Bottom Line: PUR Ultimate Lead Reduction Is the Best Home Water Filter
When it comes to filtering water in your home, there are a lot of choices. Water filters run the gamut from expensive under-the-sink water purifiers to straightforward water filter pitchers. Our top picks span every approach you might take to filtering water in your home, including countertop water filters and faucet water filters.
Safe drinking water is important, so all the filters on our list reduce contaminants to meet or exceed EPA thresholds. We also focused on factors like flow rate per gallons of water and a filter’s ability to address water taste by removing things like chlorine. Our picks for both faucet and under-the-sink water filtration also provide superior water treatment at affordable prices.
We liked PUR Ultimate Lead Reduction for its high user ratings, a commitment to addressing emerging contaminants, and a greater number of certifications from industry watchdogs like the NSF.1
Best Drinking Water Filters for Your Home Compared
PUR’s Ultimate Lead Reduction filters go above and beyond the call of duty by targeting not just lead but 22 other potentially harmful pollutants, including emerging contaminants like pesticides. The PUR Ultimate Lead Reduction filter was tested and certified by NSF International, a leading product testing and certification organization in the United States.2
With an activated carbon and ion exchange, PUR claims it will filter for about two months or 30 gallons of water. This lifespan is a pretty modest amount compared to the other filters on our list, so factor in additional replacement filters when you’re calculating cost.
Users also report a frustratingly slow flow rate, averaging as much as 10 minutes to fill a pitcher. But if safer, better-tasting drinking water is your goal, you’re likely to consider the peace of mind from using PUR well worth the wait.
Filters for 23 contaminants
Filters for pesticides
Shorter filter life
Slower flow and refill
Culligan FM-15A Faucet Mount: Best Faucet Water Filter
This compact, faucet-mounted filter is easy to install and has a diverter you can slide to choose between filtered and tap water, reducing usage and optimizing your filter life. While it has a short filter life of about 200 gallons, Culligan’s FM-15A is relatively inexpensive and does filter both lead and chlorine for safer, better-tasting drinking water.
Culligan’s FM-15A is also tested and certified by the NSF according to ANSI standards (American National Standards Institute).3
Some users have complained that it leaks slightly, and there’s no warning for when you need a new filter. But if you’re looking for a basic faucet filter that will get the job done, Culligan is a no-brainer that won’t put a dent in your budget.
Filters for both lead and chlorine
Tendency to slightly leak
No filter expiration warning
Aquasana 3-Stage Under Counter: Best for Under-Sink Water Purifiers
If you want easy access at the sink to safe, filtered drinking water without the clutter, Aquasana is the answer. Its NSF certified filtration system removes 99% of 77 contaminants, including mercury, lead, and pesticides.
You’ll also get a system with a 600-gallon filter life that should last an average family about four to six months depending on water usage. Be warned that users complain that the O-rings on the filter system fail after a few years, but you can call the company, and they’ll replace them for free. You’ll also pay more for the brushed nickel, bronze, or chrome designs.
Minimal, stylish design
New filter notification
99% filtration for 77 contaminants
More Water Filtration Systems to Consider
It’s worthwhile to check in on a few of the picks that didn’t make our top three. These water filtration systems and water purifiers have advantages that may make them uniquely suited for your household.
Home Master TMHP HydroPerfection: Best for Well Water
If your home has well water, you likely have concerns about sediment, bacteria, pesticides, and heavy minerals in your drinking water. The Home Master Hydro Perfection under-sink system filters with a reverse osmosis water filtration that tackles these concerns and adds minerals like calcium and magnesium for better-tasting water.
While its 2,000-gallon capacity filter means you’ll have to change cartridges only once a year, it’s still the most expensive system on our list.
New Wave Enviro 10 Stage Plus: Best for Countertop
New Wave’s highly rated Enviro 10 Stage Plus water filtration system has the advantage of being versatile, with options to mount on the countertop or under the sink with a conversion kit. The 10 stage filter tackles water contaminants like lead and arsenic, as well as bacteria and chlorine for up to 1,500 gallons of water.
While the filter itself does not boast NSF certification, it does specify that only NSF-certified materials are used.
Brita LongLast Water Filter: Best Value
When you’re managing your home on a tight budget, Brita LongLast Water Filter is the sidekick you want in your fridge. You’ll get double the filter life for half the price of a standard Brita filter out of Brita’s LongLast charcoal filter.
Lead and asbestos are the two main contaminants Brita filters target, but you’ll also get better tasting water due to the activated charcoal filter, which can reduce that chlorine taste.
