Water filter pitchers purify water to make it safe to drink. Many people drink from their taps, believing the water deposited there to be safe. Others rely on bottled water as their primary source of drinking water. But both of these methods pale in comparison to the benefits of water filter pitchers.
Water filter pitchers require you to pour regular tap water into reservoirs, where water is then channeled through a disposable filter with a set lifespan. The resulting water is much cleaner and healthier than regular tap water, and using a water filter pitcher is more cost-effective than relying solely on bottled water for your drinking and cooking needs.
Water filter pitchers do have a few potential side effects, but these only arise as a result of filter misuse.
1. Water filter pitchers help clean tap water. Studies have shown that the vast majority of water sources for home tap water use and consumption are contaminated with many minerals and harmful particulates that are not adequately screened for in municipal screening systems (1).
These minerals and harmful elements can easily pass into your body if you drink unfiltered tap water or use unfiltered tap water for cooking or food preparation. While rural areas suffer from different side effects than metropolitan cities, both types of environments have tap water that may be infected with arsenic, lead, and other problematic compounds (2).
Currently, around 3 million people in the United States drink tap water that has higher levels of arsenic than the EPA recommends as the healthy maximum (3).
Water filter pitchers can help to remove arsenic and other toxins through reverse osmosis and other filtering techniques. While water filter pitchers do not totally purify water from 100% of possible particulates, the resulting drinking water is much healthier and cleaner than the water that comes straight out of the tap (4).
2. Water filter pitchers can remove toxins. Water filter pitchers have been known to effectively remove toxins and harmful materials from drinking water for quite some time. As the technology to create better water filters is continually invented, water filter pitchers are becoming better over time and will provide increased benefits and healthier people.
Water filter pitchers do end up growing some manner of bacterial mass on their filters after some use. This requires water filter pitcher users to periodically cleaned their filters or replace the filters after they have been used for a predetermined time (5).
Despite the tendency of water filter pitchers to collect bacterial growth on their filter apparatuses, the resulting drinking water that passes through such a filter is still higher quality than regular tap water. The presence of some bacteria cannot compete with the possible danger of ingesting higher than average levels of arsenic, lead, and other known toxins (6).
3. Water filter pitchers are good for rural areas. Rural areas or locations with heavy agricultural settlement in activity frequently rely on wells to receive their in-home tap water. This water is then used for drinking, cooking, and bathing by a high percentage of the United States population (7).
However, these methods of obtaining drinking water can often result in increased concentrations of nitrates, which may eventually impact consumer health. Nitrates that are consumed into high quantities can lead to various side effects.
As a result, anyone who lives in a rural area and who uses groundwater wells to get their drinking water would do well to use a water filter pitcher. The filter has the ability to lower the number of nitrates in a water sample beyond that of many installed well filters (8).
Some ground wells don’t have any filtration systems in place whatsoever. This may occasionally lead to groundwater contamination for rural areas, especially if heavy animal activity and pesticide application are nearby. Pesticides, in particular, can contaminate groundwater for rural areas over the course of a season or single year and can lead to health effects for both adults and children.
4. Water filter pitchers are as effective as boiling water. Some studies have shown that boiling water and water filter pitchers are both equally as effective when it comes to filtering out disinfection byproducts and other common contaminants in tap water sources (9).
Many disinfection byproducts such as chloroform, bromoform, and other complex particulates find their way into tap water from exposure to sources in metropolitan areas and subsequently enter the bodily systems of those who drink tap water or use it for food preparation.
While boiling has long been considered an excellent method to eliminate bacteria and certain contaminants in drinking water, water filter pitchers are superior in that they can eliminate the vast majority of bacterial inspectors while also preventing harder toxins like lead or arsenic from being consumed as well.
Overall, filtering or boiling your water is preferred in most metropolitan areas, given the high likelihood of some kind of contamination seeping into your drinking water.
5. Water filter pitchers filter quickly. Compared to boiling water, filtering your water with a pitcher filter is a lot faster. Most water filter pitchers filter a large amount of water over time to create a purified reservoir which can be used at any point after filtration.
This is advantageous if multiple people become thirsty at a single time or if you need a large quantity of water for cooking or food prep. Boiling water takes time and energy in the form of electricity or gasoline and doesn’t have the same ability to protect you against lead that filters do.
While filters must be replaced periodically to ensure proper filtration and to eliminate the possibility of contamination, they are a more convenient choice for water safety in most circumstances.
6. Water filter pitchers provide water more pure than bottled. More studies have indicated that filtering your own water with a pitcher filter is better for your health and water purity than buying bottled water (10).
