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What Do Brita Pitchers Filter Out?
Brita pitchers have become almost synonymous with safe drinking water. With thousands of pitcher filters on the market and an intimidating mix of treatment options, it is tempting to stick to the catch-all answer: “just buy a Brita!”
But do Brita pitchers actually make for safer tap water? It depends on the water quality issues you are trying to solve, and the replacement filter you use. Instead of buying blindly, read on and get to know which contaminants Brita pitcher filters are certified to treat in your drinking water.
Do Brita Pitcher Filters Work?
It depends on what's in your water. With proper upkeep, Brita pitchers are a great solution for some water quality concerns, but it is important to understand what they can and cannot do.
What is in a Brita pitcher filter?
Brita pitcher filters use activated carbon technology designed to trap certain contaminants on their surface while water passes through. The Standard filter also includes cation exchange resins to catch certain heavy metals (specifically copper, zinc, and cadmium). In addition, the Brita Elite Filter includes a pleated, fiber filter and other proprietary filter media.
Are there differences between the available Brita pitcher filters?
Whether Brita pitchers work for your needs may depend on which filter you buy. Brita currently sells two distinct replacement filters: the Standard Filter and the Brita Elite Filter, formerly known as Longlast+. The Brita Elite Filter is certified by third parties to reduce three times more contaminants and has a filter life three times longer than the Standard filter.
See the “What are Brita pitcher filters certified for?” section below for more specifics. Note that some retailers may still carry the Longlast pitcher filter but it is no longer produced.
Are all Brita filters the same?
This article does not cover Brita Stream, Faucet systems or to-go bottle filters.These perform differently than the Standard and Elite filters used in Brita pitchers.
Why do I need to change my pitcher filter?
The materials in the pitcher filters, activated carbon fiber filters and any other filter media, eventually reach a point where they are no longer as effective. In general, filters are tested and certified for a specific filter life, after which performance cannot be guaranteed. For this reason, it is important that you follow the replacement guidance on Brita’s site, ranging from every two to six months depending on the filter.
What do Brita pitcher filters not filter out?
Brita pitcher filters will almost never be effective for treating certain contaminants. These include:
Bacteria, protozoa, viruses, and other waterborne pathogens
If you test your water and find concerning levels of these contaminants, you will want a different treatment technology.
What are Brita Pitcher Filters Certified For?
Many water treatment products claim to remove a long list of water contaminants, but these claims are not regulated by government agencies. Instead, companies can opt to get their products certified by third party testing and certification organizations.
Just because Brita pitcher filters may not be certified to remove a contaminant does not mean that they won’t, but it does mean the company did not pay to substantiate their claims by an independent party.
Below, we have compiled an in-depth guide to Brita pitcher filter certifications that address some of the biggest water quality concerns received by our team at SimpleLab.
Are Brita pitcher filters certified to reduce lead?
The Brita Elite Filter is certified to NSF/ANSI Standard 53 for reducing lead. The Standard Brita pitcher filter is not certified for lead reduction. In fact, the Brita website does not claim that the Standard filter is effective for reducing lead.
Are Brita pitcher filters certified to make water taste and smell better?
The Standard and Elite filters are both certified for the improvement of taste and odor under NSF/ANSI Standard 42.
Are Brita pitcher filters certified to reduce chlorine and chloramines?
The Standard and Brita Elite filters are both certified for the reduction of aesthetic chlorine under NSF/ANSI 42, meaning that they should remove chlorine to levels low enough so they do not cause taste and odor problems in your drinking water. Brita filters are not certified to reduce chloramines.
Are Brita pitcher filters certified to reduce fluoride?
Brita pitcher filters are not certified to reduce fluoride concentrations. If you have concerns about fluoride, you will require a different treatment product. Products employing reverse osmosis, nanofiltration, ion exchange (anion) resins, and activated alumina are more effective choices for removing fluoride.
Are Brita pitcher filters certified to reduce nitrates?
Brita pitcher filters are not certified to reduce nitrates found in drinking water. For treating concerning levels of nitrates in your water, consider treatment with reverse osmosis or ion exchange (anion) resins.
