10 Best Carbon Water Filters For your Home

by Jay | Updated on July 5th, 2023

Tap water can be a convenient supply of drinkable water. Well, not until it starts tasting funny. The problem with tap water is that it may contain harmful substances such as sediment, chlorine, VOCs, and others that may make it taste weird or have harmful effects on the body. 

The solution to this is activated carbon water filters that can effectively eradicate unpleasant flavors and odors from your tap water while retaining the beneficial minerals. 


Best carbon water filters

Our best carbon filter water list includes the following:

Frizzlife MK99 Under Sink Carbon Water Filter

On top of our list and our overall favorite is this one from Frizzlife. It houses a two-stage filter system that removes the sediment, chlorine, and VOCs while simultaneously removing lead and heavy metals. You can rely on this to give you pure-tasting water. 

Another great thing about this is the easy installation. Connect it to the sink system, and you’re good to go! Overall, it should take around 15 minutes to do so without installing new faucets or other tools. In addition, it comes with a built-in shutoff valve, so you won’t have to turn the water off whenever you need to replace the filter.

Take note, though, that while this comes with plastic wrenches, we had to use our tools to make things easier. 


  • Built-in shutoff valve
  • Fast and easy installation
  • 2 GPM
  • 1600 gallons per filter


  • Useless plastic wrenches

Omnipure Inline Carbon Water Filter

A more affordable option and our bet for the best value is the Omnipure Inline Carbon Water Filter. It is affordable and incredibly simple while doing the job beautifully. It efficiently provides clean and pure-tasting water without any foul smell. 

As the name suggests, this connects in-line with ⅜-inch quick connect fittings. Installation is quick and easy. However, the flow rate is quite slow at 0.5 gallons per minute. But despite that, we still think this is a great filter considering its price. Plus, it has a lifespan of up to a year or up to 1,000 gallons. 


  • Very cheapThe lifespan
  • of a year
  • ⅜” quick connect fittings for easy installation


  • Low flow rate

Aquasana Whole House Carbon Water Filter

The Aquasana EQ-600 is a whole-house solution that is great for households with many members. The system holds an impressive six-year lifespan of up to 60,000 gallons which will make your investment worthwhile. But note that you still need to replace the pre-and post-filters regularly or every 3 months. It has a high flow rate of 7 GPM, which the whole family can truly enjoy!


  • Enough for the whole family
  • 7 GPM flow rate
  • 6-year or 600,000-gallon lifespan
  • 6-year warranty
  • Low maintenance


  • Expensive
  • Pre- and post-filter replacement required

iSpring 3-Stage Carbon Under-Sink Water Filters

This water filter from iSpring uses a dedicated faucet specifically for filtered drinking water. It offers three filtration stages to eradicate arsenic, heavy metals, lead, parasites, and bacteria. Conveniently, a filter will last about 6-12 months before a replacement is necessary. However, it can take up a large amount of space under your sink and comes at a higher price than other options.


  • 3-stage filtration
  • Has own faucet
  • 6-12 months of filter lifespan
  • Controls bacteria and parasites


  • Consumes huge space
  • Expensive

Camco TastePure RV Carbon Water Filter

Another affordable choice is this Camco 40043 TastePure filter. It’s versatile as you can use it in your kitchens, sinks, and even your RV! It has a hose protector to prevent kinks from taking place, so you’re sure always to have good running filtered water. In addition, this unit is easy to install and replace, which you might have to do every 3 months. Take note, though, that this filter can only remove particles down to 20 microns in size.


  • Affordable
  • Easy to install and replace
  • Hose protector prevents kinks


  • It should be replaced every 3 months can
  • only filter to 20 microns

iSpring WGB21B Whole House Water Filtration System

The iSpring WGB21B Whole House Water Filtration System will give off 15 gallons per minute of filtered water to each faucet in your residence. The filter cartridges will last up to a year for a family of four until it needs replacing. That’s about 50,000-gallon filter life. 

While the high flow rate and the great lifespan come at a price, we’d say that it truly is worth it and more! But there are other options in the market if you need a cheaper one that works great.


  • 50,000-gallon lifespan
  • Filters all the water in a home
  • 15 GPM flow rate


  • pricey
  • May require installation help from a professional

APEX EXPRT MR-2050 Carbon Countertop Water Filter

If you’re into countertop water filters, check out the APEX EXPRT. It houses different filtration stages and even increases the alkalinity of your tap water for an even healthier take. Remember, though, as the alkalinity increases, the total dissolved solids will also increase.

