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6 Best Ceramic Water Filtration Systems
You may think your tap water is safe to drink, but recent studies have found that pipes contain heavy metals that can be harmful when consumed in high doses. This is where ceramic filtration systems come in. Ceramic water filters are considered to be some of the most effective water treatment systems available because they use natural materials to remove sediments and harmful pathogens from untreated water.
Still, there are many ceramic filtration systems on the market, and knowing the best one to use for your needs can be tricky without doing the proper research. Based on our consultation with fellow preppers and our own experiences, we determined the 5 best ceramic water filters by category. In our research, we found the best overall ceramic water filter is the Stéfani São João Brazilian Clay Water Filter.
What are the Best Ceramic Water Filters?
Editor’s Pick: Stéfani São João Brazilian Clay Water Filter
Most Taste: Zen Water 4G-MP Water Purification System
Best Ceramic Filter for Emergency Situations: DIY Gravity Water Filter Kit by SHTFandGO
Best Portable Ceramic Water Filter: Katadyn Vario Water Filter, Dual Technology Microfilter
Premium Choice: PortaWell Portable Water Filtration System
1) Editor’s Pick: Stefani Sao Joao Brazilian Clay Water Filters
Type: Gravity Filter
Filtration System: Microporous Ceramic; Sand
Capacity: 2.6 Gallons
Flow Rate: 1 Gallon per Hour
Filter Lifespan: 6 months
Dimensions: 13 x 13 x 22 inches
Weight: 24 Pounds
Stéfani São João has been making water filters for a century, and it has become synonymous with water filters in Brazil. So much so that most homes in Brazil have a Stéfani São João ceramic water filter. These filters use natural clay material with tiny pores to remove 99.99% of pathogens from untreated water and sediments, making water safe to drink. Plus, they are handmade by artisans in Brazil.
The main downside of these filters is the regular maintenance and how fragile they are. The chambers need to be cleaned every two months; the candle filter needs to be cleaned once a month and replaced every 6 months. Additionally, since the material is made from clay, it is easily damaged by impact.
Still, we really like these filters because they are entirely made from natural clay material and are effective. Plus, the natural clay material ensures the water retains its mineral taste.
Pros and Cons
- Removes 99.99% of harmful pathogens.
- All ceramic, natural material where nothing is made from metal. It serves as the ultimate ceramic gravity water filter.
- Water stays at a consistent, cool temperature regardless of the temperature of the room.
- Product is made entirely from terracotta material.
- It must be cleaned more frequently than stainless steel gravity filters to prevent mold. Every day you will need to use a cloth or paper napkin to wipe down the filter because the tiny pores on the surface of the filter need to be clean.
- Default Plastic Spigot discharges water slower than stainless steel alternatives.
- Requires you to buy separate ceramic candles that need to be replaced 6 months and cleaned monthly.
- It will take a few days or weeks for the taste of Terracotta to run out of the filter.
Related article: Brazilian Clay Water Filters: Everything You Need To know
2) Best Taste: Zen Water 4G-MP Water Purification System
Type: Gravity Filter & Reverse Osmosis
Filtration System: Ceramic Filter; 5-Stage Mineral Cartridge
Capacity: 4 Gallons
Filter Lifespan: Ceramic Filter (1 year); Mineral Cartridge (6 months)
Dimensions: 12.5 x 12.5 x 22 inches
Weight: 24 Pounds
Where most filters focus on cleaning water, the Zen Water 4G-MO Water Purification System focuses on turning dirty water into mineralized drinking water. It uses a ceramic filter to remove nearly all harmful contaminants in water, then uses a 5-stage mineral filter to add nutrients and flavor to the water.
This water filter has 5 core functions: to 1) mineralize, 2) purify, 3) alkalize, 4) filter, and 5) magnetize the water. This ensures the water provides safe-to-drink nutritional water that hydrates the body.
In addition to the 5 core functions, this filtration system relies on an 8-step approach that includes a ceramic filter, activated charcoal, maifan mineral stones, a magnetic spigot, and more filtration features. This 8-step filtration system ensures harmful containments such as bacteria, sediments, and chemicals, as well as four odors and tastes, are removed from the water before consumption.
