Archives : water
We are honored to have Ashley Longnecker with www.tinyshinyhome.com as our guest blogger this month. Check out what she has to say about their epic adventures and why the Big Berkey is the one kitchen item they will never be without!
Good morning Berkey friends! I’m Ashley – mom, teacher, adventure seeker, route planner and executive chef of the Tiny Shiny Home crew. We are a crazy family of six traveling North America in our renovated 1972 Airstream Sovereign in search of epic adventures and a minimalist lifestyle.
We primarily boondock which means we camp in the middle of nowhere without hookups such as water or electricity. Our Airstream is powered by the sun which gives us the freedom to be off-grid for long periods of time. We haul our water with jugs and a collapsable water bladder and pump it into our 40 gallon fresh water tank.
We have been nomadic for over 3 years now and have had the most incredible time exploring with our 4 amazing kids. We crave new adventures, epic hikes, and an ever-changing backyard.
With summer in full swing and lots of hiking plans, we require a rather large amount of water. From our house to our first RV, and now nestled in our Tiny Shiny Home, our Big Berkey is the one kitchen item we will never be without. We even made sure to design a space for it during our Airstream renovation.
When people come into our home on wheels they always ask us about the ‘shiny thing on the counter’ and usually leave convinced they need to get their own. With the ever-changing quality of water in North America, we are so thankful to always have filtered water everywhere we go.
Having a Berkey water filter gives us one less thing to worry about. Since we know we will always have high-quality drinking water, that means our hardest decision is whether we visit the desert, the mountains or the ocean next. To follow along on our adventures, you can find us on Instagram and Facebook @tinyshinyhome or on our blog, TinyShinyHome.com and on Youtube at TinyShinyHome. See you down the road!
We are honored to have Max La Manna with www.eatingwithmax.com as our guest blogger this month. Check out what he has to say about his zero waste movement and how you can make a difference too!
Ever since I could remember, and perhaps it was the way I was brought up, I was mindful of our resources on this planet. I was conscious of how we used resources and what resources we used. When I used to buy bottled water, I wondered, “what happens to the bottle next?” I knew I could throw it away, be done with it and forget about it. But I started questioning where is “away” and where is the bottle ending up next?
My name is Max La Manna; I’m a zero waste vegan chef living in Brooklyn, New York. I grew up with a chef father and food was the center focus of our family. As a family, we grew and harvested a variety of different vegetables. This was a lot of fun as a child because you would plant a seed and wait patiently for weeks for plant life to take its course. Once it started budding, vines were growing, and you reaped a full, plentiful veggie patch – you were ecstatic! The young me was vegan at heart but didn’t know it yet.
For me, being zero waste and a chef came at the same time – hand in hand! I was working in a restaurant and saw how much food was being thrown away. When I asked the chef about the food waste, he simply shrugged his shoulders and didn’t care. This made me very upset, and I knew that something needed to happen. I moved on and started cooking privately, incorporating this zero waste method – where no food would ever go to waste.
Today, we live in a world of convenience where everything we want is at our fingertips. However, everything has a cause and effect. The number one occupant in American landfills, according to the EPA is FOOD WASTE! We can feed everyone on this planet with the food that we produce, but instead, it is thrown away because it’s grown imperfectly and is therefor non-profitable.
We hear the saying, “leave the planet in better shape than how you found it” – I’m working on that right now – it may take me my whole life, but I am okay with that.
In order to make a better, cleaner world I am going to need clean, pure water to help me achieve this goal. How do you do this? Say no to plastic packaging! Bring your own vessel for water – I guarantee you will save money and help avoid plastic from ending up in landfills and our oceans. We as humans can live without food much longer than water. Water is so vitally important for our health and well-being. When I introduced Berkey into my routine, I noticed it made a huge difference right away in the taste and how I felt. This is because it removes toxins and impurities from the water that I was consuming. Did you know that Berkey Filters will remove over 200+ contaminants?
I want to operate my body and mind at the highest level and having the clean, pure water that Berkey provides is going to help me reach this goal. I leave you with this, imagine a world, where everyone has access to clean, pure water. What a world that would be and how different we would all be.
– Max La Manna
Follow along with Max’s adventures here: www.instagram.com/eatingwithmax
Do you know what’s in your water?
