In all honesty, lead is probably the most spelled contaminant in the USA. Since Flint lead crisis in 2014, a significant amount of time has passed. However, occasionally, we still hear about it in the news. There is no doubt that lead is a dangerous contaminant anymore, and the impact it has made is significant. So in this article, I will cover everything you need to know about it and show you the best water filters for lead removal.
Unlike many others, I have only selected the best filter for each category. Here is a list of my top picks:
- Express Water
- Brondell H2O+ Coral
- Home Master TMJRF2E Jr F2 Elite
- Aquagear Pitcher Filter
Without any delay let’s understand what is actually lead and where it’s coming from.
What is Lead?
Lead occurs naturally in the earth’s crust. It has been mined and processed by humans since ancient Egypt civilization. Lead is naturally soft material and because of this it is easy to process.
For example, the Rome empire used lead to manufacture water piping network. The younger generation might be surprised to read that, in fact, lead was still used in home plumbing in houses built before 1986.
Although, before this point, it was known that lead is a poisonous substance.
In today’s world, lead is widely used in various products we are using daily.
Gym equipment, car batteries, or soldering medium in various electronic devices is just a small example of where lead is used nowadays.
Although lead is predominantly used in manufacturing and generally heavy industries like mining, you could find it shocking that lead has been widely used in lipsticks and other beauty products.
As you can see, the exposure to lead in our day to day life is almost inevitable, but this doesn’t mean that we should not strive to reduce it. Lead has been repeatedly proven to have a tremendous impact on our wellbeing.
So let’s see what is so bad about this metal.
Why is Lead Dangerous?
By its nature, lead is a toxic element to all living beings. But let’s take this fact aside for a while.
The big problem with lead is that as you are being exposed to it over a long period, the body starts to accumulate the metal inside. Now, often, lead is stored in bones and teeth.
As lead accumulates in bones, it starts to be released into the blood. And you have probably figured that blood is distributing oxygen and other vital vitamins and minerals to all our organs, including the brain.
Here is the problem:
Once lead has reached the blood, it will start to distribute to other organs with it.
Because it is toxic, it starts to damage organs, and the most significant risk group is considered children up to 6 years old. This being said, lead mostly affects brain and nervous system functionality in children.
Obviously, these when these organs are damaged, the consequences are significant. Often this could lead to learning disabilities, behavioral changes when a child could be either hyperactive or on the other hand, anti-social. There is much more to it, as you see.
So far, I was only talking about children, but what happens with adults exposed to lead?
Adults often end up having issues with high blood pressure and kidney damage, but as well as kids, they are not safe from anything mentioned earlier. It is just that adults have a higher tolerance than children.
Now, pregnant women are a completely separate topic, and it is not the scope of this article. But in short, pregnant women exposed to lead could endanger the child, and there is no doubt that this leads to many other issues for both mother and unborn child.
As you can see, lead is pretty dangerous metal by its nature, and it is crucial to understand and track our exposure to it.
Despite so many products containing lead, water is one of those commodities that could sneak lead into your body quickly without you even knowing it.
The worst part?
There is no such thing as a safe concentration when it comes to lead. This means that regardless of the amount, even the smallest number could still be dangerous long term.
So, it is important as never before, to test your tap water regularly and here is how you can tell that water contains lead.
How Can You Recognize Lead In Water?
I am not going to beat around the bush about this one. Unfortunately, there is no way for you to tell whether the water is contaminated by lead.
The thing is, lead does not have any taste or odor, and also it is not visible either. More work for you as you won’t be able to tell straight away by just having a quick look or tasting the water.
So you have to use alternative methods to determine the presence of lead in water. Frankly, the simplest way is to invest a small amount of money into the simple to use a test kit. Some test kits like this one are specifically designed to measure the presence of heavy metals in drinking water, including lead.
