Perhaps you are familiar with the PUR line of pitcher filters, refrigerator filters and faucet water filters. Here in the U.S. we are fortunate enough to have had access to clean water for quite some time, along with the tools to filter out chemicals, such as chlorine, which make it that way. But those in the developing world have only recently been introduced to the technology that makes our water clean. It is part of the PUR line of products and it comes in the form of a powder, contained in a small four-ounce packet.
Each packet of powdered mixture is able to clean up to 10 liters of dirty water, removing 99.9 percent of intestinal bacteria, intestinal viruses and protozoa. The PUR packet has been proven to reduce diarrheal disease incidence – one of the leading causes of death in the developing world – by up to 90 percent.
The PUR packet was developed by Proctor & Gamble (P&G) in collaboration with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Dr. Allgood of P&G started the Children’s Safe Drinking Water Program after a touching visit with a woman in Kenya seven years ago, turning the distribution of the PUR packet into a nonprofit effort. To date, they have been able to produce more than one billion liters of clean water for children and families in over 40 developing countries. The packets are smaller and easier to ship than plastic water bottles, for faster distribution.
The packet is easy to use: Simply pour its powdered contents into ten liters of water and stir for five minutes. Wait five more minutes for the large dirt particles to settle, and pour the water over a clean cloth into another container. The cloth will filter out large particles of dirt, leaving you with crystal clear water. Wait another 20 minutes before drinking to ensure that all of the microorganisms are killed.View Dr. Allgood’s demonstration of this, here.
Manufacturers of water pitcher filters take these factors into consideration when marketing their products. Perhaps the most well-known pitcher filter on the market today is the Brita brand, with $5 billion in sales. Seven out of ten pitchers sold to consumers bear the Brita name. With so many alternate brands on the market, it’s only natural to wonder why.
In 2000, Brita sold sole rights to its brand to the Clorox Company. Seven years later, the MAVEA brand was launched by former Brita CEO Markus Hankammer. With a newer, contemporary, stylish design, the MAVEA Elemaris pitchers are priced at $32 to $40. Clorox-owned Brita carafes range from $11 to $32, with its latest, comparable upscale design priced at $23. (Is it safe to assume that the top priority for consumers is affordability?)
Nick Vlahos, vice president of Clorox’s Brita division thinks so. However, Hankammer argues that as these pitchers become less trendy over time, good design becomes more and more of a necessity. MAVEA pitchers have a rubber base and soft-grip handle, with a sleek design that looks great on any dinner table. MAVEA also claims to be ahead of the game in filtration technology, with a unique oval-shaped micromesh filter that prevents carbon fragments from escaping into the water. (I’m sure we’re all familiar with those tiny black dots…).
Brita and MAVEA are not the only water filtration pitchers on the market today. Many companies that manufacture water filters have pitchers somewhere in their product lines, including GE, Culligan and PUR. Each of these brands has something unique to offer. With so many options, how do you go about choosing the best one?
Find out what’s in your water. The reduction of chlorine taste and odor, along with chlorination byproducts, is a given with most water filter pitcher brands. Some pitchers also reduce microbiological cysts, heavy metals, pharmaceutical traces, and agricultural and industrial pollutants.
Pick a price point. Obviously, affordability is a major priority for most consumers. How much are you willing to spend?
Look for the design that best suits your needs. How much space in your refrigerator are you willing to sacrifice for a water filter pitcher? Will you use your pitcher while entertaining guests? If so, how important is appearance? Some pitchers have an opening in the lid to allow for convenient, one-handed refills under the faucet.
These steps are in no particular order. Which of them do you consider most important? (Hint: take our latest poll.)