Do you even want to know what could be living in your water?
Not only do you have to worry about bacteria, viruses, chlorine, heavy metals, micro-organisms and pharmaceutical drug contaminants but some water companies add fluoride to your water supply as well.
So it’s apparent that you need a water purifier but how do you know which one to choose? Let us help you compare the differences.
How often do you have to replace the filters? How much do they run? What’s the initial set up cost? Berkey Filters offers seven different sizes starting at $175! The unit comes with two black carbon filters. They can last 2-5 years depending on your water source. That’s about is 1.7 cents a day! Replacements are $107. And each filter can be cleaned up to 100 times!
The additional fluoride filters will reduce fluoride up to 95% and are $50. They will last one year or 1,000 gallons, whichever comes first. Disposable filters that you buy at bargain prices online require frequent changes. Clean water doesn’t have to be expensive!
2. What is being removed?
The Black Berkey purification elements remove over 200+ contaminants including chlorine and lead. These filters have been tested to remove both pathogenic bacteria and viruses higher than the EPA purification standards. Because the Berkey will remove viruses, it is considered a purifier, unlike other filters on the market.
You can find a more comprehensive list here http://www.berkeyfilters.com/berkey-answers/performance/filtration-specifications/ along with our actual testing results and percentages.
One of the great benefits of Berkey Filters is the portability! Each of the seven different sizes contains the same Black Berkey filter element, delivering the same clean water. Our travel sizes make it convenient to use our reliable filtration systems in small RV campers, summer cabins, or anywhere storage space may be limited. All of our units are counter-top models but can also be used outdoors. They are fully functional using only gravity. Therefore they are not dependent on electricity or any other outside source to function. They also do not need to be hooked up to your kitchen faucet and come in handy when the power goes out!
4. Questionable Water Sources
We always recommend using the cleanest water source available when filtering water in your Berkey System. However, lake, stream, pond, river, or flood water can be filtered in the Berkey System. In an emergency scenario, the Berkey will even filter pool water and make it safe to drink! (this excludes saltwater pools because the concentration of salt will more than likely ruin the elements quickly).
Want to learn more about pretreating questionable water sources?
5. Can’t I just buy a filter from the store?
Carbon-based, paper and certain resin based filters do not have filters that can be cleaned, there is no feedback mechanism for filter replacements, most do not remove pathogenic bacterias, and most systems provide only 40-700 gallons (150-2,660 liters) before the filter must be replaced.
6. What about a whole house system?
Because the Berkey system is a gravity fed system, the water processes through the filter naturally by water pressure and gravity. The longer contact time with the filters is one of the reasons it can remove viruses and so many other contaminants.
Many regular home filter systems operate under pressure, significantly reducing the amount of time the water is in contact with the filtration media. Since gravity is used for water filtration in a Berkey system, the contact time with the media is much longer. This extended contact time has a direct impact on the media’s ability to reduce Chloramine and other potential contaminants.
7. Should I look into a Reverse Osmosis or Distiller system?
Another impressive thing about the Berkey system is that it will remove the harmful contaminants from your water, but allow healthy minerals (such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium) to remain. Reverse Osmosis or Distiller systems will remove everything from your water including these beneficial minerals! These systems become useless during emergencies when power and or water pressure is lost.
A Distiller specifically does not remove VOC’s (chemicals found in herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers). It also wastes nearly five gallons for each gallon of water that is filtered.
A Reverse Osmosis wastes a lot of water, about three gallons of water for each gallon it filters. It also does not remove pathogenic bacteria and does not have re-cleanable filters. Plus, there is no feedback mechanism for filter replacements and the reservoir tank can become a breeding ground for bacteria. Yuck!
With respect to cost per gallon of water, calculated upon the cost per gallon for replacement filters and energy costs, Distillation systems and RO systems that are properly maintained typically cost between 35-65 cents per gallon. Again, a Berkey system typically costs about 1.8 cents per gallon!
8. I want more evidence! By comparison, Berkey water filters outperform commercially available water filters from both the portable and household water filter categories. Take a look at these Berkey water filter comparison charts and see for yourself that Berkey outperforms the competition in almost every category.
