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Best Water Filter for Lead Removal

By: David Trinh
Last Updated:
Filter Lead Removal

The 2014 water crisis in Flint, Michigan, made the general public much more aware about lead and other harmful contaminants present in drinking water. 

Most people want to believe that the same thing could never happen to their city water. 

However, if your home was built before 1986, there’s a real chance you could have lead pipes, which would mean that lead is likely present in your drinking water. 

It’s for this reason that a lead water filter is so important.

It’s important to find one that will deliver you pure drinking water that is completely free from lead, to prevent a serious threat to your health.

For this reason, we’ve researched and reviewed all of the top models to find the best water filter for lead on the market.

We’ve based our selection on criteria including the amount of lead and other substances the water filter removes, water flow rates, and value for money. 

We considered sink water filters, faucet mounted filters, Brita filters, and other pitcher filters and then narrowed down everything on the market to just seven lead removal filters that stand out as the very best.

Best Water Filters for Lead Removal Compared

IMAGE PRODUCT FEATURES  
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#1 Springwell Whole House Lead & Cyst Removal System
  • Flow rate: 8 GPM
  • Removes up to 99.95% of lead, PFOAs, chlorine, chloramines, and cysts
  • 100,000-gallon water capacity
CHECK PRICE
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#2 Aquasana Optimh20 Filtration System
  • Flow rate: 8 GPM
  • Removes up to 99% of chlorine, chloramines, and lead
  • 100,000-gallon water capacity
CHECK PRICE
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#3 Pelican 6-stage Reverse Osmosis System
  • Produces up to 55 gallons of water daily
  • Can remove up to 96.8% of lead from water
  • Has a 30% better flow rate compared to other filters
CHECK PRICE
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#4 iSpring 6-stage Reverse Osmosis System
  • Flow rate: 75 gallons per day
  • This filter can remove up to 99% of harmful chemicals, including 98% of lead
  • Filter lasts for one year
CHECK PRICE
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#5 Clearly Filtered Water Filter Pitcher
  • Holds up to 80 ounces or 10 cups
  • This water filter can remove lead up to 99.5%
  • Filter capacity: 100 gallons or four months
CHECK PRICE

What to Look for in a Lead Water Filter

To start, let’s explore exactly what criteria we took into account when comparing lead removal filters. You should look for the same when considering any lead filtration system. This will ensure the water filter you choose meets your needs and provides you with lead-free water.

Capability to Remove Lead & Additional Contaminants

The best lead water filters remove a high percentage of both kinds of lead: particulate lead and soluble lead. In addition, many filters are able to remove contaminants other than lead.

The main types of filters in a lead filtration system are reverse osmosis filter, KDF filters, activated carbon filters, gravity filters, and manufacturer-specific proprietary blends of media.

Flow Rate

Flow is the metric that describes your water pressure. It is measured in gallons per minute (GPM). When water flows through a filtration system, the flow rate always drops to some extent.

The exact amount by which it decreases depends on the type of filtration, the size of the inlet plumbing, and other factors. The best water filters provide you with lead-free water and reduce the concentration of other contaminants in your drinking without severely impacting flow. 

Filter Capacity & Replacement

Filter capacity is a measure of the filter’s lifespan. For example, a filter with a capacity of 500,000 gallons will last approximately five years, whereas a filter with a 100,000-gallon capacity will only last around a year.

The exact lifespan of any water filter will depend on your household size and water usage, but filters with higher capacities always last longer. A higher capacity also means less maintenance and lower costs in the long term. You should also look at how easy it is to replace the filter cartridge or media, especially if you’ll need to change these often.

Certifications

The two main independent testing labs that certify water filter products are the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) and the Water Quality Association (WQA).

These labs certify water filters to several quality standards, but the most important certification to look for in a lead water filter is standard 53. Certification for this standard means the water filter removes or reduces a subset of harmful contaminants — including lead — to safe levels.

See our certification guide for more information.

Price

When comparing the prices of different lead water filters, the most important factor is value for money. This includes the cost of replacing filters and other maintenance requirements.

