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Water is precious. The lengthy water crisis in Flint, Michigan has reminded us just how priceless clean drinking water is. It also offers a helpful warning. Poor water quality is rarely as severe as it was in Flint, but the water doesn’t have to run brown to be dangerous. In areas across the country, hazardous contaminants can be present in tap water and damage your health.
Lead was used for decades as a plumbing material. It wasn’t until years later that we came to understand the risk we were taking. Recent studies concluded that lead causes kidney damage, harms red blood cells, and may cause brain disorders. The stakes are even higher in young children, infants, and unborn babies. Exposure to lead during development has been shown to stunt physical growth and development, lower IQ, and have other negative effects on brain function.
The good news is, modern filtration systems are highly effective. Some methods can reduce lead content in water by 99%, providing safe drinking water and peace of mind. Today, we’ll cover everything you need to know about removing lead from your tap water.
Best Lead Water Filter Toplist
This is our lead water filter toplist:
|Lead Rejection (%)
|Home Master TMAFC-ERP Reverse Osmosis System
|Express Water ROALK5D Reverse Osmosis System
|iSpring RCC7 Reverse Osmosis System
|Clearly Filtered Under Sink Water Filter System
|Woder 10K-Gen3 Under Sink Water Filter
|Culligan US-EZ-4 Under Sink Water Filter
|Big Berkey Gravity Water Filter
|iSpring WGB32B-PB Whole House Water Filtration System
|Below 15 ppb
|Brita Everyday Water Filter Pitcher
|Brita Complete FF-100 Faucet Filter
|Clearly Filtered Water Filter Pitcher
|Aquagear Water Filter Pitcher
|Below Detectable Levels
|ZeroWater ZP-010 Water Filter Pitcher
|Below 15 ppb
|PUR Classic Water Filter Pitcher
|PUR Vertical Faucet Water Filter
|Megahome MH943SBS Water Distiller
|No Data Provided
|AquaBliss SF220 Shower Filter
|No Data Provided
How to Remove Lead from Water
High-quality water filters can remove lead from tap water efficiently and conveniently. That said, if your water is contaminated with lead, finding and removing the source should be your first priority.
Toxic lead can show up in our water from a variety of sources, but there are a few common culprits. Aging plumbing systems installed during the mid-eighties or earlier can leach lead from corroded lead solder, a material that was commonly used to connect copper plumbing elements. It can also leach out of the pipes themselves. Acidic water that’s low in minerals can worsen the problem by speeding up the breakdown of your plumbing system.
If your home’s water supply comes from a private well, a licensed plumber can examine it to make any necessary upgrades. Households relying on city water aren’t so lucky, and will likely need to rely on a lead-removing filter.
If this is the case for you or if the repair is too costly to manage, there’s a simple way to keep your tap water as safe as possible. When water rests in pipes, it gradually absorbs contaminants. For this reason, if you haven’t used a particular faucet in more than six hours, the CDC advises to flush your plumbing system by allowing the water to run for 1-2 minutes. Cold tap water is also safer to use for cooking and drinking, as it doesn’t dissolve as much lead as hot water.
The Best Filtration Methods to Get Lead Out of Water
To ensure your water is lead-free (or close to it), these are some of your best lead removal options.
Does Reverse Osmosis Remove Lead?
RO systems are great at lead removal, knocking out anywhere from 94% – 99% of dissolved lead. That said, it’s not the cheapest option.
Activated Charcoal Filtration
Many activated charcoal filters remove lead effectively, but not all. This type of filter is convenient, but be prepared to change the filter cartridge regularly as they do lose effectiveness after filtering many gallons of water.
You want pure? Distilled water is the closest you can get.
What to Look for
When shopping for a new water filtering solution, check the NSF certifications. NSF International is the organization that sets the industry’s standards of safety, and independent testing agencies like the Water Quality Association test products to see if they meet the standards.
NSF Standard 53 is the one you should be looking for. Standard 53 confirms that the filter you’re considering removes mercury, cadmium, asbestos, and the big one: lead. To earn the certification, the filter must keep the level of dissolved lead below 15 ppb. This is the EPA’s legally set limit.
What NOT to Do
We’ve covered the things that DO remove lead. Now it’s time to go over the methods that don’t.
Does Boiling Water Remove Lead?
Does boiling water eliminate lead? That’s a resounding no. If you’re stuck in the wilderness, boiling water is perfect to kill parasites and some volatile chemicals. Sadly, it does little to remove lead. Since boiling water causes some of the water to evaporate, it can actually increase the concentration of lead in the remaining water.
While distillation does involve a similar process, the lead and other contaminants will stay inside the kettle while the clean water evaporates and condenses inside a cooling coil.
Do Water Softeners Remove Lead?
