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See how Berkey performs in an independent head to head water filter comparison.
We have a whole page on our website devoted to that topic! Learn how to choose the right Berkey Water Filter.
The Big Berkey is our most popular system. All of our Berkey water filter systems have the exact same filter elements inside, so all produce the same quality of water. As you upgrade to larger units, the capacity and flow rate becomes higher. This gives them the ability to provide drinking water for larger groups of people. The Big Berkey is our most popular model because it produces enough water for 8-16 persons and still compact enough to be portable, making the Big Berkey ideally suited for most of our customer's needs.
The Big Berkey was also the first water filter model offered by Berkey. Over time the Big Berkey has accumulated a huge following in the missionary and emergency relief organization field. This large following of dedicated users has produced much press making it a popular choice. Use the recommendations information on our Berkey Filter Model's page to determine the specific filter that best matches your water filtering situation.
The state of California has established regulations and procedures for the sale of indoor water systems. Under these regulations, the state of California requires that any water treatment system that is sold in the state first be certified by an independent, third-party testing agency, such as NSF, before the system can be considered eligible for sale in California. NSF Standard 42 (aesthetic effects) and Standard 53 (health effects) would specifically apply to our purification elements.
The state of California has established regulations and procedures for the sale of indoor water systems. Under these regulations, the state of California requires that any water treatment system that is sold in the state first be certified by an independent, third-party testing agency, such as NSF, before the system can be considered eligible for sale in California.
NSF Standard 42 (aesthetic effects) and Standard 53 (health effects) would specifically apply to our purification elements. NSF Standard 42 covers systems “designed to reduce specific aesthetic or non-health-related contaminants such as chlorine, taste and odor, and particulates that may be present in public or private drinking water. NSF Standard 53 addresses, “systems designed to reduce specific health-related contaminants, such as Cryptosporidium, Giardia, lead, Volatile Organic Chemicals, and MTBE’s that may be present in public or private drinking water.”
The tests we have conducted are much more rigorous than those required by NSF for the certifications mandated by the state of California. Our purifiers have been rigorously tested by third-party independent accredited labs far surpassing the above standard of taste, odor and chlorine reduction. For example, our systems have been tested for the removal of hundreds of contaminants including heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides, pharmaceuticals, pathogenic bacteria, and viruses. These test results are published and available to all our consumers on our website as well as published in our printed literature. In addition, there has also been other highly publicized and notable testing of our purifiers against other so-called similar water filtration systems which clearly back up our third-party testing. Although our extensive testing is sufficient for 49 states in the US, it is currently not acceptable for residents of the state California.
Once NSF certification has been obtained, the state of California additionally requires that companies pay high costs to obtain and maintain certification with the state of California.
In the end, we have concluded that the additional taxes, certifications, and red tape have created too large of a barrier for our firm to offer our systems in the state of California.
Only sales of the following outdoor systems and products are now available to customers in the state of California: Sport Berkey®, Go Berkey®, Travel Berkey®, Berkey® Light (With or without LED lights), Black Berkey® Filter Elements, PF-2 Fluoride Filters, and All Replacement Parts.
No. The concentration of salt in sea water will more than likely ruin the elements fairly quickly.
Although it is not a water softener, the Berkey can sometimes reduce the hardness of water. Check out the full explanation of Berkey softening hard water.
Some people do, but we do not recommend it. It is best if you put water in your Berkey that has not gone through your water softener (the excess salt will likely shorten the life of the elements).
Yes. The Berkey water filter systems can make chlorinated pool water safe for consumption. However, keep in mind that such a use will cause the elements to wear faster. So, you should only do so in the case of an emergency.
Health experts that are up to date on current research are no longer recommending drinking RO or distilled water on a long-term basis because these methods remove all the beneficial minerals from the water making the water an acidic "hypotonic" solution. A chemist will tell you that any time a hypotonic (de-mineralized) solution comes into contact with a "hypertonic" (mineralized) solution, the minerals within the hypertonic solution will transfer out and into the hypotonic solution until equilibrium is achieved. What this means is simply that when one drinks hypotonic water, the minerals in the blood and lymphatic system, which are hypertonic, transfer into the hypotonic RO or distilled water that is consumed and the minerals are flushed out of the body upon urination.