The Best Water Filters for Lead Reviewed

After reading customer reviews, comparing product specifications, and using the criteria above to evaluate the many filters for lead removal on the market, we arrived at this shortlist.

#1 Best Overall: Springwell Whole House Lead & Cyst Removal System

LCR-1 Whole House

This is a whole-house filtration system that both removes lead and reduces the content of other particles, like heavy metals and organic compounds. Its filtration binders use a design that chemically reacts with soluble lead to create an ionic bond, kinetically removing the lead from your drinking water. The carbon block 0.5-micron filters also remove particulate lead and several other harmful contaminants.

This water filter includes an innovative digital notification head, which contains a real-time dynamic LED system that monitors water and flow. It provides a visual, color-coded notification to tell you when you need to replace the filter. A bypass valve and 1-inch MNPT fittings come with the installation kit.

Main Features & Benefits

Contaminants removedThis system removes 99.62 percent of lead, 97.9 percent of PFOA and PFOS, and more than 90 percent of chlorine and chloramine. It also removes giardia cysts, crypto cysts, and other harmful contaminants. If your water contains large amounts of rust, dirt, and other particulates, you can add a sediment pre-filter.

Filter capacity and lifespanThe main filter cartridge has a 100,000-gallon capacity, which translates to a filter life of approximately one year.

Flow rate – The flow rate of 8 GPM should be sufficient for most 4-person households.

CertificationsAlthough the filtration system itself does not have NSF or WQA certification, other labs have independently tested the water filter to ensure that it conforms to NSF standard 53.

PriceThe base price for the filtration system is $1674.40 and you can add a sediment pre-filter for $79.95. The replacement filter cartridge is $391.60, which may seem a bit pricey to spend every year. However, it is worthwhile when you consider the level of filtration you’ll receive.

Who It’s Best For:

If you have high levels of lead in your drinking water, this is one of the best filters on the market for removing both forms of lead. It is also an excellent choice if your water contains a wide range of contaminants — thanks to the 0.5-micron and carbon block filters. Plus, it does all this without significantly impacting your water flow. If this filter is within your budget, you won’t find anything better for lead removal.

Pros

  • Removes lead by 99.62 percent
  • Removes other heavy metals, organic chemicals, microorganism cysts, chlorine, and chloramine
  • 8 GPM flow rate
  • Color-coded digital notification head monitoring
  • Leak-proof construction
  • DIY installation kit includes everything you need
  • 6-month money-back guarantee and a lifetime warranty on tanks and valves

Cons

  • Pricier than many other systems
  • Even though it comes with a DIY installation kit, you may need a professional to install this filtration system

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#2 Aquasana OptimH20 Whole House Filtration System

Aquasana Optimh20

 The OptimH20 is a whole-house water filter system that removes lead as well as PFOA, PFOS, chlorine, chloramines, and microorganism cysts using carbon block and 0.5-micron filtration. Unlike the SpringWell filtration system, a sediment pre-filter is included with this water filter.

This water filter has an innovative LED system that monitors water and flow. It uses a color-coded notification to alert when to replace your filter cartridges. Green means the filter is fine, yellow means you’ll need to change the cartridge soon, and red means you should change the filter cartridge immediately.

Main Features & Benefits

Contaminants removedThe OPTIMH20 is certified to reduce more than 99 percent of lead and cysts and 98 percent of PFOA and PFOS. You can also use this water filter to remove chlorine, chloramines, and more.

Filter capacity & lifespanThis filtration system has a 100,000 gallon capacity, which should last around a year. You’ll need to change the sediment pre-filter every 6 months.

Flow –With an 8 GPM flow, you won’t need to sacrifice flow for clean drinking water.

CertificationsThis water filter is IAPMO certified (IAPMO is another independent testing company) for NSF/ANSI standard 53.

PriceThe upfront cost for this filtration system is $1,799. The replacement filter cartridges cost $499.99 and the sediment pre-filter costs $35.28. Overall, this is one of the pricier models on the list, but it is worth it for the high lead reduction you receive.

Who It’s Best For:

Anyone who wants a whole-house water filter that can remove 99 percent of lead from drinking water should consider the Aquasana. As it maintains a decent flow rate, it should suit most households’ needs.

