Water Filter Pitcher Vs Bottled Water (One Clear Winner in 2024)

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If you’re one of the millions of people who refuse to drink tap water, we don’t blame you. But the cost of bottled water adds up fast.

You might have heard about water filter pitchers, which filter your tap water and make it safe to drink. But is water from a filter pitcher as good as bottled water?


Filtered water from a pitcher can be as good as, or even better than, bottled water. It depends on the manufacturer. Some water filter pitchers produce virtually pure water.

📥 Water Filter Pitchers Explained

Don’t know much about what a water filter pitcher is, or what it does?

Essentially, a water filter pitcher is just like your usual water pitcher. The big difference is that a water filter pitcher has a lid with a filter attached to the underside.

You pour water into the top chamber of the pitcher, and the water flows through the filter before ending up in the filtered water chamber. Then, when you pour from the pitcher, only filtered water can escape.

Most water filter pitchers use an activated carbon filter, made from coconut or charcoal, which adsorbs (grabs onto) contaminants, pulling them out of the water. Some pitchers combine activated carbon with other media, like ion exchange resin, KDF media, and remineralization media.

Traditionally, filtered water pitchers could only remove a handful of contaminants from tap water. Nowadays, there are filter pitchers that can remove more than 200 impurities, producing near-pure, filtered drinking water.

clearly filtered high performance water filtration pitcher

⚖️ Water Filter Pitcher Pros and Cons

👍 Pros


The upfront cost of a pitcher water filtration system is as little as $20, and the annual cost is as low as $50. Compare this to bottled water, which can cost as much as $4 or $5 per bottle. You could save hundreds of dollars switching from bottled water to exclusively using a pitcher water filter.


Using a pitcher water filtration system to produce filtered drinking water in your own home is incredibly convenient. You don’t have to make a trip to the grocery store if you realize you’re out of water – just fill the pitcher from your own faucet, which you can use at any time throughout the day.


You can take a water filter pitcher anywhere. Unlike other types of drinking water systems, filter pitchers don’t need to be connected to your faucet or water line to provide clean, filtered water. You can easily take your pitcher water filtration system to work or on vacation.

Pouring water from water filter pitcher

Thoroughly Filter Water

If you think bottled water is the most filtered water source, think again. Many pitcher water filters do a more thorough job than bottled water manufacturers at removing contaminants. Some pitchers even rival reverse osmosis, removing hundreds of impurities from water.

Easy to Install and Use

Many people are put off the idea of a filtration system because they can’t be bothered with the hassle of installing and maintaining the system. Pitcher water filters are some of the easiest to use, requiring virtually no setup and very simple maintenance. Once you’ve assembled the pitcher, you simply pour from the spout, and filtered water will come out.

Assembling a water filter pitcher

Good For the Environment

You can re-use the same pitcher filtration system for years, helping you to massively cut down on your plastic waste. Many water pitcher manufacturers have recycling programs for their filters, too, so you can responsibly dispose of your used filters when making replacements.

Reliable and Effective

Not all water filters are equal, but most filtered water pitchers use a highly reliable filtration media called activated carbon. At the very least, activated carbon filters remove harmful chemicals like chlorine, and the tastes and odors associated with this.

Guaranteed Clean Water Source

You never know when your home’s water supply might be compromised. With a filtered water pitcher, you can always be prepared for an emergency scenario. While your neighbors will be rushing to clear the supermarkets of their bottled water supply, you’ll already have your solution ready and waiting.

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👎 Cons

Slightly More Effort Required

If you’re comparing bottled water vs filtered water pitchers, there’s no arguing with the fact that bottled water requires the least effort. That’s not to say that a pitcher filtration system is full-hassle, but you’ll need to do a bit more than simply open a cap and drink.

Changing the filter of water pitcher

Replacement Water Filters Needed

The water filters inside a pitcher filtration system don’t last forever. Most filters need to be replaced after three months, depending on your water quality and usage. Replacing the filters is easy, but you’ll still need to go to more effort than you would with a plastic bottle of water.

🍶 Bottled Water Explained

We all know what bottled water is on a basic level: water that’s sold in plastic water bottles at the supermarket.

There are several types of bottled water available today:

  • Spring water
  • Mineral water
  • Filtered/purified water
  • Artesian water
  • Sparkling spring water
Bottled water in market

It’s a myth that all bottled water is good for you, or better for you than tap water. Bottled water can still contain traces of contaminants – just like tap water. Some bottled water comes from the same reservoirs that tap water comes from.

However, some bottled water products are treated with a special type of filtration, such as reverse osmosis, which removes the contaminants that are commonly found in drinking water.

Many bottled water sources are mineral-rich streams and glaciers, which means that the water has a more enjoyable, alkaline mineral taste.

Related: Do alkaline water filter pitchers really work?

⚖️ Bottled Water Pros and Cons

👍 Pros


Although we think that filtering your own tap water is the most convenient, there’s no denying the convenience of bottled water. When you’re out and about, you can pack a bottle in your bag, or buy one from the local grocery store. No matter where you are, you can stay hydrated with great-tasting water from the bottle.