Another simple way to estimate whether you are exposed to this metal is to check your plumbing. As I said before, old houses built before 1986 have been using piping with lead. If you live in an old house, check when was the last time plumbing has been done and what material has been used.
The last method I want to share with you is the most reliable one, but it also costs a bit of money. This method is to actually send a sample of your water to the lab and get it tested there.
The benefit of doing it is you will see all other contaminants and their concentration in water. Which enables you to pick the right water treatment based on the results.
I won’t go into much detail here, but if this is something you want to look at, you can read my article about water quality testing.
Is It Possible To Remove Lead Naturally?
As well as in the previous section, I won’t keep the answer until the end of the article.
In short, lead is one of those contaminants which you cannot remove naturally.
Let’s take boiling as an example. Although it is a great way to kill bacteria in water, it won’t affect the amount of lead in water.
In fact, you can even end up with a higher concentration of this metal. This is because water evaporates during boiling, but lead is not affected. In the end, you will have the same amount of lead, but with less water in a container.
I know, I know… That sucks!
But the reality is that there is no efficient way to remove lead from water naturally, without the help of modern technologies, also known as water filters.
If you are looking for a cost-effective solution to remove lead from your well or communal water source, I have selected the best water filters for lead removal below.
Unlike many other blogs talking about this topic, giving you very unhelpful lists with dozens of products, I have decided to include only the best picks.
So, below, you will find only two best picks within each treatment category.
It should make it easier for you, as you won’t have to compare ten filters to find the best one for you, as these are currently the best possible picks.
Here is a table with a brief summary, in case you don’t have time to read through, which I highly recommend you to do.
Fast flow rate, lifespan, metal housing, customer service
Brondell H2O+ Coral
Smart way to reduce wastewater, doesn’t require electricity, design
Waterdrop Reverse Osmosis
400 GPD, low wastewater ratio, compact size for small kitchen, tankless design
Home Master TMJRF2E Jr F2 Elite
Five stage filtration, exceptional customer service, good flow rate
Filtration performance, recycling programme, charity support
Now, let’s get started with the first type – whole house filter.
Best Whole House Filters For Lead Removal
Let me honest with you.
The whole house water filters treat water in every single tap in a house.
This means that if you have found lead in water and the source is outside of your control, whole house filtration is the best thing you can do for your house and family.
Express Water is, in my opinion, the best whole house filter for lead removal, and not only for that but in general.
Let me explain why Express Water is one of my favorite filters. The unit comes with 3 stage filtration, but what matters more is the performance of these stages rather than the amount.
However, as a general rule of thumb, we could say that the more stages, the better performance you usually get.
In the case with whole house filters, these usually have no more than 3 stages, but because of their size, it is enough to make water safe to use.
When it comes to treating lead, Express Water is doing a great job with its second KDF stage charged with copper and zinc granules, that not only remove lead but many other heavy metals like iron or aluminum.
The second prime feature is the water flow rate. Express Water is designed with customers in mind, and the flow rate is on the second spot right after filtration performance.
Just imagine a situation when you buy a whole house filter only to realize later that you are not even able to have a shower because the flow is so bad. Or when you use more than one tap in your house.
And yes, there are poor units like that, so it is a real problem.
Now, Express Water is capable of treating up to 900 gallons of water per hour. With such flow, you won’t even notice the difference before and after installation.
The metal case in which the unit sits is absolutely brilliant. It makes it easy to install by directly hooking the housing on the wall.
Additionally, the metal case protects filters. Although, I can’t think of the reason of what could potentially happen to cause such significant damage in the basement, that you would need metal protection.
What I also love about Express Water are pressure gauges above each filtration stage. These will give you a solid idea of when you should replace a filter.
The thing is:
When you notice that the pressure inside the stage increased, chances are that the cartridge is clogged with contaminants. This increases the pressure inside and means that it is time to replace the cartridge soon.
