What Does Brita Filter (and NOT Filter) Out from Water?

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Brita is perhaps the most well-known water filter pitcher brand, and we’re all aware that Brita improves water quality to some extent.

But what exactly do Brita filters remove from tap water? And which contaminants does Brita not remove?

We’ve done the research, and we’ve broken down the data on Brita’s performance data sheets and certification databases in this article.

*Note: this article explicitly discusses the contaminants reduced by Brita water filter pitchers: the Brita Elite and the Brita Standard.

What Does Brita Filter (and NOT Filter) Out from Water

🤔 Do Brita Filters Work?

Yes, Brita filters work. They have been certified by official testing organizations to reduce specific contaminants.

We’ve also personally tested the Brita Elite filter and can confirm that it effectively reduces some of the contaminants that Brita claims to reduce (we can only comment on the contaminants that were present in our water). But that doesn’t mean that Brita filters work to reduce all contaminants.

Brita filters are made from activated carbon media and ion exchange resin. These filter media have been widely proven and are expert-recommended to effectively improve water quality. For example:

  • This Drinking Water and Health evaluation of granular activated carbon for drinking water treatment noted that GAC filter media is recommended by the EPA as the “option of choice” to reduce synthetic organic chemicals in tap water. The report also noted that activated carbon has been used in the US since the 20th century to control tastes and odors in drinking water.
  • The EPA also recommends ion exchange treatment for removing positively-charged and negatively-charged contaminants, including arsenic, chromium-6, cyanide, nitrate, perchlorate, PFAS, sulfate, and uranium (anion exchange) and barium, radium, and strontium (cation exchange).
holding brita elite filter next to pitcher

So, Brita filters work to reduce select contaminants in water and address chlorine taste and odor. But they don’t purify water (nor does Brita claim they can).

That means a Brita filter might work to reduce the contaminants in your tap water, but it might not. It depends on what your water contains.

water testing with tap score

🔎 What Are Brita Pitcher Filters Certified to Remove?

Does Brita Reduce Alcohol?

No, Brita filters aren’t certified to reduce alcohol.

However, the carbon media in Brita filters can effectively address poor water taste and odor. So, while Brita filters have been found to make vodka taste like water, for example, they don’t actually filter out the alcohol itself.

Does Brita Reduce Arsenic?

No, Brita water filters aren’t certified to reduce arsenic.

If your tap water contains arsenic, consider using a system that treats water with reverse osmosis, anion exchange, or ultrafiltration.

Does Brita Reduce Atrazine?

  • The Brita Standard Filter is not certified for atrazine reduction.
  • The Brita Elite Filter is certified by IAPMO to NSF/ANSI 53 for the reduction of select pesticides and herbicides, including atrazine.

Does Brita Reduce Bacteria & Other Microbiological Contaminants?

No, Brita filters don’t filter out bacteria or other microorganisms. Brita pitchers are designed to treat city water only.

If you want to filter untreated water, look for water filters that can be used for this purpose.

Alternatively, you can use a point-of-entry water disinfection system, like a chlorine injection system or a UV water purifier.

Does Brita Reduce Chlorine & Chloramines?

The Brita Elite (formerly Longlast+) Filters are certified by the WQA to NSF Standard 42, to reduce chlorine taste and odor.

Although the Brita website and PDS for the standard filter indicate it is certified by the WQA, the only listing we can find in the database is outdated and shows certification for materials requirements only.

In our own testing, the Brita Elite Filter reduced 100% of chlorine, from 1 PPM down to undetectable levels.

unfiltered vs brita elite chlorine test

Neither Brita filter is certified for chloramine reduction.

Does Brita Reduce Chromium 6?

No, Brita filters aren’t certified to reduce chromium-6.

The best methods of reducing chromium-6 include reverse osmosis systems, water distillers, and anion exchange resins (Brita says the Standard Filter uses ion exchange, but we think it uses a cation exchange resin, which doesn’t address chromium-6).

Does Brita Reduce Fluoride?

No, Brita doesn’t filter fluoride.

If you find concerning levels of fluoride in your drinking water or you prefer not to be exposed to this mineral in your water, I recommend using a water filtration system that does address fluoride. Reverse osmosis systems, bone char carbon filters, activated alumina filters, and water distillers are all effective ways to reduce fluoride.

Does Brita Reduce Hard Water & Remove Minerals?

No, neither Brita filter is designed to address hard water or reduce minerals. Brita filters water, it doesn’t soften it.

Many of Brita’s competitors actually did reduce hardness minerals in our testing. We think the filters’ cation exchange resins reduced these minerals alongside select metal ions. However, the Brita Elite Filter didn’t reduce calcium or magnesium at all in our own tests.