Can you imagine being able to impact an entire community with the simple gift of clean water? Tis the season of giving and in light of recent natural disasters, it’s important to give back to those who are in need this precious gift.
Last year, Berkey Filters had the opportunity to help ROWAN (Rural Orphans & Widows AIDS Network) in Eastern Uganda. The network exists to help Orphans & Widows through; education, medical care and treatment, and business training. We were happy to provide Berkey systems as well as Berkey Sport Bottles, to deliver clean water. This year we partnered with the program again.
The thing I love about ROWAN is that they work closely with Ugandan widows, caregivers & community members – most of whom lost their spouse to AIDS.
The pure joy and health provided to these widows and orphans is priceless.
Here at Berkey Filters, we are also working closely with relief organizations like the Salvation Army to help in aiding recently affected hurricane communities with clean water.
What would you do if you could help?
The Berkey system can help people across the globe. Recently our friends at the Blinded Veterans Association of Puerto Rico were able to provide blind veterans access to clean water with the Berkey systems.
“Angel Reyes, President of the Blind Veteran’s Association, along with Sergeant- Major Ruben Sanchez, the Secretary-Treasurer have organized a team of workers, many of whom are blind or legally blind, to prepare, assemble and load the filters into private vehicles that are able to get into areas where larger relief vehicles can’t go,” explained Walt Gallaway in an email to Berkey Filters.
Walt has been the middleman in helping us ship systems to Puerto Rico.
He goes on to explain, “These guys, are using their own money and vehicles to get filters to the most remote and needy areas. They go into smaller remote neighborhoods where a blind veteran lives, organize the neighborhood to share one or more filters, teach a responsible person how to maintain and keep the filter producing.”
What’s so extraordinary about these men is Sanchez, himself, is legally blind and his son drives him on filter deliveries. Can you imagine what it must be like to hand a filter to someone who has had nothing but rainwater to drink for over a month!
It’s because of these selfless organizations like Rowan and the Blind Veteran’s Group that so many without access to clean water can now confidently provide such a vital human necessity to those in need. Gallaway described it perfectly in saying, “These filters are making a huge difference in the mental and emotional health of the people delivering them as well as those who are using them.”
So, in the season of giving back, we applaud these organization for spreading the Berkey love!
So, you bought a Berkey. Now you get to enjoy pure, chemical free water. If you are like me then you are super excited about your new water purifier. So much so that you want to use your Berkey water for everything! After I purchased my Berkey I noticed I was also drinking way more water! However, it is important to keep in mind that you should be refilling your system at least every other day. Having a hard time using up all the water in two days? Berkey water doesn’t have to be used just for drinking! Check out these 40 other ways to use your purified water!
- Water plants
- Water for pets – Your pets can taste the difference. My cats won’t go near tap water!
- Wash produce
- Kombucha – Are you loving the healthy benefits of Kombucha as much as I am? This fermented tea is packed full of probiotics!
- Making Coffee or Tea – I swear my coffee tastes so much smoother and rich when I use Berkey water!
- Making Ice cubes
- Cooking- boiling pasta, soups, etc.
- Make homemade soap and home products
- Nut Butters – When making your own nut butter you can use Berkey water to soak the nuts.
- Hand-wash only laundry
- Baby Formula
- Essential Oils Diffusers
- Shower – our Berkey shower filter removed 99% of free chlorine! I also noticed that my skin and hair is much softer after using the shower filter.
- Brush teeth
- Wash face
- Sprout seeds/vegetables
- Household CleaningCanning/preserving food
- Filtering rainwater
- Fermented foods
- Bathing infants/children
- Coconut Milk
- Almond Milk
- DIY Antibacterial Spray
- Storing for an emergency
- Instant Milk
- Fresh bouquets – I noticed my bouquets will last almost two weeks longer when I put them in Berkey water! And they keep their fresh scent longer too.
- Sharing with family/friends
- In a soda stream
- Hummingbird feeder
- In your camper/tent
- Fill a pitcher in your fridge- never be without cold water! You can refrigerate Berkey water for up to 7 days.
Did we forget something? Feel free to share your Berkey water uses in the comments!
You feed them expensive food, buy them lots of fun toys, they may even sleep on memory foam beds, but do you think about the water you are giving to your fur babies?
