Gravity filters have been around for years, and traditionally they've been used mainly by survivalists. But as problems with the safety of our water supply have grown, so has interest in this kind of water filtration. They're not just for preppers anymore!
Why are gravity water filters so popular?
Because they're simple to use and can give you a fresh supply of clean drinking water any time and any place. They're great for everyday use and for emergency situations, and most are highly effective at removing contaminants.
"But," you might be wondering, "How can I know which one is the best?"
You could spend hours online trying to figure out which one to buy. Or, you can just read this article. I've already done all the hard work for you!
I've gathered together loads of information about four of the most popular countertop gravity filters - how they work, how they compare in price and size, and how well they remove contaminants from drinking water.
By the time you've finished reading, you'll be able to make an informed decision about which of these models is the best gravity water filter for you.
Comparison Table: Best Countertop Gravity Water Filters
**This table is best viewed in horizontal orientation on mobile devices.**
Lower Chamber Capacity
3-5 years for Black Berkey filters;
6 months for fluoride filters
yes, with PF-2 filters added
1 year on system & fluoride filters;
2 years on Black Berkey filters
Lifetime on system;
1 year on filters
1 year for ceramic filter;
Contaminant Reduction: Berkey vs ProOne (Propur) vs Alexapure vs Zen Water
The most important question to ask when choosing a gravity water filter is this: How effective is this water filter in reducing contaminants in drinking water?
After downloading all the available third party lab test results I could find, I made a table (below) so we can compare how well the systems perform.
I picked out about 40 contaminants that would be somewhat recognizable to most people. One problem you run into doing this comparison is that identical tests were not run on each of the systems. If they had been, this would be a whole lot easier.
Disclaimer: I'm not a scientist. I'm a consumer, just like you. But we can read, and we have brains, so we can take the information that's available and try to make a reasonable choice.
The numbers in the table tell you how much the contaminants were reduced during the test. For example, if it says "glyphosate 75%", that means 75% of the glyphosate was removed, and 25% remained after filtration.
Where you see "n/a", that means there was no data available for that particular contaminant. But, that doesn't necessarily mean that the filter can't reduce that contaminant.
Gravity Filters Contaminant Reduction Table
Note: Sodium fluoride, hexafluorosilicate, and fluorosilicic acid are all forms of fluoride found in drinking water.
Gravity Water Filter System Mini Reviews
Big Berkey (most popular gravity water filter)
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Berkey is by far the best known and most popular brand of gravity filters. This is a brand that my family and I have been using for many years.
The "Big" Berkey is just one of several available sizes. It's made by New Millenium Concepts, a company in Texas.
The filter elements themselves are manufactured in the US, and the stainless steel housing is assembled in the US.
It comes with two Black Berkey filter elements, which are made of coconut shell carbon plus a proprietary blend of five other media.
By themselves, the Black Berkey filters will not remove fluoride. If you want to get rid of fluoride, you can buy optional PF-2 fluoride filters to add to the system.
The fluoride filters use activated alumina to remove the fluoride.
Berkey filters have gone through extensive testing by independent labs, and are very effective at removing most kinds of contaminants. They only seem to fall short in the removal of glyphosate, an herbicide found in products like Roundup.
Big Berkey Quick Summary
My Rating: 5/5
Dimensions: 8.5" diameter x 19.2" high
Filter Life: 3,000 gallons, or about 3 to 5 years for Black Berkey filters; 1,000 gallons, or about every 6 months for fluoride filters.
Biggest Complaints: Filters must be primed before using; plastic spigot (can purchase stainless steel replacement separately).
Best Features: Effectively removes all kinds of contaminants; removes fluoride when PF-2 fluoride filters are included; sturdy stainless steel housing; can purify any kind of water except salt water; long filter life.
Warranty: 12 months on System and PF-2 filters; 2 years on Black Berkey filters.
For more information, see my in-depth review of the Big Berkey.
See also The Berkey Water Filter Ultimate Buyer’s Guide for information about the different sizes of Berkey filters and how to choose the right one.
Sometimes you can find good deals on Berkey filters bundled with accessories or discounts on add-ons at Berkey Filters, an authorized Berkey distributor. They also have deep discounts on scratch and dent models.
ProOne Big+ (best gravity water filter for lead removal)
Check out the ProOne 2022 Holiday Sale.