Water bottles are packaged and prepared by many food preparation companies and grocery distributors. These factories and shipment centers are known to be exposed to certain contaminants or toxins, which may enter the bottled water to be consumed by you later.
In addition, certain bacteria can survive for longer within a plastic shell than they would in other containers. It may be that plastic water bottles and up contributing to the spread of certain contaminants and bacteria simply due to their container material (11).
Bottled water also adds significantly to environmental damage. Plastic litter and pollution are growing with each year, and although recycling efforts are underway across many countries, the damage is still being sustained. Reducing your carbon footprint by buying fewer bottles of water is a great way to become greener in your everyday life.
While water filter pitchers do require plastics and other materials to produce, they are disposed of much less frequently, and you go through fewer filters than you ever would with plastic water bottles. The overall pollution required for the use of water filter pitchers is lower than the same you’d get from bottles for an equal amount of water.
Finally, purchasing water filter pitchers is a lot cheaper in the long run than constantly resupplying with bottled water at the store. Bottles of water are devoured quickly, and you have to use multiple of them at a time when it comes to cooking or food prep. It’s not uncommon for a typical family to go through an entire case of bottled water in a day or two.
Filtering water is oftentimes faster than going to the store and completing the necessary purchase and can yield water almost immediately if you need it quickly.
7. Water filter pitchers may help combat disease. Many tap water sources have an excess of chlorine across North America and Europe. Drinking chlorinated water leads to a number of negative health effects in both men and women across multiple age groups (12).
One of the more critical health side effects gained from drinking heavily chlorinated water is a higher risk for bladder cancer in men and women. Excessive chlorine consumption may also lead to other types of cancer, although the results are inconclusive. Overall, too much chlorine in your drinking water is a proven negative thing (13).
But water filter pitchers can get rid of chlorine in your tap water source and make it safe for consumption. While store-bought water filter pitchers cannot effectively filter out water typically chlorinated to the degree of most public swimming pools, it is capable of getting rid of the regular amount of chlorine present in most metropolitan tap water sources.
The chlorine in tap water is barely noticeable by human taste buds. Still, even the small amount of chlorine consumed in your everyday water and have an aggregate effect that leads to terrible side effects down the road.
8. Water filter pitchers reduce excess estrogen consumption. There is a known excessive estrogen consumption in modern-day life, largely through water and food contamination. Plastic water bottles, in particular, can sometimes be responsible for spreading estrogen throughout the population due to contamination at a packaging plant or preparation site.
Estrogen can lead to a number of health issues for both men and women, as a higher amount of the hormone than is normally required can cause the body to develop or maintain itself incorrectly (14).
Drinking less unfiltered tap water and less bottled water is a surefire way to expose yourself to less estrogen and fewer overall contaminants of all types. Water filter pitchers are able to clear away extra estrogen and other particulates which may be bad for your health.
9. Water filter pitchers may reduce birth defects. Women who are pregnant naturally deposit some of their consumed minerals and other compounds to their feet as a result of normal biological processes. Contaminated drinking water, therefore, can lead to health issues with the unborn child or birth defects that may or may not be discovered by regular prenatal screening (15).
The developing child is especially vulnerable to toxins and contaminated particles as it is linked to its mother’s systems. Much of what she consumes will be passed to the child in one way or another in order to fuel the rapid growth that takes place in the first nine months of development.
The effects of children who were exposed to toxins before birth are well known. While it is unlikely that regular tap water will have negative effects as drastic as alcohol or smoking, some tap water sources are contaminated enough that they should give any responsible parent cause. The recent water crisis in Flint, Michigan, is a good example of an unsafe metropolitan drinking source that certainly has enough contaminants in the fluid to potentially harm unborn babies.
1. Water filter pitchers may remove healthy minerals and vitamins. Many tap water sources and rural groundwater sources contain vital minerals and nutrients, such as magnesium and calcium, that humans need to survive. While we don’t need much of these two minerals for optimal health levels, going without any at all can lead to long-term issues and health instability.
In addition, tap water is almost always treated with fluoride in order to help teeth remain strong, and enamel remain thick. Fluoride is one of the best compounds for tackling cavities and overall poor oral health, particularly in poor communities where health education is not as well-understood.
Therefore, water filter pitchers that remove all elements from drinking water can work too well. Removing the necessary amounts of calcium, magnesium, and fluoride from drinking water is a recipe for trouble if you don’t already have some supplements or alternative sources set up. Drinking heavily filtered water is only recommended for those who can substitute these minerals from other places (16).
