ZeroWater vs Brita: An Objective, Hands-On Analysis

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Brita is one of the longest-standing names in the water filter pitcher industry, and ZeroWater isn’t far behind. 

In this comparative study of ZeroWater and Brita, we’ve analyzed the key performance features of the Brita Elite 10-Cup Tahoe pitcher and the ZeroWater 12-Cup Ready-Pour Pitcher, based on data obtained from our own hands-on testing.

ZeroWater and Brita sell a range of affordable, portable, no-install water filter pitchers and dispensers.

Brita is more affordable than ZeroWater, especially when we consider the ongoing cost of replacement filters. The ZeroWater pitcher did a better job than Brita at reducing our water’s contaminants in our testing, but it also reduced healthy minerals, and disinfection byproducts appeared in our filtered water. 

📊 Our Testing Data

We tested the Zero Water filter and Brita water filter pitchers across 6 key performance metrics, as shared in the table below. 

FactorZeroWaterBrita Elite
Contaminant Reduction8.344.29
Filtration Rate10.0010.00

We’ve shared the individual data that contributes to our scores for both filters in the next table. 

FactorZeroWaterBrita EliteWinner
Overall Score8.626.59ZeroWater
Health Related Contaminants8.303.50ZeroWater
Aesthetic Related Contaminants9.909.90Tie
Performance CertificationNSF/ANSI 42, 53NSF/ANSI 42, 53 & 401Brita Elite
Filtration Rate2.62 GPH2.92 GPHBrita Elite
Component QualityFairFairTie
Component CertificationNSF CertifiedWQA CertifiedTie
Servicing RequirementsOutstandingOutstandingTie
Costs$0.70/ gal$0.17/galBrita Elite
CompanyBelow AverageExcellentBrita Elite

🚰 Contaminant Reduction

To test the Brita and ZeroWater pitchers in this category, we combined the results of our own water tests with evidence of official performance certifications obtained by both manufacturers.

Our Lab Test Results

We conducted a pre- and post-filtration test using Tap Score tests by SimpleLab for the ZeroWater and Brita pitchers. We assessed our test data in comparison to Tap Score’s HGL (Health Guideline Level), a standard that prioritizes human health with more stringent criteria than the EPA’s legal limits.

water testing with tap score

The table below compares the % reduction of contaminants in our source water by ZeroWater and Brita. 

ContaminantMeasurementUnfilteredZeroWater% ChangeBrita Elite% Change
Nitrate (as N)PPM3.50-100.00%3.3-5.71%
Total Dissolved SolidsPPM1378-94.16%134-2.19%

ZeroWater did best here because many of the contaminants detected in our water actually weren’t addressed by Brita at all. 

Health-Related Contaminants

The ZeroWater pitcher was the superior filter when it came to reducing the contaminants present in our water supply. 

Good to Know: We tested Brita Elite with treated groundwater, but it’s not certified to remove many contaminants found in groundwater. Brita removes what it’s tested for, like chlorine and lead. This is why testing before buying a water filter is so vitally important.

Our testing detected 8 contaminants with potential health effects in our unfiltered water. Fluoride and uranium were detected at concentrations above the Tap Score HGL, so these were the most concerning contaminants to us.

Nitrate (as N)PPM3.510
Total Dissolved SolidsPPM137none

The ZeroWater filter pitcher reduced 100% fluoride, uranium, strontium, nitrate, molybdenum, sulfate, and barium in our water. It also reduced 97% copper. We were really pleased with these results. 

There was only one issue that we spotted. Our tests showed that 3.4 PPB of chloroform was present in our filtered water, but not in our unfiltered water.

We think that this disinfection byproduct dissipated from our unfiltered water before we could fill the sample collection vials. However, we know that ZeroWater doesn’t effectively target disinfection byproducts because chloroform was still present in the filtered water.

Like ZeroWater, the Brita Elite did a great job at reducing 100% barium, as well as 97% copper.

But it didn’t do as well at reducing any of the other contaminants with health effects: uranium was only reduced by 26%, strontium by 13%, molybdenum by just 7%, nitrate by just 5%, and fluoride by 0%.

Additionally, 0.1 PPM of additional sulfate was detected post-filtration, from 8.4 to 8.5 PPM. 

We didn’t have the anomaly with chloroform being detected in our filtered water from the Brita Elite, which could mean that it reduced this disinfection byproduct to undetectable levels. However, it’s possible that in this scenario, chloroform dissipated from our filtered water, too, before it could be detected by the lab.

Aesthetic Contaminants

ZeroWater and Brita got equal scores for reducing aesthetic contaminants in our water. 

