Reverse osmosis is one of the most effective water filtration processes, but it’s also one of the most expensive. You might be wondering whether there’s a cheaper, more portable way to enjoy the benefits of reverse osmosis – say, in a water filter pitcher.
Do revere osmosis water filter pitchers exist? Is it possible for RO membrane filtration to take place in a water pitcher? We’ve shared everything you need to know in this guide.
📌 Key Takeaways:
- Reverse osmosis water filter pitchers don’t exist.
- The reason why water pitchers don’t use reverse osmosis is that the RO process wastes water, requires high water pressure, and uses multiple stages of filtration that wouldn’t fit in a single pitcher.
- However, some manufacturers now offer countertop RO systems that filter water into a pitcher.
Table of Contents
🤔 Can You Buy Reverse Osmosis Water Filter Pitchers?
No, you can’t currently buy water pitchers that use reverse osmosis filters.
Currently, reverse osmosis systems are available in much larger countertop units, as well as under-sink systems, and (more rarely for residential use) whole-home systems.
🔎 Why Aren’t Reverse Osmosis Water Filter Pitchers Available?
Sadly, the likelihood of a manufacturer ever inventing a reverse osmosis water filter pitcher is very low. This is due to the unchangeable design of a reverse osmosis system.
It would be impossible to put all the stages of RO filtration, as they are now, into a filtered water pitcher.
Let’s explain what we mean in more detail.
RO Filters Wouldn’t Fit In A Pitcher
There are multiple stages of RO filtration, including a sediment filter, a carbon filter, an RO membrane, and a polishing carbon filter.
While some water filter pitcher manufacturers combine numerous filter stages (such as carbon and ion exchange resin) in a single filter media, this simply isn’t possible with reverse osmosis.
The only way to achieve the thorough filtration process that RO is known for is to use numerous full-sized filters, including a separate RO membrane. All these filter stages simply wouldn’t fit inside a small water filter pitcher.
RO Requires High Water Pressure
For the reverse osmosis process to work, water must be forced through the semi-permeable membrane at a high pressure.
This water pressure can only be achieved by the pressure in your pipes when you turn on a faucet., or by an internal pump within the system.
Water pitcher filters use the force of gravity, which is nowhere near as strong as the water pressure in your pipes, to send water through the filter. Gravity filtration takes minutes, rather than seconds, and doesn’t provide the force required to send water through the membrane.
📌 If you were to try to install a reverse osmosis membrane in even the best water filter pitcher, the water would get trapped in the RO chamber just before the membrane, unable to pass through.
RO Wastes Water
A reverse osmosis system can’t operate without producing some water waste.
The contaminants rejected by the semi-permeable membrane need somewhere to go. Rather than clogging up the RO chamber, they’re washed away down a drain – along with a small amount of wastewater.
Pitcher water filters don’t have a drain line (like under-sink reverse osmosis systems), nor do they have a special container for storing the wastewater (like countertop reverse osmosis units).
For this reason, they’re unable to accommodate the wastewater requirements of an RO water filtration system.
⚗️ Can Any Water Filter Pitcher Produce RO Water?
No. Some pitcher water filters offer an incredibly thorough contaminant removal, reducing hundreds of drinking water impurities. But no filtered water jug can use reverse osmosis, so no pitcher can produce the high-purity water of an RO system.
With that said, you do have a few options if you simply want to collect reverse osmosis water in a pitcher filter.
For instance, there are a few countertop reverse osmosis units that filter tap water into a water pitcher, such as the Waterdrop M5.
You could also dispense reverse osmosis drinking water from your tap into a standard pitcher, then store that pitcher in the fridge, if you want access to cool, refrigerated RO water.
🆚 Water Filter Pitchers Vs Reverse Osmosis Systems
Now we know that an RO water filtration system can’t be installed in a water pitcher, let’s take a look at the differences between water filter jugs and reverse osmosis.
Contaminants Removed By Water Filter Pitchers
A water filter pitcher removes the most commonly occurring contaminants in a tap water supply, including:
- Water taste and odor
- Volatile organic compounds
- Disinfection byproducts
- PFOA and PFAS
- Pesticides and herbicides
- Other heavy metals
Water filter jugs provide thorough filtration – in fact, some pitchers remove 200-300+ contaminants – but they’re not as thorough as reverse osmosis.
Contaminants Removed By Reverse Osmosis
Reverse osmosis offers a much more thorough filtration. RO systems purify water by removing virtually everything, including:
- Chlorine taste and odor
- Disinfection byproducts
- Most other chemicals
- All heavy metals
- PFOA and PFAS
- Pesticides and herbicides
- Nitrate and nitrite
- Minerals and salts
📌 If you want to protect your family from all possible dissolved solids in your drinking water, RO is the way. The only issue with reverse osmosis is that it removes the good stuff from contaminated water, including beneficial minerals that give water a pleasant alkaline taste.
Pros & Cons of Water Filter Pitchers
- They’re affordable, costing less than $100 upfront
- They remove all the most common contaminants from water
- Maintenance is easy as most pitchers use just one filter, so you only need to replace the same filter every time
- They’re compact, lightweight, and portable
- They’re super simple to use. Simply fill the jug and wait for the water to filter.
- The carbon filters in most pitchers don’t usually have a long lifespan (2 months is average)
- Badly-designed filters may contaminate your water with bacteria
- They provide slow filtration, taking up to 20 minutes to filter a single jug of water
- You’ll need to hand-clean the jug at least twice a month.
Pros & Cons of Reverse Osmosis Systems
- They use multi-stage filtration to reduce a broad range of contaminants, significantly improving water’s taste and smell
- They produce bottled water quality from your faucet
- They provide purified water on demand
- They target difficult-to-remove contaminants, like fluoride and bacteria
- They need more replacement filters than pitchers
- They’re more expensive, costing hundreds or even thousands of dollars upfront
- They remove healthy minerals from water and increase water’s acidity.
📑 Should You Buy A Filtered Water Jug Or A Reverse Osmosis System?
So, which should you buy – a water filter jug or a reverse osmosis filter?
It depends on what you’re looking for. We think that pitcher jugs are ideal for most people because they’re affordable and have the potential to remove the biggest problem contaminants in a municipal drinking water supply. But if you want the very best filtration that money can buy, and your budget knows no ends, consider reverse osmosis.
Keep in mind that not all jug filters are equal. For instance, the Clearly Filtered pitcher reduces more than 365 contaminants, while the Brita filter reduces less than 10. If you’re keen to buy a water pitcher, make sure you spend your money wisely.