Pros

  • Removes 99 percent of lead and cysts, in addition to several additional contaminants
  • 8 GPM flow rate
  • IAPMO certified
  • LED flow meter indicator tells when to change the filter
  • DIY-friendly installation and maintenance
  • Three full metal faucet choices, including brushed nickel, chrome, and oil-rubbed bronze
  • 2-year limited warranty and a 90-day satisfaction guarantee

Cons

  • Very pricey

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#3 Best Budget Model: Pelican 6-Stage Reverse Osmosis System

pelican 6 stage

The Pelican 6-stage reverse osmosis system is a point-of-use water filter. It is WQA, NSF, and ANSI certified to remove up to 96.8 percent of lead in drinking water. This makes it one of the best budget options for reverse osmosis (RO) lead removal system.

The RO filtration process starts in a single cartridge that filters water through four stages: sediment filtration, carbon filtration, and two reverse osmosis filtration stages.

After these four stages, the water passes into a storage tank. Upon leaving the storage tank, water flows through the two final filtering stages: a second carbon filter and a remineralization stage that adds calcium and magnesium back into the water.

This is one of the most efficient reverse osmosis systems on the market, since it produces 50 percent less wastewater than other RO systems.

Main Features & Benefits

Contaminants removedThis faucet water filter removes 96.8 percent of lead, 99 percent of arsenic, 98.3 percent of chromium 6, 99 percent of chromium 3, 98.8 percent of barium, 98.3 percent of cadmium, 98.4 percent of copper, 98.8 percent of radium, 97.9 percent of selenium, 98.7 percent of turbidity, 99.99 percent of cysts, 93.8 percent of fluoride, and 93.10 percent of TDS (total dissolved solids).

Filter capacity & lifespanAlthough Pelican has not published the capacity in gallons for the cartridges in this faucet water filter, the company says that the four-stage membrane lasts 18 months and the two-stage post-filter has a 6-month lifespan.

Flow – Pelican has not published the flow rate for this water filter, either. However, we do know that it produces 17.9 gallons per day, and all the customer reviews report a decent flow from their sink faucet. The water pressure is rated at 50 PSI.

CertificationsThis sink filtration system has been WQA certified for NSF/ANSI standard 58, which is a specific quality standard for RO systems.

PriceThe highlight of this sink lead water filter is its price. The water filter itself costs $286.65 and the four-stage and two-stage cartridges are $167 and $34, respectively. Other sink filters of the same quality are considerably more expensive.

Who It’s Best For:

Overall, we would recommend this sink water filtration system to anyone who is looking for a budget-friendly point-of-use water filter to reduce lead and other contaminants in their drinking water.

Pros

  • Can remove up to 96.8 percent of lead in your water, as well as arsenic, chromium 3 and 6, barium, cadmium, radium, copper, selenium, and TDS
  • Fantastic price
  • WQA certified
  • Pelican boasts this sink filtration system has a 30 percent better flow than other filters
  • Easy to install, maintain, and change filters
  • This sink water filter system leads to 50 percent less wastewater than other reverse osmosis filters
  • 90-day satisfaction guarantee and one-year limited warranty
  • Three faucet finish options

Cons

  • Point-of-use system only — it will not filter lead from the water in all your house, just one from faucet
  • Some consumers state that the faucet leaks

Use Exclusive Code: WATERTECH at checkout for 10% off Pelican Products!

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#4 iSpring 6-Stage Reverse Osmosis System

iSpring 6-stage

If you’re looking for the best water filter for lead removal on a budget, the iSpring 6-stage reverse osmosis drink water system is definitely one to consider.

This RO water filter removes not only lead but more than 1,000 pollutants. It does this by using its sediment filtration, three kinds of carbon filters, a reverse osmosis membrane, and a remineralization stage. The pre-pressurized storage tank holds four gallons of water.

Main Features & Benefits

Contaminants removedThis system removes 98 percent of lead and 99 percent of other contaminants, including asbestos, chlorine, fluoride, calcium, sodium, and various heavy metals. The membrane filters down to 0.0001 microns.