Our chlorine test strip detected 1 PPM of free chlorine in our unfiltered water, and this was reduced to undetectable levels post-filtration by the Brita Elite and ZeroWater filter pitchers. 

Both these pitchers use activated carbon in their filters, which uses the process of adsorption to address chlorine tastes, and both are certified for chlorine reduction, so we expected this result. 

Once we’d filtered our water, we conducted a taste test for each glass of filtered water and compared it to our unfiltered water taste. We noted that our filtered water from both pitchers had a much cleaner taste, with no chemical aftertaste or “swimming pool” odors. 

Minerals, Salts, & Hardness

As expected, the Brita Elite filter pitcher addressed unhealthy impurities in our water without affecting its healthy minerals and salts concentrations. 

However, ZeroWater pitchers are designed to reduce total dissolved solids. Since minerals and salts contribute to TDS, we expected that these would be reduced in our water. 

Calcium, magnesium, sodium, and 137 PPM of total dissolved solids (TDS) were all present in our unfiltered water. Our testing showed that the ZeroWater pitcher had removed 100% of magnesium and sodium, reduced 99% calcium, and reduced our TDS down to 8 PPM. 

We actually expected our TDS to be reduced to 0, as ZeroWater claims. Interestingly, our TDS meter gave a reading of 0, but we know this tool isn’t as precise as a lab test. 

While we didn’t score ZeroWater and Brita for how they addressed healthy dissolved solids in our water, we do prefer the fact that Brita retains minerals and salts. 

It’s a bit of a catch-22: Brita did a poor job of addressing the contaminants in our water but retained minerals, while ZeroWater did a great job of reducing most of our water’s contaminants but also eliminated its minerals. 

Related: Do Brita filters remove calcium?


We put a lot of weight on performance certifications when we’re reviewing water filters. An official certification by the NSF, IAMPO, or WQA is the most reassuring sign that the filter is capable of reducing harmful contaminants in drinking water. 

We were happy to see that Brita and ZeroWater have both obtained certifications for their contaminant removal performance, although Brita did better because it’s certified to reduce more contaminants than ZeroWater.

The Brita Elite has performance certifications from the IAMPO and the WQA for the reduction of 15 out of the 33 contaminants listed on Brita’s performance data sheet

The ZeroWater 5-Stage Filter is NSF certified to Standard 42 and Standard 53 for the reduction of 6 of the 43 contaminants that the manufacturer claims it can reduce (see the ZeroWater data sheet here).

🚦Filtration Rate

We measured the Brita and ZeroWater filter pitchers’ flow rates in gallons per hour (GPH) to see which filtered our water the fastest. 

The table below highlights our data.

ProductFiltration Rate ScoreFiltration Rate
ZeroWater10.002.62 GPH
Brita Elite10.002.92 GPH

The Brita Elite came out on top here, although both filters were pretty quick in the gravity water system category. 

In our testing, the ZeroWater filtered 0.391 gallons in 08:56 minutes, giving it a filtration rate of 2.62 GPH.

The Brita Elite was a bit faster, filtering 0.391 gallons of water in 8:01 minutes, giving it a flow rate of 2.92 GPH.

Good to Know: We tested both filters when they were relatively new, so we expect that the flow rate for ZeroWater and Brita’s filter will slow as the filters become more saturated with contaminants.

💲 Upfront Cost

We got the ZeroWater 12-Cup Ready-Pour Pitcher for this review, which was priced at $39.99. Of Brita’s offerings, we went for the Brita 10-Cup Tahoe pitcher, which cost $41.99. Both pitchers come with one initial Basic filter cartridge (we purchased the Elite filter separately for our testing). 

That makes Brita the slightly costlier brand upfront, which is unsurprising – even though Brita reduces fewer contaminants, its certifications are more impressive than ZeroWater’s, and customers are generally willing to pay a bit more for a well-known brand name. 

We’ve compared the upfront prices of ZeroWater and Brita filters in the next table.

Brita 10-Cup Tahoe pitcher with Elite filter$41.99
ZeroWater 12-Cup Ready-Pour$39.99

📐 Design

When it comes to filter design, the most important factors we consider are how the systems feel (rigidity, durability, build quality, etc.) and whether or not they’ve been certified for materials safety. 

The next table breaks down the design scores we assigned to the ZeroWater and Brita pitchers.

ProductDesign ScoreComponent QualityMaterials Safety
ZeroWater8.80FairNSF Certified
Brita Elite8.80FairWQA & IAPMO Certified

We awarded the filters identical scores in this category because both have similar plastic designs but both have the advantage of a materials safety certification. 