The good thing is that the lifespan of the filter is roughly 100,000 gallons before you need to replace cartridges. The cartridges are 4.5 x 20″ size, which is a typical size for whole-house units, so as long as your replacement cartridges have the same size, you will be okay to use them.
The filter comes with a 1-year warranty.
If you ask me, I don’t think there are many whole house filters that could compete with Water Express when it comes to heavy metal removal, including lead.
It offers everything you need from the filter and even more, which makes is a perfect whole house unit, in my opinion.
Don’t forget to check my article where I cover accessories for whole house filters.
Best Under Sink Filters To Remove Lead
Unlike whole house units, under-sink filters are usually installed under the counter in your kitchen. The benefit of these comes especially visible when you live in a smaller apartment with only one tap in the kitchen. These will provide you with clean water for drinking and cooking.
Below I have included two of my favorite units. Let me briefly explain to you why.
Both of these units are reverse osmosis, yet they have a different approach from their competitors. So let’s find out how different they are.
Brondell H2O+ Coral
Brondell is one of my favorite reverse osmosis units for a couple of reasons.
First of all, it uses quite smart technology to reduce the amount of generated wastewater that doesn’t require a pump or electricity.
Second, it looks great, and I like the fact that all stages are hidden in the “box.”
Let’s dive into key features more in-depth.
Brondell has used a technology called a flexible reservoir.
In essence, this technology splits the water tank into two sections. The inner tank contains purified water, and the outer container is filled with wastewater. As the inner tank fills with water, it expands and pushes the wastewater out of the external tank.
Once you turn the tap, the outer tank starts to fill up with wastewater, and the pressure squeezes the water out of the inner tank and makes it shrink.
The process repeats itself constantly, and inner tank refills after each usage.
There are two main benefits of such technology.
First, the unit doesn’t require electricity as it works purely on hydraulics and pressure. If you don’t have a plug under your counter, this is definitely something you need to consider.
The second benefit is that unlike conventional reverse osmosis systems, this technology doesn’t generate as much drain water. In fact, to even increase the efficiency further, it actually reuses wastewater to flush the RO membrane.
As a result, Brondell has an exceptional 1:2 ratio between purified and wastewater. To give you an idea, with a standard RO osmosis, you will get a ratio of 1:4+, so for each gallon of clean water, the RO membrane will generate 4+ gallons of drain water.
This unit is perfect for people in drought areas such as California because of this brilliant efficiency.
What I also love about this unit is the design. I mean, it is a simple box, right? What can I potentially like about it?
Let me explain:
If you have ever seen standard RO osmosis they usually look like this:
You can see that it is not packed in one unit, and it has all these separate stages outside, not even mentioning the massive tank that you need to fit somewhere under the counter.
If you are even a tiny bit like me, chances are that you will have all sorts of things under the counter, from cleaning supplies to random stuff you didn’t even know is there.
All these things could get stuck between filters, and I am not even mentioning the situation when the filter starts to leak.
Imagine the situation when something goes wrong with filter, and you need to examine it.
Try to observe a standard RO unit either inside or take it out. Well, let’s just say it is painful.
What I like about this design is that everything is hidden inside, including tank, and the only thing that comes out are three colored pipes. If something goes wrong, you can just easily take the whole thing out without being afraid of catching and pulling some parts you shouldn’t.
In one word – It’s practical.
Beware that even though it is nicely packed in a case, the housing itself is quite big. So, don’t be surprised once you receive your unit.
Like many similar units, Brondell also uses four stages of filters that are nicely hidden in the housing.
Since we are talking about lead, Brondell reports that its circle RO unit removes over 98% of lead, which is certified by WQA and NSF, to assure the quality and performance.
What is important to mention is that the filter is capable of generating about 57 gallons of purified water per day. I know it doesn’t sound like a lot, but in reality, it is more than enough for drinking and cooking, even for a big family.
Reverse osmosis stage lasts up to 24 months, where the rest of them should be replaced roughly every 6 months to maintain the water quality. Like most products, this reverse osmosis filter comes with a 1-year warranty.