Water softeners are similarly ineffective at removing lead. The ion exchange process is totally unrelated to heavy metals. Even if it did work, softeners are often installed where the tap water first enters the home, which wouldn’t help if the lead source is in the home’s pipes themselves. To make matters worse, softened water is more corrosive than unsoftened water, possibly increasing the amount of heavy metals that leach out of old pipes and fixtures.
The Best Water Filter for Lead Removal?
The number of filtration options on the market is almost overwhelming. Should you buy a reverse osmosis system, a regular under-the-sink type, or just a standard Brita filter? To find the best water filter for lead removal for your home, read on.
Reverse Osmosis Filtration Systems; How Well Do They Work?
Our three favorites are the Home Master TMAFC-ERP, the Express Water ROALK5D, and the iSpring RCC7.
All three systems are effective, but they each have pros and cons. The Home Master reverse osmosis system has the most advanced filtration process and boasts the highest lead removal rate (98.6%). It also has a permeate pump that keeps down the production of wastewater, wasting only 1 gallon of brine water for every gallon of filtered water produced.
Made in the USA, the TMAFC-ERP remineralizes water as it filters, resulting in water that’s both safe and better tasting than plain tap water. Sadly, it’s also the most expensive option.
The average lead reduction rate of the Express Water ROALK5D is 98.6%, too. The unit has earned an NSF certification for standard 58. Like the Home Master, it’s also a little unique in comparison to other reverse osmosis systems because of its included remineralization stages, adding essential calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium back into the purified water, improving its flavor and optimizing pH.
It’s not perfect, though. Wastewater production is a bit higher than average. There also have been taste issues, but all in all, most customers are happy with the performance and features.
The iSpring RCC7 is the most affordable model in our top three, with the lowest yearly maintenance bill. It reduces lead content by up to 98% and warns you if there’s moisture trapped under the system.
Detailed reviews of the three ro systems above and other models can be found here:
Standard Under Sink Filters
RO systems aren’t the only type of water filter that fit under the sink. There are several models that work well to filter lead out of water, and these are our favorites.
Clearly Filtered 3-Stage
The Clearly Filtered 3-stage can eliminate more than 200 water impurities, including chlorine, chloramine, fluoride, PFOA, a whole range of pesticides and VOCs, and most importantly lead (99.9%). The unit has earned NSF certifications for standards 42, 53 and 401. The American-made filter system uses nothing but high-quality materials and you need only very little plumbing know-how to figure out how to install it. This also goes for replacing the filters thanks to the twist on/off design.
More pros: Lifetime warranty and you have a full 90 days to return the product, if you change your mind.
On the downside, the superb filtration may reduce flow and comes with a higher price tag, but we’re confident it’s worth shelling out some extra cash for.
The Woder 10K-Gen3
This one is particularly well-loved on Amazon. The highly rated Woder 10K-Gen3 is both affordable and low-maintenance, and independent lab testing has proven it to be 99.9% effective at removing lead. It also removes chromium-6 and other unwanted contaminants.
Since this is an inline filter, it takes a little longer to set up than a pitcher or faucet filter. Still, it shouldn’t take more than 10-15 minutes before it’s ready to go. If you don’t like it, don’t sweat it. Woder stands by their products, offering a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
The Culligan US-EZ-3 and US-EZ-4 are two models that are as convenient as they are effective. Each of them reduces lead by 99%, so they meet NSF Standard 53. Their best feature, however, is how easy it is to twist the filter on and off to replace cartridges without shutting off the water. While there’s no satisfaction guarantee, Culligan does back their products with a limited 2-year manufacturer warranty.
Berkey Water Filters: Another Great Option
Berkey is a brand known for excellent filtration products. Most of their products have a classic spigot, and all can use Black Berkey Purification Elements. This is where the real magic happens; Black Berkey Purification Elements reduce lead to an impressive extent, removing 99.9% of the heavy metal.
Each cartridge filters 3,000 gallons and fits Berkey Lights, Travel Berkeys, Big Berkeys, Royal Berkeys, Imperial Berkeys, and Crown Berkeys. For most families, the Big Berkey is a happy medium of size and functionality.
Whole House Filters
Point-of-entry filters purify water as it enters the home. As for lead removal, our top choice is the iSpring WGB32B-PB 3-Stage Whole House. It uses a special FCRC25B filter that lowers lead content below the current EPA standard of 15 ppb. It also removes manganese, nickel, cadmium, mercury, and chrome-3, to name a few. Theoretically, the cartridge can filter up to 150,000 gallons if the lead content in the water being filtered runs at 100 ppb.
More whole house water filter reviews can be found here:
Does Brita Filter Lead?
Moving on from under sink and whole house systems, pitcher filters CAN be effective at removing lead. The answer, however, depends on which filter you buy. The standard Brita filters use coconut-based activated carbon to remove contaminants. Even with the added ion exchange resin they contain, it’s unlikely to be enough to render lead-contaminated water safe for drinking. If lead is a concern, the best choice for the job is the Brita Longlast™ filter.