Filter capacity & lifespan iSpring has not published the capacity of the water filter in gallons, but the RO membrane should last two to three years and the other filter stages last 6 to 12 months each. The main downside of this water filter is that you must replace each stage individually, as there are no combined-stage cartridges.

Flow –iSpring has not published water flow rate for this water filter, but we do know that it filters an impressive 75 gallons per day.

Certifications – This product has been NSF certified for standard 58.

PriceAt only $199, this water filter should fit any budget. Plus, a one-year supply of all the replacement cartridges costs just $86.55.

Who It’s Best For:

If you’re on a tight budget and are willing to regularly maintain your complete reverse osmosis system, this is a great option to consider. It’s especially well suited to those who have a large and varied number of pollutants in their water supply, including heavy metals.

Pros

  • Removes 98 percent of lead and 99 percent of 1,000 other contaminants
  • 75 gallons per day production
  • Very low price — ideal if you’re looking to save money
  • The remineralization filter will improve water taste and balance pH levels
  • 30-day money-back guarantee and one-year limited warranty
  • 3:1 wastewater ratio — better than most others

Cons

  • Point-of-use system only
  • More maintenance than other brands

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#5 Best Pitcher: Clearly Filtered Water Filter Pitcher

clearly filtered pitcher

Next on our list is the Clearly Filtered water pitcher. Unlike the Brita water filter pitchers, this BPA-free Clearly Filtered pitcher has been tested to multiple NSF standards for removing lead and many other contaminants.

In fact, this Clearly Filtered pitcher has several stand-out features. Part of what sets it apart from its competitors is its Affinity Filtration Technology, which utilizes more than seven proprietary filtration materials. These materials create three stages of filtration and include mechanical filtration and coconut-based activated carbon. 

Main Features & Benefits

Contaminants removedThis lead water filter pitcher can remove 99.5 percent of lead, 98.2 percent of fluoride, 99.9 percent of microplastics, and 99.9 percent of PFAS and PFOA. In total, the filtered water pitcher removes more than 232 contaminants.

Filter capacity & lifespanWith a 100 gallon capacity, the cartridge in this lead water filter pitcher will last around four months.

CertificationsThis filtered water pitcher has been certified for five NSF standards: 42, 53, 244, 401, and 473. Standard 42 refers to the aesthetic improvement of water, 53 is for lead and the reduction of other harmful contaminants, 244 is for microbial reduction, 401 is for emerging contaminants with health concerns, and 473 is for PFOA and PFOS reduction.

PriceThis filtered water pitcher costs just $75 and the replacement cartridges cost $140 for a three-pack or a one-year supply.

Pros

  • Removes 99.5 percent of lead, in addition to more than 232 other contaminants
  • 100 gallon, or four-month, filter life
  • NSF certified for five different standards
  • Reasonable price
  • Holds up to 80 ounces, or 10 cups, of clean water
  • The removable lid makes refilling the water reservoir and the filter cartridge replacement easy
  • 100 percent BPA free
  • 30-day satisfaction guarantee
  • Limited lifetime warranty

Cons

  • More expensive than competing brands, like Brita
  • Some reviewers noted that the filter didn’t last as long as the company advertises

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#6 Home Master Ultra Under Sink System

home master

The Home Master Ultra Under Sink System features six advanced stages of filtration and purification including KDF, catalytic carbon, and reverse osmosis. In addition to lead removal, it reduces the amount of heavy metals and other chemicals in your water.

This Home Master sink water filter is ideal for homes receiving well water. This is because the system contains an iron pre-filter that protects the unit’s reverse osmosis membrane. It also comes with a UV filter to destroy microorganisms and a permeate pump to maximize the limited pressure typically associated with well water supply systems.

The sink filter features a modular “all-in-one” design. This means the filter incorporates into your water supply without a bulky housing compartment. Not only does this feature make annual filter changes quick and easy, it also helps reduce biofilm and microorganism buildup. The all-in-one housing also helps prevent leaks.