Just like humans, cats and dog’s bodies are made up of 80% water. It only makes sense that you would want to provide them with the best H2O possible.
“Remember, if you wouldn’t drink the water coming out of the faucet, you probably shouldn’t give it to your dog. And if the city government tells you not to drink the water, your dog shouldn’t drink it either,” advises PetMD.com.
The same harmful contaminants in tap water are just as susceptible to our pets especially since their bodies are smaller; unsafe drinking water can cause more damage more quickly.
So how can you keep your pets healthy? Start by testing your water. This way you will know exactly what harmful contaminants you and your pets could be ingesting. You can also ask your local water company for a yearly report on your water conditions.
Next, invest in a water filter and provide your pets with the filtered water. Berkey Systems removes bacteria and viruses at 99.99% while allowing healthy minerals (such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium) to remain. Your pets will appreciate this extra benefit!
Finally, frequent cleaning of your pet’s water dish will keep away bacteria and mold. We recommend giving their food and water dishes a good clean with warm soapy water every few days.
You and your pets will taste the difference. If the water tastes better, it will only encourage your animals to drink more water, keeping them from getting dehydrated!
So, go ahead and keep spoiling your four legged friends. Give them the filtered water! They will thank you in sloppy kisses, sweet purrs, and wagging tails!
Photo credit 1st photo: @melissayogi1111
Photo credit 2nd photo: @inhonorofmotherhood
Do you know what’s in your drinking water? According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, 77 million people across the US are drinking contaminated tap water. The EPA states “This is now forcing more people to figure out how and where to get clean drinking water.” As US citizens, we are fortunate enough to have running water, but is your water “healthy”? From Flint, MI to Newark, NJ our drinking water is under siege as a result of cost-cutting budgets and careless disposal of waste.
You care about the food you eat and getting enough exercise, but have you considered the quality of water you drink? High quality “healthy” water is just as, if not MORE important as high-quality, non-GMO food. Filtered water is no longer just a taste preference, but a necessity.
Even if you are lucky enough to live in an area with a cleaner water source there still may be chemicals present in the water. It is still important to consider investing in a water purification system.
The easy “solution” millions make is to buy bottled water, but can you really trust what you are drinking? Where does this water come from, how long has the water been in that plastic water bottle, what chemicals are leaching from the plastic, and are you recycling the plastic bottles? These are all important questions to consider when buying bottled water.
Additionally, if you’re buying bottled water for its convenience and low price, you might want to reconsider. A 40 pack of 16.9 oz. water bottles costs on average $3.98. That’s 5.28 gallons of water which works out to $0.75 per gallon. Remember this number; we’ll come back to it a bit later. To reach the recommended 64 oz. of water a day, each member of your household needs to drink four 16.9 oz. bottles. For a family of four, your 40 pack will last only 2.5 days.
If you’ve already made the decision that bottled water is not for you, you likely know there are many options on the market to filter your water including pitcher, sink and refrigerator filters. However, there are fewer water purification options on the market. A purifier is more powerful than a filter. It’s like a super filter removing more contaminants than a standard filter, such as bacteria and viruses. Whichever option you choose, it’s important to do your research to truly understand what your water filter or purification system removes.
The Berkey system is a purifier meaning it will remove more heavy metals, pesticides, viruses, bacteria, and trihalomethanes, than a typical pitcher, sink or fridge filter. The technology that Berkey uses to purify water can handle the very smallest of water contaminants, even viruses, making it one of the most powerful water filtering systems available.
A common area of anxiety many experience when buying a filtration system is the initial cost. Filter systems are typically less expensive for initial setup than purification systems, however, as you add up the cost and time to buy replacement filters every 1 to 3 months, they are actually substantially more expensive than a purification system, like the Berkey. Consider the average cost of bottled water is $0.75 per gallon (calculated above). A Berkey filter’s cost is $0.02 per gallon ($107 cost / 6,000-gallon filter lifespan). That is 37 times less than bottled water! Let’s also consider the price of pitcher and faucet filter replacements. Typically, pitcher filter replacement cost $0.15 per gallon, as they last 40 gallons and cost $6.33 each. A Faucet filter is even more expensive at $0.18 per gallon, as they typically last 100 gallons and cost $18.99 each. Compared to Berkey Filters both pitcher and faucet filters are 7.5 to 9 times more expensive. Also, take into consideration the lifespan of Berkey Filters (6,000 gallons) will last 150 to 160 times longer than pitcher and faucet filters.
