The 7 Best Water Filters and Purifiers to Remove Contaminants and Impurities
Among all the things needed to live a healthy life, water is at the top of the list. While many people have access to water through faucets in the United States, two million people actually lack access to untainted water. And according to the US Environmental Protection Agency, the number of contaminants that can make water undrinkable is astronomical. That's where water filters come in.
- Best Overall: Big Berkey Gravity-Fed Water Filter
- Best Budget: Brita Standard Everyday Water Pitcher
- Best Reverse Water Osmosis: APEC Water System Reverse Osmosis Filter System
- Best for Easy Installation: Waterdrop RO Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System
- Best Countertop: AquaTru Water Filtration Purification System
- Best Bottle: Sport Berkey Water Filter Bottle
- Best Carbon Filter: Nakii Water Filter Pitcher
Why are water filters important?
According to Maya Feller, MS, RD, CDN, certified dietician nutritionist of Maya Feller Nutrition, water filters not only make water taste better, but they also remove harmful contaminants, such as physical, chemical, biological, and radiological elements. "These purifiers and filtration systems remove heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, and some pesticides," Feller tells Health. "If we're not drinking clean water, it's actually harmful to our health."
Ingesting water with bacteria, pesticides, E. coli, or heavy metals has been associated with gastrointestinal illnesses, cancer, and reproductive effects and not-so-good symptoms, including stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever, underscoring the importance of having a water filtration system in place.
How do water filters work?
There are three types of water filtration: physical, chemical, and reverse osmosis. With physical filtration, water is strained through a membrane layer, which captures particles and prevents them from entering the purified water. During chemical filtration, water is treated with an active substance, such as carbon, which acts as a magnet and pulls contaminants like lead out..
Unlike physical and chemical filtration, reverse osmosis uses pressure to push water through a semipermeable membrane layer. This membrane has pores small enough to trap contaminants but big enough to allow water to pass through.
How to choose the best water filter?
Choosing the right filter will depend largely on your budget and water purification needs. "Different units remove different contaminants or classes of contaminants from water," Mia Syn, MS, RDN, a registered dietitian based in Charleston, South Carolina, tells Health.
If you're looking for a filter that does heavy-duty cleaning, Syn recommends reverse osmosis systems because they "force water through a semipermeable membrane under pressure, leaving contaminants behind." What's more, they "are effective in eliminating all disease-causing organisms and most chemical contaminants"—such as bacteria, parasites, heavy metal, and pesticides, she adds. Reverse osmosis systems are ideal for running water from the tap or fresh water sources from streams and rivers.
On the other hand, filters that use granular-activated carbon––commonly found in water pitchers and filtration bottles––soak up impurities that give water a poor taste or odor, such as chlorine, making this filter type ideal for tap water.
The best water filters and purifiers
Overall, "a quality water purifier is a worthwhile investment that is low maintenance, will save you money in the long run, improve the taste of your water, and improve your health," Syn says.
Ahead, you'll find the seven best water purifiers and filters that'll save you money and remove microbes with each pour.
Sign up for our Shop Well newsletter to get your dose of retail therapy with a curated selection of editor-loved finds and must-have deals.