Energy & Sustainability

Jason @ HACKS writes:

We filter our drinking water at home, though it’s not because there’s a risk of giardia or heavy metals in the tap water where we live. Personally, I just like the taste of water that’s been run through activated carbon. If your own water is safe from heavy metals, but you still like the way water tastes when it’s been through something like a Britta filter, there’s an easy way to convert the filter to be reusable, saving a ton of waste and a bit of money.

Your standard Brita pitcher filter contains two components, an ion exchange resin that is used to reduce heavy metals, and a bunch of activated carbon which is used to remove chlorine and various organic impurities that can affect the water’s quality and taste. I’m not sure about how to go about recharging or replacing the ion exchange resin, but activated carbon is available in any pet store, where it is sold for aquarium water filtration.

Here’s a link to an Instructable which shows you how to convert a Brita pitcher filter into a refillable carbon filter. You’ll only need a couple standard tools to do the conversion, and when it’s complete you’ll have great tasting water, you’ll be able to do refills for about 50 cents a cartridge, and you won’t be tossing a one-time-use hunk of plastic in the landfill.

7 thoughts on “HOW TO – Refill a Brita filter

  1. I think the ion exchange resin might be the same stuff in water softeners.. If so I think it can be recharged by soaking in brine (salt water).

  2. This instructable is a couple months old. Make sure to read the comments, changing out the carbon without replacing it with the same media/nominal pore size could result in less turbidity (cloudiness) reduction, as well as he doesn’t add any ion exchange resin which would remove hardness, iron, possibly manganese (usually cause of staining and water colour issues) as well as other metals and minerals.

    Activated carbon mostly works by absorption, and it’s a nice breeding ground for bacteria, so make sure you read up on it before you do this.

  3. Activated carbon at pet stores is probably not of the best purity or reliable origin. You may want to check with a brewing supplies store to get activated carbon intended for consumable beverages.

  4. Dan makes a good point, if you’re in North America, make sure you get NSF 61 certified activated carbon as it is designed for potable water usage and will not leach anything harmful.

  5. Not everyone is willing to go to the trouble of opening up and refilling the filter. In Europe, users return them to the store where purchased to be shipped back to Brita for recycling. All three components (plastic, carbon, and ion exhange resin) are recycled/reused.

    In North America, Brita is owned by Clorox, which has not created any practical way to refill or recycle the filters. We think they should. Please visit http://www.takebackthefilter.org to sign the petition, write a letter, send us your used filters for a direct action, and make your voice heard.

    Thanks!
    Beth

  6. If only decalcification is needed do the following:

    1) Just open the Brita filter, with a cutter.
    2) Throw out the resin (not so easy to regenerate this because it contains several resins)
    3) Put in a resin which just filters out Calcium and Magnesium (and replaces it with Natrium), only problem is to buy it in such small portions).
    4) Seal the Brita filter with a soldering iron.
    5) From then you can regenerate the filter with salt water whenever necessary.

    Doing that for years now. Still works. Just check the hardness of the water from time to time, to make sure nothing went wrong.

    Carbon filter isn’t really necessary in my eyes.

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Becky Stern is a Content Creator at Autodesk/Instructables, and part time faculty at New York’s School of Visual Arts Products of Design grad program. Making and sharing are her two biggest passions, and she's created hundreds of free online DIY tutorials and videos, mostly about technology and its intersection with crafts. Find her @bekathwia on YouTube/Twitter/Instagram.

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