This unit is easy to install as it only sits beside your sink with a hose attached to the faucet. Overall, it can be an eyesore for some, but we all prefer different things, don’t we? However, we think it’s priced quite high for its performance.



  • Increases TDS
  • Unattractive hose
  • Less usable faucet
  • Expensive
  • Takes up significant counter space

Express Water Heavy Metal 3-Stage Carbon Water Filter

Another whole house system is this one. It comes with a three-stage filtration system and uses a carbon block, KDF, and sediment filter to ensure that your water is free from chlorine, lead, pesticides, iron, VOCs, herbicides, chromium, chloramine, viruses, and insecticides. This product is easy to install and maintain as well.


  • Easy to maintain
  • Clear housing to identify when replacement is already needed
  • Whole house system


  • Expensive pipe size conversion if the unit does not match your current ones

Home Master Sediment & Carbon Water Filter

This filter from Home Master is another whole house water filter with a lifespan of up to a year or about 95,000 gallons. In addition, it comes with a 2-year parts warranty for your peace of mind. However, installation is not as easy, but it truly is worth it because this unit can remove up to 95% of the contaminants in your tap water. Take note that this is also only usable for municipal water and not well water.


  • High quality
  • Long lifespan
  • Whole house system


  • Challenging to install
  • For municipal water only

Invigorated Water pH RESTORE Alkaline Water Filter Pitcher

Just want a carbon filter for your drinking water? Prefer drinking alkaline water? This filter pitcher will not disappoint. Besides removing impurities from your water, this pitcher also makes your water more alkaline. Its beautiful appearance and ergonomic handle are other reasons you prefer having it in your house.


  • Comes with two water filter cartridges each that last up to 3 months.
  • Filter change reminder that notifies you when it is time to change for a new one.


  • Water spills. This pitcher has a flimsy lid; the water will spill if you fill it to the brim.

Are carbon water filters safe to use?

By all means, yes. Carbon water filters, particularly those vetted for material safety by a third party, are indeed safe. Each of these filters is rated for chlorine, taste, and odor (CTO) removal. Furthermore, sub-micron carbon blocks present in these filters work to eliminate other potential contaminants like lead or cysts.

Activated carbon block filters that have sub-micron ratings offer a filtration performance that goes beyond basic mechanical filtration. These filters function similar to a screen door—filtering out undesired elements while allowing clean water to pass through. Pores in a carbon block filter that are smaller than one micron effectively block cysts from passing through, ensuring safety.

Should you invest in a whole-house water filter?

A whole-house water filter is an investment worth considering. This system eradicates harmful chemicals at their entry point, which means you won’t be exposed to hazardous chlorine vapors during your showers. It also removes any sediment that could potentially damage your home’s plumbing system.

In addition, a whole-house filtering system combats iron, preventing rusting of your appliances. Given these advantages, this kind of investment is certainly worthwhile.

Is a carbon water filter a good investment?

Carbon, used in water filters, comes from finely processed charcoal. The small carbon particles create an expansive surface area that boasts exceptional absorption capabilities, making them a formidable weapon against chemicals.

Given that carbon water filters function to eliminate harmful pollutants and safeguard drinking water, they’re indeed a solid investment.

What exactly are charcoal filters?

Charcoal filters used in water filtration systems differ from those used in barbecues. Water filters utilize activated charcoal, which comes in the form of loose beads or compressed blocks.

The activation process of charcoal involves superheating it to temperatures above 1000 degrees Fahrenheit without oxygen. Following this, the charcoal is chemically treated with argon and nitrogen before being superheated again with added oxygen and steam. This process gives the charcoal a porous structure, which is a critical component contributing to the effectiveness of charcoal water filters.

How does a carbon filter function?

Activated charcoal operates through a process called adsorption. Unlike absorption, which involves the physical uptake of materials, adsorption chemically binds these impurities. Much like how Velcro works, adsorption binds particles to a surface. Water and pollutants, being polar molecules, naturally attract one another, leading to organic compounds sticking to the surface of a carbon filter.

The creation of pores in activated charcoal massively increases its surface area—up to 2000 square meters per gram, dramatically enhancing its adsorption efficiency. These features of carbon filters make them effective in eliminating unpleasant tastes and odors, and other particles from water.

In essence, once water passes through a carbon filter, it functions like a parking lot—with pores for pollutants to “park” in. Given that the smaller the filtration, the finer the micron, low flow rates and pressures give pollutants ample time to park or cling to the carbon. The longer water remains in contact with the carbon filter’s surface, the more effective the filtration.

