“What is the best water filter jug?” may not be a question that’s occurred to you before. But once you look into the details of water filtration, as I have in the process of writing this piece, it’s a question that needs answering. Water is “very similar to wine” says Milin Patel, the UK’s leading water sommelier. (Yes, that is a realoccupation.) “Once you get the right mineral level, or the right carbonation level, the water pops. You discover flavours. I work with a number of chefs creating water pairing menus,” he says.
A water filter jug enables you to drink pure water without single-use plastic bottles – in the UK we throw away 7.7 billion of them per year. Some also think it's better for your health, although Milin is a big fan of our tap water and says there's no evidence it's not good for you. Filtering can also change the taste of tap water.
“Whether the water is acidic or alkaline will have a slight effect on the taste. I enjoy slightly acidic waters, maybe 6.5pH or 5.5pH. London water is alkaline, in the region of 7.5pH. But it’s more about the mouthfeel and TDS –total dissolved solids. That’s where the magic happens.”
TDS is measured in parts per million (ppm) and you can taste “all of the minerals that are dissolved in the water naturally. That’ll be calcium, magnesium, potassium, bicarbonate, silica, iron, zinc. This is what gives water its character: the creaminess, the saltiness, the oiliness, the bite,” Milin says. “If you drink an 8,000 year-old, mineral-rich glacier water with a TDS of 7,500ppm, that’s a meal in itself.”
Traditionally, water has been filtered with moringa seeds, clay and dried coriander to make it safer and improve the taste, as well as charcoal, which is still used in water filter jugs now, says Milin.
Some water filters reviewed below remove TDS from the water, but Magnus Jern of Tapp Water says this isn’t always a good thing. “High TDS is really not a measure of water quality,'' Magnus says. “TDS primarily consist of healthy minerals such as calcium, magnesium and bicarbonate.” It’s up to you, and your preferred taste, whether you opt for a filter that removes TDS or not.
Is it worth buying a water filter jug?
I was sceptical that the water from different filters could really taste all that different. But during our taste test I was surprised – some had a smooth, almost creamy mouthfeel, or more of a bite, just as Patel describes. For those who are perhaps not quite as invested in the terroir and taste of their glass of water as Milin, which filter jug should you buy for everyday use?
“Brita and BWT are the high street brands and they do a fine job of filtering tap water, which is always preferable to buying plastic bottled water,” says Milin. “There are carbon filters and exchange filters… all of which alter the flavour of the water slightly, but the main function of filter jugs is to remove the calcium and magnesium to soften the water, and to remove any chlorine taste." (Chlorine is added to tap water in very small amounts to disinfect it, and can leave a residual taste.)
“At the top end are aquaporin filters. Aquaporins are membrane proteins found in the human body, involved in the filtration of water. American nephrologist Peter Agre won the 2003 Nobel prize in Chemistry for discovering them.” Milin’s shop, Fine Liquids, is the UK stockist for the leading aquaporin water filter, but it will cost you dear, at £750.
How I tested the best water filter jugs
I visited Milin’s water tasting station at Fine Liquids and conducted a taste test of water from each jug. I also tested them at home over a period of three weeks.
Which is the best water filter jug?
- Best overall – BRITA Style fridge water filter jug
- Runner up –TAPP Water PitcherPro
- Best charcoal filter –Black & Blum Eau Carafe
- Best filtration – ZeroWater 10 Cup Water Filter Jug
The best water filter jugs for 2022
1. BRITA Style fridge water filter jug
We liked: perfectly fridge-sized, easy to use, great-tasting water
If you’ve ever purchased a water filter jug before, it’s likely it was a BRITA. As the best-known brand, the BRITA Style jug had a lot to live up to, but it more than delivered.
My first impressions were good: as the name ‘Style’ suggests, it has a sleek, slimline design that I wouldn’t mind having on display on the dinner table; it took all of two minutes to set up; and it has a smart LED light that shows you when the filter needs replacing. Even better, it’s dishwasher safe.