It’s WQA certified to remove almost all of the lead in your drinking water – 99%! It also removes 10 other harmful contaminants, including improperly disposed of pharmaceutical products that have recently become a risk.
Brita Longlast™ can filter up to 120 gallons, which lasts the average family a reasonable two to three months. Though the Longlast doesn’t come standard with any of its pitchers, the cartridges fit in most Brita models currently on the market. If your old pitcher has seen its better days, our favorite is the Brita 10 Cup Everyday, available on Amazon.
Brita also offers a convenient filter that easily mounts onto your existing kitchen faucet. The mounted version is certified against several NSF standards to remove at least 99.3% of lead. Each cartridge filters up to 100 gallons and can be replaced at the push of a button.
To maximize the filter’s lifespan, the mounted Brita filter also allows users to switch the filter on and off so the cartridge is only used when necessary.
Other Lead Removal Pitchers
The Brita Longlast isn’t the only pitcher filter that can knock out lead. There are other models that have earned NSF 53 certifications, removing lead efficiently enough to render your water safe to drink.
The Clearly Filtered water filter pitcher boasts a remarkable number of NSF certifications (42, 53, 244, 401 and 473). The result? Remarkably pure water with more contaminants removed than any other pitcher can achieve – more than 220 in total. This includes chlorine, chloramine, pathogens, lead (99.5%), pesticides, VOCs and many others.
It holds 8 cups of water and is easy to assemble and use. The material is 100% BPA-free Tritan. Cons are the high price tag of replacement filters and their shortened lifespan when exposed to certain water conditions. If you change your mind, you have a full 90 days to return the pitcher.
The Aquagear filter pitcher is one of our favorites. It’s been tested against NSF Standard 42 and 53, removing 99.9% of lead and a wide-range of other contaminants. The pitcher holds 8 cups of water and the cartridges, made in the US, last up to 6 months. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the more expensive pitchers available.
The ZeroWater ZP-010 reduces lead by 99%, and in addition to that many other heavy metals, fluoride, pesticides, volatile organic compounds and so on.
But it’s not perfect. Removing the lid is difficult, so refilling the pitcher is awkward and off-putting. When the pitcher is tipped to pour out the last drops, the filter cartridge may also fall out. Many ZeroWater cartridges only filter 10-20 gallons before they need replacing, so in the long run the ZeroWater ends up being much more costly.
Do PUR Filters Remove Lead?
PUR produces pitcher and faucet water filters that remove lead effectively, but it depends on which filter cartridges you purchase. The PUR Basic filters a few more gallons per cartridge, but it’s better at moving mercury, chlorine, microbiological cysts, chlorine, pharmaceuticals, and byproducts of the water disinfection process, than it is at removing lead.
Pick up the PUR Lead Removal Replacement Filter, and you can eliminate 99% of lead and other harmful contaminants. It’ll only filter about 30 gallons per cartridge, but it gets the job done. Only downside? PUR pitcher filters tend to clog more often than some other brands on the market. In terms of the pitcher itself, the PUR Classic is one of our favorites, large enough to hold 11 cups of water and made with BPA-free materials.
As for faucet mounted water filters, try this PUR vertical model. It meets NSF standards and can handle 70+ different contaminants (99.3% of lead). Unfortunately some buyers have complained that it has a tendency to spring leaks.
The Megahome Distiller
Distillation removes lead effectively. We like the Megahome MH943SBS water distiller best. With normal use, it can make around 2 gallons of pure water per day, 1 gallon per 5½-hour cycle. Everything the water touches is made from stainless steel or glass instead of plastic to avoid recontamination. The stellar customer reviews say a lot about the quality of the water purifier, and most rave about the customer service they’ve received. The Megahome also comes with a 1-year manufacturer warranty and free shipping.
What About the Shower?
Most of us don’t head to the shower for a drink of water, but bathing in lead-contaminated water isn’t the best idea, either. For stress-free showers, try the AquaBliss SF220. While it doesn’t remove as much lead as the models intended for drinking water, it hopefully removes enough for bathing purposes. It also gets rid of sediments, chlorine, bacteria, and other impurities you probably don’t want on your skin.
It also works well with hot water and well water; an essential requirement of any shower filter. Better yet, the AquaBliss is easy to install and can be used on any type of showerhead – even handheld!
A simple fridge filter may not seem like it would be effective at lead removal, but many do a stellar job. Some of the best on the market include the LG LT700P (lead removal > 99.3%), the GE RPWFE French Door refrigerator filter (lead removal > 98.0%), the GE MWF side-by-side and bottom-freezer refrigerator filter (lead removal 99.3%), and the Samsung DA29-00020B side-by-side and French Door refrigerator filter (lead removal > 99.0%). When in doubt, check the brands’ websites to see which filter models are compatible.
Lead might very well not be the only contaminant in your water. This is a list of all contaminant removal guides on best-ro-system.com: