PUR vs ZeroWater: An Objective, Data-Driven Analysis

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PUR and ZeroWater are two popular brands best known for their water filter pitchers.  

In this comprehensive evaluation of PUR vs ZeroWater, we’ve put the PUR Plus and ZeroWater water filter pitchers head-to-head, comparing their performance features using our own generated test data and metrics from official reliable sources. 

PUR and ZeroWater both sell a series of water filter pitchers and dispensers, which provide a convenient, affordable at-home water filtration solution.

Both brands are affordable, but ZeroWater’s ongoing cost of filters is much higher than PUR’s, and PUR has been certified to remove more contaminants. In our testing, the ZeroWater pitcher did a better job at reducing the contaminants detected in our water, but we were disappointed that both filters also greatly reduced healthy minerals.

📊 Our Testing Data

The next table highlights the 6 key metrics we used to test and rank the ZeroWater and PUR water filter pitchers. You can compare the results for both filters here. 

Contaminant Reduction5.288.34
Filtration Rate10.0010.00

Here’s the data behind each of our scoring categories, so you can see all the factors we considered when awarding our scores. 

Overall Score7.088.62ZeroWater
Health Related Contaminants4.508.30ZeroWater
Aesthetic Related Contaminants9.509.90ZeroWater
Performance CertificationNSF/ANSI 42, 43, & 401NSF/ANSI 42 & 43PUR
Filtration Rate2.82 GPH2.62 GPHPUR
Component QualityFairFairTie
Component CertificationNSF CertifiedNSF CertifiedTie
Servicing RequirementsOutstandingOutstandingTie
Costs$0.27/ gal$0.70/ galPUR
Warranty Length90 days (vessels); 30 days (filters)90 days (vessels & TDS meters); 30 days (filters)Tie
ShippingDepends on distributor$60 order thresholdTie

🚰 Contaminant Reduction

Our first step was to see how effectively the PUR Plus and ZeroWater pitchers reduced the contaminants in our water supply. We also wanted to know whether or not the filters were performance certified, and if so, how their performance certifications compared. 

Our Lab Test Results

We used Tap Score tests by SimpleLab to test our water before and after filtering it through the PUR and ZeroWater pitchers. We then analyzed our test data against Tap Score’s own HGL (Health Guideline Level), which places a higher emphasis on human health and maintains stricter criteria than the federal MCLs.

water testing with tap score

See the contaminants in our source water, and the % reduction by PUR and ZeroWater, in this next table. 

ContaminantMeasurementPUR Pre-FiltrationPUR Post-Filtration% ChangeZeroWater Pre-FiltrationZeroWater Post-Filtration% Change
Total THMsPPBNDNDND03.4n/a
Nitrate (as N)PPM3.52-42.86%3.50-100.00%

ZeroWater was the best-performing filter in this category because it targeted a lot of contaminants that the PUR filter was unable to reduce. 

Health-Related Contaminants

The ZeroWater pitcher got a much higher score than the PUR Plus for removing health-related contaminants from our water. 

Good to Know: We tested treated, disinfected groundwater to obtain this data. Some of the contaminants present weren’t addressed by the PUR Plus, which we think is best suited for filtering treated surface water supplies. PUR doesn’t claim that its filter can reduce most of the contaminants detected in our water, which highlights the importance of testing your water and ensuring you buy a filter that’s designed to reduce the contaminants present. 

8 contaminants with potential health effects were detected in our unfiltered water (see the table below). We were most concerned about fluoride and uranium, which were detected at concentrations above the Tap Score HGL.  


7 out of these 8 contaminants were reduced by the PUR Plus pitcher: strontium was reduced by 100%, copper by 98%, uranium by 80%, nitrate by 42%, molybdenum by 23%, and sulfate and barium by just 4%. Our water’s fluoride concentrations were exactly the same post-filtration – a 0% reduction. 

Like PUR, ZeroWater reduced 100% strontium in our water. It reduced 97% copper (just shy of PUR’s 98% copper removal), but outperformed the PUR Plus for all other contaminants, removing 100% uranium, nitrate, molybdenum, sulfate, and barium, as well as 100% fluoride. 

There was one anomaly with our results: 3.4 PPB of chloroform was detected only in our ZeroWater filtered water. We believe this volatile disinfection byproduct had dissipated from our unfiltered water sample before we could fill the collection vials. Its presence in our filtered water told us that ZeroWater doesn’t effectively target disinfection byproducts. 

Given that we used the same water supply in our PUR test, does that mean that the PUR Plus definitely can reduce disinfection byproducts? Potentially, yes. But there’s always the possibility that chloroform had also dissipated from our PUR filtered water before we could collect our water sample*. We can’t know for certain either way. 

*Our sample collection method involved filling a large bucket with the water sample, which was then used to fill a selection of pitchers we were testing. We took the unfiltered water sample from the bucket last when it had less water in it to make sample collection easier.

Aesthetic Contaminants

PUR and ZeroWater did an equally good job of addressing aesthetic contaminants in our water. 

We used the chlorine test strip included in our Tap Score kit, which detected around 1 PPM of free chlorine in our tap water. 

We repeated the test on our filtered water, and 0 PPM of chlorine was detected, telling us that both filters had eliminated chlorine by 100%. We’d expected this given that both filters have an activated carbon element, which is commonly employed specifically for addressing chlorine tastes and odors in water. 

After filtering our water, we taste-tested samples from both filters and detected a noticeably cleaner taste, with no “swimming pool” odors or chemical tastes. 

Minerals, Salts, & Hardness

The PUR and ZeroWater pitchers use filters, not purifiers, which generally means that they target harmful contaminants while retaining healthy minerals and salts. 

But ZeroWater’s marketing is heavily focused on the filter’s ability to reduce TDS, so we knew that our filtered water’s dissolved solids, minerals, and hardness concentrations would reflect this. 

Our unfiltered water contained trace amounts of calcium, magnesium, and sodium, 90 PPM of hardness, and 137 PPM of total dissolved solids (TDS).

Post-filtration in the ZeroWater, our water’s magnesium and sodium concentrations had been reduced by 100%, calcium by 99%, and hardness down to 0 PPM. Our water’s pH also dropped slightly to 7.0, but this didn’t concern us as it was still neutral. 

TDS was reduced down to 8 PPM, as we’d expected – although ZeroWater claims to reduce TDS to 0, and our included TDS meter gave a reading of 0 too, suggesting it isn’t a completely precise measurement tool.

Zerowater tds meter

What we didn’t expect was for the PUR filter to produce a similar outcome. 

The PUR Plus pitcher reduced magnesium by 95%, calcium by 96%, and hardness down to 3.83 PPM. Even more surprising, our water’s sodium concentration actually increased 388%, from 9.63 PPM to 47 PPM.

Our water’s pH remained the same, and TDS was only reduced by 10 PPM (likely because calcium and magnesium were exchanged for sodium).

We believe that the PUR Plus reduced minerals similarly to the ZeroWater pitcher because they both use a cation exchange resin. The likely reason for the increase in sodium in the PUR filtered water is that the sodium ions in the filter’s resin were ‘kicked off’ in exchange for calcium and magnesium ions. 


We know that many folks look for performance certifications as a non-negotiable when choosing a water filtration system to buy.

Both PUR and ZeroWater have obtained performance certifications to support their contaminant removal claims, which is great. But the PUR Plus is the best filter in this category because it has an NSF certification to Standards 42, 53, and 401 for 100% of contaminants that PUR claims to remove.

The ZeroWater 5-Stage Filter is NSF certified to Standard 42 and Standard 53 for reducing mercury, lead, chlorine taste and odor, chromium 6, PFOA, and PFOS. This is still reassuring, but we wish ZeroWater would get its filter certified to reduce more than 6 out of the 43 contaminants it’s claimed to reduce.