Things to Consider Before You Buy a Water Filter
Before you dive into water filtration, consider the following features and specifications to make sure the filter or system you’re considering is the right fit for your household.
Type of Contaminants
Before you decide which water filter to purchase, you need to know which contaminants are at unsafe levels in your drinking water. Cities of more than 100,000 must disclose their water quality tests to the public, and you can find them published online at the EPA’s website.
If your city or municipality doesn’t do water quality testing, conduct some yourself. You can use a kit or a professional service to conduct water quality testing and get a baseline on which contaminants in your water are the most dangerous.
Types of Water Filters
There are two different filter types, and the kind you’ll need largely depends on which pollutants you’re trying to filter from your water and how often you’re willing to replace the filter.
Activated Charcoal Filters: These filters have a large surface area due to the porous structure of charcoal, so they trap lots of particulates. They don’t do as well handling heavy minerals and tend to have a shorter filter life. Because charcoal filters are inexpensive, you’ll often find them in pitchers or portable water filters.
Reverse Osmosis Filters: These fancy-sounding filtration systems use pressure and a membrane to trap particulates. Reverse osmosis filters are bulkier and more expensive but require fewer filter changes. On average, you’ll have to change a reverse osmosis filter once a year.
Your water filtering choices will be dictated by where you plan to dispense water. Generally, you have four options for home water filtration.
Water Pitcher Filters: These inexpensive solutions are carafes you keep in the fridge. But be warned that bigger isn’t always better. Even if you have a large household that drinks lots of water, you’ll still need to figure out how to refill and lift that heavy container back onto the shelf.
Refrigerator Water Filters: Most modern refrigerators already have water filters built in, but they can be expensive to replace. And chances are you didn’t buy your refrigerator based on the water filter, so it may not be up to the standards you’d prefer.
Water Filter Faucets: These filtration systems can come off as clunky, but they don’t have to. Mounted onto your faucet, most models have modern designs to complement your kitchen. Just look for ones that allow you to switch back and forth between filter and tap water to maximize filter life.
Under-Sink Water Purifiers: Bulkier units meant to tuck under the sink are stacked with extras that other filtration systems don’t offer. And they often come with the bonus of longer filter life.
There is a certification process water filter run by the NSF and the Public Health and Safety Organization that manufacturers can opt into.2 Using standards determined by the ANSF (American National Standards Institute), water filters can be tested in NSF certified labs to ensure they meet or exceed EPA thresholds for safe drinking water.3
Look for a water filter that has met these strict standards and, optimally, one that also filters emerging contaminants like pesticides.4
Water Filters FAQs
Do I need a water filter?
If your home was built before 1986, it might have lead pipes, and you should filter your water just in case. The EPA warns that old pipes increase the risk of lead contamination and the health concerns that come with increased lead exposure, especially for children, pets, and the elderly. You should also consider filtering your water if water quality testing turns up levels of pollutants that exceed EPA standards.5
My water tastes bad. Does that mean it’s unsafe?
Not necessarily. Chlorine and other chemicals can give water an unpleasant taste, but that doesn’t mean it’s automatically unsafe to drink. You should be concerned, however, about any changes in your water taste, smell, or color and conduct water quality testing immediately to determine the problem.
If you don’t have high levels of contaminants, but you’d still like better-tasting (and smelling) water, purchase a filter that promises to go beyond pollutants and add minerals like calcium and magnesium.
I think my water is making me sick. What should I do?
Water quality testing is a good first step to determine whether your water is safe to drink. But if you’re struggling with health problems and trying to find a likely culprit in your home, you should also think about other sources of contaminants like air pollutants and talk to a doctor. Our best air purifiers guide will help folks with allergies or asthma breathe a little easier.
How We Picked the Best Water Filters
To find the best water filters, we did a deep dive on EPA standards, water quality testing, and relevant certifications from the NSF. We also considered user reviews online and expert opinions to inform which water filters and water filtration systems made our list. Want to get in over your head in our methodology? You can find it on our “How We Rank and Review” page.
*Amazon.com list price as of 11/22/19 3:20 p.m. MST. Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. Safewise.com utilizes paid Amazon links.
Certain content that appears on this site comes from Amazon. This content is provided “as is” and is subject to change or removal at any time.
Written by Kaz Weida
Kaz is a journalist who covers home security, parenting, and community and child safety. Her work and product testing in the security and safety field spans the past four years. You can find Kaz in HuffPost, SheKnows, Lifehack, and much more. Her degree in education and her background as a teacher and a parent make her uniquely suited to offer practical advice on creating safe environments for your family. Learn more