However, once the filter’s pores fill up with impurities, it needs replacement. This requirement is due to the bond formation between compounds and the retention of impurities in the filter. Even so, the simplicity and cost-effectiveness of replacing charcoal filters make them a popular choice for many households.

What is the purpose of a carbon water filter?

Most of us fail to realize the importance of not just the water we drink but also the water we use for everyday chores. Depending on its source, some water may contain contaminants that vaporize in your shower, potentially posing a health risk. A whole-house water filter ensures clean water for everyone and everything in your home—humans, pets, plants, and laundry alike.

Activated charcoal, being natural and effective, helps remove a range of toxins from water. These include volatile organic compounds and chlorine, and this is achieved without resorting to chemicals or stripping the water of salts and minerals. Therefore, it’s a great material for water filters.

Remember how, in chemistry class, we learned that carbon-based organic impurities in water are drawn to the carbon in charcoal, which bonds readily with these impurities. Other molecules, however, depending on their molecular weight and polarity, are not attracted to the carbon and hence bypass the filter.

A whole-house water filter operates throughout the house rather than installing separate filtration systems at each point of usage, providing immense convenience for your household needs. It also removes compounds used by water treatment companies, such as chloramines and chlorine. Other contaminants such as lead, mercury, and other dissolved elements are removed, which results in softening the water. This is particularly effective for water sources such as wells that haven’t been treated by local companies.

What are the benefits of charcoal filters?

  • Preserving the good stuff

Drinking water contains various minerals along with harmful compounds and contaminants. While most water filters effectively remove these harmful elements, either mechanically or chemically, they often also get rid of essential minerals and ions our bodies need. Thanks to the chemical composition and structure of activated charcoal, these filters draw in and absorb harmful organic components while leaving the beneficial minerals in the water untouched.

  • Enhancing water quality

Charcoal filters do more than just remove the bad stuff from water; they also replenish it with healthier substances. Activated charcoal can add crucial minerals like calcium, magnesium, and iron, thereby improving your water quality.

  • Improving taste

Many people complain about the taste of tap water, often describing it as metallic or having an unpleasant odor. This taste is frequently due to the addition of substances like chlorine, added to tap water to eliminate bacteria and pathogens. Although this practice is essential for public health, it often results in people avoiding tap water, putting themselves at risk of dehydration or resorting to environmentally damaging plastic bottled water. Charcoal filters not only adsorb these unpalatable compounds, but they’re also very good at eliminating odors, making tap water considerably more appealing to drink.

  • Affordability

While many water filtration systems might seem like costly yet necessary investments for your home, charcoal filters are relatively inexpensive to produce, and these savings are often passed on to the consumer.

  • Ease of maintenance

While the filters need to be replaced after the charcoal has been used, new parts are affordable and easy to obtain and install. Typically, your charcoal water filter should be updated every six months. However, this depends on your water consumption and the water quality in your area. If you’re unsure, monitor your water quality, check if the taste has changed, or see if the flow rate has decreased. If you notice any of these signs, it’s time to update your filter.

Is a carbon filter useful?

Carbon filters are effective at removing chlorine, unpleasant tastes, odors, and disinfection byproducts like trihalomethanes. Some are also rated to mechanically filter and reduce other contaminants. If your water contains high amounts of inorganic chemicals and dissolved particles, a reverse osmosis device would be more appropriate for treating it.


  • Effectively reduces taste, odor, and chlorine
  • Offers a large surface area
  • Reduces health risks
  • Protects other filtering systems or softeners


  • Does not remove dissolved solids and other inorganic chemicals
  • Requires regular filter replacements

What’s inside a carbon filter?

Inside a carbon filter, you may find the following filter media:

  • Wood-based media
  • Bituminous coal
  • Coconut shell

Coconut shell carbon, which comes from the shell rather than the meat of the coconut, is the most renewable of these filter media. This type of carbon doesn’t trigger allergic reactions or influence the taste of the water.

Wood-based carbon, created from burnt and pulverized wood, echoes the kind of carbon used by the ancient Egyptians. The usage of bituminous coal has been decreasing as the media have detected traces of arsenic in it.

When and where should a carbon filter be used?