Even though the initial set up cost for Berkey may seem pricey (systems start at $228) you will be saving more money and time than buying plastic water bottles, pitcher and faucet filters. With a Berkey Filter system, your water is a mere $0.02 per gallon for clean drinking water, and your filters will last for years, saving you valuable time!
With Berkey Filters you can now be in control of the water you drink. Make the choice today to cut out unhealthy water and switch to Berkey Water; you won’t be disappointed!
Earlier this month, researchers from the University of Burgos in Spain announced that they have developed a new test to detect mercury in water that can be used by anyone, even those individuals without knowledge of water chemistry. This innovative test, which is discussed in more detail in the Analytical Methods journal, only requires submerging a test sheet in the water for five minutes. If mercury is present in the water at or above the EPA maximum contaminant level of 2 parts per billion, the sheet will turn red.
In addition to being able to quickly detect the presence of mercury, the researchers have also created the ability for a mobile device to assist in determining the amount of mercury present as well. The user first takes a picture of the sheet with a mobile phone or tablet. Image treatment software such as GIMP, which is free, open-access software, is then used to compare the particular shade of red with reference values. Essentially each shade of red represents a different concentration of mercury. The ability to simply use a mobile device to analyze a water sample makes this test very unique. The researchers claim that this test is inexpensive however it is currently unknown how it will compare to mercury water test kits currently available.
Mercury is a toxic metal that can be released through processes such as the burning of coal and oil, incineration of mercury-containing materials, or through natural erosion of rock and soil. The mercury eventually is deposited in the water. Drinking water with high levels of mercury can harm the nervous system, leading to nervousness, irritability, changes in vision or hearing, and memory issues. Young children are particularly susceptible to the effects of mercury. It is unknown whether drinking water contaminated with low levels of mercury for a long period of time causes any effects as well.
Microorganisms in the water can also convert the mercury to methylmercury which is a highly toxic form of mercury that can accumulate in organisms such as fish and shellfish. When consumed, the methylmercury can damage the kidneys as well as the nervous system. Nearly all of the 50 states have had at least one fish consumption advisory related to mercury which suggests that it is an abundant contaminant. Since mercury is a contaminant of concern in both the US and abroad, an easy and potentially inexpensive analytical tool like this new mercury water test should prove to be very useful.
The topic of arsenic in drinking water has been in the news lately. Earlier this month, the water supplier in the small town of Tacna, Arizona was cited for numerous violations of high arsenic levels in the drinking water. Elsewhere in the country, local wells have been found to have extremely high levels of arsenic in Hinkley, California, a community already well-known for having contaminated groundwater. Even if you have read these news stories, you, like most Americans, may not know what arsenic is, where it comes from, and how harmful it can be if consumed at high levels for a long period of time. It is worthwhile for you to take a moment to learn a little bit more about this drinking water contaminant.
What is arsenic?
Arsenic is a tasteless, odorless semi-metal. It can be released into the groundwater via several sources, including mining and smelting operations, agricultural applications, and processes used to manufacture products like glass, electronics, paints, drugs, soaps, and dyes. Unfortunately for certain regions of the country, arsenic can also enter the groundwater through natural weathering of soil and rocks. Arsenic is a regulated drinking water contaminant and the EPA has declared that 0.010 milligrams per liter (mg/L) or 10 parts per billion (ppb) is the maximum contaminant level that can be present in drinking water.
Where is arsenic found?
In most regions of the country, drinking water supplies contain less than 2 ppb of arsenic. Approximately 12% of groundwater sources in the western US and 12% of surface water sources in the North Central region, however, have levels that exceed 20 ppb. A few individual wells in the West were found to have levels up to an unbelievable 3,400 ppb.The majority of the high arsenic concentrations are found in the West, the Midwest, the Northeast, and parts of Texas. This is most likely due to local geology. These regions tend to have volcanic rock and sulfide-containing mineral deposits that are high in arsenic which release the contaminant to the water through natural processes. The US Geological Survey (USGS) provides a map of arsenic concentrations in groundwater which clearly shows a pattern of higher concentrations in the western United States. This map was created in 2000 but still provides a good representation of current concentrations.
