Brita filters can come as fittings to tap faucets or be part of pitcher jugs or water bottles. People with concerns about germs or chemicals in tap water may use these filters to remove the components of the water that may affect its taste, smell, or safety.

Water filters vary in design depending on their purpose, and there is currently no single type that can filter out everything.

The taste of tap water varies slightly among water treatment systems and depends on the water’s source. This variety occurs because the concentration of components in the water differs from sample to sample. Brita provide different filtration options that can change how water tastes.

This article looks at how Brita and other water filters work, including what they filter and their effectiveness.

Close-up of a glass of water with a Brita filter carafe in the background finding out if Brita filters workShare on Pinterest
Image credit: Philippe TURPIN/Getty Images

Water filters work differently depending on what they are trying to remove. For instance, a filter may catch microscopic parasites and prevent them from exiting a jug while allowing other components of the water through.

A Brita filter will come with a National Sanitation Foundation certification that a person can use to see what components of water the product will filter out.

How often do filters need changing?

Brita recommend that a person change their water filter every 2–6 months, depending on the type of dispenser or pitcher.

In most cases, this will mean that people can filter 40–120 gallons of water before a new filter is necessary.

According to Brita, standard filters work like a sieve, using carbon to lower mercury content and the taste and smell of chlorine. There is also an ion-exchange resin to filter zinc, copper, and cadmium.

Filters have pores that control which components get through the filter. These pores come in different sizes, which may affect the filtration results.

What a filter removes from water varies among products, but Brita state that the filtered substances include:

  • asbestos
  • benzene
  • cadmium
  • chlorine
  • copper
  • lead
  • mercury
  • zinc

People may have differing opinions on whether it is important to filter water.

In the United States, public water filtration systems remove contaminants so that the water is safe to drink by the time it reaches the tap. However, filtering water can change the taste and odor to make it more appealing to some people.

Sometimes, people refer to water as tasting “hard” or “soft.” This taste spectrum comes from the water’s calcium and magnesium content, which is higher in hard water. Both of these essential minerals are good for the body.

The taste of soft water may indicate a reduction in mineral content. Studies have suggested that this lower content can cause deficiencies that increase the risk of some diseases.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 73% of the U.S. population use community water systems. These systems have enough added fluoride to help prevent tooth decay.

By the end of 2020, the U.S. government aims to increase the number of U.S. citizens receiving water with enough fluoride to prevent tooth decay to 80%.

Brita advise that their filters retain a healthful amount of fluoride.

Chlorine and chloramine

Small quantities of chlorine and chloramine often play a role in community water systems, working as disinfectants and killing germs such as Salmonella and norovirus.

Research has shown that small amounts of chlorine do not have harmful health effects in drinking water but can protect the body should there be a waterborne disease outbreak. The same is true of chloramine.

All types of Brita filter remove a high percentage of chlorine.

Certain health conditions

Some people may need to avoid certain water components or contaminants for personal health reasons. In cases such as these, using a Brita filter can be effective in eliminating unwanted substances.

In the U.S., it is possible to order a customer confidence report (CCR), which will determine the ratio of water components from individual systems. A person can then decide whether there are any components in high quantities that they wish to filter from the water before drinking it.

Collecting water through a private source means that the water is not subject to the same regulations as public water systems, so it is up to individuals to filter the water appropriately.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), approximately 10% of people in the U.S. use private wells to obtain their drinking water.

Products can get into the system, including pesticides, antimicrobials, and prescription medication.

Therefore, if using a private well, it is advisable to have a state-certified laboratory test the water at least once each year. The results will show the water components, and a person can then use an appropriate filter to remove any contaminants present in high concentrations.

Despite regulations, some contaminants can enter tap water after treatment. One of these products is perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a compound linked to kidney and testicular cancer. Brita do not claim that their products filter PFOA.

Unnatural contaminants can cause adverse effects. For example, studies suggest that consuming agricultural contaminants in drinking water during pregnancy can lead to complications and, in some cases, congenital abnormalities.

Other components that are good to remove from water include parasites and lead.

Filtering water lowers the chances of contaminants causing harmful effects.

As with most water filters, Brita filters work by effectively restricting contaminants in drinking water. They will filter out different components, depending on the model.

In the U.S., the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) regulates public drinking water. As a result, the U.S. has some of the safest and most reliable tap water in the world.

A person may choose to filter tap water if they have concerns over harmful contaminants, wish to change the taste or smell, or have individual healthcare requirements.

SDWA safety standards mean that the treatment process that water goes through before it reaches people’s homes removes harmful contaminants or reduces them to a safe concentration.

Private water systems, such as wells, are not subject to SDWA regulation, so it is best to get a laboratory to assess the water for contaminants at least once a year.