Are Brita pitcher filters certified to reduce bacteria, microbes, cysts and amoebas?
Brita pitcher filters are not certified to reduce bacteria (e.g. E. coli), protozoan cysts (e.g. Cryptosporidium and Giardia), or other waterborne pathogens. Waterborne pathogens in tap water are best treated with a point of entry system employing either UV or chlorine disinfection.
Are Brita pitcher filters certified to reduce microplastics?
The Brita Elite Filter is certified under NSF/ANSI 401 to reduce microplastics. The Standard Brita pitcher filter is not certified for microplastics reduction.
Are Brita pitcher filters certified to reduce total dissolved solids?
Brita pitcher filters are not certified to reduce total dissolved solids, or the sum of dissolved ions in drinking water. Instead, consider reverse osmosis or nanofiltration units.
There is no such thing as the direct reduction of ‘PPM’, or parts per million. There are a lot of misconceptions about what PPM means–we’ll clear some of those up right here. PPM is a common unit for the concentrations of substances in water. It is not, however, a calculated water parameter or an indicator of contamination by itself. Learn more about general water chemistry here.
Are Brita pitcher filters certified to reduce PFAS?
Brita pitcher filters are not certified to reduce perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water. Activated carbon technology is capable of reducing PFAS levels, but the Brita website does not claim that their pitcher filters effectively address elevated PFAS levels.
Are Brita pitcher filters certified to fix hard water and limescale issues?
Brita pitcher filters are not certified to reduce water hardness to normal levels, or to remove calcium and magnesium, which contribute the most to hardness. Water hardness does not directly pose a health risk, so it is OK to drink hard water without a proper filter.
However, hard water can cause corrosion, white staining (limescale) and scale in pipes, and prevent soap from lathering. Point of entry ion exchange water softeners are a better bet for treating hard water, because they reduce water hardness before it can damage pipes and fixtures.
Are Brita pitcher filters certified to reduce arsenic?
Brita pitcher filters are not certified to reduce arsenic in drinking water. Instead, reverse osmosis, activated alumina, and ion exchange (anion) resins are useful technologies for treating arsenic in drinking water.
Are Brita pitcher filters certified to reduce heavy metals like iron, mercury, and chromium?
The Standard and Brita Elite filters are both certified under NSF/ANSI 53 for reducing some heavy metals, including mercury and cadmium, in drinking water. The Standard filter is also certified under NSF/ANSI 42 for reducing zinc (to address taste, color, and odor issues), and under NSF/ANSI 53 for reducing copper. Brita pitcher filters are not certified for reducing iron, chromium, or manganese.
Are Brita pitcher filters certified to reduce radioactive metals?
Brita pitcher filters are not certified to reduce uranium, radon, radium, or other radionuclides in drinking water. Activated carbon is capable of treating radon, but the Brita website does not suggest that its pitcher filters effectively reduce radon concentrations.
Are Brita pitcher filters certified to reduce salt?
Brita pitcher filters are not certified to remove dissolved sodium salts.
Are Brita pitcher filters certified to reduce rust?
Rusty, brown water is likely the result of corroded iron from pipes and well casings. Brita pitcher filters are not certified to reduce iron in drinking water, but they are certified to reduce certain other heavy metals like lead and mercury, and activated carbon technology has been proven to reduce iron in drinking water. Brita pitcher filters used for rusty water may have shorter filter lives.
Are Brita pitcher filters certified to reduce disinfection byproducts like HAAs and THMs?
Brita pitcher filters are not certified to reduce trihalomethanes (THMs) or haloacetic acids (HAAs), common water contaminants if you live in a city. Activated carbon filters have been shown to reduce these disinfection byproducts; however, Brita does not claim that its pitcher filters are an effective treatment for these issues. Reverse osmosis is an additional effective treatment technology for reducing THMs and HAAs.
Are Brita pitcher filters certified to get rid of sulfur smells?