How can arsenic affect your health?
If you drink water that is contaminated with higher levels of arsenic for a long period of time you may experience certain health effects. Changes in the skin such as thickening, discoloration, or “warts” on the palms, soles, and torso, are the most common health effects. Arsenic can also cause circulatory system problems such as decreased red and white blood cells, abnormal heart rhythm, and bruising from blood vessel damage. Irritation of the stomach and intestines may also occur, causing nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
The EPA, Department of Health and Human Services, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer have all classified arsenic as a human carcinogen (cancer-causing agent). Skin tumors are the most common type of cancer caused by arsenic but if you regularly consume high levels of this contaminant you also increase your risk of cancer in the bladder, lungs, liver, kidney, and prostate.
Is arsenic in your water?
With its relatively widespread distribution and long list of potential health effects, arsenic is a water contaminant that you should take seriously. If your drinking water comes from a municipal water supply, the arsenic level should not exceed the maximum contaminant level however you can contact your local water supplier to find out if it is present in your water supply and if any violations ever occurred. If you have a private well, experts recommend that you have the well water tested by a state-certified laboratory if you suspect arsenic contamination. If arsenic is present in your drinking water supply, rest assured that water filters are available that can remove this contaminant. Do not risk your health or that of your family – take the time to determine if arsenic is in your drinking water and, if necessary, find a way to reduce the contamination as soon as possible.
According to the American Thyroid Association, more than 12 percent of Americans will develop a thyroid condition in their lifetime. Many Americans feel that this rate is higher than expected and that perhaps not only genetics are to blame. A quick search on the internet reveals many websites suggesting that fluoride, an additive in many community water systems, may be partially responsible for thyroid problems. Since January is Thyroid Awareness Month, it seems worthwhile to investigate whether fluoride affects the functioning of the thyroid.
What is the Thyroid?
The thyroid is a gland located in the middle of your lower neck, in front of your trachea (windpipe). Though it is small, the thyroid affects the major functions of your body by releasing the hormones, triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). The thyroid gland uses iodine from your food to produce T3 and T4. These hormones affect growth and development, body temperature, and metabolism. T3 and T4 are necessary for brain development in infants and children as well.
Studies of how fluoride may affect thyroid functioning have been ongoing since the early 1900s. In 2006, the National Research Council (NRC) released a report that reviews many studies about fluoride and thyroid problems. Numerous experiments have been performed on animals with varying results. While some did not show any effect of fluoride on thyroid functioning, a few studies of rats and mice showed decreased thyroid hormone levels and increased goiter development (swelling of the gland) at higher fluoride intake levels. The intake levels varied with each study. One interesting fact that was mentioned in a few of the studies was that high fluoride levels intensified the effects of the test subjects that were iodine-deficient. Remember that, as mentioned previously, iodine is necessary to produce the thyroid hormones.
The NRC report also mentioned several studies that examined thyroid hormone levels in children in other countries with high fluoride levels in the drinking water. The conclusions of these studies were similar to several of the animal studies in that the scientists speculated that high fluoride levels may cause greater effects in low-iodine situations.
A Word of Caution
It is important to not rush to any conclusions about fluoride and thyroid issues. As the NRC mentions in the report, there are many inconsistencies in the studies that make them difficult to compare. The studies vary in: 1) types of test subjects used, 2) test concentrations of fluoride, 3) the types of measurements taken, such as hormone levels and occurrence of goiters, and 4) the types of effects observed. Scientists are not even certain how fluoride affects the thyroid gland. One theory that fluoride competes with iodide has been disproven. Clearly, more research is needed in this area.
Though the EPA has set limits for fluoride in drinking water, it is not known how much fluoride is necessary to cause effects in humans. If you already have a thyroid condition or are iodine-deficient, you might want to consult your doctor about limiting your exposure to fluoride. Visit the blog about Drinking Water Quality to learn about how you can discover how much fluoride is added to your drinking water.