🚦Filtration Rate

The PUR Plus and ZeroWater pitcher are both gravity filters, so their flow rates are measured in gallons per hour (GPH).

We’ve compared the filtration rate for both systems in the table below.

ProductFiltration Rate ScoreFiltration Rate
PUR10.002.82 GPH
ZeroWater10.002.62 GPH

We timed how long it took to filter water in both systems, then compared their filtration speeds.  The PUR Plus just won this one, but both were pretty fast for gravity filters. 

In our testing, the PUR Plus filtered 0.25 gallons of water in 5:19 minutes, giving it a filtration rate of 2.82 GPH, while the ZeroWater filtered 0.391 gallons in 08:56 minutes, giving it a filtration rate of 2.62 GPH.

When we tested the filters, they were both relatively new. That means their rate of filtration was fastest because the filter media was uncompromised. Over time, it’s normal to see a decrease in flow rate, particularly in gravity filters that aren’t pressurized, as the filter media becomes clogged with contaminants.  

💲 Upfront Cost

For this review, we got the PUR Plus 7-cup pitcher (it was the only size available in our local Walmart), which cost $26.99 including the initial filter. The initial filter was the basic PUR filter, so we purchased the PUR Plus filter separately to use for this project.

As for ZeroWater, we went for the 12-Cup Ready-Pour Pitcher, which was priced at $39.99. 

We can’t directly compare these prices because ZeroWater’s pitcher is bigger, but we think both brands offer a very similar value for money upfront. PUR’s 11-cup pitcher costs $37.49 – so very similar to ZeroWater’s 12-cup pitcher price. 

PUR is exclusively sold by third parties, while ZeroWater can be bought directly from the manufacturer or from some big box stores. Expect to see different prices at different stores. 

Take a look at the price comparison for PUR and ZeroWater in the next table. 

ProductPriceFilters Included
PUR Plus 7-cup pitcher$26.99Basic PUR filter
ZeroWater 12-Cup Ready-Pour Pitcher$39.99Not mentioned

📐 Design

There were two factors that we considered when comparing PUR and ZeroWater for design: 

  • How the systems looked, felt, and held up in our own testing
  • Whether or not the systems were certified for materials safety

We’ve shared our individual and overall design scores for both filters below. 

ProductDesign ScoreComponent QualityMaterials Safety
PUR 8.80FairNSF Certified
ZeroWater8.80FairNSF Certified

Both filters got identical scores across the board in this category because they have similar plastic designs and are both certified for materials safety. 

Filter Models

PUR currently sells three water filter pitchers and one dispenser that use the PUR Plus water filter. These are:

A few PUR pitchers can be bought with different colored lids and handles, including black, grey, and blue.

pur pitcher with plus filter cartridge on counter

The ZeroWater 5-Stage Filter can be used in multiple different water filter pitchers and dispensers:

ZeroWater doesn’t offer a choice of colors – most of its systems are blue, white, and clear. All the pitchers and dispensers are plastic apart from the Glass Ready Pour Dispenser.

zerowater pitcher and dispensers on countertop table

In terms of product diversity, ZeroWater offers a few more choices, including a glass dispenser for folks who want to avoid plastic use. But PUR gives a better choice of colors. 

Component Quality 

We noted that the PUR and ZeroWater pitchers we tested had a very similar feel and quality, so their scores were identical in this category. 

Both systems are made from plastic:

  • The PUR pitcher and reservoir are made from NAS or SAN plastics, and the filter housings and lids are made of BPA-free polypropylene plastic.
  • The ZeroWater pitcher is made of BPA-free polypropylene and ABS (a terpolymer). 

All the plastics used in ZeroWater and PUR pitchers are BPA-free, and are widely used in products that store food and water due to their durable and lightweight qualities. We felt that both pitchers felt sturdy and ergonomic, and both were easy to carry and pour from.

However, they’re obviously not ideal if you want to limit your exposure to plastic wherever possible, especially given the research into microplastics leaching from polypropylene. 

