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Do Brita-type filters work?


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#1 Fat Guy

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 10:25 AM

Do Brita and equivalent water-filtration pitchers actually do anything?

I live in New York City, where the drinking water is reputed to be pretty good. I have, however, noticed some chlorine creep over the years -- or something my nose perceives as chlorine. The Brita filter does seem to remove this odor, but I've never tested the theory blindfolded.

A quick Google search didn't yield much useful information.

Does anyone have the 411 on these things? My understanding is that when you divide the cost of filters you get a cost of about 20 cents (US) per gallon of water from the Brita. So that's not completely trivial. I'd like to be sure it's worth it.

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#2 BadRabbit

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 10:33 AM

They definitely work. My wife's family owns part of an island off the coast of Maine (no running water and the community well is a considerable distance away from the house) and we use a Brita to filter the rain water from the rain barrel (after we boil it for consumption). As to how much they will pull our clorine and flouride I am not sure but they turn smelly rain water into something akin to bottled water.

Edited by BadRabbit, 04 January 2011 - 10:35 AM.


#3 slkinsey

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 10:43 AM

If they remove the taste of chlorine from the water to your palate, then they work. Whether they do a whole lot more beyond that, how long and well they do what they do is a matter of some debate.

Personally, I found the whole pitcher thing to be expensive and an unnecessary pain in the butt. So I ended up buying an under-the sink two-stage sediment --> GAC (Granulated Activated Charcoal) filter from these guys and never looked back. It's quite a bit cheaper over time compared to a Brita-type filter, the filters hardly ever need to be replaced (equals less trouble for you and less plastic waste overall) and you only need to open the little tap to have instant filtered water with no waiting for it to percolate into a pitcher.

The sediment filter is especially interesting and valuable. It is true that we have great municipal water in NYC, but it is equally true that we have old pipes. The ceramic sediment filter I use filters 100% down to 0.9 microns and 99.9% down to 0.5 microns. This is fine enough to filter out things like E. coli and Cryptosporidium cysts. What I discovered is that we have a fair amount of rust and other particulates in the water here. Every month or so, the filtered water tap would start slowing down and it was time to take out the ceramic filter and wash it off. It was usually covered with a fairly thick layer of brown gunk, which I was glad I wasn't drinking.
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#4 Fat Guy

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 10:47 AM

Definitely true about the sediment. We consistently see that in our ultrasonic humidifier. After a couple of weeks, the reservoir is full of what looks like rust. I wonder what it all is and if it's bad for you -- or good for you like I suppose it would be were it iron.

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#5 Darcie B

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 10:52 AM

Until my husband breaks down and installs our under the sink filter (that I purchased months ago...grrrr), we are using a Brita pitcher. Our water is very hard and if I boil it for pasta, a noticeable and unattractive film develops on the surface. If I use Brita filtered water, no film. I've no idea if the filters live up to all of their claims but they are effective enough for me. I just hate dealing with the pitcher and its lid that continually falls off.
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#6 thock

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 10:58 AM

I used a Brita for a while, then a Pur Ultimate faucet mount, and the things never lasted as long as they said they would. The filters clogged a lot faster, and the Pur faucet mount housings would all spring leaks. Regardless of the fact that I could get a free replacement of the leaking faucet mount housing, I switched to a Big Berkey with the super sterasyl filters. I've had it for two years. I occasionally scrub the filters, and even less frequently boil them to reactivate the carbon inside, but I did the math before shelling out the money, and while the Brita or Pur would cost me 20-25 cents per gallon, this set-up is costing me about 2.5 cents per gallon over the lifetime of the filters, which I estimate will be about 8 years, if I filter around 1400 gallons a year. I fill the filter once a day, on average, and it holds about 2 gallons, give or take. When I make stock or soup, of course I filter more water.

We use this water for all our water needs. And the plus side of it is that since it's a countertop deal, if all services are down for some reason, or we're on a boil order, we can still use the filter. These have been used in areas with unsafe water to make the water safe. I figure that's a plus, given that it's a whole lot cheaper per gallon to use this than the other kinds of filters available.

