Tips for Taps Blog

PUR Water Filters - What Do They Remove From Water?

What Do PUR Pitchers Filter Out?

 

Pitcher filters have become a very popular option for treating household drinking water at the tap–they’re relatively inexpensive, convenient and easy to maintain. However, there are so many brands of pitchers on the market with varying claims of effectiveness. How are you supposed to choose?

PUR branded pitchers are common products that are readily available both online and at retailers, but do they 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 PUR pitcher filters are certified to treat in your drinking water.

Do PUR Filters Work?

It depends on what's in your water. With proper upkeep, PUR 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 PUR pitcher filter?

PUR pitcher filters use activated carbon technology designed to trap certain contaminants on their surface while water passes through, as well as ion exchange resins to catch certain heavy metals (which may include lead, copper, zinc, and cadmium).[1]

Are there differences between the PUR pitcher filters?

Whether PUR pitchers work for your needs may depend on which filter you buy. PUR currently sells two distinct replacement filters: PUR and PUR PLUS. We will refer to the PUR filter as the PUR basic filter in this article to reduce potential confusion. 

The PUR PLUS filter is certified by third parties to reduce more contaminants than the PUR basic filter. See the “What are PUR pitcher filters certified for?” section below for more specifics.[2][3][4]

Why do I need to change my pitcher filter?

PUR’s activated carbon technology works by trapping contaminants as they pass through. This means that the contaminants build up on the filter over time. If you wait too long to replace your filter, contaminants can build up so much that they re-enter your drinking water at higher concentrations than existed before filtration. 

In addition, the filters contain ion exchange resin, which grab onto harmful molecules (like heavy metals), and exchange them for relatively inert molecules like sodium. Over time, the ion exchange resin will fill up with the harmful molecules and run out of the inert ones. Eventually, the resin will not be able to pull the harmful molecules out of the water anymore. 

In general, filters are tested and certified for a specific filter life, after which performance cannot be guaranteed. For these reasons, it is important that you follow the replacement guidance on PUR’s site, typically every two to three months.[1]

What do PUR pitchers not filter out?

PUR pitcher filters will almost never be effective for treating certain contaminants. These include:

If you test your water and find concerning levels of these contaminants, you will want a different treatment technology.

What Are PUR 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 PUR 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 PUR filter certifications that address some of the biggest water quality concerns received by our team at SimpleLab:[3][4]

Are PUR pitchers certified to reduce lead?

The PUR PLUS filter is certified to NSF/ANSI Standard 53 for reducing lead. The PUR basic filter is not certified for lead reduction.

Are PUR pitchers certified to make water taste and smell better?

Both the PUR basic and PUR PLUS filters are certified for the improvement of taste and odor under NSF/ANSI Standard 42.

Are PUR pitchers certified to reduce chlorine and chloramines?

Both the PUR basic and PUR PLUS filters are certified for the reduction of aesthetic chlorine under NSF/ANSI Standard 42, meaning that they should remove chlorine to levels low enough so they do not cause taste and odor problems in your drinking water. Neither of the PUR pitcher filters are certified to reduce chloramines.

Are PUR pitchers certified to reduce fluoride?

PUR 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 PUR pitchers certified to reduce nitrates?

PUR 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 PUR pitchers certified to reduce bacteria, microbes, cysts and amoebas?

PUR 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 PUR pitchers certified to reduce microplastics?

PUR pitcher filters are not certified to reduce microplastics. While the activated carbon in the PUR pitcher filters may be somewhat effective in reducing microplastics in the water, you may want to consider treatment by ultrafiltration, nanofiltration, or reverse osmosis instead.

Are PUR pitchers certified to reduce total dissolved solids?

PUR 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 PUR pitchers certified to reduce PFAS?

PUR pitcher filters are not certified to reduce perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water. Activated carbon technology is capable of reducing PFAS levels, but the PUR website does not claim that their pitcher filters effectively address elevated PFAS levels.

Are PUR pitchers certified to fix hard water and limescale issues?

PUR 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 PUR pitchers certified to reduce arsenic?

PUR 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 PUR pitchers certified to reduce heavy metals like iron, mercury, and chromium?

Both the PUR basic and PUR PLUS filters are certified under NSF/ANSI Standard 53 for reducing some heavy metals, including mercury, copper and cadmium, in drinking water. They are also certified under NSF/ANSI Standard 42 for reducing zinc (to address taste, color, and odor issues). PUR filters are not certified for reducing iron, chromium, or manganese.

Are PUR pitchers certified to reduce radioactive metals?

PUR pitcher filters are not certified to reduce uranium, radon, radium, or other radionuclides in drinking water. Activated carbon has been proven to reduce radon, but the PUR website does not suggest that its pitcher filters effectively reduce radon concentrations. 

Are PUR pitchers certified to reduce salt?

PUR pitcher filters are not certified to remove dissolved sodium salts.

Are PUR pitchers certified to reduce rust?

Rusty, brown water is likely the result of corroded iron from pipes and well casings. PUR pitcher filters are not certified to reduce iron in drinking water, but they are certified to reduce certain other heavy metals like copper and mercury, and activated carbon technology has been proven to reduce iron in drinking water. PUR filters used for rusty water may have shorter filter lives.

Are PUR pitchers certified to reduce disinfection byproducts like HAAs and THMs?

PUR 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, PUR 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 PUR pitchers certified to get rid of sulfur smells?

Excess hydrogen sulfide can cause drinking water to smell like sulfur. PUR pitcher filters are not certified to remove hydrogen sulfide, though the activated carbon in the filters should be effective in reducing hydrogen sulfide concentrations.

Are PUR pitchers certified to reduce pesticides?

Both the PUR basic and PUR PLUS filters are certified under NSF/ANSI Standard 53 to reduce certain pesticides and herbicides. The PUR basic filter is certified to reduce methoxychlor concentrations and the PUR PLUS filter is certified to reduce atrazine and simazine concentrations, as well as 2,4-D depending on the pitcher model. In addition, the PUR basic filter is certified under NSF/ANSI Standard 401 to reduce linuron, as is the PUR PLUS filter (depending on the pitcher model).

Are PUR pitchers certified to reduce pharmaceuticals?

Both the PUR basic and PUR PLUS filters are certified under NSF/ANSI Standard 401 to reduce certain pharmaceutical compounds. The PUR basic filter is certified to reduce trimethoprim and the PUR PLUS filter is certified to reduce phenytoin. In addition, depending on the pitcher model, the PUR PLUS filter may also be certified to reduce ibuprofen, atenolol, carbamazepine, trimethoprim and naproxen.

Are PUR pitchers certified to reduce mold and other fungi?

PUR pitcher filters are not certified to reduce mold or fungi in drinking water. In fact, if used with water that has issues with mold or fungi, PUR filters are likely to have a shorter filter lives.

Who Should Use a PUR Pitcher?

Common tap water quality concerns vary depending on where you live and the water source your municipal water comes from.

Will PUR pitchers 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 PUR pitcher filters are not intended for use with water that has microbial contamination; PUR explicitly states that their filters do not filter microbes from water.[1] Peruse Tap Score blogs on well water for more information on common issues.

Are PUR pitchers 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. PUR pitcher filters are not certified to remove these contaminants. Consider getting your water tested to identify your water quality issues and whether PUR pitcher filters can help. 

Do PUR pitchers make water alkaline?

PUR 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. 

Home Water Test: Essential
54 Analytes Tested
$252.00
Home Water Test: Advanced
114 Analytes Tested
$373.00

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 Brita Pitchers Filter Out?

Read More

Sources and References

back to top