In an effort to re-mineralize, the blood and lymphatic systems then begin to scavenge for minerals from other parts of the body, such as bones and other organs, and this process repeats itself every time de-mineralized hypotonic water is re-consumed. Several studies suggest that people who drink de-mineralized water (hypotonic) over a long period of time tend to be more prone to degenerative diseases such as osteoporosis.
Berkey purification systems do not remove the beneficial minerals from the water, but they do extract harmful heavy metals such as lead and mercury as well as sedimentary minerals such as iron oxide. Therefore, the TDS (total dissolved solids) reading will not typically change much unless there are a lot of heavy metals or sedimentary minerals in the source water.
All Berkey models are easy to disassemble and clean. The lower chamber should be cleaned by hand in dishwater once a month. The Black Berkey elements may need to be cleaned typically after 6-12 months of use. Distillation systems remove minerals from the drinking water. These minerals build up on the surface of the container and need to be soaked and cleaned with a 50/50 vinegar solution to remove the scale. Reverse osmosis systems can have up to four filter elements, with each needing to be changed at differing intervals from four months up to two years. This requires that the water pressure is shut off and part or all of the system to be disassembled for maintenance. Additionally, the bladder tank should be washed with a chlorine solution at six-month intervals to kill any colonizing bacteria.
Reverse Osmosis does not remove pathogenic bacteria, and that is why it is often necessary to add an additional UV light to the system. However, the UV sometimes does not kill all the bacteria because any turbidity in the water can create shaded spots preventing some bacteria from being exposed. Typically, the UV is installed before the bladder tank, however, it is in the bladder tank that bacteria usually colonize. Therefore, if the bladder tank is not sterilized on a regular basis, it becomes a source of bacteriological contamination that is never exposed to UV. Additionally, the carcasses of the dead bacteria remain within the drinking water with a RO system whereas they are removed by the Black Berkey filters.
RO systems typically are the most expensive due to the cost of the system and the additional expense to have the system plumbed in. Next in cost would be a distillation unit. A Berkey system will typically be the least expensive of the three. Calculated upon the cost per gallon for replacement filters and energy costs, distillation systems and RO systems properly maintained typically cost between 35-65 cents per gallon. A Berkey system typically costs about 2 cents per gallon.
Berkey is the original North American distributor for British Berkefeld, a company who makes the finest ceramic water filter available. These ceramic filters are excellent at removing harmful bacteria from sediment heavy, contaminated drinking water. It soon became clear to Berkey that a more powerful filter was needed, one that not only removed bacteria but was also, in addition, able to remove chemicals, viruses, heavy metals, fertilizers and a long list of additional contaminants from your drinking water. After many years of research, Berkey developed the Black Berkey purification element. This filter gives you all of the benefits of the ceramic filter with the added abilities mentioned above. Black Berkey purification element significantly raised the bar to a level that no other gravity flow water filters are currently able to attain.
Yes, the replaceable filter in the Sport Berkey is made of the same material and has the same ionic properties as the larger and longer lasting Black Berkey filter element found in all of our larger Berkey water filter models.
We have the answer to that question on our water filters vs water purifiers page.
We don’t recommend the recycling of the Black Berkey® Purification Elements or PF-2s. The shells of the Berkey® PF-2™ are made of Polypropylene, which is Recycle Code 5. Uses of Polypro (for short) include catsup bottles, yogurt containers, margarine tubs & medicine bottles. However, there is no recycle code for the Berkey PF-2™ elements. A recycle code cannot be assigned since the element is sealed and contains material inside for arsenic & fluoride reduction. To recycle, one would have to cut the element open and remove the material before recycling the plastic shell.
The same issue applies to the Black Berkey® Purification Elements. The complex matrix of materials used within the media of the Black Berkey® Purification Elements does not allow the elements to be easily classified by a single recycle code. In addition, with both of these types of elements, there is no way of knowing what contaminants are in the media after use.