Filter Models

Here’s the full list of Brita’s current available models that use the Elite filter (an upgrade of its Standard filter): 

These are plastic devices, and they’re all pretty similar in design – the only differences are the location of the filter indicator and how much water they hold. You can choose from a few different colors, including red, blue, black, and white, for your pitcher/dispenser lid and handle.

The Zero Water models that can be used with the 5-Stage Filter are:

ZeroWater pitchers and dispensers come in the standard ZeroWater brand colors, and they’re all plastic apart from the Glass Ready Pour Dispenser.

We think you get a good variety of choices from both brands, but ZeroWater offers a few more design styles and caters to folks who want to avoid plastic, while Brita has better diversity with color choices. 

Component Quality 

We found that our ZeroWater and Brita pitchers looked and felt similar in terms of build quality. 

Both systems have majority-plastic designs. The ZeroWater pitcher is made of BPA-free ABS (a terpolymer) and polypropylene, and the Brita Elite pitcher is made from SAN (Styrene acrylonitrile resin) and polypropylene. 

Brian assembling the ZeroWater 12 cup

These plastics are known for being tough, rigid, and resistant to stains, making them a popular choice for food and water storage. 

But they’re obviously not ideal if you want to limit your exposure to all plastics as much as possible, especially given that these materials, according to this 2023 review of numerous studies, may be “composed of hazardous additives, monomers, and other organic compounds” and can leach microplastics that affect human health. 

Brita has sold glass pitchers in the past, and some retailers still sell them. As we mentioned, ZeroWater also sells a glass dispenser. These will help limit your exposure to plastic, but not avoid it entirely – there’s still plastic in the filter cartridges. 

Filter Materials

Our testing showed us that the ZeroWater pitcher has additional contaminant removal capabilities, so we weren’t surprised to see that its filter design appears to be more comprehensive than the Brita Elite’s. 

ZeroWater’s 5-Stage Filter combines activated carbon media, an ion exchange resin, and three layers of physical filtration.

Brian holding the ZeroWater 12 cup filter cartridge

Brita describes its filter media as “activated carbon core technology”. There’s no mention that the Elite filter contains an ion exchange resin – only the Brita Standard filter seems to contain this – and it doesn’t appear to use any additional forms of physical filtration. 

Both filters house their filter media inside plastic cartridges. 

Materials Safety Certification

Both Brita and ZeroWater have obtained materials safety certifications as a component of their performance certifications. That means they were equal in obtaining top scores in this category. 

ZeroWater got its materials safety certification from the NSF, while Brita was awarded the certification by the WQA. 
Materials safety certifications are particularly reassuring with plastic-based water filter systems, telling us that the systems have been tested and deemed safe for use by a trusted third-party organization.

⚙️ Setup

We wanted to know whether there were any differences in setup time and complexity for the ZeroWater and Brita Elite pitchers. 

We timed how long it took to get both systems assembled and ready for use, and our setup times and scores for the systems are listed in the table below.

ProductSetup ScoreSetup Time
ZeroWater9.50Less than 5 minutes
Brita Elite9.50Less than 5 minutes

Both systems were equally quick and easy to assemble – we just had to attach the filter and fill them up – so we awarded them the same score in this category. 

The ZeroWater pitcher technically had the quicker setup process, but only by a matter of seconds. The convenience of this pitcher was that we didn’t have to prepare the filter in any way before we installed it in the pitcher, so we could start filtering our water straight away. 

The Brita Elite pitcher has the same easy setup process. The only difference is that we had to hold the filter under running water for 30 seconds before we installed it, which was quick and didn’t require any complex tools. 

We also washed both pitchers in warm water and dish soap and dried them thoroughly before our first use. 

The setup process for both filters took us less than 5 minutes – much quicker than it was in the past. We’ve been testing water filter pitchers for years, and we’ve noticed that many manufacturers have recently made it much easier to prepare their filters, with no priming or soaking required.

🔧 Maintenance

We were also keen to compare the maintenance requirements and costs for the ZeroWater and Brita pitchers. 

We’ve shared the maintenance scores we awarded to both pitchers, based on their ease of maintenance and servicing costs, in the table below.

ProductMaintenance ScoreServicing RequirementsCosts
ZeroWater8.25Outstanding$0.70/ gal
Brita Elite9.75Outstanding$0.17/gal

Brita’s score was best here. The ZeroWater pitcher had similar maintenance requirements but a much higher ongoing cost. 

Servicing Requirements 

Both pitchers needed regular filter replacements, and this was the primary maintenance task. 

ZeroWater’s replacement filters also don’t need to be soaked, flushed, or primed, so we just had to swap out the old filter with the new one. 

Brita’s filter replacement process involved holding the filter under running water for 30 seconds, as with the first filter we used. 