Women holding bottled water

Some Products are Tastier than Tap Water

Drinking bottled water from a mineral-rich water source is much more appealing than drinking chlorinated tap water. Filtered water from the bottle tastes nicer than tap water, too, because the impurities contributing to poor tastes and odors have been removed. The more you enjoy drinking water, the more you’re likely to drink.

Reliable Source

Your favorite bottled water brand is likely to deliver the same great-tasting water again and again. The legitimate bottled water manufacturers have stringent testing and cleaning facilities to ensure their water is safe for consumption. Local municipalities also clean our tap water before delivering it to our homes, but contamination and pollution are more likely.

Inspection of bottled water processing plant

👎 Cons

Industry Isn’t Closely Regulated

Many people assume that the bottled water industry is carefully regulated, but it isn’t. The reality is that tap water is actually regulated more stringently than bottled water. While municipal water suppliers must comply with the EPA’s drinking water regulations, bottled water manufacturers only need to follow loose guidelines set by the FDA.

Some Bottled Water Is Filtered Tap Water

When you picture bottled water, you imagine flowing mountain springs or cool, clear glaciers. The reality is that many bottled water products are simply filtered tap water. In that case, you may as well just filter your own tap water at home for a fraction of the price.

Bad For the Environment

We all know the environmental impact of single-use plastic, and bottled water products are some of the biggest sources of plastic pollution in the US, with an estimated 15 million tons of plastic entering the world’s oceans every year. Drinking from plastic bottles is one of the least environmentally-friendly habits to have.

Water bottle plastics harming the environment


The cost of bottled water racks up. If your whole family only drinks bottled water, you’ll go through tens of bottles every week, hundreds per month, and thousands per year. This will set you back hundreds of dollars that you could otherwise spend on a more environmentally-friendly clean water solution – or just a weekend vacation.

Leach Chemicals into Water

Bottled water comes in single-use plastic bottles, which contain hormone-altering chemicals like bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates. Over time in storage, the chemicals leach out of the plastic bottles and into the drinking water, especially if water is exposed to high temperatures (such as left in a hot car in the sun).

🆚 Bottled Water Vs Filtered Water Pitchers: Which Is Best?

In this bottled water vs pitcher filters comparison, pitcher filters are the clear winner.

Here’s why:

  • Unlike bottled water, filtered pitchers don’t contribute to plastic waste and don’t have a huge environmental impact.
  • Some filter pitchers are as effective as reverse osmosis systems, removing hundreds of contaminants and producing pure, contaminant-free drinking water.
  • Pitcher-filtered water tastes clean and fresh – better than bottled drinking water, in some cases.
  • Many major bottled water brands just provide a filtered municipal water supply, so you may as well filter your water yourself.
  • You don’t need to get a filtration system installed at your water line. Filtered water pitchers are easy to set up, requiring virtually no installation.
Pitcher filter versus bottled water

🧠 Bottled Water Vs Water Pitchers FAQ

What are the best filtered water pitcher brands?

Some of our favorite water pitcher filter brands are Clearly Filtered, Epic, Invigorated Water, PUR, and Proone. We’ve tested and reviewed tens of pitcher filters on today’s market, and these manufacturers have proved themselves superior, removing hundreds more contaminants more effectively than their competitors. You can learn more about the best pitcher filtration systems available today in our complete guide.

Should we ban bottled water?

Some parts of the world have already banned the use of plastic water bottles, including regions in the UK and Australia, and San Francisco, CA. There are clear environmental benefits to banning bottled water. However, the economical effect of banning the products offered by large bottle water retailers could be significant, given how many millions of dollars the bottled water industry makes every year.

Is it better to drink filtered water?

Yes, it’s better to drink filtered water from a pitcher than drink bottled water. While bottled water drinkers might argue that bottled water is tasty, healthy and convenient, filtered tap water tastes great, has the same convenience, and is just as healthy – sometimes even more so.

Is bottled water dangerous?

Not unusually. However, chemicals from plastic water bottles can leach into bottled water, and these pose a health risk. While drinking bottled water won’t kill you, it’s safer to drink from reusable bottles filled with filtered municipal water.

How bpa gets absorbed into your body

Is filtered water better than bottled water?

Yes! Filtered water is generally cleaner, purer, and better for the environment than water in plastic bottles. Depending on the filtration process, filtered water can taste better than bottled water, too.

How much do pitcher water systems cost?

The average upfront cost of a pitcher water system is $20-$30. You’ll need to replace filters periodically, costing about $50 per year, depending on the brand. The cost savings alone make filtering your own water with a pitcher worth it.

Is bottled water RO water?

Not necessarily. Don’t assume that all bottled water has been treated with reverse osmosis. Some bottled water is simply water from natural springs, while other bottled water products are mildly filtered tap water. Read the label carefully to find out how your water source has been treated.

  • 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.

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