Main Features & Benefits

Contaminants removedThis sink filter removes up to 99 percent of lead, iron, organic chemicals, chlorine, fluoride, pharmaceuticals, microplastics, and more than 1,000 other contaminants. The UV filter also removes 99.99 percent of microorganisms.

Filter capacity & lifespanHome Master hasn’t published the capacity of the sink water filter, but the company recommends changing both the UV lamp and the three filters every year. Changing the cartridges is any easy process that doesn’t involve using wrenches.

Flow –The flow for the Home Master system into the storage tank is 1 gallon per minute, but the built-in pump ensures strong flow at the kitchen sink.

CertificationsThis product has not been NSF or WQA certified.

PriceThe price for the unit is $489.50 and replacement filters (including the UV lamp) cost $103.14. This makes this one of the more inexpensive filter systems on our list.

Who It’s Best For:

If your household uses a large amount of water, you’ll appreciate the built-in permeate pump, which boosts filtered water production at the same time as cutting down on wastewater. This filtration system is also ideal for those who have well water (thanks to the iron filter) and for those who are concerned about microbial contamination.

Pros

  • Removes 99 percent of lead and more than 1,000 other substances
  • UV light sterilizes 99.99 percent of microorganisms
  • Non-electric permeate pump reduces wastewater by nearly 80 percent and increases water production by approximately 50 percent
  • The water to waste ratio is four to one
  • Five-year limited warranty
  • The replaceable filter cartridge is extra easy to install

Cons

  • Point-of-use system that sits under your kitchen sink — not for the whole house
  • The UV light doesn’t have an off switch
  • Some customers dislike the design and how it fits under their kitchen sink

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#7 iSpring WGB32B

iSpring-WGBB32B

The iSpring WGB32B is a three-stage whole-house water filtration system featuring a sediment filter, a carbon block filter, and a proprietary lead-reduction filter.

This water filter is specifically designed to remove lead and has a capacity of 15,000 ppm for lead removal. It requires minimal maintenance and has minimal impact on the water flow rate.

Main Features & Benefits

Contaminants removedIf your water contains less than 15,000 ppb (parts per billion) lead, this filtration system will reduce it to 15 ppb, which is the EPA standard. The water filter also removes sediment, rust, pesticides, herbicides, chlorine, and industrial solvents.

Filter capacity & lifespanIf your lead levels are less than 100 ppb, the lead filter cartridge has a 150,000 gallon capacity, which means it will last about 18 months. You’ll need to replace the sediment filter and carbon block filter cartridges every 12 months.

Flow – This system has an excellent flow rate of 15 GPM, which is sufficient for even large households.

CertificationsThis product has been NSF certified for standard 61, which means it is made with quality parts.

PriceAt $509.99, the price is middle of the road. The replacement cartridges are reasonable as well: the sediment filter costs $22.02, the carbon block filter costs $37.28, and the lead-reduction filter costs $134.62.

Who It’s Best For:

This filtration system is great for just about anyone. iSpring makes several different filter cartridges, including iron and manganese filters and various-size micron filters, many of which are compatible with this system. This means you can customize the filtration to your home’s needs, whether you have well water or city water.

Pros

  • Removes 99.9 percent of lead under 15,000 ppb, as well as many other minerals, and substances
  • 15 GPM flow 
  • NSF certified parts
  • Reasonable price
  • Suitable for city water and well water
  • Customizable design with different filter options
  • One-year manufacturer’s warranty

Cons

  • Some customers have reported leaks

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 Top 7 Lead Water Filters Feature Comparison

ProductLead RemovedFilter LifespanFlow Rate/ Gallons Per Day (GPD)CertificationsPrice
SpringWell Whole-House Lead & Cyst99.62%12 months8 GPMN/A$$$
Aquasana OptimH2099%12 months8 GPMNSF/ANSI 53$$$
Pelican 6-stage RO96.8%18 months17.9 GPDNSF/ANSI 58$
iSpring 6-stage RO98%2-3 years75 GPDNSF/ANSI 58$
Clearly Filtered water pitche99.5%4 monthsN/ANSF/ANSI 42, 53, 244, 401, 473$
Home Master Ultra Under Sink99%12 months1 GPM to Storage TankN/A$$
iSpring WGB32B99.9% (under 15,000ppb)12 months15 GPMNSF 61$$

Water Filters for Lead Buyer’s Guide

Now that you’re clear about what to look for in a lead removal system, it’s important to understand just why it’s so important to filter water.

