How to Remove Lead From Water: 3 Reliable Solutions

🀝 Our content is written by humans, not AI robots. Learn More

Concerned about drinking lead-contaminated water? If you think your water contains lead, act fast – lead is highly toxic and can cause serious health problems.

In this guide, we’ve shared the most effective methods of removing lead from your water supply.

πŸ“Œ Key Takeaways:

  • Reverse osmosis, water distillation, and NSF 53-certified filters are all the best water treatment methods to remove lead from drinking water.
  • Lead gets into water through lead service lines, pipes, plumbing fixtures, and faucets, and (more rarely) from industrial pollution.
  • You can detect lead in your water by checking your pipes for lead and conducting a drinking water test.

Here are the best three methods to remove lead from water:

βš—οΈ Water Distillation

β˜‘οΈ Lead removal: Up to 99.9%

Water distillation takes place in a distiller, a countertop machine that purifies water through evaporation and condensation.

When water evaporates, most of its impurities are unable to vaporize with the water particles, so they’re left behind in the boiling chamber. Lead is one of these contaminants.

Water then condenses back into liquid form and drips into a clean, separate container.



  • Distillation takes hours. 1 gallon of distilled water takes 4-6 hours to produce.
  • A distiller needs electricity to operate.
filling the imber isla water distiller

🚰 Reverse Osmosis

β˜‘οΈ Lead removal: Up to 99.1%

Reverse osmosis filtration systems also purify water, offering a similar outcome to water distillation.

In a reverse osmosis system, water is forced through several filter stages and a reverse osmosis membrane. The membrane’s pores are tiny, rejecting most contaminants, including lead particles.

The rejected contaminants are flushed down a drain in the system at a constant rate.


  • The reverse osmosis process is highly effective and provides very thorough filtration.
  • An RO system provides much faster purification than distillation – RO purification is almost instant.


Waterdrop g3 p800 RO filter

πŸ“œ NSF/ANSI 53 Certified Filters

β˜‘οΈ Lead removal: Up to 99.0%

An increasing number of drinking water filters now have an NSF 53 certification, for lead removal.

There are numerous different types of NSF/WQA 53-certified filters, including carbon pitcher filters, countertop systems, and whole-home filters.

πŸ‘¨β€πŸ”§ NSF is short for the National Sanitation Foundation, a leading authority in water filtration standards. Water filters might also be certified by the Water Quality Association certification, or IAPMO, two other certification bodies.

The NSF provides certifications for the following filter types:

  • Gravity pitchers/carafes
  • Faucet-mounted filters
  • Countertop filter units connected to a faucet
  • Under-sink water filters
  • Refrigerator filters

If a product is certified by the NSF for Standard 53, it means it has been third-party tested to assure that its lead-filtering capabilities are as effective as advertised.


holding brita elite filter next to pitcher

πŸ”Ž How to Choose The Right Lead Water Filter

So, which lead water filter is right for you? It depends on your personal preferences.

When choosing a product to filter lead, consider the following things:

  • Your budget
  • Your installation and maintenance preferences
  • Any other contaminants you want to remove
  • Your water pressure/flow rate
  • Your preferred speed of water filtration

Before buying a filter, read its customer reviews and see what experts have to say about the filter. Avoid cheap, poorly-made filters with a history of customer dissatisfaction.

Related: See the best filters for lead removal in 2024

πŸ“‰ How Else to Reduce Lead Exposure

There are a few other ways to reduce your lead exposure at home:

  • Consuming only bottled drinking water that’s certified as lead-free by independent testing.
  • Only drinking or cooking with water from your cold tap.
  • Removing your shoes before you enter your home to avoid carrying lead inside.
  • Eating foods high in iron, protein, calcium, and vitamin C, which help decrease lead absorption.

❔ Frequently Asked Questions

Does Boiling Water Remove Lead?

You might assume that boiling water removes lead, but this isn’t the case. When you boil water, some of the water will evaporate, which means you’ll end up with a higher concentration of lead in the same amount of water. So, why is distillation capable of removing lead, but not boiling? Because distillation transfers water particles into a separate clean container.

How do I know if my home has lead water pipes?

Homes built before 1986 typically use lead plumbing, so find out when your property was built. Another way to check is to examine your hot tap water and cold water pipes. Pipes made from lead are soft and dull grey, and when you scrape them with a coin, they’ll reveal a shiny silver layer. Even if your actual pipes and faucets aren’t made from lead, you may still have lead solder between the pipes.

Can activated carbon filters remove lead?

Not all carbon filters remove lead – but some can. A carbon filter’s lead reduction abilities depends on its design. Look for activated carbon filtration cartridges with NSF 53 certifications for lead reduction.

Do Water Softeners Remove Lead from Water?

No, the cation exchange process used in water softeners is unable to reduce lead.

  • Jennifer Byrd
    Water Treatment Specialist

    For 20+ years, Jennifer has championed clean water. From navigating operations to leading sales, she's tackled diverse industry challenges. Now, at Redbird Water, she crafts personalized solutions for homes, businesses, and factories. A past Chamber President and industry advocate, Jennifer leverages her expertise in cutting-edge filtration and custom design to transform water concerns into crystal-clear solutions.

Scroll to Top