Do Brita filters actually DO anything?

I was just wondering if I was wasting time and money by bothering to pour Lake Michigan water through one of those activated-charcoal-filterey pitchers.

Just curious,


If you’re actually walking down to Lake Michigan and fetching your water in buckets, yeah, probably. If you’re getting it via a municipal water supply, maybe, maybe not. It might be worth your while, if you’re concerned, to check with your local government for their most recent contaminant statistics to see what’s in there that a carbon filter can remove.

If it’s mainly taste you’re thinking about, well, nobody can judge that but you. I bought a Brita pitcher after trying filtered water at a friend’s house, and I’ve never regretted my investment. On the other hand, I’d be pretty cheap to regret about a $30 investment over two years. :slight_smile:

It’s municipal supply. And I do try to never leave home without my vagina, but she seems to take exception to being referred to that way. :slight_smile:

Activated carbon can remove a variety of contaminants, including many organic chemical compounds and even some metals, such as lead.

If you have chlorinated public water, you should note that there is a trade-off in this method of disinfection. The upside is that chlorination very effectively minimizes the spread of diseases such as cholera. The downside is that because chlorine becomes depleted as it reacts with organic matter present in water, houses nearer the water treatment plant have higher chlorine loads than the farthest tap. Also, a byproduct of chlorine reacting with organic matter is a class of compounds known as trihalomethanes (THMs). Both the residual chlorine present and THMs can be harmful to human health (though far less so than communicable diseases). Activated carbon will remove both.

When I had public water, I installed a sink mounted activated carbon filter for this purpose. You could switch on the filter when needed.

I currently have well water. The only contaminant detected in my well water was naturally occurring radon. Activated carbon will also remove this. I therefore now have a whole-house system composed of three columns of activated carbon that treats my well water where it enters the house. As an added bonus, the carbon will remove many other contaminants should they ever affect my well (which I hope will never happen).

Finally, if you use activated carbon to treat your water, follow the manufacturer’s instructions on when to change the filter. Activated carbon can only remove (via a process known as adsorption) a certain amount of contaminants before experiencing break-through and failure of the filter.

–robby (Environmental Engineer)

You and your vagina can at least be sure that chlorine, lead, copper, mercury, and cadmium are reduced somewhat in the filtered water. This is according to this site.

Consumer reports did a report in 2003, basically stating that they did work and served their intended purpose:

Thanks, Robby. So, I get these benefits despite the fact that the water is simply passing over about three inches worth of loose granules? I do remember reading once that activated charcoal had something on the order of 3 acres of filterable area per gram or something (sorry, can’t cite), but the reason I posted the question was that it seemed to me that with only a gravity assist, that the water would simply flow over the charcoal granules rather than through them and that all of the fine products of the DuPont and Monsanto companies that were in my water when it went in the top of the pitcher would still be there when it got to the bottom.

Things go better with Coke?


If you think that the water that goes into Coke is any more pure than Brita water, you’ve got some googling to do. Tell your vagina I said hi.

Your water from your tap is very likely to be perfectly healthful. But the Brita water is likely to be softer and tastier. You are likely not buying any safety, unless you have old pipes which may contain some lead.

That may not look like much filter, but when I pour orange well-water (high iron content) into the top of my Brita what comes out the bottom is clear. So it certainly does SOMETHING.

Do change the filters when you’re supposed to - in my case, if I don’t I get a color signal from the water, but if you’re filtering a municipal supply you won’t see that.

We used a similar filter before we moved here. When you filled the top reservoir, it took some time, maybe around ten or fifteen minutes, for the water to flow through the filter, so there was a good amount of time for it to work.

Years ago, I made my own two-litre filter carafe from recycled materials, and refilled with charcoal purchased on the cheap at an aquarium supply store. (Philosophically, Britta’s overpriced, wasteful cartridges are offensive to me – although I’ve broken down and started using them out of sheer laziness. One day soon I think I’ll modify one of their cartridges so that it can be opened, cleaned, and refilled.)

Anyway, in Vancouver, water filters are necessary half the year. When it rains a lot, all sorts of nasty gets washed into the reservoir, and the city water comes out of the tap noticibly cloudy. When it rains an extraordinary amount, (like, twice a year or so,) you have to boil the water too, because the sewage overflow finds its way into the water.

Anyway, unfiltered water is often unpotable. As for taste, I’d be interested to know how much of the improved taste of filtered water comes from the lower mineral and chlorine content and how much is simply because it’s been chilled in the refrigerator.

Although the city water here is safe to drink, it tastes like what it is: lake water. The Brita does take out the nasty taste and I use one in my office. At home I have an RO system for drinking and cooking. It has a 2 gallon reserve and will recover about a gallon every three hours.

The difference due simply to filtering can be noticeable. I installed a Pur brand water filter on my kitchen tap, and I could taste the difference between filtered and unfiltered water at the same temperature. The Chicago Museum of Science and Industry also has an exhibit on water, with two identical, unlabeled taps of city vs. bottled water. I drank from both, decided which was the bottled, and checked the answer - I chose correctly, as did the others in my group.

So do these filters remove flouride (thus increasing the risk of tooth decay)?

I live in the Chicago 'burbs and have Chicago water. My Brita pitcher significantly reduces the chlorine taste in the water. It’s well worth it for me. And since I like to keep drinking water in the fridge, I prefer the Brita pitcher to a on-faucet filter.

I can vouch for a Brita pitcher significantly affecting water taste and smell. In my old house, the tap water had a very strong dirt taste and smell, which were completely eliminated by the Brita pitcher. My new place has better tap water, and I can hardly tell the difference, but I run it through the Brita anyway for good measure.

Oh, and for what it’s worth, I can also report that running beer through a Brita filter does not produce water. :slight_smile: What comes out is slightly lighter-colored, flat beer which is unappetizing even if you’re drunk (which you obviously were if you decided to run beer through your Brita pitcher in the first place). It does take a lot longer to seep through than water, though.

Ok, where did this “vagina” thing come from? Did I miss something? Am I too old, and just don’t get it? Did a post get deleted? What?
I did re-read all the posts, up to this one.
I need a joint.
BTW; talk about living dangerously, I drink “spring” water. Tastes good.

Bolding mine.

I have no idea what he was talking about, it just seemed funny to me at the time, so I kept refering to it.