What is Lead?

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines lead as a toxic element that naturally occurs in small amounts within the Earth’s crust. Despite making up approximately 0.0013 percent of land mass, lead is not rare and is easily extractable.

The chemical symbol for this element is Pb, which comes from the Latin word plumbum. Plumbum means “waterworks,” which refers to when lead was widely used in water pipe construction.

Whereas there are benefits of lead, the metal is toxic to animals and humans if ingested and can cause severe health issues. Despite this, it has been used in many products, including batteries, ceramics, gasoline, paint, plumbing, and various cosmetics. Today, many older constructions still have lead pipes.

Since lead causes such major health risks, the government placed restrictions on lead content in home faucets, piping, and soldering as well as other building materials and products in 1986.

How Does Lead Affect the Human Body?

lead

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains that exposure to high levels of lead can lead to several health conditions. This includes anemia, brain disorders, damaged blood cells, kidney damage, nervous system disorders, high blood pressure, and problems with physical development (especially in young children). Extremely high exposure to lead can be fatal.

Even short-term exposure to this metal from untreated water can cause health issues, including lead poisoning. If you believe that you or someone you know may be suffering from lead poisoning, look out for the following signs symptoms:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Memory loss
  • Pain or tingling in extremities
  • Weakness

How Does Lead Enter Water?

lead in drinking water

The EPA explains that lead enters our drinking water when pipes that contain lead begin to corrode. This process is exacerbated when water has a low mineral content or high acidity. Faucets, fixtures, and pipes are the most common sources of lead in our drinking water. Typically, the corrosion occurs in water mains underneath streets, between treatment plants, and in homes.

Although local authorities have taken steps to reduce lead in drinking water, lead contamination still occurs. The Flint water crisis is just one example. Two recent pieces of legislation to prevent or reduce lead contamination are the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Lead and Copper Rule.

The amount of lead that enters water relates to:

  • The pH of the water
  • What minerals (and how much of them) are present in the water
  • How much contact the water has with lead in pipes and plumbing
  • The temperature of the water
  • The condition of the plumbing system
  • The amount of time water remains in pipes
  • If pipes are coated or have protective scales

Water Testing for Lead

To find out if lead is leaching into your water supply, use a water testing kit. This will tell you exactly how much lead (and other major contaminants) are in your water.

There are multiple benefits to testing your water. For one thing, you’ll be able to see exactly how much lead is in your water and pick a filter that will ensure lead is completely removed. In addition, if it turns out that your water has many additional contaminants, you can search for a multi-stage system that will address those as well. Ultimately, this will result in far fewer contaminants in your water.

Check out our review of the best water testing kits.

How to Prevent Lead Contamination

According to the CDC, the first step in lead removal is identifying the source of the lead. You should then remove that building material entirely. This is an excellent first line of defense. However, if municipal water pipes are the culprit, you’ll still need to filter lead out of your water.

If you have a private water well, remember to check the pump, as this is also a potential source of lead contamination. For example, well pumps that are more than 20 years old may contain lead in the “packer” element — the part that helps create a seal above the well’s screen. It also isn’t uncommon for older versions of submersible pumps to contain brass components that contain lead.

If you know that your water supply contains lead, boiling your water is not the answer. This could, in fact, cause more problems. Since boiling water causes some of the water to evaporate, it can actually concentrate the amount of lead in your water.

If you are unable to replace all the faucets, fixtures, or plumbing that may contain lead, you could try flushing. When water remains in pipes for six hours or longer, it may accumulate lead. Flushing can provide you with fresh water that has a lower concentration of lead. For example, you could allow a faucet to run for a minute or two. Instead of wasting this water, you could use it to water plants or wash dishes.

However, using a filtration system is the best option for removing lead from water. These typically remove lead at the point of use or cold water line at the point of entry to your home and many remove lead up to 99 percent.

