Berkey vs. Nikken Water Filters

Berkey vs Nikken

Everyone wants clean water. We all know how polluted our environment has become in recent years, and our need for clean, healthy water has truly expanded the market for high-quality water filters. With so many companies turning out water purification products, it can be hard to distinguish true functionality from clever marketing. In this article we will explore some of the differences between Berkey water filters and Nikken water filters and hopefully get a good look at the facts about what makes a smart purchase in home water filtration.

Nikken

Nikken is a California-based company that got its start in Japan back in 1975 selling health and wellness products. Nikken has various lines of products ranging from dietary supplements to massagers to, in this case, water filtration devices.

Nikken’s particular specialty is magnetic products. Their marketing materials suggest that magnetism has a strong medicinal effect, and harmonizes with the earth’s magnetic field to cure a wide range of ailments. Accordingly, they incorporate magnets into nearly all products.

Nikken PiMag Waterfall Review

Nikken sells a handful of water products: a water bottle, a showerhead, and a countertop filter. We will be looking at their countertop model, the PiMag Waterfall.

How They are Made

The PiMag Waterfall is a two-chambered gravity filter like Berkey filters. Water is poured into an upper chamber and it percolates through a filter cartridge and into a lower reservoir. The chambers are made of clear plastic.

The filter cartridges use a proprietary media called, “Pi Material,” another media referred to as a, “Recyclable Polymer,” and a magnet. Nikken advertises the magnet’s gauss rating for emphasis.

In addition to the filter cartridges, the PiMag Waterfall comes with, “Mineral Stones.” These stones, which are said to be underwater stones from an island near the coast of Korea, sit in the lower chamber in order to impart minerals to the filtered water. Stones are replaced annually.

How Long They Last

What They Remove

Filter Cartridges last 90 days or 238 gallons.
Chlorine, VOC’s, sediment, bacteria, pesticides, heavy metals.

 

 

Pros

 Cons

✔ Compact Size
✖️ Does not remove Viruses
✔ Clear Chambers - Aesthetically pleasing
✖️ High Price
✔ Clean Chambers - Easily see water level
✖️Only for municipally treated water

How They Work.

Filter media works by microfiltration and absorption. There is no data on the magnet’s impact on water quality. Mineral stones do not serve a water purification function and are not explored here.

Nikken claims that the PiMag Waterfall makes water alkaline. Their website says it can raise the PH of water as high as 9.5, which is fairly high for drinking water (about the pH of Baking soda). Alkalinity of drinking water is a controversial subject. The evidence in favor of drinking alkaline water for health is scarce. Although Berkey water filters do tend to make water slightly more alkaline as well, we will not explore the merits of this here.

Berkey Filters

Berkey specializes in in-home water purification systems. Our approach is to produce effective water filters at the best possible price. We prioritize practicality and cost-effectiveness in all our water purification products so that there is no need to rely on clever marketing or multi-level sales strategies. Berkey relies on hard science to bring you safe, clean water.

Berkey filters have a few things in common with the PiMag. Both are gravity water filters with two chambers. However, rather than magnets and imported stones, our innovative filter element, the Black Berkey, uses three different proven techniques to purify water.

How They Work

Black Berkey filters employ a filter element that is composed of a proprietary blend of six different filtration media, compressed into a tight shell, similar to ceramic filters, but much more specialized. Water percolates through tiny pores in the filter matrix that meander through the filter in what we call a, “tortuous path,” which excludes particulates, sediment, bacteria, cysts, parasites, and other pathogens. This part of Berkey’s purification process is microfiltration.

Another way the Black Berkey Filter cleans water is through absorption. Absorption is commonly understood as a process where some free-moving substance is drawn into another body of material, where it remains trapped. One normally thinks of absorption like what a sponge does when it sops up a spilled drink, for example. Black Berkey’s special media, however, absorb heavy metals through the process of ion-exchange. The strong negative charge of ions like lead, copper, aluminum, mercury, cadmium, and chromium cause them to be pulled into the filter media where they essentially become part of the filter and abandon the water they were dissolved in.

