purest water available in the water pitcher market. For those who don’t want to go through the hassle and expense of installing a reverse-osmosis system in their kitchen, ZeroWater filters are the next best thing.
During our testing, we found that ZeroWater filters differ from every other filter on the market. Unlike filters from brands like Brita and PUR, ZeroWater filters actually deionize the water, leaving it almost completely devoid of all inorganic matter, including heavy metals like lead and chromium.
It’s worth noting that other water filters, like Brita, PUR, and MAVEA also remove heavy metals. However, according to authoritative sources like the Water Quality Association and NSF International, ZeroWater is more effective at removing these elements than any other filter.
If you’d like to read our full review, please take a look by clicking here.
Why filtering water is so important
Some might think that using a water filter is an unnecessary luxury, and that municipal tap water is more than sufficient. After all, municipalities claim that tap water is safe to drink, so is a second stage of filtration really necessary?
The fact of the matter is that there are a significant number of benefits associated with using a water filter on your tap water.
First and foremost, it’s true that tap water in most — but not all — municipalities is safe to drink when it leaves the treatment plant. However, tap water travelling through (often aging) pipes can pick up unsafe levels of lead and other unhealthy metals — particularly when the water is sitting in those pipes for an extended period of time.
It’s also true that using a water filter pitcher, such as the ZeroWater filter, is not the only way to filter tap water. However, it is more affordable than expensive filtration installations, such as a reverse-osmosis system. It is also more effective than using filters installed directly onto a faucet.
In terms of convenience, a portable water filter pitcher that fits on your refrigerator shelf and is able to filter water comparably to a reverse-osmosis system is certainly one of the most compelling options currently on the market
Finding the best water filter
During our research, we found that there were three primary factors which should weigh most heavily on your choice of water filter:
The water quality produced by the filter is arguably the most important consideration when choosing a water filter pitcher. After all, filtering out harmful materials is the fundamental reason for purchasing a water filter pitcher — so it should do that job effectively.
The ergonomics of the pitcher are important as well. More specifically, a water pitcher should be easy to hold and carry, and the lid should fit snugly so that pre-filtered water doesn’t spill out when carrying the pitcher from the sink back to the refrigerator.
Finally, the water should taste “good”. Taste is largely an individual preference, however at the very least your filtered water should taste clean. The removal of chlorine and other metals can contribute significantly to water taste.
Some would say that the amount of time a filter takes to filter water matters as well. Ultimately, we think this should be a fairly minor consideration, since you’ll typically already have the pitcher filled with water when it’s actually time to drink.
What makes ZeroWater filters different
The ZeroWater filter works differently than the other water filters you can buy. For the most part, water filter pitchers use activated carbon and an ion-exchange resin, which causes contaminants like chlorine and metals to attach to the filter — allowing purified water to flow through.
ZeroWater is different because it utilizes a 5-stage filtering process, which includes an ion exchange stage and activated carbon stage. Ultimately, ZeroWater filters produce water that is almost entirely devoid of harmful contaminants, and produces water similar to the water produced by a reverse osmosis or distillation process.
What we liked about the ZeroWater pitcher
There were a lot of things we really liked about the ZeroWater filter. For starters, ZeroWater is so confident in their ability to remove all dissolved solids that they include a total dissolved solids (TDS) meter with the pitcher itself. And yes, it does read “000”.
We also like the fact that the filters don’t need to be presoaked before they are ready to go — a notable advantage over several of the other leading brands.
The ZeroWater pitcher is also quite ergonomic. In addition to being easy to hold, there is a spout on the bottom of the pitcher, which makes it easy to pour water into a cup without taking the entire pitcher out of the refrigerator.
ZeroWater also helps reduce the environmental impact of their filters by offing a recycling and rebate program. While speaking with the CEO of ZeroWater, Doug Kallam, he told us that the filters are able to be completely recycled and recharged, which means essentially nothing ends up in a landfill.
