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What Do Brita Pitchers Filter Out  - Unbiased Guide

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, you can read this unbiased filter review to get to know which contaminants Brita pitcher filters are certified to treat in your drinking water.

Table of Contents:

Do Brita Pitcher Filters Work?

That 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's in a Brita Pitcher Filter?

Brita pitcher filters use activated carbon technology. Activated carbon filters are designed to trap certain contaminants on their surface while water passes through. Brita’s Standard filter also includes cation exchange resins to catch certain heavy metals (specifically copper, zinc, and cadmium).[1]

Additionally, the Brita Elite Filter includes a pleated, fiber filter and other proprietary filter media.[2]

What Are the Differences Between the Available Brita Pitcher Filters?

Whether or not Brita pitchers will work for your needs depends on which filter you buy. Brita currently sells two distinct replacement filters:

    • The Standard Filter (Model #: OB03)
    • The Brita Elite Filter (Model #: OB06)

The Brita Elite Filter (formerly Longlast+) is certified by third parties to reduce 3x more contaminants and has a filter life three times longer than the Standard filter.

Note: Some retailers may still carry the Longlast pitcher filter but it is no longer in production.

For more on the specifics of each filter, see below:[1][3]

Brita Standard Filter Certifications NSF 

Brita Elite Filter Certifications NSF

 

What Brita systems do Standard and Elite fit in?

Are All Brita Filters the Same?

No. But the Brita Stream, Faucet systems or to-go bottle filters are not covered in this article. These perform differently than the Standard and Elite filters used in Brita pitchers.

Brita filters not covered in this article

Do I Need to Change My Pitcher's Filter?

Yes. Because the materials in the pitcher filters, activated carbon fiber filters, and any other filter media eventually reach a point where they are no longer effective.

In general, filters are tested and certified for a specific time—the filter's life cycle—after which performance cannot be guaranteed. For this reason, it is important to follow the replacement guidance on Brita’s packaging materials, ranging from every two to six months depending on the filter and usage.[1][4]

When Should I Consider a Brita Pitcher?

You should consider a Brita pitcher filter when you know you have water quality concerns. Usually, this is after you’ve had your water tested. Looking into your water quality will reveal the specific concerns you’ll want your Brita to address.

Common water quality concerns vary depending on your water supplier, where you live, and—if you’re on a public utility—where your utility sources its water. 

City Water Project provides a regionalized glimpse at local water issues. Note: only a test of your tap will provide specifics about your location.

Why People Test Their Water—SimpleLab Tap Score

What Are Brita Pitcher Filters Certified to Filter Out?

Brita pitcher filters are certified for a handful of contaminants through the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF/ANSI) to their standards. Wherever a Brita pitcher filter is not certified to remove a contaminant does not necessarily mean it won’t, it just means the company did not pay to substantiate their claims through 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.

water filter certification seals

Are Brita Pitcher Filters Certified to Reduce Lead?

Yes, the Brita Elite Filter is certified to NSF/ANSI Standard 53 for the reduction of lead.

However, the Standard Brita pitcher filter is not certified to remove lead. 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?

Yes, 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 Brita Standard and 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?

No, 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, anion exchange resins, and activated alumina are more effective choices for removing fluoride.

Are Brita Pitcher Filters Certified to Reduce Nitrates?

No, 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 anion exchange resins.

Are Brita Pitcher Filters Certified to Reduce Bacteria, Microbes, Cysts and Amoebas?

No, 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?

Yes, the Brita Elite Filter is certified under NSF/ANSI 401 to reduce microplastics. However, the Standard Brita pitcher filter is not certified for microplastics reduction.

Are Brita Pitcher Filters Certified to Reduce Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)?

No, Brita pitcher filters are not certified to reduce total dissolved solids (TDS), or the sum of dissolved ions in drinking water. Remember TDS is not a reliable indicator of water safety as it does not measure significant contaminants such as disinfection byproducts, radionuclides, or bacteria, which can pose potential health risks.

Important: People often confuse TDS with PPM, but it's important to note that 'PPM' or parts per million is not a direct measure that can be reduced since it is not a contaminant or a general parameter in itself. (You can learn more about general water chemistry here.)

Are Brita Pitcher Filters Certified to Reduce PFAS?

Yes, the Brita Elite Filter is certified under NSF/ANSI 53 to reduce perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)—specifically PFOS and PFOA—in drinking water. The Standard Brita filter is not certified for the removal of PFOS or PFOA.

Are Brita Pitcher Filters Certified to Fix Hard Water and Limescale Issues?

No, Brita pitcher filters are not certified to reduce water hardness to normal levels, or to remove calcium and magnesium, which contribute 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 scaling in pipes, as well as preventing soap from lathering. Point-of-entry (POE) 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?

No, Brita pitcher filters are not certified to reduce arsenic in drinking water. Instead, reverse osmosis, activated alumina, and anion exchange 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 Brita Standard and Elite filters are both certified under NSF/ANSI 53 for reducing certain 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?

No, 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?

No, 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.

Note: Brita pitcher filters used for rusty water may have shorter filter lives.

Are Brita Pitcher Filters Certified to Reduce Disinfection Byproducts (DBPs) like HAAs and THMs?

Brita pitcher filters are not certified to reduce trihalomethanes (THMs) or haloacetic acids (HAAs). These are common water contaminants if you live in a city.

However, independent tests done by Tap Score users like Modern Castle have shown Brita filters to be effective at reducing disinfection byproducts (DBPs) like chloroform. This is no surprise as activated carbon technology is known to reduce disinfection byproducts.