All in all, Brondell is one of my favourite RO units, and I hope I have given you the idea why.
It simply gives you everything you need from the filter. Packed in a nice case that doesn’t require any electricity or pump. Although branded replacement parts are also affordable.
Waterdrop Reverse Osmosis System
Waterdrop is the second great unit to install under your counter. As you will find out in a minute, it’s absolutely different compared to previously reviewed Brondell.
Before we get into it, let me tell you that unlike Brondell, it does require electricity, but there is much more to it.
If you do have a plug under your counter, you should definitely keep an eye on this reverse osmosis unit.
Compared to other RO systems, Waterdrop is an actually small unit, yet it hides an incredible flow rate capability.
The 400 gallons per day capacity is what makes this unit stand out in a crowd. Just to briefly explain how it is possible.
The filter hides an electric pump inside that boosts the pressure, and as a result, you are getting stable high-pressure output.
The second thing I like about Waterdrop is that the RO stage is actually more prominent than the rest of the stages. This also helps a bit to
Let me explain:
Most conventional reverse osmosis filters have filters with the same size regardless of the type.
Waterdrop has gone a different route. The primary RO membrane is bigger in size than the rest of the stages, which allows more water to pass through the membrane, also contributing to such high flow.
In total, it has three stages.
This RO unit is also very water-efficient, in fact, it is even better than Brondell.
Because of the pump, the amount of drained water is lower than with usual RO systems, at the ratio of 1:1. Which makes it one of the most efficient reverse osmosis filters in the industry.
In all fairness, this is just the tip of the iceberg, as Waterdrop is packed with great features.
The unit has a leakage protector that monitors the system for any leaks. This is especially handy because the electricity is involved, so once the leak is detected, the unit shuts down water and electricity to prevent any damage.
We all know what combination of water and electricity can cause.
Let me also mention the way you replace filters.
As you can see in the picture, there are three knobs. All you need to do is just twist the knob, pull the cartridge out, and insert a new one. Very simple.
Waterdrop is also smart enough to flush the whole unit regularly. The timer is set to clean the filter for 20 seconds every 2 hours of filtration or for one minute every 24 hours.
Last but not least, the filter tells shows you the level of TDS.
In case you don’t know why you need this information, if the TDS is getting higher and higher, it means that the filter is not performing well, and it might be time to replace it soon.
Although I usually advise that TDS is not the right way to measure the performance of the filter, there is an exception for RO filters. This is because reverse osmosis actually does lower total dissolved solids in water, which means that if the number went high, the membrane is not performing well.
The product comes with a 1-year limited warranty.
Without any doubt, this reverse osmosis filter is aiming high. It’s smart, compact, and easy to install. In all honesty, if the price is a bit lower, this filter wouldn’t have much of a competition for what it offers. Make sure to check it out and find out yourself.
Countertop Filters That Remove Lead
Unlike reverse osmosis filters, countertop systems don’t generate wastewater, are cheaper, and compact.
These are the ideal solution for small apartments or for people who have relatively clean water but want to get more out of it.
You might be surprised when I say that even such a small countertop filter is capable of removing lead from water. But the truth is, although lead is highly toxic, it is not that difficult to remove with the help of the right filter.
And here is the one that could do just that.
Home Master TMJRF2E Jr F2 Elite
When it comes to countertop filters, Home Master is definitely one of my go-to filters.
The thing is that there is a variety of countertop filters, but the problem with them is that they are either cheap and not doing well, or extremely expensive.
What Home Master does well is, it covers that gap and brings a fantastic performance for good money.
The main pride of Home Master is its filtration medium and customer service, so let me talk about both of them first.
Unlike many other countertop units, Home Master has fitted this unit with three various stages, but hidden into one cartridge.
Although the product is advertised as having five stages, don’t let this fool you.
