Answered: How Do Water Filter Pitchers Work?

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Water filter pitchers feature compact filtration media that can treat water at home and on the go. All you need to do is fill the pitcher with water. Then, wait for it to pass through the filter cartridge into the reservoir.

In less than fifteen minutes, you can enjoy filtered, clean, and clear water without the hefty price tag associated with bottled water.

Since more and more people are now intrinsically interested in compact gadgets, it’s no wonder water filter pitchers are exploding in popularity. However, the burning question is, how do water filter pitchers work? There’s no secret sauce to it, to be honest.

Stay with us as we uncover how filter jugs can serve all your impromptu water needs for mere pennies on a dollar.

Key Takeaways

  • Water filter pitchers work by using filter cartridges that restrict, adsorb, absorb, or reject impurities when water passes through them.
  • Some filters use physical filtration, while others utilize chemical filtration techniques.

What Is a Water Filter Pitcher?

Water filter pitchers provide you with a non-permanent and fuss-free solution to remove impurities from your source water. They are budget-friendly, convenient, easy to maintain, and work smoothly without glitches.

Filter pitchers can cost anywhere between $20 to $175. Spoiler alert, though! The most expensive ones are not always the best.

The ideal model for you is the one that effectively removes a wide range of harmful contaminants found in your tap or well water in the least possible time. Of course, a larger filtering capacity is always a welcome addition.

Now, most filter pitchers can quickly improve the taste and smell of your drinking water by removing odor-causing chemicals like chlorine. But some high-quality ones also target heavy metals, pesticides, disinfection byproducts, PFAs, pathogens, and much more!

woman with water filter pitcher

How Does a Water Filter Pitcher Work?

The basics of water treatment are identical in all water filter pitchers. Water passes through the filter cartridge containing filter media, which restricts, adsorbs, absorbs, or rejects impurities. Some filters use physical filtration, while others utilize chemical filtration techniques.

Most people wonder how effective the filter process is since the medium used is so small. The query makes absolute sense. The answer lies in the fact that these pocket-sized filters are specifically designed to treat only a small amount of water and need to be replaced in as little as one or two months.

Most under sink water filters use the same filtration technologies but last longer due to more significant filter cartridge size. Therefore, timely replacements of filter pitcher cartridges are the key to optimum performance.

All Water Filter Pitchers Are Not the Same

There is quite a spectrum in filter pitchers’ ability to eliminate contaminants, mainly because of the various filtration methods out there. Therefore, you must shop smart and compare each filter through honest reviews and NSF certifications.

As always, popular brands like Brita use fancy words as a smokescreen to paint a bright picture. But what actually do their pitchers actually remove? Most of them time, nothing but chemicals causing off-putting smells and tastes.

You will notice that most water filter pitchers are carbon-based. While activated carbon filters effectively remove chlorines and reduce few heavy metals, unfortunately, this is where it ends.

Therefore we love Clearly Filtered pitchers that feature a multi-stage action plan to remove over 365 unique contaminants commonly found in tap water. We have granular activated carbon, we have ion exchange, plus more – all in one filter cartridge.

What’s more? Clearly Filtered water pitchers are NSF-tested to back their claims. The cartridges also last way longer (100 gallons) compared to standard filter pitchers on the market, which can only treat 40 gallons on average.

Similarly, if you are worried about acidic tap water, you may be interested in an alkaline water filter pitcher.

Bottom line: The key is to identify what contaminants are in your water and then make the right filter choice. That said, we move on to the most common contaminants water filter pitchers can remove or reduce.

What Do They Filter?

According to a survey by Consumer Reports, water filters are the second most popular type of water treatment method.

The steeping victory is partly attributed to the ease and convenience offered by these handy gadgets. Moreover, some advanced filters solve the most common problems associated with drinking water-poor: taste and foul odors.

Some high-quality ones go beyond that and eliminate harmful disease-causing contaminants too. So, what exactly can water filter pitchers remove? Here is a comprehensive list.

Contaminants in Public Water Supplies

Here are several contaminants water filter pitchers may reduce that are commonly found in city water.

  • Chlorine
  • Chloramine
  • Lead
  • Chromium 6
  • Cadmium
  • BPA
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • VOCs
  • Semi-volatile compounds
  • PFAS
  • Fluoride
  • Nitrates

Contaminants in Private Wells

Here are a few contaminants water filter pitchers may reduce that are commonly found in well water.