It is important to mention the filter is made from plastic. However, it is made from BPA-free plastic, so microplastics will not leak into the water. Plus, the water will not retain a plastic taste to it when consumed.
Additionally, it’s important to develop a regular cleaning routine with this filter. The filter should be cleaned quarterly to prevent the buildup of dust. As for the ceramic filter, it should be replaced annually, and the 5-stage mineral cartridge should be replaced every six months.
We highly recommend this ceramic countertop filter. It not only removes unwanted chemicals, sediments, and bacteria, but it adds healthy minerals that are beneficial to people.
Pros and Cons
- Uses a micro-ceramic filter that removes chemicals, herbicides, pesticides, sediments, and toxins from the water.
- 5 Stage mineral cartridge adds minerals into the water, improving taste and nutritional benefits.
- 5 Stage mineral cartridge removes bad taste, odor, and chlorine.
- Leverages magnetic purification that restructures the molecules of the water allowing the body to better absorb water and hydrate the body.
- Requires no electricity or plumbing to operate.
- Made from plastic material. However, the plastic is BPA-free, so no microplastics will leak into the water, and it does not have a plastic-like taste.
- It will take several days for the filter to work as intended. Once installed, the filters will need to be calibrated and cleaned out.
- It can be costly to replace the ceramic filter (once a year) and mineral cartridge (every 6 months).
- It may increase the number of Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) in the water due to the mineral cartridge filter.
3) Best Ceramic Filter for Emergencies: DIY Gravity Water Filter Kit by SHTFandGo
Filtration System: 0.2 Micron Ceramic Filter
Flow Rate: 0.5 gallons per hour
Filter Lifespan: 1000 gallons
Dimensions: 8 x 6 x 5 inches
Weight: 1.5 pounds
Our Experience with Brown Rice
I remember during hurricane Sandy, my home in NJ lost power; we didn’t have access to clean water because our UV light filter was inactive. We were caught off guard by a natural disaster. Fortunately, you can make DIY water filtration systems for emergency scenarios like a power outage or during an earthquake.
The DIY Gravity Water Filter Kit provides you with the tools to make your own water filter within 30 minutes.
The process is simple. To install the filter, drill a half-inch hole into the bottom of a food-grade 5-gallon bucket, and then install the filter and gasket so that the ceramic candle is in the bucket with untreated water. Next, make a half-inch hole for a spigot valve in a second bucket that will store the clean drinking water. Once this is installed, you can place the first bucket with the ceramic candle over the second bucket. From here, gravity will produce half a gallon of water per hour.
We suggest having a few DIY ceramic filter kits at home in the event of a SHTF scenario.
The main downside of this ceramic filter is the flow rate. However, if your bucket is large enough, you can place additional ceramic filters to increase the flow rate.
Pros and Cons
- Effectively removes pathogenic bacteria, heavy metals, odors, and sediments larger than 0.2 microns.
- It can be used to treat rainwater, river water, or groundwater for household usages like watering plants, laundry, and feeding pets.
- Easy to set up kit that can be built within 30 minutes.
- Slow flow rate relative to other ceramic water filters.
- Requires additional tools to build a water filter.
4) Best Portable Ceramic Water Filter: Katadyn Vario Water Filter, Dual Technology Microfilter
Type: Gravity Filter
Filtration System: Pleated Glass-Fiber; Ceramic Filter
Capacity: 0.66 gallons
Flow Rate: 0.6 gallons per minute
Filter Lifespan: 500 gallons
Dimensions: 16x12x4 inches
Weight: 1.3 pounds
This is a great ceramic filter for those looking for a portable and highly effective filter for hiking and long outdoor trips. With this filter, you will not have to worry about consuming dirty and foul-tasting water while outdoors. Each filter has the capacity to treat 500 gallons of water, so it can last for multiple trips.
One of the major downsides of this filter is its size and weight. At 1.3 pounds, this filter is heavier and clunkier than other portable water filters.
Additionally, to ensure it’s clean and safe to use, it’s important to clean it after each trip by disassembling the pieces and then putting it back together. Also, if you must perform maintenance while on a trip, the multiple pieces to inspect may make the filter inconvenient.
Still, this is a highly effective portable ceramic water filter for those looking to leverage the benefits of natural clay to remove chemicals and harmful pathogens from untreated water.
