Fact or Fiction: Do Brita Filters really work?

Yesterday, I was standing in the communal bathroom, waiting for my Brita Pitcher to fill up. Since it takes a decent 5 minutes to filter all of the water through, it gave me time to think. Was I wasting my precious time as a busy college student, or do Brita pitchers actually work? And if so, how? I mean, sure, we all know that the filters take out some chemicals out of tap water, but in the end, is it really that different from regular tap water?

To answer my questions, I did some research…and this is what I found:

According to Brita’s website, the filters supposedly remove thirteen chemicals found in tap water.

What Brita claims to remove (this chart can be found on Brita's website)

What Brita claims to remove (this chart can be found on Brita’s website)

Brita’s website also includes a list of negative effects that can result in drinking unfiltered water. Some of the side effects include nausea and liver, pancreatic, and kidney damage (A list of these can be found here  )

How it works:

The filters work by extracting the harsh chemicals found in the water. As the molecules pass through the filter, they cling to the surface area due to the help of the carbon that is found within the filters. This is also why we are told to change the filter ever two months. Once the surface area of the inside of the filter is full, the process will not work anymore (Brita.com).


Other Viewpoints:

An article from The Daily Beast sates that general water filters do less than we think. In fact, according to this article, after a taste test, most people can’t tell the difference between filtered water and tap water. In general, water filters are only qualified to extract a small percentage of chemicals. Common chemicals found in tap water, such as lead or pesticide remains, are not typically removed from filters.

According to Raymond Letterman, a civil engineering professor at Syracuse University, some filters can even add extra bacteria into our water. He mentions that because of biofilm, which is some of the residue left from the filters, there is always a chance for a layer of bacteria to be on the surface of our filtered water (Schulson).

Furthermore, a study conducted in Germany found that filtered water more often than not has more bacteria than unfiltered tap water. This study tested the Brita filter in a household setting and found that the percentage of bacteria increased in 24 out of 34 filters. Furthermore, in a lab setting, after one week of use at the same temperature, 4 out of 6 filters tested had more bacteria. Even more shockingly, groups of bacteria present in filtered water were 10,000 times higher than regular tap water. In short, because of biofilm, filtered water produced more bacteria compared to unfiltered water.


So, since filters clearly don’t remove all of the toxins found in our water, what other safe solutions are there?

Although boiling water has been around since, well, the beginning of time, it doesn’t necessarily kill all of the toxins found in water. According to this article, boiling water still may not remove 100% all of the chemicals found in regular tap water.

In conclusion, do water filters really work? Is drinking tap water just as safe as filtered water? Well, after making correlations from observing the data we have collected thus far,  it’s safe to say that filters (usually) can take out some common molecules found in your water pipes. However, studies still found that sometimes filters can cause more harm than good, by creating even more bacteria over time. And, although boiling water may work, there is never a 100% guarantee that all toxins will filter out of your water. So, you will never truly take out all the chemicals found in tap water (unless, of course, you purchase a thousand dollar filtering system). And that’s okay, because usually, the water that comes out of our kitchen sinks isn’t too harmful anyway. Most people simply opt to use filters for personal taste.

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7 thoughts on “Fact or Fiction: Do Brita Filters really work?

  1. Mark Paterra

    I currently have a brita water bottle and was very curious to see what the conclusion of your research was. I definitely have noticed a change in the taste of the water but wanted to know whether or not it was truly filtering anything out. After reading this it seems that the Brita while maybe not filtering everything out, it has a somewhat positive effect on my water. That combined with the taste change is enough for me to continue to use my Brita.

  2. Thomas Tatem Moore

    I found this article very interesting because I use a Brita filter at home. When I was going off to college my mom suggested to me multiple times to use a filtered water bottler she got for me. Since when I was home I really didn’t see a difference between the filtered water and the tap water I got out of my sink I have’t used the water bottle once yet. Instead, more expensively i just buy cases of water and drink water out of water bottles. This article made me more confident in my decision, hopefully strides can be made in this regard.

  3. Christina Rae Locurto

    As someone who lives in an apartment, I have a Brita filter myself, and I honestly cannot tell the difference between tap water and the filtered water from the Brita filter. This is a very interesting blog post, and I like how you use diagrams straight from Brita’s website that explains how the filters are helping, or lack thereof. I think the debate of whether Brita filters work or not is an important topic to discuss, but not something State College residents need to worry about. The water here is perfectly fine to drink, and certainly does not raise any flags in terms of safety concerns. There are a lot of places in America, and the rest of the world where a Brita filter will definitely be more useful though, and I wonder how effective Brita filters are in those places where the water might not be as clean.

  4. Emma Murphy

    This post was interesting for me to read because I have been struggling with what the best way to get water is. I currently use a water bottle that I fill up in the water fountain on my dorm floor. I have contemplated buying a case of plastic water bottles but they can take up a lot of space in our small room. Two girl on my floor have a brita filter and I have been considering getting one for myself. After reading this post I have decided that it not only will be more efficient to invest in a brita filter but it would also prevent any of the negative side effects that come from drinking unfiltered tap water.

  5. Daniella Cappello

    Buying a brita never crossed my mind until my roommate suggested it, and I still am unsure if it was a smart buy. Not only do I still experience the grotesque taste of the tap water flowing from these disgusting bathroom sinks, but for some reason I keep finding tiny black things in my water. No they are not bugs but I really am unsure as to what they are. Changed the filter too and still no resolution. So perhaps its just a minor malfunction but I definitely do not fully trust the brita, especially after reading into your blog.

  6. Taras Guanowsky

    Before moving into college, I was told that a water filter was essential. I would have never suspected that there is evidence that they are ineffective. My filter even came with a “dissolved solid indicator” that tested for… dissolved solids? The light indicator changed in between the filtered water and non-filtered water, but I taste no difference between the filtered water and the water fountain. I’m still not convinced on the benefits of filtered water, but I’ll be sure to clean out my filter now, as I can see the water becoming gross over time.

  7. Audra Wren Laskey

    Coming into college my parents suggested me look into getting a Brita for my dorm room, to not use so many plastic water bottles. I am all for saving the earth, but I did not trust the Brita to clean the water coming out of these 60 something year old pipes. After reading your blog and articles, I am thankful for not risking my safety, ecpesally with these old water pipes

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