It would be nice to have an inline filter, but it's not that much of a hassle to fill the thing every night, and New Yorkers might not have the luxury of being able to change the plumbing.
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#7 paulraphael

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 11:19 AM

If they remove the taste of chlorine from the water to your palate, then they work. Whether they do a whole lot more beyond that, how long and well they do what they do is a matter of some debate.


From what I've read, a brita filter removes all kinds of contaminants, including particles, metals, and organic compounds ... but you can't count it doing an especially thorough or consistent job. Its ability to filter will change as it ages and clogs. And even fresh, it's not up to the standards of higher end filters.

I use one, because it takes the chlorine out and makes my water and tea and coffee taste better. It's also comforting to have another line of defense against any unknowns in the water. If I were actually afraid of something like lead or campylobacter, I'd use something more heavy duty.

Btw, it just crossed my mind that a carbon filter could be taking the fluoride out of the water along with everything else. Anyone know about this? I'm curious, since the only cavities I ever got in my life came during two years in France, where they don't fluorinate the water supply.

#8 DanM

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 11:31 AM

Brita filters are better than nothing when you have crappy water.

We have fridge mounted filters and a reverse osmosis water filter under the sink. By far, I prefer the RO water filter. Its an expensive system, but the water quality is second to none. We also have issues with sediment here in New Haven, so I might consider a prefilter at the water meter. This not only helps with drinking water but keeps dishes, clothes, toilets, etc... cleaner.

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#9 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 12:41 PM

I used the Brita pitcher filters for years and it made my tea, coffee and water taste noticeably better. For the past 1 1/2 years I have been using the Pur 3-Stage faucet mount, and the water taste is even better, since it adds desirable minerals back in after doing its filtering job. I may go to an under the sink filter or a Berkey at some point. If you have chlorine flavor or other off-tastes, the pitcher designs are better than nothing.

#10 RWood

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 02:24 PM

I live right next to the ocean, and the water here is terrible. If it's boiled and left to sit in the pot, a white residue forms. Have no idea what it is.
I've been using a Brita since I've lived here, and it makes a big difference. Coffee, tea, ice cubes are much better.
I prefer using it over buying bottled water and having to recycle bottles and such. Since I'm on my last filter, I may look into other options to see if there is something better. But, Brita is better than nothing.

#11 annachan

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 03:23 PM

I definitely prefer PUR over Brita. I had the faucet mount before, but have switched to just using a pitcher. I haven't looked into it for a while, but when I got mine, I remember reading that PUR does remove more undesirable stuff than Brita.

The only downside is that Costco doesn't carry the filters for PUR pitchers. So, I get them from Bed Bath and Beyond with the 20% coupons.

#12 KennethT

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 04:14 PM

I use the Brita faucet mount and it works well - although I agree that the filters don't last as long as they say they do before the flow rate goes down to a trickle. According to the very official looking info included with the filter (inside the package, not advertising on the outside), it removes 99% of chlorine and a bunch of other stuff, but leaves the fluoride unfiltered.

#13 ChrisZ

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 05:30 PM

The basic Brita-style water filters have long been rumoured to improve the quality of cheap vodka. One article testing this theory dates 2004, and seeped into public consciousness enough to make it onto an episode of mythbusters.

If you google something like "water filter vodka" you'll find a number of websites that suggest that - to answer the original question - they do do something...

#14 David A. Goldfarb

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 07:29 PM

They seem to improve the taste of the water, and they're tested to remove things from the water. One issue with most filtration systems is the potential for bacteria to grow inside the filter as it ages. The concept of charcoal filtration is quite old. Here are instructions to make your own water filter, circa 1910--

http://books.google....epage&q&f=false

#15 ScoopKW

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 10:01 PM

Even after switching the whole house over to R.O., we still keep a Brita for when we go on vacation. (Providing it's a driving vacation, naturally.)

