Berkey Filters vs. British Berkefeld

Join us as we dive into the history of the British Berkefeld and the introduction of the Berkey. We’ll discuss the differences between black water filters and white water filters

British Berkefeld and Berkey are two competing gravity fed water filtration systems. Both offer excellent quality with the main difference being the type of filter, and what each is able to remove. Berkefeld uses white filters, also referred to as a Ceramic or Super Sterasyl filters. The Berkey systems sold here, utilize a Black Carbon filter.

What’s the difference, and which filter is better for you?

The key differences are shown below; but the condensed difference is the Berkey Black filter removes more making it simply more powerful. Additionally, the Black Filter's ability to be cleaned makes it a cheaper option when cost per gallon is considered. 

Set of Two 9"

Black Berkey Filter 

Black Berkey Filters

White Ceramic Filter*

Ceramic Filters
Price $166 $60
Filter Rating Purifier (Powerful Filter) Filter
Key Removal

Removes Bacteria: 99.9999999%

Removes Viruses: 99.999%

Removes Bacteria: 99.99%

Removes Viruses: N/A


6,000 Gallons

1,000 Gallons \ 1 YR

Cost per Gallon

Less than $0.03


Additional Removed

Removes Chlorine ✔️

Removes Cysts ✔️

Removes Insecticides  ✔️

Removes Lead ✔️

Removes Herbicides ✔️

Removes Chlorine ✔️

Removes Cysts ✔️

Removes Insecticides ❌

Removes Lead ❌

Removes Herbicides ❌

How they Work

Both Berkey Black Filters and White Ceramic Filters are gravity filters, requiring no power and work to filter water through the force of gravity. Black Berkey Filters utilize several filtration processes which earn them the classification of a Purifier (a step up from filter) and make them the world leader in portable water filtration. Black Filters can be cleaned repeatedly and even be easily tested in your home - no fancy labs required!

Super Sterasyl™ Sterasyl micro-filters use a ceramic shell and granulated carbon on the interior to filter out unwanted contaminants in drinking water. Ceramic filters are also available in pressurized systems, like under sink filtration. However with more pressure there is less contact time with filter media and less is removed.

*Super Sterasyl™ Sterasyl microfilter plus granular activated carbon. Removal results according to Dolton.

Berkey Filters water for dogs

History of the Berkey Water Filter

Although ceramic water purification goes back to ancient times, the story of Berkey water filters starts in England in the mid 1800s. It was in this period that Henry Doulton developed the predecessor of Berkey filters.

Born into the pottery business, Henry Doulton began experimenting with producing ceramic filters. Indeed, it was an idea whose time had come, since water-borne epidemics like Cholera and Typhoid were starting to ravage Britain. The Doulton filter was able to take advantage of the microporous nature of ceramics to filter out particles down to the size of an individual bacterium, thus preventing transmission of these diseases through drinking water.

As knowledge about the role of microorganisms in disease grew and germ theory became more universally accepted, the demand for Doulton filters increased. Queen Victoria commissioned Doulton to produce filters for the royal household, and Doulton filters came adorned with the royal crest. Doulton filters have continued to be produced into the present day under the name, “Super Sterasyl filters.”

In addition to water filtration, Henry Doulton distinguished himself in many areas of the ceramics business, contributing greatly to technological advancement and the arts. For his achievements, Doulton received the knighthood in 1887 and his firm adopted its current title of,“Royal Doulton.”

What does all of this have to do with Berkey filters? Read on...

Royal Doulton acquired the rights to an excellent line of ceramic filters made of diatomaceous earth, which was developed by a German engineer, Wilhelm Berkefeld. The firm sold this line of filters under the trade name, “British Berkefeld.”

A long series of purchases and takeovers finally led to the current producer of Berkey water filters, New Millennium Concepts Ltd. contracting to distribute British Berkefeld filters in North America.

After years of research, NMCL distinguished themselves in their own right in 2003, by developing the Black Berkey Filter. This new filter represents a culmination of nearly two centuries of development. The Black Berkey purification elements employ a mix of six different filtration media to achieve a level of water purification of which Henry Doulton could never have even dreamed.

Does Berkey Remove
Chromium 6?

While most water filters don’t remove chromium-6, the good news is Berkey filters remove >99.8% of Chromium-6.

Does Berkey Remove Minerals?

Learn more about beneficial minerals in your water.

Check What's In Your Water

Use the Berkey Filters Water Quality Search to see what contaminants are in your water.