The stainless steel containers of the Berkey is made from highly polished AISI (American Institute of Steel and Iron) 304 grade stainless steel. It is known for its heat and high corrosion resistant properties. The stainless steel does not contain lead. This type of stainless steel contains between 8 to 10.5% nickel.
When water is filtered through our system, the Black Berkey® Purification Elements may increase the pH level of the water between 0.5-1.0. The majority of contaminants are generally acidic in nature. When they are removed, this causes a slight increase in pH. This is healthful because pathogenic bacteria and viruses have difficulty surviving in alkaline environments. An environment with more alkalinity does have a higher pH level. The pH level will depend on various factors including what the pH level of the pre-filtered water is. Check out our article for a more detailed explanation on how Berkey effects the pH of you water.
Yes, each time you fill your Berkey Water Filter System's top chamber you should fill it up to the top of your filters. Only filling your system partially can wear out your filters unevenly, as the bottom of the filter is doing all the work! This causes the filtration rate to slow substantially, as the unused portion dries out and needs to be primed more frequently. Always make sure your bottom chamber is empty, before filling the top chamber, to avoid overflow.
Use one of the 2 methods below:
1. Take the number of Black Berkey filtering elements in your system and multiply it by 3,000. This number will be the (Total Life) in gallons.
2. Estimate the average amount of water you filter through your Berkey per day. This number will be the (Total Use) in gallons.
3. Then simply divide the (Total Life) by the (Total Use). This number represents how many days your filter will effectively treat your water before needing to replace them.
4. As a reminder, with a permanent marker write the date that you calculated the need for Berkey replacement filters on the bottom of your unit. Example: If you have a two filter Big Berkey and your used 4 gallons of water per day. You would multiply 2 (#of filters) by 3000 = 6000 (Total Life), then divide 6000 by 4 (total use) = 1500 days the filters will last, That's a little over four years!
The Black Berkey filters in your unit will never stop working. The rate that the filters produce water will slow down. This is an indication that the filter needs to be cleaned. This brings us to the second method. If after cleaning your elements they do not filter any faster; it is time to replace them.
No. Unlike other filtration elements, the Black Berkey filters are re-cleanable. What typically causes the filters to drip slowly is turbidity and sediment clogging the micro-pores of the elements. Simply remove the elements from your system, and clean the Black Berkey element by scrubbing the exterior of each element under running water with a green scrub pad (3M or Scotch Brite brand, etc.) or stiff toothbrush. It’s simple to do and takes less than a minute per element.
Typically the problem you are experiencing is due to high water tension, which prevents the air from purging from the micro pores of the new filtering elements. Included with your Black Berkey filters are a priming button and priming instructions. Take out the Black Berkey filters, prime, and re-install.
The Berkey water purification systems can efficiently purify raw untreated pond, lake and river water. However, always use the cleanest and clearest water possible. As an additional precaution, if using a source of water that you believe might contain extreme viral and bacteriological contamination, it is recommended by the CDC, EPA and other organizations that approximately sixteen drops of plain bleach (sodium hypochlorite) or iodine per gallon be added to treat the source water before purifying. This should kill minute pathogens such as viruses, within 30 minutes. The disinfectant will be removed from the treated water entirely with the Berkey system, including any odor or taste. For more information about disinfecting water, please reference the following links. https://www.cdc.gov/ or water.epa.gov
Yes. You can test the Black Berkey filter elements by filling the upper chamber with water, and then adding a teaspoon of red food coloring for every gallon of water within your upper chamber. Be sure to use red, as no other color of food coloring will work. If the food coloring is removed entirely, your system is working properly. If not, make sure the wing nuts on the filters are securely tightened then re-run the test. If you have the PF-2 fluoride filters installed, remove them prior to performing the red dye test. For more in-depth instructions check out the Test Black Berkey Filters page.
Please check the box which held your Black Berkey filters. The box should contain two elements. Attached to each element should be a black rubber washer and a wing nut. Also in the box, should be what could look like another single rubber washer, however, it will be tan in color. This is your priming button. It is thicker than the black washers, and the center hole is smaller. This tan priming button can easily be confused with a washer.