But I'm sure you would probably be happier with a more permanent solution -- inline tap filtration, under-sink R.O., etc.


PS -- I would love to have NYC-quality water here in Las Vegas. Our water tastes like baking soda and chlorine.
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#16 andiesenji

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 10:56 PM

Even after switching the whole house over to R.O., we still keep a Brita for when we go on vacation. (Providing it's a driving vacation, naturally.)

But I'm sure you would probably be happier with a more permanent solution -- inline tap filtration, under-sink R.O., etc.


PS -- I would love to have NYC-quality water here in Las Vegas. Our water tastes like baking soda and chlorine.



I have friends who live in Ely and they tell me their water tastes and smells like sulfur.
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#17 paulraphael

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Posted 06 January 2011 - 09:30 AM

I definitely prefer PUR over Brita. I had the faucet mount before, but have switched to just using a pitcher. I haven't looked into it for a while, but when I got mine, I remember reading that PUR does remove more undesirable stuff than Brita.

The only downside is that Costco doesn't carry the filters for PUR pitchers. So, I get them from Bed Bath and Beyond with the 20% coupons.


I've suspected the PUR systems were higher quality than Brita. I use Brita because it's so entrenched in NYC that I can get the filters just about anywhere. But PUR seems to be getting a bigger presence.
Any sense of the price difference between the two company's filters?

#18 KennethT

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Posted 07 January 2011 - 08:10 AM

The Brita faucet system is definitely cheaper than the PUR. My Brita was $20 at the home depot for the faucet kit including 1 filter. The equivalent PUR system was almost double the price. As for replacement filters, the Brita has a 2 pack for $30, and the PUR was like $40 if memory serves correctly... But I don't know if the PUR works better (ie more throughput, not removal of substances) or lasts longer before needing replacement. The Brita filter is rated for 100 gallons, but mine lasted about half that amount when the throughput reduced to almost a trickle. And that's Manhattan tap water that I had previously thought was clean! Indeed, when I check my normal tap water with a TDS (total dissolved solids) tester, I read roughly 20ppm which is really good for any non-RO water. But I wanted to get rid of the chlorine - most of my Brita water is used for my hydroponic tomatoes, leafy veg. garden and lime tree which like chlorine less than us people do...

#19 David A. Goldfarb

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Posted 08 January 2011 - 06:19 AM

I've tried the PUR system in two different apartments, and I got all the special adapters that you have to order (they are free, but you have to send away for them), if the thing doesn't stay attached to your faucet, and we had a constant problem with the fixture blowing off the faucet. Maybe we were just unlucky, but I wouldn't bother with it again.

#20 andiesenji

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Posted 08 January 2011 - 10:13 AM

I've tried the PUR system in two different apartments, and I got all the special adapters that you have to order (they are free, but you have to send away for them), if the thing doesn't stay attached to your faucet, and we had a constant problem with the fixture blowing off the faucet. Maybe we were just unlucky, but I wouldn't bother with it again.



Also, these only work with standard faucets. If you have one of the pull-out faucets or one of the high volume faucets,or if your water pressure is above a certain level, they won't work.
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#21 Mjx

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Posted 19 January 2011 - 01:07 AM

For a couple of years I lived in a part of the city where the tap water tasted like it was piped in from a swimming pool, so I first used a Brita pitcher, then switched to a Pur faucet attachment. Both brands and models (I found the faucet-mounted model more convenient) did a fine job of removing the chlorine taste from the water: the difference was very pronounced. The only reason for the brand switch was that I was in an 'I want it NOW' mood when I went shopping for the faucet-mounted model, and and Bed Bath & Beyond only carried the Pur models of these.

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#22 antdad

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 11:58 AM

Do Brita and equivalent water-filtration pitchers actually do anything?

I live in New York City, where the drinking water is reputed to be pretty good. I have, however, noticed some chlorine creep over the years -- or something my nose perceives as chlorine. The Brita filter does seem to remove this odor, but I've never tested the theory blindfolded.

A quick Google search didn't yield much useful information.