Excess hydrogen sulfide can cause drinking water to smell like sulfur. Brita pitcher filters are not certified to remove these substances, though the activated carbon in the filters should be effective in reducing hydrogen sulfide concentrations.
Are Brita pitcher filters certified to reduce pesticides?
The Elite filter is certified under NSF/ANSI 53 to reduce certain pesticides and herbicides: 2,4-D, atrazine, endrin, and simazine. Depending on the pitcher model, the Brita Elite Filter may also be certified under NSF/ANSI 401 for reducing linuron, DEET, and metolachlor.
Are Brita pitcher filters certified to reduce pharmaceuticals?
Depending on the pitcher model, the Brita Elite Filter is certified under NSF/ANSI 401 to reduce a short list of pharmaceutical drugs: atenolol, ibuprofen, carbamazepine, meprobamate, naproxen, phenytoin, and trimethoprim.
Are Brita pitcher filters certified to reduce mold and other fungi?
Brita pitcher filters are not certified to reduce mold or fungi in drinking water.
Who Should Use a Brita Pitcher Filter?
Common tap water quality concerns vary depending on where you live and the water source your municipal water comes from.
Advanced Home Water Test
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Ideal baseline for testing tap water provided by a water utility utilizing chlorine disinfection or a private well near areas of heavy agriculture or industry. Test your drinking water for some of the most common concerns found in tap water.
Will Brita pitcher filters make my well water safer to drink?
If only it was that simple. Well water can have a wide range of contamination in it, including but by no means limited to heavy metals, bacteria, radioactivity, and hardness.
Before considering a specific filter for well water, you should test it to determine the specific water quality issues at play. Note that Brita pitcher filters are not intended for use with water that has microbial contamination or is of unknown quality and is not disinfected. Peruse Tap Score blogs on well water for more information on common issues.
Are Brita pitcher filters effective for apartments?
Again, it depends on the specific contaminants in your tap water. The most common issues seen in city water are disinfection byproducts that form during chlorine water treatment. Brita pitcher filters are not certified to remove these contaminants. Consider getting your water tested to identify your water quality issues and whether Brita pitcher filters can help
Do Brita pitcher filters make water alkaline?
Brita pitcher filters do not make water alkaline. If you are looking to make your water alkaline for health reasons, see this Tips for Taps blog post, which dives into the science (or lack thereof) behind alkaline drinking water.
There is no perfect water pitcher (or any treatment for that matter) that removes everything harmful that could be lurking in your drinking water. To choose the right treatment product, it is important to understand your water first. Consider these at-home water testing packages to get to know your water.
Interested To Learn How Other Popular Water Filter Brands Work?
The Tap Score and SimpleLab teams are embarking on project to help consumers navigate the complexities of knowing which filters are right for their unique water quality. Read other unbiased filter reviews below:
What Do PUR Pitchers Filter Out?
Top 5 Most Popular Water Filtration Technologies For Homes
Why Is Fluoride Used in Water Treatment?
Nitrites, Nitrates, and Your Health
7 Pathogens That Contaminate Drinking Water
Disinfection Byproducts: The Adverse Effects of Water Chlorination
Alkaline Water: A Critical Review
7 Heavy Metals Everyone Should Test For
The Drinking Water Taste Guide
Chlorine and Chloramine: Two Ways to Disinfect
POE Versus POU Water Treatment
Are Microplastics in My Drinking Water?
What Are Trihalomethanes and How Are They Formed?
Do Water Filters Remove Haloacetic Acids?
Sulfur Smells: Why Does My Water Stink Like Rotten Eggs?
How Dangerous Are Pesticides in Water?
Pharmaceuticals in Your Drinking Water
What To Do If You Have Mold In Your Home
How To Interpret Water Testing Units – SimpleLab Tap Score
What’s the White Residue on My Fixtures? – SimpleLab Tap Score
Sources and References▾
- How do Water Filters Work? | Brita®
- Personal communication, Elizabeth Bransford (Clorox Company), August 26 2022
- Find Gold Seal Certified Products (wqa.org)
- Listing Category Search Page | NSF International
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