A TDS meter does not register much of a change between the pre-filtered water and the post-filtered water. This is normal, and the answer has to do with what a TDS meter actually measures. According to tdsmeter.com, “Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) are the total amount of mobile charged ions, including minerals, salts or metals dissolved in a given volume of water, expressed in units of mg per unit volume of water (mg/L), also referred to as parts per million (ppm). TDS is directly related to the purity of water and the quality of water purification systems and affects everything that consumes, lives in, or uses water, whether organic or inorganic, whether for better or for worse.”
This statement is both correct and incorrect. It is correct in what a TDS measurement consists of, namely the “total amount of mobile charged ions, including minerals, salts or metals dissolved in a given volume of water”. It is incorrect in its conclusion that TDS is related to the purity of the water and the quality of the water purification system. If the measure of a water purification system was how close it could make water to pure H2O, then maybe it would be correct. But, people need minerals to live. Thus, helpful minerals in your water are actually a good thing. A quality water purification system should filter out things that are harmful to your body, but leave in the helpful things such as minerals. Black Berkey elements are designed to leave healthful and beneficial minerals in your water and to extract the unwanted heavy metals such as lead and mercury as well as sedimentary minerals such as iron oxide and aluminum.
So, when our customers use a TDS meter, what they find is that the reading both before and after the water has gone through the Black Berkey elements about the same. And they are correct. The Black Berkey elements do not take out all of the beneficial minerals. Thus, of the things that a TDS meter will actually detect, the Black Berkey elements will only remove the unwanted heavy metals such as lead and mercury as well as sedimentary minerals such as iron oxide and aluminum. Therefore, your TDS reading will not change much unless you have a significant amount of heavy metals or sedimentary minerals in your water.
When using a Berkey system for the first time, it is common for the TDS meter to initially show a higher reading, due to the manufacturer’s process dust and carbon that are compressed in the media of the filter element. After running four to five batches of water through your Berkey system, you should notice a significant reduction in the TDS meter reading of your purified water.
A TDS meter does not measure the amount of biological and chemical contaminants.The important thing is to not simply rely on a TDS meter for your measure of whether your water is good. You can have low TDS count water that has harmful bacteria in it. You can have high TDS count water that is perfectly safe (e.g. – pure, un-polluted ocean saltwater…albeit, you wouldn’t drink it, but that’s only because the mineral is salt). Thus, make sure you know what your TDS meter is actually telling you.
Yes it is normal and not unusual for the last 0.5" to 2" of water to remain in the upper chamber. By design, the water must pass through very fine micro pores within the filtration elements in order to pass from the upper chamber to the lower. The lower the water level in the upper chamber, the lower the pressure available to force the water through the micro pores. You may have noticed that the system purifies much faster when full than when half full. That’s because there is more water pressure when full.
The only way to remedy this problem would be to enlarge the pores of the filter elements. This would reduce the efficiency of the Berkey purification system. During each cycle the water left from the previous cycle mixes with the water from the current cycle and is then purified. There is no need to be concerned about the excess water during normal use. However, should you discontinue using your filter for a period of time, such as during a vacation, it would be best to empty both chambers before departing and leave them upside down to dry on the dish rack.
This article goes through some of the most frequent complaints that our customer service representatives receive, all compiled into one place. Berkey Complaints
Berkey Filters Policies
All orders eligible for free shipping will be shipped by the carrier of our choice. If you choose the free shipping option, you must provide us with a physical address. We will not ship to a PO Box. If you do not have a physical address, free shipping is not an option for you. If we receive your order with free shipping chosen, and you did not supply a physical address, the order will be put on hold until we resolve the issue with you.
If you require shipping to a P.O box, you must pay for and choose USPS as the shipping option during checkout.
If you wish to have control over the shipping method or require a specific carrier, you must pay for shipping by that carrier during checkout.