All ProOne gravity systems, accessories, and replacement filters are on sale for 25% off the regular price!
Sale ends December 31st.
Pick up a ProOne Big+ at
Next up is the ProOne Big+. This is just one of several sizes available from ProOne USA and is comparable to the Big Berkey.
ProOne is one of several Berkey water filter competitors. It used to be called the Propur Big, but the company changed its name in January 2021. The housing has been slightly modified, but the filter technology is the same.
With this filtration system, you can get one, two or three filter elements - your choice. They're silver-infused ceramic on the outside with a granular activated carbon base medium on the inside. Made in England, by the way.
Unlike the Berkey, ProOne doesn't need an extra filter for fluoride. The ProOne G2.0 filter does it all.
The housing is made of stainless steel (polished or brushed) and is assembled in the US. But, it has a stainless steel spigot instead of plastic.
As an added bonus, the ProOne Big+ comes with a 6-inch stainless steel stand to make dispensing easier.
Looking at the contaminant reduction table, you can see that it's quite good at removing contaminants. In some cases, it's a little better than Berkey, and in others, it's not quite as good. The main area where it's not as good is in the reduction of radioactive substances.
Of all these brands, ProOne is the best at removing lead. It's also the only one that has been tested for microplastics. Lab test results published in September 2017 show a 99.99% reduction in microplastics.
Suggested Reading: Should You Worry About Microplastics in Your Drinking Water?
Because the numbers are so close, I've rated both the Berkey and ProOne at 5 out of 5. To me, it's really a toss up.
ProOne Big+ Quick Summary
My Rating: 5/5
Dimensions: 9.25" diameter x 22.75" high
Filter Life: 12 months
Biggest Complaints: Knob on lid is hard to install; not great at removing radioactive contaminants.
Best Features: Effectively removes most contaminants, including fluoride; filters don't need to be primed; sturdy stainless steel housing and spigot; can purify any kind of water except salt water.
Warranty: Lifetime on stainless steel parts; 12 months on filters.
See also my detailed review of the ProOne filter. It includes information about the various sizes available.
Access the ProOne independent lab test reports here.
Alexapure Pro (cheapest stainless steel gravity filter)
The Alexapure Pro is another gravity filter system that's similar to Berkey and ProOne. It's less expensive, though.
The main part is stainless steel, and it has a plastic spigot.
Alexapure comes with a single carbon block filter encased in a hybrid ceramic shell. You can add more filters for a faster flow, if you like.
The filter element is made in the US, and the housing is made in India. It's manufactured by an American company called Alexapure and is sold through several online retailers.
According to the lab test results, the Alexapure is pretty much on par with Berkey and ProOne. It does a great job removing most contaminants, including fluoride and radioactive substances.
It's a bit weak in lead reduction, though - only 96.4%. That doesn't seem too bad, but keep in mind that, according to the EPA, there is no safe level of lead in drinking water. That's because lead bioaccumulates in the body.
And this is the main reason why I rated Alexapure a little lower than Berkey and ProOne.
Another thing that bothers me is that there is essentially no warranty on this product. You can return unopened products - no questions asked - within 30 days. Other than that, there is no guarantee. They say, "After 30 days, or for products already opened, we will review your return request on a case-by-case basis."
I think most people would prefer a more specific guarantee. I certainly would.
Alexapure Pro Quick Summary
My Rating: 4/5
Dimensions: 9" diameter x 21.5" high
Filter Life: 5,000 gallons, or about 5 years
Biggest Complaints: Not great at removing lead; no warranty.
Best Features: Effectively removes most contaminants, including fluoride; filters have long life; sturdy stainless steel housing; can purify any kind of water except salt water
Warranty: 30 day return policy on unopened products.
For more information please see my in-depth review of the Alexapure Pro.
The Alexapure Pro is also available from My Patriot Supply. It's always worthwhile to take a look. Sometimes they have special sales.
Zen Water 4 Gallon Filter System (best gravity water filter that adds minerals)
Finally, we've got the least expensive of the filters in this review: the Zen Water System Model 4G-MP. This is the smallest of the available Zen Water systems.
It's different from all the other filtration systems we've looked at, in a couple of ways.
First, the body is made of BPA free plastic instead of stainless steel. That means that it's not nearly as sturdy.
Second, it does more than just filter. It also mineralizes and magnetizes the water.