In addition to processing the recycling of their filters, ZeroWater also offers a $10 rebate coupon for every two filters that are mailed back to them. This is primarily to offset the cost of shipping, however there should be a few dollars leftover to help buy your next batch of filters too.
ZeroWater also occasionally offers discounts to their customers, so make sure to subscribe to their mailing list if you’re interested in getting a better price on your ZeroWater filters.
ZeroWater’s place in the market
While conducting our research to determine the best overall water filter pitcher on the market, we had an in-depth conversation with the CEO of ZeroWater, Doug Kallam. He explained to us that ZeroWater is by no means the largest company in the water filter market, nor do they wish to be.
Doug explained that the water filters used by ZeroWater are more complex and, by their very nature, more expensive to produce than water filters from other brands. He explained that ZeroWater’s goal is to provide the best quality water for the sub-segment of the market whose biggest priority is water quality, and not cost or speed of filtration.
In that sense, ZeroWater has been successful, and is the 2nd largest pour-through water filter brand in the market, behind only Brita.
How long do ZeroWater filters last
Like most of the major brands of water filters, ZeroWater is certified by NSF International to remove inorganic matter, metals, pesticides, and volatile organic compounds. One downside to the ZeroWater filter is the fact that, because it filters water so effectively, the filters themselves can be used up more quickly than other filters — further increasing the cost to use ZeroWater filters.
ZeroWater filters are rated to remove 18,000 milligrams of dissolved solids before needing to be replaced. This means that the quantity of dissolved solids in your local tap water will have a dramatic impact on the amount of water that can be filtered.
According to ZeroWater, most consumers in the United States will be able to filter between 25 to 40 gallons of water per filter, assuming that the total dissolved solids (TDS) in their tap water falls between the typical range of 51-200.
ZeroWater also says that municipalities that have particularly high TDS — specifically 500 or higher — will notice that their ZeroWater filters will filter significantly less water before needing to be replaced.
We tested our ZeroWater filter using San Diego tap, which had a typical reading right around 480. Despite ZeroWater’s warnings, we were actually able to get between 15 and 20 gallons per filter. Of course, your mileage may vary.
How do ZeroWater pitchers compare to others?
Overall, the ZeroWater 10-Cup Pitcher compares very favorably when compared to other water filters on the market. While you will pay more (and wait longer) for each cup of water, the quality is simply unparalleled.
ZeroWater vs Brita
In our testing, ZeroWater clearly beat Brita. However, there is a reason that Brita has the lion’s share of the water filter market. In addition to being in the North American market for nearly three decades, Brita also offers one of the least expensive filters that also happens to be one of the fastest to filter water.
In fact, of the five water filters we tested, Brita was the fastest:
If you want the least expensive water filter that is also quick to filter water, you can give Brita a shot. Otherwise, consider a different option.
ZeroWater vs PUR
We were surprisingly disappointed by the PUR water filter during our testing. Water filtered through the PUR filters we tested took significantly longer than the other filters to test.
The taste of the water was polarizing as well. While some people like the way PUR water tastes, most in our tests simply didn’t.
ZeroWater vs MAVEA
The MAVEA Elemaris 9-Cup Water Filtration Filter was the only pitcher that we felt beat out ZeroWater. While the ZeroWater filter does filter out a greater number of dissolved solids, we felt that the MAVEA pitcher was slightly better overall.
The ergonomics of the MAVEA pitcher and the affordability of the replacement filters (which also have a recycling program) were among the reasons we picked MAVEA as a better overall pick.
That being said, if you want the purest water, ZeroWater is still the way to go.
Should you buy a ZeroWater pitcher?
Even the CEO of ZeroWater admits that ZeroWater is not for everyone. However, if you want water that is as completely free from harmful contaminants as possible, and you’re willing to pay a slight premium to do so, the ZeroWater 10-Cup Pitcher is a fantastic option.
To learn more about the different ZeroWater filters, take a look at our full review of the best water filter pitchers on the market.