In summary, you have three options to remove lead from your water:

  1. Replace all pipes inside your home that may contain lead
  2. Flushing water that has remained in your pipes for more than six hours
  3. Installing a whole-house water filter or a point-of-use reverse osmosis system or using a filtered water pitcher.

What is a Lead Removal Filtration System and Who Needs One?

Lead water filters take many forms, but they all do the same thing: remove particulate and soluble lead from your water supply. If you’ve tested your water and found that it contains high levels of lead or if you have concerns that your plumbing may leach lead, you should use some kind of filter for lead reduction.

How Does a Lead Filtration System Work?

There are several different types of filtration systems for lead removal. The six most common are gravity filters, whole-house water filters, RO systems, filter pitchers, faucet mount units, and distillers. Each style uses a slightly different filtration mechanism, as we’ll explain below.

Whole House Water Filters

A whole-house filter system is installed directly on your main cold water line — at the point where water enters your home. This means every appliance, faucet, fixture, and shower receives filtered water. Some consumers believe they need a separate water filter for each of their water heaters. However, this is not the case: no matter how many water heaters you have, you only need one whole-house filter system for lead removal.

Some of the main filtration methods whole house systems use include activated carbon, KDF, ion exchange, and reverse osmosis. We will explain RO filtration in more detail below, as this kind of filtration is less common for whole-house filters. RO systems are highly effective at removing lead and many other contaminants when used as point-of-use filtration (such as in a countertop water filter), but they tend to be extremely inefficient and waste much more water when installed on a cold water line.

Activated carbon filters use an adsorption method. Compounds in the water bind to the surface of the granulated carbon or carbon block. As activated carbon is less efficient at reducing lead than some other filtration methods, it is unsuitable for homes with water that has a high concentration of lead.

KDF media is a good option for removing high levels of soluble lead. It uses copper–zinc granules to exchange electrons with lead particles. This is called a redox reaction. The exchange means lead particles are no longer water soluble, meaning they become suspended particulates that sediment filtration can easily remove.

Ion-exchange filters are also capable of removing lead, provided water is slightly acidic (with a pH of less than 7). The negatively-charged lead particles bind to the ion exchange resin, each one displacing a positively-charged particle like sodium into the water.

Many manufacturers also use a proprietary blend of media formulated specifically for lead. Although these don’t fall into any of the above categories, such media blends can even be even more effective.

Reverse Osmosis Systems

Reverse osmosis systems remove pollutants and other impurities from feed water and unfiltered water. Pressure forces the water through a semi-permeable membrane with small pores. These pores mean that only water molecules are able to pass through the membrane but substances like lead are filtered out.

RO is a cost-effective way to remove lead from drinking water. In addition to lead removal, RO filters reduce contaminants like bacteria and harmful chemicals. RO systems work best when installed into the existing plumbing under your sink because, this way, they waste less water.

Pitcher filters

A filtered pitcher is a fully-functioning, self-contained water filtration system. These portable systems can hold various volumes of water (the exact amount depends on the model) and eliminate the need to purchase bottled water.

The great thing about a filtered pitcher is that it’s easy to use. These filters eliminate lead and other contaminants from your tap water or well water supply primarily with an activated carbon filter. You have a large amount of choice for models, including from PUR, the Brita tap water filter, and the Clearly Filtered water pitcher.

Gravity filters

A gravity filter sits on your kitchen countertop. It filters pollutants from your water supply using gravity: water flows from the upper chamber down through the filtration system. The purified water then accumulates in a tank underneath the filter.

Since these units operate using gravity, there’s no need for hardwiring or electricity. However, some users dislike that these filters take up countertop space, especially when space is limited to begin with.

Faucet filters

Faucet mount units fit directly onto a faucet. When you turn on your kitchen tap, filtered water comes out of the unit. Many people find these systems more convenient than refillable filter pitchers. Plus, these filters take up a minimal amount of space because they fit directly onto a tap. Most faucet filters have a simple design, which means easy installation.