Does Brita Reduce Iron?

No, Brita filters aren’t certified to reduce iron.

Low concentrations of iron can be addressed alongside hard water minerals using a water softener. If your water contains more than 2-3 PPM of iron, your best solution is a whole-home iron removal system.

Does Brita Reduce Lead?

The Brita Elite Filter has a WQA certification to NSF/ANSI Standard 53 for lead reduction.

The Brita Standard Filter is not certified to reduce lead.

Does Brita Reduce Mercury?

The Brita Standard and Elite filters have been certified to NSF/ANSI Standard 53 to reduce mercury. (See the Brita Elite’s WQA certification here).

Does Brita Reduce Microplastics?

The Brita Elite Filter has a WQA certification to NSF/ANSI Standard 401 for the reduction of emerging compounds, including microplastics.

The Brita Standard Filter does not have a microplastics reduction certification.

Does Brita Reduce Nitrates/Nitrites?

No, neither filter for Brita pitchers has been certified to reduce nitrate or nitrites.

In our own testing, the Brita Elite filter reduced around 5% of nitrate – 3.5 PPM was detected in our unfiltered water, which was reduced to 3.3 PPM in our filtered water.

Does Brita Reduce PFAs (Forever Chemicals)?

The Brita Elite Filter has been certified by IAMPO to NSF/ANSI Standard 53 for the reduction of PFOA and PFOS (two of the most commonly studied PFAs in drinking water).

The Brita Standard Filter is not certified to reduce PFAs.

Does Brita Reduce Radioactive Substances?

No, Brita filters are not certified to reduce radioactive substances like uranium, radium, radon, or other radionuclides.

When we tested the Brita Elite filter, our unfiltered water contained 0.014 PPM of uranium. The Elite filter reduced 26% of this contaminant, down to 0.0103 PPM.

The best water filter for reducing these radioactive substances depends on what you need to address. Anion exchange systems address uranium, while cation exchange filters reduce radium, and reverse osmosis systems should address both. Special point-of-entry granular activated carbon filters can trap radon gases. You could also use a POE aeration unit.

Does Brita Reduce Sodium (Salt)?

No, Brita filters aren’t certified to reduce sodium in tap water.

Our test water contained 9.63 PPM of sodium, and this actually increased by 10% to 10.6 PPM post-filtration in the Brita Elite Filter.

The best way to reduce sodium in your water is with a reverse osmosis filter. You could also use a water distiller.

Does Brita Reduce Sulfur Odor (Hydrogen Sulfide)?

No, Brita filters aren’t certified to filter sulfur odor (a rotten egg smell caused by the presence of hydrogen sulfide).

Does Brita Reduce Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)?

No, Brita doesn’t reduce total dissolved solids.

Generally, only reverse osmosis and other water purification processes reduce TDS.

TDS is a combination of unwanted substances and impurities that are not considered dangerous to drink, like calcium and magnesium. Water filters like Brita are only designed to reduce the bad stuff. In our testing, the Brita Elite Filter only reduced TDS by around 2%.

Does Brita Reduce Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products (PPCPs)?

The Brita Elite Filter has a WQA certification to NSF/ANSI Standard 401, for the reduction of Estrone, Ibuprofen, and Naproxen.

The Brita Standard Filter is not certified for pharmaceuticals reduction.

Does Brita Reduce Disinfection Byproducts (DBPs)?

No, Brita isn’t certified to reduce disinfection byproducts.

However, granular activated carbon has been proven effective at reducing disinfection byproducts in numerous studies.

❌ What Does Brita NOT Filter Out?

There are several drinking water contaminants that Brita does not filter out.

These include:

  • Arsenic
  • Fluoride
  • Microorganisms (viruses, bacteria, protozoa)
  • Chloramine
  • Iron
  • Hardness minerals
  • Radiological elements

There are certain contaminants that only one Brita filter has been certified to reduce, and not the other.

Illustration showing what Brita pitcher filters can and can't remove from water

The Brita Standard filter can’t reduce:

  • Lead
  • Benzene
  • Asbestos
  • Particulates
  • Pesticides & herbicides
  • Pharmaceuticals

The Brita Elite filter can’t reduce:

  • Copper
  • Zinc

Many of these contaminants can be reduced with more comprehensive filtration. We’ve reviewed water filters that have effectively addressed fluoride, uranium, lead, and other contaminants that one or both Brita pitchers can’t reduce.

Make sure to test your water before you decide on the best water filter for your situation. You might find that your water only contains a few select contaminants that one of the Brita water filters can target. Or, you might discover that your water contains impurities that need to be addressed with dedicated treatment solutions.

  • 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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