Theres a lot more to consider when it comes to a pitcher than meets the eye. Functionality, appearance and style, budget, and versatility are all factors to consider before you pull the trigger on your next pitcher purchase.

Who knew such a simple product could be so complicated, right?

But don’t stress it, we’ll break down some of the standard materials for pitchers, and also a few upgraded types of pitchers that come complete with bells and whistles that you need to know.

Also, chances are that pitchers are just as likely to take up room in your fridge as well as the cabinets, so size and build are things to consider. Slender shapes are ideal for crowded real estate like the refrigerator, but you may not want to sacrifice volume.

Plastic

If you’ve ever gone out to the pub and ordered a pitcher of beer, it’s most likely come in a plastic model. Plastic is generally the cheapest option for pitchers, and while they might not be the most visually appealing version available, they do a tremendous job for the express purpose of holding and pouring liquid. While plastic pitchers are generally considered to have no-frills, most filtered pitchers, like Brita, are made from plastic.

In addition to being dependable, plastic pitchers are virtually indestructible and can last for decades, and are easy to wash and store. Plastic can scratch, but generally that is about the extent of any damage that can be done to these products. Plastic pitchers are excellent choices when on the go. If you’re packing for a picnic or barbecue in the park, it makes sense to have something lightweight and easily transportable at the ready.

Glass

Glass water jug

Glass pitchers are a great choice for parties or more formal occasions. There is just something that is so appealing about sitting down for a meal and pouring a tall and icy glass of lemonade or beverage out of an impressive glass pitcher. These pitchers are generally much heavier and bulkier than the plastic counterparts, and that might make them an ideal fit for every occasion. Glass pitchers can retail for very modest prices, but their sleek look and smooth design can make this type of serving ware a beautiful addition to any kitchen. They can also be found with highly diverse shapes and appearances.

While durable in their own right, glass can obviously crack and shatter, so it’s important to handle them with care, especially when they’re full with liquid which will make them heavier. Also make sure to not add boiling or boiling hot liquid to glass pitchers and containers. Excessive heat can cause the density of glass to change, and you risk cracks or breakage.

Crystal

crystal decanter

Crystal always makes for a show-stopping centerpiece, and that is no different when it comes to pitchers. Generally amongst the most expensive available options, crystal pitchers can effectively serve drinks or stand alone as unique and beautiful pieces of art. Common on the antique scene, crystal pieces are often passed down through families for generations. Crystal pitchers commonly have elaborate designs that not only look lovely, but can amplify and enhance the visual properties of any liquid that is currently being stored.

While a crystal water pitcher is must-haves for anyone looking to add a splash of decoration to their kitchen or home, they may not be the most functional choice. Crystal is generally very heavy and bulky, and notoriously easy to chip or shatter if mishandled or dropped. Save crystal pitchers for upscale parties or tucked aways safely behind glass cabinets to reduce any risks. Crystal is also notorious for having lead in it, and while it’s generally safe to drink from crystal glasses and pitchers, you shouldn’t use them to store liquids for long periods of time, as the lead can eventually leak out.

Acrylic

Acrylic water pitcher

If you want a pitcher that looks like glass, but without the delicate and heavy properties, acrylic is the way to go. A visual step up from plastic, acrylic is a perfect way to spruce up any picnic or meal. Lightweight and durable, acrylic is also cheap, so you can be sure that the water pitcher will be a staple in your kitchen for years to come. You can grab an acrylic pitcher in a ridiculous array of styles to fit any preference. These are great options that are easy to store, wash, and travel with. And without physically touching the pitcher, there is almost no way to visually distinguish between acrylic and glass.

Acrylic can also hold hot liquids without the potential for damage, a plus when drinking coffee and tea. These pitchers work great for outdoor parties or events with a high level of commotion as they wont break if dropped. Be careful as acrylic can accrue scratches over time, it’s best to avoid washing or scrubbing with wiry sponges or pads.

Ceramic

Decorative ceramic jug

Ceramic has an uncanny ability to warm up any home or space. Usually unique and striking, ceramic vases are a delightful and fun way to enhance a meal or add some character to a kitchen. But ceramic pitchers aren’t just decorative show pieces, they are just as functional as any other material, and provide some additional perks. Since ceramic can withstand extreme heat, you can pop a ceramic pitcher on a stove top or in the oven to quickly heat up a beverage. The ceramic glaze also safeguards them from most nicks and scratches, so the only real danger to these types of pitchers come from getting knocked over.

Metallic

Metal pitchers are trendy options that are interesting to look at and also make for excellent storage containers. They are visually versatile enough that you can find ones that look like medieval antique relics, or walk into a modern kitchen store and find options that are slender and sleek. Most metallic pitchers use stainless steel, but you can also find products made out of copper, brass, or tin.

Due to the ability of metal to withstand and retain extreme temperatures, metallic pitchers are amazing for serving coffee, tea or other hot liquids, but also for keeping drinks cold for extended periods of time. Milk and creamers are also excellent liquids to serve from these pitchers, as the metal keeps them cool enough safeguard against any spoiling or curdling if left out for long periods of time.

There are some unique care requirements for metal pitchers as they can dent or chip over time, and are not always the easiest to clean.

Water Filter Pitcher

Filtered Water Pitcher

For home with out a built in tap water filtration system, having a water pitcher that can filter is ideal to help ensure the freshest drink possible. They are designed to remove contaminates that might be lurking in tap water, like chlorine. These pitchers also come in handy if water coming from your tap is discolored or has a strange taste or smell.

Usually water gets poured through the top of the pitcher, and is able to pass through a specialized cartridge filter that is usually made from activated carbon or a similar product. This medium will absorb impurities from the tap, allowing the “cleansed” water to pass through and collect, ready for consumption. Typically great for removing most minerals and small metals, these pitchers aren’t the best equipped to handle heavier metals like lead and mercury.

It’s also important to properly clean and maintain these pitchers, as the filters lose their effectiveness over time. Eventually bacteria and mold can also grow if a filter isn’t changed, so it’s best to regularly replace the carbon insert which can be purchased for a small cost online or in grocers and other stores. And while the pitcher itself is usually quite affordable, the replacement filters can add up and become expensive over time. But as long as it’s maintained properly, these pitchers can last for years.

Infuser

Infuser water pitcher

For people who enjoy flavored waters or incorporating fresh fruit into their drinks, an infuser water pitcher is a must. These pitchers usually have a long, removable compartment or rod meant for holding fruits or vegetables. Holes and openings dot the compartment, allowing the fruits flavor and essence to be dispersed into the surrounding water, infusing it with delicious flavoring. Lemons, cucumbers, apples, citrus, and more all make for excellent additions, but it is important to keep in mind that certain produce might have varying amounts of time that they take to release a strong flavor.

Fruit infuser pitchers are most often made from plastic or acrylic, although fancier glass models are available. The removable compartment is easy to clean, and it’s important to do it often to avoid any sort of rotting.