Let me explain:
There are only three stages that actually filter the water. These are:
- Blend of catalic and coconutshell carbon stage
- KDF 85
- Activated alumina
So which are the other advertised stages?
The other two stages that I believe Home Master refers to are compression disks, but these are not filtering water. Instead, they help to distribute water evenly within the cartridge.
Despite this being a minor implementation, it is a crucial factor that makes this filter stand out.
Let me explain what does it mean for you as the end-user.
The thing with water is that often, it finds a path of least resistance. In other words, as water passes through the standard cartridge, it will either find or over time create the trail where it flows through.
As the majority of water flows through that path, the filtration medium is not evenly used. As a result, you will have an unused cartridge that is further from the route and extremely used cartridge right next to the path.
Compression disks distribute water throughout the cartridge, and you benefit from increased efficiency and lifespan as water has more contact with the filter medium.
Speaking of lifespan, Home Master cartridge lasts roughly 500 gallons or 3 months, whichever comes first.
The other thing you will appreciate about this filter is that apart from lead, it also removes fluoride at the reported rate of up to 93%.
If you know anything about fluoride, then you will love it. On the other hand, if you don’t know anything about fluoride, read this article and you will also love it.
Fluoride is even more common contaminant these days as it is still added purposely to water in some regions. Here is my other article on best filters for fluoride removal.
Home Master gives a 1-year warranty for this countertop filter.
There is no surprise that Home Master, with its customer service and quality of their filter, is one of the industry leaders. This filter will remove lead and other heavy metals out of the water, but also it will get rid of nasty fluoride.
If you decide to buy this unit, get a better quality adapter like the one that comes within the package is not the greatest. Ideally, you will be looking for a metal adapter. Apart from that, I am convinced that you will be pleased with the Home Master’s countertop Elite unit.
Best Pitcher Filters For Lead
Pitchers are probably the most popular types of filters on the market. There is a huge selection of various shapes and sizes so you can get easily lost.
There are definitely filters you want to avoid, but also some of the pitchers are good. The Aquagear is one of the few pitchers you can trust to get rid of all the lead in your water.
There is so much to say about Aquagear, but I will tell you only the essential bits.
Since you want to buy a filter, probably the most important thing for you would be the performance, and Aquagear definitely checks the box.
Compared to other brands like Brita, which is only doing necessary filtration, this pitcher is going beyond the standard.
Not only it removes lead, but there is a long list of other contaminants that get rid of. Just to mention a few: fluoride, chromium-6, chlorine & chloramine, mercury, and heavy metals.
The cartridge should last for roughly 150 gallons, but note that with heavily contaminated water, it is likely to be less.
What I absolutely love about this pitcher is its recycling program.
Once you have used the cartridge, just keep it until you collect a few of them. Then simply email Aquagear and ask for the return label. Send used cartridges back, and the seller will recycle them properly.
The best part?
The return label is pre-paid, so you don’t have to pay for it.
There is also a charity program that the company runs, and for every sale they make, they donate a certain amount of money to the charity to help distribute water in Africa.
I don’t know about you, but I believe that every business should not only care about the end customer but also about the footprint it leaves after the product is delivered.
It seems to me that Aquagear is well ahead of the curve with this, and this is what I love about this company.
If you want to know more about it, you can read my full review.
I agree that this filter is slightly more expensive than competitors on the market. At the same time, it is the only brand that makes you feel good when using it, and it is worth it.
So, if you like to support ethical brands, then you should definitely check it out, although it has its flaws, especially in water treatment flow.
As you can see yourself, to remove lead from the water, you don’t need highly advanced water treatment.
Some of the best water filters for lead removal are actually quite cheap and last a long time.
As I have only covered the best units for each category, and each of the types has their own benefits, they are tough to compare and pick the best one amongst them all.
I believe that I have made it thorough enough for you to make an informed decision, but if you still have any questions left, don’t be afraid to ask them in the comments below.