Both pitchers have features that helped us to remember when to replace the filters. Brita pitchers use a filter indicator light, which changes color to indicate the filter status, usually based on how much water has been filtered. This isn’t guaranteed to be 100% accurate because it doesn’t account for water quality, but it serves as useful guidance. 

The ZeroWater pitcher comes with a TDS meter, and ZeroWater recommends changing the filter once it measures a TDS reading of 006. This is more accurate than Brita’s filter indicator light because it’s based on the quality of your filtered water, but in our own testing, we found that the TDS meter wasn’t super accurate: it gave a reading of 0 PPM TDS when our lab test detected 8 PPM. 

We also washed both pitchers every few days to prevent scale and particulates from building up in the reservoirs. Both need to be hand-washed and aren’t dishwasher-safe. 

Maintenance Costs

We found that ZeroWater was the costlier pitcher to maintain – and, in fact, was had a higher ongoing cost than all of the other water filter pitchers we tested. 

We used the filter lifespan projections from both manufacturers to calculate ongoing costs. 

Our calculated cost per gallon of the ZeroWater filter, using 25 gallons based on the “typical” information on this chart, was $0.70. The long lifespan of Brita filters (the Elite upgrade) means they have a much lower cost per gallon of just $0.17.

Both filters have similar lifespans, but the cost of owning the ZeroWater pitcher is much higher because its filters are more expensive and Zero Water’s 5-stage filtered water cartridges last for less time than Brita’s. 

We know that the exact frequency of filter changes depends on your water quality and daily water usage, and we plan to test the Brita and ZeroWater filters throughout their lifespans to see how long they last for us, and how this might affect our ongoing spend.

🏢 Company

A company’s warranty offerings, and shipping and return policies, say a lot about its commitment to customer satisfaction. We’ve compared ZeroWater and Brita as companies using this information. 

Find our company scores for both manufacturers in the table below.

ProductCompany ScoreWarranty LengthShippingReturns
ZeroWater7.5090 days (vessels & TDS meters), 30 days (filters)Free shipping on orders above $60 to continental USNo returns
Brita8.501 yearFree shipping on orders over $35 to the lower 48 states30 days

Brita got the better score here because it offers one of the best warranties we’ve seen for water filter pitchers. 

Warranty Length 

Brita offers an industry-leading 1-year warranty for its water filter pitchers, while ZeroWater’s warranty is much shorter: just 30 days for the filters and 90 days for all vessels (pitchers, dispensers, etc.). 


Brita’s free shipping only applies to customers who spend $35 or more on their orders, and ZeroWater has a slightly higher minimum spend of $60 for free shipping (applies to customers in continental US). 


Brita also sets a shining example with its returns policy, offering a 30-day unconditional money-back guarantee for its filter pitchers. ZeroWater doesn’t have a dedicated returns policy.

⛔️ Pitcher Setbacks & Flaws

We also wanted to compare the not-so-positive features of the ZeroWater and Brita Elite filters, so you have all the information you need to make an informed buying decision. 

ZeroWater Setbacks

  • Not certified to reduce as many contaminants – Although ZeroWater claims to reduce more contaminants than Brita, it has fewer official certifications. 
  • Doesn’t effectively reduce disinfection byproducts  – In our testing, we detected disinfection byproducts in water that had been filtered in the ZeroWater pitcher. 
  • Expensive – ZeroWater pitchers are more expensive upfront and have a higher ongoing filter cost than Brita pitchers.

Related: Common Zero Water Filter Problems

Brita Setbacks

  • Only reduces several common contaminants – The Brita Elite filter did a poor job of addressing the contaminants in our water compared to ZeroWater. 
  • Long filter lifespan concerns – We don’t know whether the Brita Elite truly does last 6 months (we’ll update this review when we’ve tested it for this long), but we’re concerned about possible biofilm growth in the filter media over this longer period of use.

Only plastic pitchers available – Brita currently only sells plastic pitchers directly on its website.

🆚 ZeroWater or Brita: Which Should You Choose?

We don’t think ZeroWater or Brita have the very best water filter pitchers or dispensers, but one of these systems might still be ideal for your situation.

We Think You’ll Prefer ZeroWater If: 

  • You want a pitcher that’s capable of reducing more drinking water contaminants. 
  • You like being able to monitor the filter performance with the included TDS meter. 
  • Your goal is to reduce TDS, even at the expense of reducing healthy minerals. 

Go For Brita If: 

  • You want a pitcher that has been certified to reduce more contaminants. 
  • You prefer to go for the most popular brand name and a long filter warranty is a non-negotiable for you. 
  • You want a filter with a longer lifespan.
  • 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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