Does anyone have the 411 on these things? My understanding is that when you divide the cost of filters you get a cost of about 20 cents (US) per gallon of water from the Brita. So that's not completely trivial. I'd like to be sure it's worth it.


Yes they do but they work like any other activated charcoal filtration system. I too have chlorine taint that it removed and there is also slight softening of the water so my kettle scaling is also significantly reduced. I've now installed an in line filtration system and depending on use only costs me about $15 per cartridge per year.

Edited by antdad, 15 November 2012 - 12:00 PM.


#23 Shel_B

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Posted 04 November 2013 - 11:49 PM

Are there any good ones out there?  Reviews for the Brita and Pur models I looked at were disappointing.

 

I bought and installed a Pur today and, thus far, I'm not thrilled.  I'm planning to replace it if I can find a better product.

 


.... Shel


#24 annachan

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Posted 04 November 2013 - 11:57 PM

I had a Pur faucet water filter for a while. It wasn't great and ended up replacing it with the pitcher filter instead.

#25 gfweb

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Posted 05 November 2013 - 06:42 AM

How does one know that the things are actually doing anything? How do you know when they have worn out and stopped filtering?



#26 dcarch

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Posted 05 November 2013 - 07:06 AM

How does one know that the things are actually doing anything? How do you know when they have worn out and stopped filtering?

 

Filters work with a few entirely different filtering systems.

 

1. Mechanical - filtering out suspended particles, like coffee filter.

 

2. Chemical - neutralizing toxic dissolved chemicals.

 

3. Reverse osmosis and activated charcoal - good but expensive. 

 

As I understand it, it takes one chemical to react and to neutralize another chemical. They don't tell you what chemicals they use to neutralize other toxic chemicals and their effects on your health.

 

I use a water distiller, which is not technically a filter. 100 % pure water. No expensive filters to replace.

 

dcarch


Edited by dcarch, 05 November 2013 - 07:13 AM.

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#27 Mjx

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Posted 05 November 2013 - 07:09 AM

How does one know that the things are actually doing anything? How do you know when they have worn out and stopped filtering?

 

If the water is being filtered because it tastes bad (e.g. I had one of these in NYC, since the chlorine was pretty heavy), if the filter is working, the water will taste better, and the flavour will deteriorate when it isn't working any longer.

 

If you're filtering for hard water, the filter is working if you notice that appliances like electric kettles are not showing any deposit (even when you regularly fill the kettle by topping up); water flow seems to start falling off when these sorts of flters become full of whatever they're removing.

 

The better brands will give you an idea of the minimum/maximum volume of water that one filter will effectively clean.


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#28 gfweb

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Posted 05 November 2013 - 08:10 AM

 

How does one know that the things are actually doing anything? How do you know when they have worn out and stopped filtering?

 

Filters work with a few entirely different filtering systems.

 

1. Mechanical - filtering out suspended particles, like coffee filter.

 

2. Chemical - neutralizing toxic dissolved chemicals.

 

3. Reverse osmosis and activated charcoal - good but expensive. 

 

As I understand it, it takes one chemical to react and to neutralize another chemical. They don't tell you what chemicals they use to neutralize other toxic chemicals and their effects on your health.

 

I use a water distiller, which is not technically a filter. 100 % pure water. No expensive filters to replace.

 

dcarch

 

Also ion exchange columns will make "distilled"-like water.



#29 annabelle

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Posted 05 November 2013 - 10:38 AM

Just buy distilled water from Arrowhead or Culligan. They even deliver it to your home.



#30 scubadoo97

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Posted 05 November 2013 - 10:42 AM

I had a Pur faucet water filter for a while. It wasn't great and ended up replacing it with the pitcher filter instead.

I used a Pur facet filter until we remodeled the kitchen and installed an under sink Everpure filter.  I didn't have any problem with the Pur filter and we still use a Pur filter in the fridge.  I drink a lot of water from the fridge dispenser and it has no off taste to me but maybe I'm just use to it.