The taste of the water gets a thumbs up from our sommelier, Milin, who says it’s softer and less chlorinated than tap water, but still with a distinctive flavour. I love it – it tastes distinctly better than my tap water, with a lighter feel.
We've discussed whether you should take TDS into account when testing above, but in case that's a deciding factor for you, I tested the TDS of the water in this jug and got a result of 260, down from 304 in my standard glass from the tap. Replacement filters cost around £20 (£20.24 for six at the time of writing, Amazon) and need changing roughly every four weeks.
The 2.4l capacity (1.4l when filtered) is enough for my household and perfect for the fridge door, but if you have a large family, you may want to size up to the 3.6l version (£31.99, Robert Dyas).
2. TAPP Water PitcherPro Glass Water Filter Pitcher
Most stylish water filter jug
We liked: it filters as it pours, so there’s no waiting involved
I love the look of this glass water pitcher, and the fact that it filters water as you pour it. It has a carbon filter that removes substances as small as 1-2 microns from water, whilst preserving the minerals that make it taste good (for that reason, it has no impact on TDS – which initially confused me when I put the meter in and saw it was registering a higher level than tap water). The slimline glass pitcher is easier to store in the fridge than bulkier models.
Milin agrees that the water tastes excellent and, in fact, this pitcher is his number one choice. It removes the chlorine present in tap water, but retains a distinctive flavour and smooth mouthfeel.
3. Black & Blum Eau Carafe with charcoal filter
Best charcoal water filter jug
We liked: the natural materials and chic design
As Milin points out, charcoal has been used for water filtration for centuries, and this hand-blown glass carafe does have timeless appeal. It uses a chunky stick of active charcoal (the “Japanese Binchotan charcoal method”) to filter water, remove chlorine and improve the taste. I like that this is a glass alternative to the standard plastic, and that the filters are the longest-lasting of any on this list and only need changing every six months.
The water does taste good, although the downside for me is the time it takes to filter. Water must be left in the jug for a minimum of one hour, and it works best if it’s left for eight. It loses points for efficiency on that basis –although it does look very nice.
4. ZeroWater 10 Cup Water Filter Jug With Advanced 5 Stage Filter
We liked: Innovative design –it doubles as a jug and water dispenser
Drinking from this ZeroWater jug is an interesting experience. It produces the purest drinking water on the market, filtering out 99.6 per cent of TDS and microplastics down to three microns in size through a five-stage filter. On testing, the TDS is 001 compared to 304 in my tap water –a remarkable result that shows it really does what it says on the tin (and the jug even comes with its own TDS meter).
The 10 cup model I test would be too big for smaller fridges, but it holds an impressive 2.3l of filtered water, and the clever design means you can either pour the water out of the top of the jug or dispense it at the bottom. If you need a smaller or larger capacity, the jug comes in a wide range of sizes from six cups to 30 cups.
However, as Milin points out, it’s actually mineral content that gives water its flavour. ZeroWater’s output is totally flavourless and smooth– I personally preferred that the water above actually had a taste.
Milin, as an expert in very flavourful water, gives it zero stars. Although, if you want water that’s as clean as can be, it’s the jug you should go for. Replacement filters are more expensive than Brita, at around £30 for two (£29.99, Amazon).
5. AmazonBasics Water Filter Jug
This filter jug has a couple of key things going for it: a generous capacity of 2.3 litres and an affordable price. If you're looking for cheap and cheerful, then it's the jug for you. But Milin was unimpressed by the taste, which was slightly bitter, and it didn't impress me as much as the models above.
6. Soma Filter Jug 6 Cup
Both Milin and I were impressed by the look and feel of this filter, although less so by the taste of the water – which, given the price, we needed to be. The filter needs to be soaked for 15 minutes before it can be used, and we followed the instructions, but when we came to use it around 30 minutes later it still let some sediment and carbon through the filter into the jug. Our tasting was skewed as a result.