Thursday, October 13, 2011

Water Filtration Review Analysis - Pur, Brita and ZeroWater PLUS Multi-Pure

Not all that long ago, my wife and I looked up ZeroWater (or, if you're space bar inclined, Zero Water) filtration after she had apparently heard good things about it.  As we do, we read the product reviews and weighed them... which is exactly what this blog is about... doing the same for YOU!

ZeroWater is a little bit of a mixed bag, honestly... something which seems like it could be a good product as far as water pitchers go were it not for some problems.  So, let's pit water filtration system against water filtration system and stack it up against other popular systems to filter tap water:  Brita and Pur, two of the most popular brands, as well as a system for water filtration that tops pitcher-based filters.

But, first... we need to look at something important:  Why filter your tap water?  There are plenty of blogs and articles about harmful chemicals, drugs or other things in tap water, from microorganisms from fecal matter (yes, poop) to discarded steroids.

I want to emphasize here that it's disturbing and also shocking how uneducated we are about such things.  I'm rarely an alarmist and truly not an activist type, but I really do urge you to learn more.

One eye opener is this video about fluoride, which I feel is a must watch for anyone... though a caveat is that it does have some "conspiracy theory" type elements even though the data seems sound and echoes data I've seen through other sources:

Also, in researching this, I chose to move beyond just Brita, Pur and Zero when I came across Water Filter Lady's blog, which has lots of info on options... and changed my own view of pitcher systems.

At this point, I wouldn't really recommend pitcher systems unless you don't have the budget for other options.  I'm also considering non-fluoride toothpaste as my next blog topic.  But, continuing on...

Quick summary (details below):  For inexpensive options, buy Pur before Brita... ZeroWater is a gamble (either very good or very bad) and costs more.  If you have the money and are serious about water quality, though, Multi-Pure filtration systems appear to be the way to go.

Inexpensive options (Pur, Brita and Zero) listed in order of best choice based on customer reviews:

Pur filtration:  Like Brita, this rings in as an inexpensive option with initial costs about the same and filter replacement costs just a little higher.  Of 686 reviews, the dispenser racks up 607 four or five star reviews making it apparently the choice of reviewers and putting it on top for customer satisfaction compared to Zero and Brita.

There are some complaints about quality control, but these are minority... still, enough to say that cracks around the spigot or cracks in the filters do happen from time to time, but seemingly not often enough to be a major concern.  Another common complaint is that water filtration time becomes unbearably slow toward the end of a filter's life.

Overall, I've seen some good reviews about the water quality and it seems Pur filters out a little bit more than Brita.  Occasional quality control glitches aside, the overwhelmingly supportive reviews, seemingly better filtration compared to Brita and its relative affordability compared to Zero lead me to put Pur as first choice among the three.

Brita filtration:  Much cheaper than ZeroWater and the reviews are less polarized... 251 of 329 reviews gave it four or five stars.

People don't seem to rave about the water taste quality as much as those who were happy with the ZeroWater systems, but then again Zero Water appears to be inconsistent.  However, complaints seem to revolve around little black bits of carbon from the filter making it down into the water.  I'd be concerned too, however, two things I've observed or have read are...

  • I own a Brita - the dispenser not the pitcher - and have only personally seen the granules appear in the top section of unfiltered water, never down in the filtered water.

  • One review I read commented that if you actually follow the instructions and soak the filters before installing them, it solves the problem.  It seems we live in a society that doesn't read instructions... and I'm guilty too!

Something that's questionable is the filter change indicator, which just counts down 3 month intervals in bars.  That can't be accurate with different quality levels of water.  The more that needs to be filtered out of local water supplies, the more frequent the changes should be, so it's not a true indicator of filter life.

The biggest pro is that this is a budget friendly option.  While it's not as thorough as other options like Multi-Pure, for the money it at least cuts some of the junk out... most notably the chlorine... though Pur seems to do better than Brita in this arena.  At $10-43 initially and then $6 in filters every 3 months ($18 for a 3 pack) it's affordable and certainly better than nothing!  Of course, if you're in a bad water quality area, I'd change the filters more often than 3 months.

ZeroWater filtration (Zero Water): Again, a mixed bag, as star reviews reveal.  Of 234 reviews, at this time the pitcher has 125 four and five star ratings versus 109 one to three star ratings... a very narrow margin.  The dispenser fares a little better with 57 out of 88 ratings falling in the four to five star category.
As I read the comments, it sounds like the main problems are consistency and filter expense.

While many people do say that the quality of the water is better than other pitcher competitors in taste and contaminant measurement, there are complaints about bad filters that seem to come from poor quality control and/or poor shipping practices - at least, from what I gather from multiple reviews.

Filter expense seems to relate to the combination of:  a) high filter cost (currently $57.80 for a 4-pack) and b) frequent filter changes, though there seem to be many conflicting accounts of change frequency possibly referring back to quality control consistency but also due to different water qualities in different areas.

At the same time, there are plenty of people who are very happy with their ZeroWater systems.  The concern is how polarized these reviews seem to be since there are also plenty of bad reviews about water odor and poor taste (probably bad filter batches), way too many to be written off as grumpy critics.  Purchasing the product and filters seems to be like playing the lottery...

..."do you feel lucky, Punk?" (Clint Eastwood) comes to mind.

But, always save the best for last...

Multi-Pure filtration:  This seems to be the absolute best choice of these four options, though it's in a different class than the other three because it's an undercounter or overcounter installation.  Though the quantity of reviews is not in the hundreds like Brita or Pur, 18 of 20 reviews sampled for various Multi-Pure products were four or five stars.

The few critical comments referred to a manufacturing defect that the company was aware of and customer service representatives apparently solved for these customers.  My presumption is that because the company was aware and service was good about fixing it for the customers, Multi-Pure probably has or is working to correct the problem.

Otherwise, the filtration is solid carbon block based.  If you read Water Filter Lady's blog (linked below the video above), this is the absolutely most thorough filtration for water.  That probably accounts for the glowing praise in reviews about the quality of the filtered water.  Compared to pitcher or dispenser systems, you also get the water on demand without waiting for water to percolate through containers, making it much more convenient.

Cost is much higher, though!  But, because of the difference in filter type you change filters much less often... about once a year, I understand, and at a cost of $70 per filter that's still more than you'd spend yearly on Brita or Pur but the same or less than you'd probably spend on Zero.  Depending on which system you choose, you'll probably be spending $260-550 initially, which is not for everybody...

...but, if the cost fits your wallet and you're serious about water quality, this would be the top option.  Otherwise, buy a Pur.

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