Skeptical? Good. That means you're critically thinking!
Does Berkey really make dirty, river water into clear, purified water? YES!
There is a visible difference and a microscopic change that happens when water passes through a Berkey system. The appearance is clear without little "floaties" swimming around. Rest assured, the filter element have been rigorously tested--taking care of all the invisible contaminants.
We tested the filters with more than 10,000 times the concentration of harmful pathogens per liter of water than is required by industry-standard test protocols. This concentration of pathogens is so high that the water exiting the filters should be expected to contain a concentration of 100,000 or more pathogens per liter (99.99% reduction — the requirement to be classified for pathogenic removal). Incredibly, Black Berkey water filter elements removed 100% of the pathogens. After using the Black Berkey filters, absolutely no pathogens were found in the effluent or were able to be detected. This set a new standard, allowing us to classify all systems containing the Black Berkey filters as purifiers.
The Black Berkey Filters use several techniques to stop unwanted matter. The short and sweet description of the purification process is that some of the pollutants are too big to physically pass through the pores, and the smaller ones are blocked by surface tension, and the even smaller contaminants are changed at a molecular level. The filters alter the contaminants' chemical structure, one, making them less harmful, and two, trapping the bad molecules in the filter media.
How Can Berkey Filter Out all the Nasty Gunk from Dirty River Water?
Black Berkey Filter elements are made of a carbon composite containing high-grade coconut shell carbon combined with a proprietary blend of five other types of material. The blend is top secret which is one reason some systems cannot be sold in states like California and Iowa. If we went through the process of getting NSF certified (required for those states) we would have to share our secrets and we're just not quite ready to let it out yet. 🤫 Anyway, the material and technology that the Black Berkey Filters use stops contaminants in their tracks! Either the pores are too small for them to pass through, or they get blocked by an ionic barrier (like surface tension), or their molecules neutralized through ion exchange.
Because nothing is guaranteed in life there is still the teeniest, tiniest chance that something might possibly maybe get through but we're willing to take that risk because it's so small. The choice is yours though. You're smart and have to assess the situation. You have to weigh the chance of dealing with the repercussions of not hydrating and the chance of dealing with the repercussions of consuming a contaminant.
Related: Drinking Water Safety Guide
How to Filter River Water Through a Berkey
The best way to filter any water source through a Berkey is by setting the lower chamber of the Berkey on a flat, stable surface. To prevent the filters from breaking its ideal to use a bucket, pitcher, or other container to fill with river (or steam, or pond, or lake) water and then pour into the upper chamber of the Berkey system. If another container is unavailable, fill the upper chamber directly with water and then place it on-top of the lower chamber. Take care to not jostle the filters and break the stems. Wait for the water to seep through the filters and into the bottom chamber. The flow rate depends on the size of the system, in one hour, a Crown Berkey with eight black filters can filters four gallons of water. All Berkey systems are gravity fed, that means no electricity is needed, and it filters faster if there's more water in the upper chamber. The pressure of water in the top chamber pushes itself down. So, in emergencies when lots of clean water is needed in a short period of time, you can constantly refill the top chamber (simultaneously emptying the bottom chamber) to filter water faster.
Berkey really does have the power to filter river water! Try it for yourself!