Pros and Cons
- Fast cleaning as it produces two liters of water per minute in the fast setting.
- Leverages a placement adapter to ensure treated water enters the water bottle or a large container
- Uses a 3-step filtration system that includes a ceramic pre-filter, a glass fiber filter, and activated charcoal to remove chemicals, sediments, and odors from the water
- Two-speed settings to choose from. The slower setting allows the ceramic pre-filter to take effect, and the faster setting bypasses the pre-filter.
- Cleaning the filter requires more time than other portable filtration devices. This is mainly because this water filter requires disassembly for a thorough cleaning.
- It weighs 1.3 pounds, which may add significant weight to your cargo on long backpacking trips or hikes.
5) Best Ceramic Filter Candle: DOULTON-w9123053 10-Inch UltraCarb Ceramic Filter Candle
Type: Gravity Filter
Filtration System: Ceramic Shell; Activated Carbon
Flow Rate: 0.9 Gallons per Hour
Filter Lifespan: 12 months; 600 Gallons
Dimensions: 3 x 3 x 12 inches
Weight: 1 pound
The Doulton company has been making ceramic water filters for almost 200 years. Their Doulton-w91230353 10-inch UltraCarb Ceramic Filter Candle is one of the most advanced ceramic filtration devices for gravity water filters. It gives water a clean taste and retains many of the natural minerals found in the water.
The Doulton ceramic candle uses self-sterilizing silver embedded within the candle to kill harmful pathogenic bacteria such as cholera, salmonella, and typhoid. Also, the natural properties of the separate ceramic lead, chlorine, and foul odors from untreated water. Ultimately making the water healthier and taste better.
This filter works well with a Berkey water filter or Alexapure filtration system; however, it will not be useable with smaller filtration systems. The Doulton Ultra Carb Ceramic Filter Candle is 10 inches tall and may not fit in smaller filters.
One other point to have in mind is how fragile ceramic candle filters are. They can easily be damaged beyond usage after a minor impact. So we recommend having a spare at home in case yours is damaged.
Pros and Cons
- Made with self-sterilizing silver within the filter to inhibit bacteria growth from harmful pathogens (including salmonella, cholera, and typhoid).
- Effectively eliminates chlorine, odors, lead, and pathogenic bacteria from untreated water.
- Retains beneficial minerals and flavor in the drinking water.
- It can be stored for long-term storage and use in the event of an emergency or SHTF scenario.
- Requires manual cleaning and recalibration every 2-3 months and should be replaced every 12 months.
- Made from fragile terracotta material, the candle filter can be damaged from a minor impact or from cleaning.
- Given this filter is 10 inches tall, it may not fit all types of gravity filtration systems. It is most compatible with Aquapure or Berkey Water Filtration Systems.
6) Best Premium Ceramic Water Filter: PortaWell Portable Water Filtration System
Filtration System: 0.5 Micron Ceramic Filter, 1 Micron Sediment Filter, Carbon Block Filter
Flow Rate: 40-60 gallons per hour
Filter Lifespan: 10,000 gallons
Dimensions: 18 x 6 x 23 inches
Weight: 15 Ibs
Since the PortaWell portable water filter is battery-powered, it is a high-performing filtration solution. This unit can pump out 40-60 gallons of water per hour. Compared to traditional gravity filters, they may treat 0.5-2 gallons of water per hour. This makes the PortaWell filter a good filter for emergency preparedness, camping and RV trips, and off-grid living. Although the price of this filter is higher than others, you are paying for the convenience and security of a high-performing filtration system.
The main downsides of this filtration system are that it is battery-powered and large in size. Without a charged battery or solar panel, you will not be able to treat water. Additionally, the battery and solar panel are sold separately and are not included in the initial cost of purchasing the filtration system.
When it comes to the physical size of the product, it is 15 pounds, and it is too large to be placed in a backpack for a hiking trip. Despite this, it can easily be transported in an RV or kept in storage until it is needed in an emergency or for treating water off the grid.