A carbon filter finds its use in a variety of contexts. For instance, it can be employed at the point of entry (POE) to filter water for the entire house, or at the point of use (POU) to purify water before drinking or cooking. Some showerheads incorporate carbon filtration to prevent you from inhaling chlorine gas while bathing. Carbon filters can also be part of a reverse osmosis (RO) or ultrafiltration (UF) system.

If you’re using a water softener to treat municipally supplied water, it’s advisable to install a carbon filter before the water softener. This approach extends the lifespan of the softener resin by removing chlorine prior to softening. Plus, removing chemical disinfectants with catalytic carbon ensures that water-using appliances, such as your tankless water heater, have a longer lifespan, as chloramines can damage O-rings, gaskets, and rubber seals.

Buyer’s guide

If you’re considering buying a water filter, here are some key factors to consider:

Water type

Before installing a filter system, it’s crucial to test the water in your home to identify the present contaminants. This will allow you to choose the right filter for your needs. In some cases, to remove chloramines, you might need to opt for a more aggressive system. Hence, you should choose a filtration system that is effective at reducing chloramine levels.

What can carbon filters remove?

  • Sediment (5-20 microns)
  • 97-99% chlorine
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
  • Unpleasant taste and odors
  • Pesticides and herbicides

What can’t carbon filters remove?

  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Minerals
  • Fluoride
  • Total dissolved substances

Whole house or countertop?

Whole house water filters will purify all the tap water in your home, whereas countertop water filters will only specifically filter water from the faucet it’s connected to. Determine what your home needs before making this decision.

Removal percentage

Many carbon block filters feature another form of filtration, such as a sediment filter or reverse osmosis, to enhance filtration levels. This also depends on your water quality. If your tap water is relatively clean, you could opt for filters that can remove basic contaminants. Conversely, if your water is heavily contaminated with substances like heavy metals, chlorine, or pesticides, you might need a more advanced system.

Price point

With hundreds of options in the market, setting a budget and finding a filter within that range should be straightforward. However, ensure you check reviews as some filters might be cheap initially but could cost more in the long run due to short lifespans or durability issues.

Warranties and guarantees

Some filters come with a 30-day money-back guarantee, while others might offer a warranty ranging from 1 to 10 years. Make sure you understand the details of these guarantees and warranties before buying your filter.

Does it meet NSF standards?

An NSF (National Sanitation Foundation)-approved filter will usually suffice. However, you can also check whether it bears the Water Quality Association (WQA) seal. Certification from these organizations indicates that the filters have undergone stringent testing and are deemed high-quality. Still, remember that not all filters lacking an NSF or WQA mark are of poor quality. Certification incurs a considerable cost, which might not be feasible for small businesses.


Maintenance for most filters primarily involves filter replacements. Many filters are easy to replace, so the main thing to consider is how frequently you’ll need to do so. The replacement frequency largely depends on the brand and model, so be sure to check this aspect.


What type of charcoal is best for filtering water?

Activated charcoal is far more effective as a filtering material and adsorbent than regular charcoal. Hence, in the field of medicine, activated charcoal is preferred over regular charcoal.

How long does a carbon water filter last?

Activated carbon water filters typically last anywhere from 2 to 6 months after their first use. Some activated carbon filters, such as those in reverse osmosis or whole-house systems, are protected by additional filters and can last up to 12 months.

Which is better: reverse osmosis or carbon filter?

While carbon filtration is exceptionally effective at removing chlorine taste and odor and capturing large particles, reverse osmosis can remove nearly all substances from your water. However, reverse osmosis works best when large particles are removed first to avoid early membrane fouling.

Is plumbing knowledge required to install a carbon filter?

For countertop filters, not really. But for whole house systems, you’d need basic plumbing knowledge or might want to hire a professional.

What happens if I don’t replace the cartridge?

If you don’t replace the cartridge, your water flow can slow down, and the filtration will not be as effective. Failing to replace your filter essentially nullifies the purpose of having one installed in the first place.

How many contaminants can the filter remove?

Not all filters are the same, so you should check with the manufacturer’s specifications to determine this.

Last words

That’s our comprehensive take on carbon filter water. Considering the low cost and the immense benefits of ensuring safe drinking water, investing in a water filter is a no-brainer. Even if you’re on a tight budget, the market offers numerous affordable options. Remember, health is indeed wealth!


Jay is a health and wellness enthusiast with expertise in water quality and nutrition. As a knowledgeable advocate for holistic well-being, Jay successfully manages Type 2 Diabetes through informed lifestyle choices. Committed to sharing reliable and authoritative insights, Jay combines firsthand experience with a passion for enhancing health."