The customer is responsible for any customs, brokerage, or other fees that may be incurred as a result of the merchandise crossing the Canadian border. Please check with your local government before ordering so you are aware of what, if any, additional charges there may be to you. For more details check out our Shipping a Berkey to Canada page.
We offer expedited shipping methods through UPS (Next Day Air, Second Day Air and 3rd Day Select). Orders for this expedited service placed before 12:00 pm (noon) MST on a regular business day (M-F), will be shipped that day. Orders placed after this time will be shipped the next day unless that day is a holiday or weekend, then it would ship the next available business day. UPS does not deliver on Saturday, Sunday, or Holidays. Under certain rare circumstances that are sometimes beyond our control, we may not be able to get orders out for Next Day Air Service. Under these rare circumstances, we will contact you for further instructions and directions on how to proceed.
Undeliverable or refused packages returned to us will incur a $16.40 return fee imposed by the carrier and up to a 20% handling fee. These fees will be deducted from the amount refunded
It is the responsibility of the customer to inspect their order once it is received. If you find items to be missing or damaged, you must notify us within 10 days of receiving your order to be eligible for replacement. Claims of missing items or damaged items after 10 days of receiving your package will not be approved.
For damaged items, sent an email to CustomerService@BerkeyFilters.com with the following details.
- Subject line of email: Damaged Item
- Provide a detailed message documenting the damage. Lack of detail may delay the processing of your claim if we need further information.
- Attach a photo of the item clearly showing the damage.
- Attach a photo of the damage to the shipping box, if applicable.
Approved claims for missing or damaged items will be processed in 24-48 business hours of being received. We will cover the cost of ground shipping both ways when returning damaged items or shipping replacements, for physical addresses within the contiguous United States.
We make every effort to ship orders as soon as possible. For this reason, order cancellations or changes are not possible. For further information, you may contact our Customer Service Center email@example.com or by phone at 800-450-8170
Due to a California state law passed in 2010, we, as well as all other Berkey distributors, are prohibited from selling larger Berkey systems directly in the state of California. If you live in California, please consider our Berkey Light or Travel Berkey models. Accessories and replacement filters may be shipped directly into the state.
The state of California has established regulations and procedures for the sale of indoor water systems. Under these regulations, the state of California requires that any water treatment system that is sold in the state first be certified by an independent, third-party testing agency, such as the NSF, before the system can be considered eligible for sale in California. NSF Standard 42 (aesthetic effects) and Standard 53 (health effects) would specifically apply to our purification elements.
NSF Standard 42 covers systems designed to reduce specific aesthetic or non-health-related contaminants such as chlorine, taste, odor, and particulates that may be present in public or private drinking water.
NSF Standard 53 addresses systems designed to reduce specific health-related contaminants, such as Cryptosporidium, Giardia, lead, Volatile Organic Chemicals, and MTBE's that may be present in public or private drinking water.
The tests Berkey has conducted are much more rigorous than those required by NSF for the certifications mandated by the state of California. Berkey purifiers have been rigorously tested by third-party independent accredited labs far surpassing the above standard of taste, odor, and chlorine reduction. For example, Berkey purifiers have been tested for the removal of hundreds of contaminants including heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides, pharmaceuticals, pathogenic bacteria, and viruses. These test results are published and available to all of our consumers on our website. Although this extensive testing is sufficient for 49 states in the US, it is currently not acceptable for residents in the state of California.
Even after NSF certification has been obtained, the state of California additionally requires that companies pay high costs to obtain and maintain certification with the state of California.
After careful review, it has been concluded that the additional taxes, certifications, and red tape have created too large of a barrier for their dealers to offer the larger Berkey Systems in the state of California.
The state of Iowa has established regulations and procedures for the sale of water systems.
The state of Iowa requires that any water treatment system that is sold in the state first be certified by an independent, third-party testing agency, such as NSF, before the system can be considered eligible for sale in Iowa. The cost for NSF Certification is very expensive and provides nothing of value in the emergency water treatment industry.