Pros and Cons
- Produces 40 to 60 gallons of water per hour, 10x faster than other ceramic filtration systems
- Removes 100% of microbial cysts and 99.99% of pathogenic bacteria, chemicals, and heavy metals
- Ceramic filter can treat 10,000 gallons of water
- Replaces the need to store large quantities of clean water
- Portable, compact, and lightweight
- Easy to disassemble and reassemble for cleaning
- Dependent on a battery or solar power to charge the system, and the cost of the battery and solar panels are not included in the initial cost of the unit.
- Despite being lightweight and portable, this unit is not small and cannot be fitted in a backpack.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the lifespan of ceramic water filters?
The lifespan of a ceramic candle depends on the brand, filtration system, and how often the filter is used. Some filters, such as the Doulton Ultracarb 10" Water Filter Candle, can last up to 12 months, and other brands should be replaced every six months. Also, some filters have a lifespan of 2,000 gallons, but the ceramic filter in the PortaWell Portable Water Filter is made with commercial-grade filtration technology and has a life span of 10,000 gallons.
How often should you replace ceramic water filters?
We suggest replacing a ceramic filter cartridge every 12 months. However, you should aim to clean the filter on a quarterly basis. Without proper maintenance, you will notice a reduced water flow rate, which is indicative of the pores in the filter being clogged.
What do ceramic filters remove?
The natural properties of ceramic filters are effective in removing microbial cysts and pathogens. These types of filters are lined with silver ions impregnated within the filter that contain antimicrobial properties. This protects against harmful bacteria such as Cholera, E. Coli, and Salmonella. Some ceramic filters contain activated carbon, which removes chlorine, chloramine, and other harmful chemicals from the water. Additionally, the latest advancements in ceramic filtration technology are able to eliminate zinc, lead, copper, mercury, and other heavy metals from the water. However, it is important to mention that ceramic filters cannot remove minerals, viruses, and total dissolved solids from untreated water.
Which Brands make high-quality ceramic water filters?
How to install ceramic water filters?
Depending on the ceramic filtration system you have, the instructions will vary. We suggest reviewing the instruction manual for a detailed description of the approach you should take.
How to clean and maintain ceramic water filters?
When cleaning ceramic filters, you should use a soft scrubbing pad or a clean toothbrush. You can then scrub the dirty surface and will likely notice a change in the color of the filter. However, be careful while cleaning ceramic materials as they are fragile and can break with a minor impact. If you notice any cracks in the filter, it's best to replace it with a new one.
When looking for the right ceramic filtration system, keep in mind the flow rate, type of filtration, contaminants filtered out, and how often you expect to use the filter.
Our personal favorite is the Stéfani São João Brazilian Clay Water Filter. We like it because it’s almost entirely made from terracotta material and is a great everyday filter that removes the harmful contaminants we do not want in our water.
Ceramic filters can be used on groundwater, river water, well water, and even rainwater to make them safe for drinking. The reason ceramic filters work so well is that there are tiny pores down to the 0.2-micron level in the natural clay material that separates harmful pathogens and sediments from water.
Despite their effectiveness, ceramic filters do come with some challenges. They are fragile and can be damaged easily. They also need to be cleaned and maintained on a regular basis. And they will need to be replaced once a year.
If you found this article informative, consider reading our other articles on water filtration.
- Related Article: DIY Guide: How to Make Ceramic Water Filters
- Related Article: UV Water Filter: Pros and Cons
- Related Article: How to Purify Water Using Solar Power
- Related Article: How to Purify River Water for Drinking
- Related Article: How to Filter River Water for Showering
- Related Article: 12 Ways to Purify Water at Home
- Related Article: Best Roofs for Rainwater Collection
- Related Article: 11 Ways to Use Rainwater at Home
- Related Article: 23 Facts about Rainwater Harvesting
- Related Article: How to Purify Rainwater for Plants
- Related Article: How to Purify Rainwater at Home
We evaluated the ceramic filters on a categorical basis, picking the best ceramic filter for the specific category. Within the category, we evaluated the filters based on the Flow Rate, Filter Lifespan, Size, Filtration System, and Type of Filter. We also considered its versatility for treating different types of water, the effort for maintenance and cleaning, and how durable the filtration system is. Additionally, we considered our own experience and consulted seasoned preppers on their experience with ceramic filters. Using both quantitative and qualitative measurements, we were able to determine the best ceramic filter for each category.
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