In this article, the technical feasibility of various low-cost adsorbents for heavy metal removal from contaminated water has been reviewed. Instead of using commercial activated carbon, researchers have worked on inexpensive materials, such as chitosan, zeolites, and other adsorbents, which have high adsorption capacity and are locally available. The results of their removal performance are compared to that of activated carbon and are presented in this study. It is evident from our literature survey of about 100 papers that low-cost adsorbents have demonstrated outstanding removal capabilities for certain metal ions as compared to activated carbon. Adsorbents that stand out for high adsorption capacities are chitosan (815, 273, 250 mg/g of Hg(2+), Cr(6+), and Cd(2+), respectively), zeolites (175 and 137 mg/g of Pb(2+) and Cd(2+), respectively), waste slurry (1030, 560, 540 mg/g of Pb(2+), Hg(2+), and Cr(6+), respectively), and lignin (1865 mg/g of Pb(2+)). These adsorbents are suitable for inorganic effluent treatment containing the metal ions mentioned previously. It is important to note that the adsorption capacities of the adsorbents presented in this paper vary, depending on the characteristics of the individual adsorbent, the extent of chemical modifications, and the concentration of adsorbate.