ZeroWater’s glass water filter dispenser is the best option for folks who don’t want an all-plastic filter, although there’s still plastic in the filter itself.  

Filter Materials

The filters used in the PUR and ZeroWater pitchers have super similar designs. 

PUR filters are granular activated carbon-based, and they also use an ion exchange media.

holding a pur pitcher filter replacement cartridge

ZeroWater’s 5-Stage Filter also uses activated carbon media, as well as a combination of cation and ion exchange resins and three additional layers of physical filtration.

Brian holding the ZeroWater 12 cup filter cartridge

In both filters, the media is housed inside a plastic cartridge.

Materials Safety Certification

A component of both PUR and ZeroWater’s performance certifications is a certification for materials safety. That means both manufacturers got equally high scores in this category.

Both manufacturers obtained their materials safety certification from the NSF.

We find this super reassuring because it tells us that the pitchers have been tested by a trusted third-party organization and deemed safe and suitable for their purpose.

⚙️ Setup

We timed the setup process for the PUR and ZeroWater pitchers to see which was easier and quicker to assemble. 

We’ve shared these timings, and our setup scores for both systems, below.

ProductSetup ScoreSetup Time
PUR9.50Less than 5 minutes
ZeroWater9.50Less than 5 minutes

Both filters were essentially equal in this category, so they obtained the same setup scores. 

The ZeroWater pitcher was ever so slightly quicker to set up because we didn’t have to prime, soak, or flush the filter before we could use it, while the PUR filter needs to be held under running water for 30 seconds before it can be installed. 

Otherwise, setup was identical for both pitchers. We just: 

  • Washed the pitchers and reservoirs in warm, soapy water
  • Dried them thoroughly
  • Inserted the filter into the bottom of the reservoir
  • Filled the reservoir with cold water, ready to filter 

Setup took less than 5 minutes for both filters and couldn’t have been easier. We think it’s great that many water filter pitcher manufacturers have addressed previous complaints regarding filter soaking and priming before use, and have determined how to fast track or avoid this process altogether.

🔧 Maintenance

We assessed PUR and ZeroWater’s maintenance requirements, including how often their filters needed replacing, how difficult the filter change process was, and how much they cost to maintain in the long run. 

The table below indicates the maintenance scores we assigned to both pitchers. 

ProductMaintenance ScoreServicing RequirementsCosts
PUR9.75Outstanding$0.27/ gal
ZeroWater8.25Outstanding$0.70/ gal

PUR got the better score here. ZeroWater’s score was pulled down because of its more expensive ongoing maintenance cost.

Servicing Requirements 

Replacing the filters was the primary maintenance task for the PUR and ZeroWater pitchers. 

Again, ZeroWater’s replacement filters needed no priming, soaking, or flushing, so all we had to do was remove the old filter and put the new one in its place. 

PUR was similar, except we had to hold the new filter under running water for 30 seconds first, as we’d done with the initial filter. 

running new pur filter cartridge under cold water before installation

Many of PUR’s pitchers use a filter change indicator light that changes color to let you know when a filter replacement is needed. ZeroWater recommends using the included TDS meter and changing the filter once the TDS reading increases to 006.

Another maintenance task was cleaning the pitchers every few days, which was quick and easy to do. PUR pitchers are dishwasher safe (not the filters themselves, which must be removed), but ZeroWater pitchers should be hand-washed only. 

Maintenance Costs

According to our calculations, PUR is much cheaper to maintain than ZeroWater.

We determined the ongoing costs of both filters based on the manufacturers’ projected filter lifespan information. 

The PUR Plus’ long-term filter cost is $0.27/gallon, while ZeroWater’s is much higher, at $0.70/ gallon (we calculated this using 25 gallons based on the “typical” information on this chart). 

That means that although both filters have similar lifespans, ZeroWater is the more expensive system to own in the long run because its filters are costlier to replace. 