The third technique in the Black Berkey purification system is adsorption. Unlike the sponge analogy used above to describe absorption, it is more helpful to think of adsorption as being like static cling. We have all experienced packing peanuts sticking to a plastic bag or amused ourselves by making someone’s hair stick to a balloon. The same phenomenon is at work in the microscopic world. Viruses, which are vastly smaller than bacteria, cannot be removed with microfiltration. The Black Berkey employs a kind of electrostatic attraction known as Van der Waals force to grab onto viruses on their way through the filter pores and hold them against the media surface permanently. The Black Berkey’s adsorption property eliminates 99.9999% of all viruses.

Pros

Cons

✔  More Contaminants Removed
✖️ No significant disadvantages
✔  Higher percentage of bacteria & viruses removed
✔  Higher Output
✔  Longer Filter Life
✔  Lower Start up & Long term cost

What They Remove

Berkey Filters remove a list of over 200 contaminants including turbidity, rust, sediment, tastes and odors, bacteria, parasites, cysts, viruses, pesticides, herbicides, petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, chlorine, chloramine, VOC’s and other chemicals. They do a better job of removing heavy metal than the PiMag and remove 99.9999% of viruses.

To make a fair comparison, we have chosen our smallest model, the Travel Berkey to compare with the PiMag Waterfall.

Head-to-Head

 PiMag Water Fall Travel Berkey
Capacity 1.4 Gallons 1.5 Gallons
Contaminants Removed Bacteria and cysts, sediments, pesticides, solvents, chlorine 99.9999% of bacteria  and cysts, sediments, pesticides, solvents, chlorine, 99.9999% of viruses and better removal of heavy metals
Material Clear Plastic 304 Stainless Steel
Purification Speed Not Published 84 gallons per day (max)
How the Filters Work Microfiltration & absorption Microfiltration, absorption, & adsorption
Warranty 1 year Limited Warranty

2 year prorated warranty on filters.

Lifetime warranty on spigots, chambers, and hardware.

6 month manufacturers warranty, on everything else.

 Unit Price  $389

$249

Price per Gallon of Water

$0.24

(not including mineral stones, $40 annually)

 $0.02

Berkey vs Nikken

How They Work

The outer shell of the Black Berkey is composed of a proprietary and very specialized blend of six different types of media, compacted into a tight matrix. This matrix forces water to slowly squeeze through microscopic pores and meandering tunnel-like microfissures in what we refer to as a “tortuous path,” excluding sediment, bacteria, cysts, parasites, and other pathogens. This aspect of Berkey purification is known as microfiltration.

The second facet of the Black Berkey’s purification is absorption. This works a little bit like the everyday sense of the word, as in cereal that absorbs milk, or a cloth absorbing a spilled drink. A body of material takes some free-moving substance and pulls it into itself, sequestering it there. Absorption in the Black Berkey, however, works on the principle of ion-exchange, where contaminants with a strong negative charge are taken out of solution and into the media in the filter, where they become chemically bonded with it. This is how Berkey filters remove heavy metals like chromium, cadmium, lead, copper, aluminum, and mercury.

Finally, the Black Berkey filter employs adsorption. If absorption (mentioned above) is akin to a paper towel soaking up a spill, think of adsorption as being more like static cling. Just like electrostatic forces make your clothes wad up and packing peanuts stick to your hand, they are also at work in the microscopic world. Unlike bacteria, which are huge by comparison and can be filtered out, viruses are small enough to sneak into the tiniest of micropores. However, as they move into the filter, viruses are electrostatically drawn out of the water by an attraction known as Van der Waals forces and held against the surface of the media permanently. This is how Berkey filters can eliminate 99.9999% of all viruses.

What They Remove: Berkey

Filters remove the same contaminants as ceramic filters do through microfiltration, like rust, turbidity, bad tastes and odors, bacteria, parasites, pesticides, herbicides, VOC’s and other chemicals. They go beyond these in removing MTBE, lead and other heavy metals, 99.9999% of viruses and do a better job of removing chlorine.

Pros Cons
✔ More contaminants removed
✖️ Slightly higher startup cost
✔ Higher percentage of bacteria removed
✔ Removes viruses
✔ Higher output
✔ Longer filter element life
 
✔ Lower cost per gallon

Bottom Line

A quick look at the relative merits of Berkey filters and the PiMag waterfall should be rather conclusive. While Nikken does indeed sell some interesting health and wellness products, they are not the company to go to for a reliable, affordable supply of safe drinking water. For the purest, healthiest, most delicious drinking water at a price you can feel good about, Berkey is the clear choice.

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