If you are considering a faucet filter, look for features like a filter change sensor, long filter life, and a 360-degree swivel. Also bear in mind that not all faucet filters are effective on the same contaminants. Make sure the one you choose rated for iron or — better yet — is independently certified.

Distillers

A water distiller converts water into vapor or steam before condensing it back to its liquid state. This water treatment method removes many impurities (including lead, arsenic, bacteria, and heavy metals) during the evaporation process. Removal occurs because these pollutants are unable to turn into steam. Instead, they remain in the boiling chamber as water transitions from liquid to vapor.

Water distillation as a filtration method is similar to how the Earth naturally purifies and redistributes water. In the case of natural purification, heat from the sun evaporates water and turns it into vapor. The vapor cools when rising, turning into clouds. The evaporated water then returns to the Earth in precipitation as rain or snow.

Although water distillers are not traditional water filters, they can effectively purify water, removing lead and additional contaminants. However, since distillers are slow, you may prefer a different other NSF-certified option if you require a large amount of water.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Using a Lead Water Filter

The most obvious benefit of using a lead water filter is it ensures your water is safe to drink and free of a contaminant that has notorious health effects. A water filter may also be a suitable solution if you would rather avoid redoing all of the plumbing in your home.

The main drawback to lead water filters is they can have a negative impact on your water flow rate. In addition, they are often specialty filters — heavy-duty lead filters mostly just remove lead. Having said that, you do have the option of purchasing a filtration system with multiple stages.

Ease of Installation

How easy it will be to install your water filter will depend on the kind of filter, how much plumbing experience you have, and the exact model you choose. Some filters come with DIY installation kits. In other cases, you may void the manufacturer’s warranty if anyone other than a plumber installs the filter. Always check installation requirements before you purchase.

NSF/ANSI Standard 53 Certification

The definition of standard 53 is broad. It states that “filters are certified to reduce a contaminant with a health effect.” Lead is one of the contaminants specifically tested under this standard.

Manufacturers can make a variety of claims about the effectiveness of their water filters based on in-house tests. A certification for standard 53 means you can rest assured that filters meet manufacturers’ claims in terms of lead removal.

Lead Filter FAQs

Q: What are the most trusted lead water filter brands?

A: Few, if any, companies specialize in lead filtration specifically, but some of the top water filtration companies that produce lead-reducing filters are SpringWell, Pelican, Aquasana, iSpring, Home Master, Brita, and Berkey.

Q: Can you remove lead from water naturally?

A: It would be extremely difficult to remove lead without the proper filtration media. Having said that, filter types like reverse osmosis and sediment filters are completely chemical-free.

Q: Can a Brita filter remove lead?

A: The Brita Longlast and the Brita faucet systems remove lead, but not all Brita models are effective for lead.

Q: Does boiling water remove lead?

A: Unfortunately, simply boiling your drinking water will not reduce lead content. It is necessary to filter out lead particles using media like activated carbon, RO filters, KDF filters, or an ion exchange process.

Conclusion

Our top pick for lead filtration removes a host of contaminants from all the water in your home, including showers. We chose the SpringWell whole house lead and cyst removal system because of its bypass valve, color-coded notifications, shower filter capabilities, and excellent whole home water filtration system capacity.

We chose the Aquasana Optimh20 Whole House Filtration System as the second-best system due to its LED flow meter, ultra-dense carbon block, and flow rate.

Lastly, the Pelican RO system is the best budget option and the Clearly Filtered Water Pitcher is a top pitcher option for its portability and convenience.

No matter if you’re buying a three-stage whole-house water filtration system or a sink RO water filter, make sure the filter removes the amounts of lead you require by testing your water beforehand. In addition, search for filters that have been certified for NSF/ANSI standard 53 and make sure you take factors like the flow and filter lifespan into consideration to ensure you get the best lead water filter for your needs.

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AUTHOR
David Trinh
David is an expert in all things plumbing, heating, cooling, and water treatment. He got his start in the plumbing business working on fixing all types of home improvement issues including water leaks, broken toilets, appliance installation, and more. Over time, he learned a ton about installing and choosing the correct water treatment products for homeowners.

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