The tests Berkey has conducted are much more rigorous than those required by NSF for the certifications mandated by the state of Iowa. Berkey purifiers have been rigorously tested by third-party independent accredited labs far surpassing the above standard of taste, odor and chlorine reduction. These test results are published and available to all of our consumers on our website.
Even after NSF certification has been obtained, the state of Iowa additionally requires that systems further be registered with the Iowa Department of Public Health. One major problem arises because each flexible configuration we offer is considered by the state of Iowa to be a distinct and separate system that must be certified independently. Under Iowa legislation, the expense required to certify each system and maintain certification per configuration quickly becomes unaffordable.
While this may not be a problem for companies that are inflexible with respect to the systems they offer or have few product offerings, such requirements place a huge burden upon companies that do offer such flexibility, (i.e. multiple variations of water filter systems).
Berkey has concluded that the additional taxes, certifications, and red tape have created too large of a barrier for their dealers to offer Berkey Systems in the state of Iowa.
Berkey Filters encourages you to test your product once it’s received. For this reason, we accept returns of products in new or used condition. If you are not satisfied with your purchase, for any reason within 30 days of your purchase date, you may call Customer Service for a RMA# (Return Merchandise Authorization Number). Packages received without a RMA # will be charged a 20% handling fee. Returned items must be in their original packaging, with all included parts and literature.
*Returns can be made with the carrier and shipping method of your choice, at your expense.
Address your return to:
1976 Aspen Circle
Pueblo CO 81006
Please allow 7-10 business days, from the date we receive your return, for a refund to reflect back to the original form of payment used to place your order.*
Return instructions can be found on pages 19 - 21 of the Berkey Manual. (Note: Return instructions are comprehensive and all sections may not apply). Failure to follow return instruction will result in up to a 20% handling fee that will be deducted from the amount refunded.
The customer must obtain and monitor the tracking number for any items coming back to us.
* If an eligible purchase included a free item, the free item must also be included in your return. Free items not returned will be billed as a deduction from the final refund at their full retail value. Returns will not be accepted after 30 days of the purchase date. No exceptions.
Returns will not be accepted after 30 days of the purchase date. No exceptions.
In the event that a replacement is needed for a part covered under warranty, please call Customer Service for additional information regarding the exchange of an item and to receive a RMA # (Return Merchandise Authorization #.)
With the exception of the unit housings and Black Berkey Purification Elements, all products, including the Berkey PF-2 Fluoride Filters, parts, and accessories are warranted to be free from defects in materials and workmanship for 6 months from the purchase date.
The Black Berkey Purification Elements and unit housings are warranted to be free from defects in materials and workmanship for a 2-year period, prorated in 6-month intervals.
For our customers who choose to register at the time of their purchase, we offer a lifetime warranty on select Berkey Systems (Includes: Travel Berkey, Big Berkey, Royal Berkey, Imperial Berkey, Crown Berkey).
To register, create an account prior to making a purchase by clicking My Account in the top right-hand corner of our web page. Next click 'Create an Account'. Fill in the required fields and click 'Submit.' By creating an account with our store, you will be able to move through the checkout process faster, store multiple shipping addresses, view and track your orders in your account, and you will receive exclusive discounts and promotional codes.
If at any time the unit housings, standard spigot, washers, hole plugs, knob, or wing-nuts of your stainless steel Berkey System fail in any way due to defects in materials or workmanship, contact Berkey Filters for additional information regarding the exchange of the item and to receive a RMA # (Return Merchandise Authorization #).
The lifetime warranty does not cover damage caused by carelessness, accidents, or abuse/unintended use of the system. This warranty does not cover filters. This is an exclusive offer to our valued customers from Berkey Filters and is in addition to all other stated warranties.
For an exchange, please follow the instructions outlined in the above section. Please allow 7-10 business days, from the date we receive your exchange, for refund, at which point you may place a new order for replacement items.** **
If you would like to receive your exchange item as soon as possible, you may choose to pay the purchase price of the new product up front. Once a return is received, a refund will be processed for the original item(s).
We will cover the shipping on outbound items if the value is over $49. (Please refer to our shipping policy for additional information regarding carriers and shipping methods)