Hands-on review: ZeroWater 7 Cup / 1.7L water filter jug
Image credit: ZeroWater
Drinking clean fresh water is for life, not just for heatwave summers.
As Britain basks in the balmy heat of an unexpectedly beautiful summer, the amount of water we imbibe has exponentially increased. Got to stay hydrated, right? As a result, many people have been giving their tap water greater consideration and closer inspection.
Not that this is anything new or peculiar to a peculiarly clement season. We all know we should be drinking regular good fluids (i.e. water, not fizzy pop or taurine-fuelled energy drinks). We are also mostly aware that water quality and type (hard vs soft) can vary considerably across even this small island and what is added to our tap water by the companies responsible for its management and also picked up in the pipes it passes through in order to reach our taps might not always be what we personally wish to absorb in our bodies.
Bottled spring water, filtered for millenia by rocks and such like, is one alternative to tap water, albeit an expensive option to indulge in regularly. Personal water filtration systems have thus become a growth industry, as people seek to take control of their water. Brita is one of the leading names, well known for its fridge jugs and kettles, but other companies are now rising to the challenge, whether it’s individual sports bottles or fridge jugs with superior filtration.
ZeroWater’s 7 Cup jug, reviewed here, is a good example of the latter. The 7 Cup model is a decent size, providing several large glasses of water from one full jug. For the thirstier amongst us, 10 Cup, 12 Cup and even a monster 23 Cup tabletop dispenser version are also available.
The slim 7 Cup jug (12.5cm wide, 24cm tall, 26cm breadth handle to spout) sits neatly in a regular modern fridge door, being no wider than a supermarket four-pint plastic bottle of milk. It has a sealed lid and reservoir, so it is possible to start pouring water as soon as enough has passed through the filtration block without spilling any water that’s still filtering through.
Naturally, the heart of any water purifier is the filter capsule itself. ZeroWater hails its ‘premium’ filtration system, combining five technologies that work together to remove virtually all dissolved solids from your water (up to 99.6 per cent of all dissolved solids and 99 per cent of fluoride) for the purest tap water possible. The ZeroWater jugs are the only pour-through filter pitchers on the market certified by the NSF to reduce both lead and chromium.
The five-layer order of filtration starts with an activated carbon and oxidation reduction alloy to remove the chlorine taste, followed by the ‘Ion Exchange’ stage that removes dissolved solids such as aluminum, lead, zinc and nitrate. Three more filter stages further refine the water. The goal is to acheive a ‘000’ reading on the digital water quality meter, included in the box. For comparison, the FDS requires the Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) in purified bottled water to reach a filtration level between 000-010ppm. ZeroWater is the only filter in its class to achieve this level.
From our tests, there is no guarantee that you’ll routinely hit ‘000’, but the ZeroWater filter will definitely get close, especially with a fresh filter installed, and it definitely absorbed a huge amount of TDS from our tap water each time we refilled the jug. On that note, to top up the jug you have to remove the lid entirely - there is no flip-up spout, for instance. This is a compromise to have that no-spill, no-leak pouring ability, which is fair enough.
So how does it perform? In our tests, very well. Using the TDS meter supplied in the box, we tested the tap water in various locations where the TDS values ranged between 200-350ppm. The ZeroWater filter took this down to approximately 0ppm. Some big-name bottled waters might test higher than ZeroWater (or other leading gravity-fed filtration systems), although what is left behind in most such cases are useful minerals, not harmful chemicals.
Pure water has a distinctly different taste to the tap water you might be used to, so there is an adjustment period while you become acquainted with the new flavour. It’s obviously most noticeable with a straight-up tall glass of water; less so when used with cordials or for making tea. The overall results are good.
The caveat is that you have to regularly change the filter, with a two-pack going for around £30 and a four-pack or eight-pack working out cheaper per unit. It’s a bit like the old razors and blades model: the initial handle purchase may be cheap, but the blades are going to cost you in the long run. With one filter lasting approximately three weeks in daily use, you’re going to have to factor in the cost of regularly buying filters on top of your existing grocery bill. This is true of all filter jugs, of course. If you’re already regularly buying bottled water, the cost of the filters shouldn’t make much difference. You might even start saving some money.
There is no indicator on the filter offering feedback on when it’s time to change, so if ‘000’ is your primary focus you’ll have to keep testing the water (not a big job, just an extra chore). Otherwise, simply bank on changing the filter every 3-4 weeks. Once the filter gets ‘old’, its performance really does drop off rapidly and you’ll notice the taste of your water reverting to piped type.
We tested the ZeroWater 7 Cup filter jug. We validated its claims to eliminate most, if not all, of the impurities in our water. We drank the results and we enjoyed them. That’s pretty much everything you should expect from a water filter. Whether such a system (or any other like it) is a household essential - balancing the free and fresh availability of 99.9 per cent pure water against the cost of regularly replacing the filters - is up to you.
ZeroWater 7 Cup