2. Water filter pitchers trap bacteria but do not kill it actively. While some of the bacteria cells will die naturally, many more of them can survive and reproduce in the filter just from the material that passes through from the tap to the purified reservoir. This can allow bacteria to slowly grow and become more dangerous if you don’t replace the filter frequently (17).
Therefore, replacement of the water filter is critical if you don’t want to contaminate your drinking water with a higher concentration of bacteria than it would naturally receive. Too much bacteria in your drinking water can also lead to several negative health side effects.
One study determined that households frequently have higher bacterial concentrations in their drinking water as a result of poor replacement habits. Too few users of water filter pitchers adequately replace their filters at the designated time and as a result, end up consuming much more bacteria than is healthy (18).
In the end, this may be worse than drinking regular tap water, even with its regular concentrations of other toxins and health hazards.
You should use water filter pitchers as long as you are prepared to adhere to the recommended replacement timeline and frequently change out the filter unit, so your water is actually pure. If you do this, you can safely use purified water for cooking and drinking and enjoy the health benefits that come along with it.
You should also look into taking magnesium or calcium supplements if you do not already get enough of either element in your diet naturally.
Most water filter pitchers need a replacement of their main filter unit between every two to six months. Alternatively, many filters require replacement after a certain number of gallons filtered. This number ranges between 25 gallons to 150 gallons depending on tap water quality and the quality of your filter unit. This is an even better metric to use if you want to make sure that your water is pure every time.
Overall, you can use a water filter pitcher as often as you like provided you take the appropriate precautions and pay attention to your filter’s status.
Depending on the size of your reservoir, you may wish to use your pitcher for drinking water but rely on tap water for all other cooking and food preparation needs. This isn’t as bad as drinking tap water directly since most water for cooking become spoiled, killing much of the bacteria and eliminating many of the contaminants that you would otherwise consume from room temperature or cold tap water.
How can I test my water quality from a water filter pitcher? There are several ways you can test your water quality at home. Call your state or local health department and inquire as to a testing kit; many places give the kids away for free or sell them for a small fee.
Alternatively, many home improvement stores sell their own water testing kits which you can purchase at any time. These testing kits are designed to be easy to use and understandable by a layman.
In addition, you can call the EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline and ask them to test your water personally. This may require an appointment, however, and is not the best option if you need immediate water testing done.
Do water filters actually work? In short, the answer is yes. Brita filters are able to remove significant amounts of harmful contaminants from your water, including chlorine and several harmful metals.
What does cloudy water mean? If your water filter pitcher has cloudy water after completing its filtration process, it may be that certain microorganisms have begun to colonize the filter and contaminate the water. It may not necessarily be the case that the microorganisms are harmful to you, but it’s always better to replace your filter at this stage of the process.
Should you filter tap water? For the most part, tap water is safe to drink. Filtering tap water will remove any chemicals that are used to kill bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungus.
Is filtered water better than tap water? While tap water is safe to drink in many areas, it may still contain trace contaminants, so it’s important to have an extra filter for protection.
How does a water filter pitcher work? These pitchers typically work by providing a reservoir at the top half of the pitcher unit where you pour unfiltered tap water. The water will collect in this reservoir and slowly be filtered down a small cylindrical hole where it will interact with the filter apparatus.
Most filters are made with activated carbon. This element absorbs many of the contaminant molecules and toxins, as they are chemically attracted to the carbon and stick to its surface. Regular water is let through the activated carbon surface and drops into a larger reservoir at the bottom, where the purified water can collect and be poured from a spout at the top of the pitcher.
Can lead be filtered out of water? In general, carbon-based faucet-mount filters are good bets. Cold water generally contains less lead than warm or hot tap water. Boiling water does not remove lead.
Water filter pitchers have plenty of benefits and can positively impact your life if they are used properly. They can remove common contaminants and bacteria that are found in many sources of tap water in both metropolitan and rural areas. Filter pitchers can remove excessive arsenic, estrogen, lead, and many other problems before they have a chance to enter your body and do lasting harm.
However, water filter pitchers also remove positive elements in some cases. Fluoride, calcium, and magnesium are just a few minerals that your body needs for healthy living. It’s imperative that you make sure that you will receive enough of these minerals if you use a water filter pitcher or else consume supplements to make up the difference.
Overall, the positives outweigh the potential negatives. Water filter pitchers are known to be a better alternative than bottled water, as well, making them the best source for drinking water among the three main types: tap, bottled, and filtered.