🏢 Company

It’s important to look not only at the filter, but at the company behind it. In this category, we compared PUR and ZeroWater as manufacturers, analyzing their shipping and returns policies, and the warranties they offer. 

In the next table, we’ve shared our company scores for PUR and ZeroWater based on the individual data. 

ProductCompany ScoreWarranty LengthShippingReturns
PUR7.5090 days (vessels); 30 days (filters)Depends on distributorNone
ZeroWater7.5090 days (vessels & TDS meters); 30 days (filters)Free shipping on orders over $60 to customers in continental USNone

Both brands were equal here because none of them blew us away in this category. 

Warranty Length 

PUR warrants its pitchers for 90 days and its filter cartridges for 30 days. ZeroWater’s warranty is exactly the same: 90 days for all vessels (pitchers, dispensers, etc.), and 30 days for the filters. 


PUR systems are only sold through distributors: Target, Amazon, Walmart, etc. That means there’s no specific PUR shipping policy – just the varying policies of the different distributors, which typically require customers to meet an order threshold to qualify for free shipping. 

ZeroWater’s shipping policy is more straightforward: it ships all orders above $60 to customers in continental US for free. 


Both companies were disappointing here – neither offers a dedicated returns policy.

⛔️ Pitcher Setbacks & Flaws

We want our readers to know the full story before they invest in a water filter, which means sharing the not-so-good as well as the good. Here, we’ve compared the setbacks we noticed when testing the PUR and ZeroWater filter pitchers. 

PUR Plus Setbacks

  • Revoked its lead certification – The PUR Plus filters used to be certified to reduce lead, but now this certification has been replaced by a microplastics reduction certification. 
  • Only tested to reduce a handful of contaminants – There are only 19 contaminants listed on the PUR Plus contaminant datasheet that the filter can reduce. The filter hasn’t been tested to reduce chromium-6, fluoride, arsenic, nitrates, or other common harmful contaminants.
  • No non-plastic pitcher options – Unlike ZeroWater, PUR only sells plastic water filter pitchers.

ZeroWater Setbacks

  • Not certified to reduce all contaminants that the manufacturer claims to reduce – ZeroWater has only obtained performance certifications for its ability to reduce 6 contaminants. 
  • Didn’t address disinfection byproducts – Disinfection byproducts were still present in our water supply after filtering it through the ZeroWater pitcher. 
  • Not dishwasher safe – ZeroWater pitchers should be hand-washed only, which might be a dealbreaker for folks who use their dishwasher whenever possible. 
  • Expensive ongoing cost – We found ZeroWater’s ongoing filter cost more expensive than any other pitcher we tested.

Setbacks of Both Pitchers

  • Reduced minerals – In our testing, both filters almost completely eliminated the healthy minerals present in our water.
  • Short filter lifespan – Both PUR and ZeroWater systems have disappointingly short filter lifespans.

🆚 PUR or ZeroWater: Which One’s for You?

We think both PUR and ZeroWater are solid offerings in the water filter pitcher market, but one might be better suited to you depending on your preferences and situation.

Choose the PUR Plus Pitcher If:

You want a water filter pitcher that has been certified to reduce 100% of contaminants claimed to reduce.
You prefer to spend less money upfront and in the long run on a more affordable pitcher.
You want a dishwasher-safe pitcher.

You’ll Prefer ZeroWater If: 

You want a pitcher that’s capable of reducing more drinking water contaminants. 
A filter with a lead-removal certification is a non-negotiable for you. 
You like the idea of being able to keep track of the filter lifespan with the included TDS meter. 
  • Brian Campbell
    President & CEO, CWS, CWR

    Brian Campbell, a WQA Certified Water Specialist (CWS) and Certified Water Treatment Representative (CWR) with 5+ years of experience, helps homeowners navigate the world of water treatment. After honing his skills at Hach Company, he founded his business to empower homeowners with the knowledge and tools to achieve safe, healthy water. Brian's tested countless devices, from simple pitchers to complex systems, helping his readers find the perfect fit for their unique needs.

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