Water goes through five stages in this system -
- Filtration: It starts out with a ceramic filter, which you can see in the top part of the unit in the image.
- Purification: Next, the water goes through a purifying silver infused activated carbon filter and ion exchange resin.
- Mineralization: The water goes through layers of Far Infrared balls, silica sand, and mineral sand and stones. This adds calcium, zinc, iron, and magnesium to the water. It's also supposed to improve your metabolism, memory, and blood pressure, among other things.
- Preservation: Mineral stones in the holding chamber help to keep the water fresh and pure.
- Magnetization: At the end, the water is dispensed through a magnetized spigot. This may boost your immunity and improve your overall health.
Zen Water makes the claim that the filters in Zen Water Systems effectively reduce over 99% of bacteria, chlorine, herbicides, pesticides and hundreds of other man-made chemical(s).
This could very well be true, but they have not published any lab test results that would back up their claims. I have requested information from them, but they haven't replied.
They do state on their website that the filter does not remove fluoride. So that's settled.
Also, the Zen should only be used with potable water - in other words, treated tap water.
Water Filter Labs (a division of Natural News) at one time conducted a test on the Zen Water filter. They only tested for heavy metals, though, and the test results are no longer on the website. Those results are included in the contaminant reduction table above.
There's no warranty to speak of on this system. They only guarantee that the system will arrive free of damage and defects, or you can return it within 30 days.
The lack of a warranty and especially the lack of lab test reports to back up the company's claims are why it's the lowest rated of the bunch.
It is going to make your water taste better, and it will remove some contaminants. Plus it's not that expensive. So if you want to spend the least amount of money possible on a decent filter, this might be the one for you.
Zen Water System Quick Summary
My Rating: 2/5
Dimensions: 12.5" diameter x 22" high
Filter Life: 1,000 gallons, or about 1 year for the Ceramic filter; 500 gallons, or about 6 months for the 5-stage filter; 3 to 5 years for the mineral stones.
Biggest Complaints: Doesn't remove fluoride; algae tends to grow in the bottom chamber; very slow filtration rate; cheap plastic spigot.
Best Features: Inexpensive; looks nice; raises pH of the water; easy to use.
Warranty: 30 day return policy if damaged or defective on arrival
You can also buy directly from the manufacturer. Sometimes they have special sales and bundle deals, plus they offer two larger system sizes - 6 gallon and 8 gallon. They take PayPal, too, if that's how you prefer to pay.
If you like the idea of an alkaline gravity water filter, you might want to check out the Santevia. It's similar to the Zen, but it removes fluoride. Read my in-depth review of the Santevia Alkaline Water Filter System.
Gravity Filter FAQs
How do gravity fed water purifiers work?
Gravity filters are the simplest kind of water filters out there. There's no plumbing involved and you don't need electricity to use them. You just put unfiltered water in the top, and gravity pulls the water downward through the filter element(s) and into the holding chamber. All of these countertop models have a spigot for dispensing the filtered water.
Do gravity filters remove beneficial minerals?
What are the benefits of gravity filters?
What are the disadvantages of gravity filters?
What kind of maintenance do you have to do on a gravity water filtration system?
The only maintenance you need to do is cleaning.
You'll need to take the filter elements out every now and then and give them a good scrubbing with plain water. After a while, they'll need to be replaced altogether. And, of course, you'll want to keep the housing clean. You can clean that with just a little soap and water.
Can gravity filters remove chloramine?
Some gravity filters can remove chloramine. The ones in this review that specifically claim to remove chloramine are:
For more information about chloramine, please see Chlorine vs Chloramine in Drinking Water: What’s the Difference and Why Does It Matter?
Conclusion: What is the best gravity filter? It's a Tie!
All of these filters are going to make your water taste good. That's a given.
But in terms of structural integrity and effectiveness in removing contaminants, I think that Berkey and ProOne are tied for number one.
Second place is Alexapure. It's almost as good as Berkey and ProOne, but it doesn't do nearly as good a job of removing lead. Plus there's no stated warranty.
Third place goes to the Zen Water system. It makes a lot of claims about how great it is, but there isn't much proof. But if you just want a cheap filter that will make your water taste better, then the Zen might be the ticket.
Click here to shop for the best gravity water filters at Amazon.
If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in a comment below, and I'll get back to you asap.
Last Updated on November 22, 2022