  • Nitrates
  • Arsenic
  • Lead
  • Coliform and other bacteria
  • TDS
  • Pesticides
  • Herbicides
  • Mercury

Filter Replacements and Cleaning

Like all household appliances and gadgets, your water filter jugs also require a teeny bit of maintenance to keep them in best shape.

The most important aspect associated with all water treatment options is cartridge replacements. How often to replace the filter cartridge will depend entirely on the type of filter you have, its service life, and your water quality and usage.

For instance, Brita filters need to be replaced every 40 gallons, while an Epic Pure water filter pitcher can treat 150 gallons before exhausting.

Therefore, it’s best to follow the instructions supplied by the manufacturer. You may also look out for tell-tale signs like reduced flow and poor taste, which signify your filter needs to be replaced.

Cleaning your filter pitcher is also vital to prevent the growth of living organisms inside the grooves and crevices. We advise cleaning weekly with soap, water, and a spare toothbrush. Finally, allow your pitcher to air dry and reassemble all parts to ensure an unlimited supply of contaminant-free water.

pitcher water filter cartridge submerged in water

Benefits of Using a Water Filter Pitcher

Water filters are preferred by millions of people worldwide because they provide a cost-effective substitute for bottled water. In reality, there is an endless list of benefits associated with these groundbreaking gadgets.

The catch? Frequent cartridge replacements can get exhausting very quickly, and the low-quality models don’t improve the quality of water. But these two problems can easily be solved by purchasing a high-quality filter water pitcher with extended cartridge lives.

Overall, the pros of using filter jugs outweigh the cons by a landslide. Here is why you should get one for yourself too – today!

Clean Drinking Water

Imagine drinking a sip of water followed by a swish of gunk, sediment, or undissolved particulate matter. Nobody likes that, do they?

Enter filter pitchers, and you can wave goodbye to dirty sedimented water.

Water filter pitchers effectively remove sediment that would otherwise settle at the bottom of your glass as you hold it under the tap. Besides removing visible particulate matter, they make your water clean, crisp, and healthier.

Better Taste and Odor

Since most water filter pitchers remove chlorine and overall chemicals, they do an excellent job of making your water taste and smell better.

Here is a simple experiment that you need to highlight the magnanimous improvement in the taste and smell of your drinking water after it’s filtered. Fill one glass with tap water and the other with water from a filter pitcher. You will notice the stark differences in taste, look, and smell. The latter one will taste better and fresher.

Portability and Light Weight

Perhaps, the most significant advantage a filter pitcher has over all other types of home water filters is portability. It completely eliminates the need for installations and lengthy changes to plumbing.

They are so compact and lightweight that you can take them anywhere with you – office, beach, outings, or on holiday.

Not only do you save money on buying expensive bottled water on the go, but you also have absolute peace of mind too.


Water filtration is not always cheap. For example, most whole house water filters or under-sink filters can cost over $500 to $1000. Throw in the cost of installation and cartridge replacements; the expenses escalate fast. Similarly, the cost of buying bottled drinking water can easily go beyond $1000 per year.

In comparison, water filter pitchers and cartridges are super affordable. You can easily buy a good-quality pitcher for under $100. If you shop smartly for cartridge bundles, you can easily save a lot of money on replacements.

Fits in the Refrigerator

Most filter pitchers can seamlessly be tugged into refrigerators. Even if your fridge is relatively small, you can select a smaller pitcher that will easily fit into it.

Thanks to the compact design of these units, you can have access to cold filtered water at any time.

No More Bottled Water

Seventeen million barrels of oil are used to produce one year’s supply of bottled water just for the US. This amount does not include the carbon footprint of transporting them to the end customer.

Moreover, plastic waste is slowly poisoning our planet as most of these bottles end up in the landfill and will stay there for thousands of years before disintegrating.

What’s worse is that a lot of bottled water is just treated tap water. Needless to say, when you bring home a filter jug, you can finally ditch bottled water and save your planet and money.

If you have any thoughts about the question, how do water filter pitchers work, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!

About the Author Gene Fitzgerald

Gene Fitzgerald is one of the founders of BOS and currently head of content creation. She has 8+ years of experience as a water treatment specialist under her belt making her our senior scientist. Outside of BOS, Gene loves reading books on philosophy & social issues, making music, and hiking.
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