Officially, however, Brita does not claim that its pitcher filters are an effective treatment for disinfection byproducts.

Are Brita Pitcher Filters Certified to Eliminate Sulfur Smells?

Excess hydrogen sulfide (H2S) 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?

Yes, 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?

No, Brita pitcher filters are not certified to reduce mold or fungi in drinking water.

What Do Brita Pitcher Filters Not Filter Out?

Brita pitcher filters will not be effective for certain contaminants. These include:

  • Fluoride
  • Nitrates
  • Bacteria, protozoa, viruses, and other waterborne pathogens
  • Arsenic

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

    Top 5 Most Popular Water Filtration Technologies—SimpleLab Tap Score

    It's also important to note that while many water treatment products claim to remove a long list of water contaminants, these claims are not regulated by government agencies.

    How Do I Know My Brita Is Effective?

    The only way to really gauge if your Brita is effective at removing your target contaminants is through a technique called “performance testing.” 

    1. During “performance testing,” your water is first tested at the tap, without any treatment. The results will reveal your water’s unique contaminant profile. (Tip: Highlight any of the contaminants that have shown up in your water quality report that your chosen filter—either the Brita Standard or the Elite—claims to reduce.)
    2. Next, you’ll want to run your water through the Brita pitcher. You’ll want to run a second—separate—test on the filtered water. 
    3. Finally, you’ll want to compare the results of the second test with the highlighted contaminant levels in your first report.

    Note: Performance testing is recommended upon purchasing your filter. Filter effectiveness will degrade over time as the filter fills with contaminants from use.

    Public Water Systems

    Private Well Owners

    There are a lot of contrasting accounts of water quality issues all over the news today, some of which are blown out of proportion, some of which are more or less accurate—ALL of which depend on specific locations and plumbing setups. All things considered, your household tap—and its issues—is relatively unique.

    Common Questions About Brita Pitchers

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

    Will Brita Pitcher Filters Make My Well Water Safer to Drink?

    Not necessarily. Well water can have a wide range of contaminants in it, including—but not limited to—heavy metals, bacteria, radionuclides, and hardness. Before considering a specific filter for well water, you should have your water tested to determine the specific water quality issues at play.

    Note: Brita pitcher filters are not intended for use with water that has microbial contamination or is of unknown quality and is not disinfected.

    Are Brita Pitcher Filters Effective for Apartments?

    Again, Brita's efficiency depends on the specific contaminants in your tap water. The most common issues seen in city or public water are disinfection byproducts (DBPs) that form during chlorine water treatment. Brita pitcher filters are not certified to remove these contaminants.

    However, independent tests by product reviewers like Modern Castle (video below) have shown Brita filters to reduce disinfection byproducts. This is likely due to the activated carbon technology in the filters.

    Do Brita Pitcher Filters Make Water Alkaline?

    Brita pitcher filters do not make water alkaline.

    Are Brita Pitcher Filters a Good Value?

    Compared to costlier alternatives—like bottled water or whole-home treatment systems—Brita pitcher filters offer you a reasonable amount of protection for a relatively small annual sum. Of course, you’ll optimize your cost effectiveness when you ensure you’re addressing the contaminants you’re concerned about. Even baseline testing your water just once can help you determine whether or not the Brita Standard or Brita Elite is better for your home setup—opting for the Standard alone could save you $40-50 per year.

    There is no perfect water pitcher (or any treatment for that matter) that removes everything harmful that could be lurking in your drinking water. Consider these at-home water testing packages to get to know your water.

    PFAS Water Test
    Specialized
    PFAS Water Test
    14 Analytes Tested
    €253,95

    What’s the Takeaway?

    Remember, there is no perfect water pitcher. The efficiency of Brita pitchers depends on the water quality issues you are trying to solve. There is no one-size-fits all approach. 

    • Determining whether or not you need a Brita pitcher filter comes down to whether or not you’ve tested your water. The same applies to gauging your Brita pitcher’s effectiveness through “performance testing.” Testing your water offers you a glimpse at the contaminants in your water compared to your filter’s removal claims. Explore Tap Score test kits here.
    • Of the two filters Brita offers—the Brita Elite and the Brita Standard—the Brita Elite Filter is certified by third parties to reduce three times more contaminants and has a filter life 3x longer than the Standard.
    • The Brita Elite filter is certified under various NSF/ANSI standards for the reduction of:
      • Unpleasant tastes and/or odors (including aesthetic chlorine)
      • Lead (but not the Standard)
      • Microplastics (but not the Standard)
      • PFOS and PFOA (but not the Standard)
      • Certain heavy metals including mercury, cadmium, zinc, and copper
      • Certain pesticides and herbicides (but not the Standard)
      • A small list of pharmaceuticals (depending on the pitcher; not the Standard)

    Enjoyed our overview of Brita pitcher filters? Check out our other unbiased filter reviews:

    What Do PUR Pitchers Filter Out?
    What Do Berkeys Filter Out?

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    About The Author

    CEO


    Johnny Pujol, CEO of SimpleLab, is devoted to advancing environmental laboratory logistics, ensuring each stage—from sample collection to results—is clear, easy, and insightful. Holding a Master's in Engineering from UC Berkeley and a Bachelor's in Economics from Boston University, Johnny brings a unique blend of technical expertise and business insight to his role. Outside of SimpleLab, you can find him training for Pentathlons or writing spy fiction.
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