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Have you heard of a Berkey? It's basically the best way to filter your water. Some people think it's just for disaster-preparedness but I use my Berkey every day and I think you should too.
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Table of contents
There is no shortage of water filtration options for you to choose from – so why choose Berkey?
Berkey filters remove more than 200 water contaminants at a rate of 99.99% – including lead.
A big difference is that Berkey is a water purifier, not just a water filter – which means it also removes waterborne viruses.
The micro-filtration traps toxins and viruses and the filter also adds an ion charge to keep heavy metals and chemicals out.
The gravity flow nature of the system also helps filter out more contaminants because it takes more time for the water to trickle through the filter.
Berkey's filter out more than any other water filter on the market – including Chromium-6. And they have lab-tests to back it up.
Additionally, there are a number of sources you can buy a Berkey from – but the website I promote (BerkeyFilters.com) is the largest Berkey dealer in the United States. They are family owned and operated since the 1990's.
How Long It Lasts
The Berkey container itself will last forever – and the filters need to be changed much less frequently than other common filters. Each filter will last up to 3000 gallons – that means if you have two filters in your Berkey, you can get 6000 gallons before buying replacements.
According to the Berkey Filters website, that means an average family of 4 wouldn't need to replace the filters for at least 4 years!
Occasionally the filters will need to be cleaned in between replacing to wash off the contaminants trapped on the outside of the filter. They recommend every 6 months or so, or when you notice a significant increase in filtering time.
Assembly and Setup
Not going to lie – the initial assembly is my least favorite part of the Berkey. In theory it's pretty easy – two outside containers that fit on top of each other, screw the filters and fluoride filters together.
But it's the priming of the filters that can be a pain – and pretty much guaranteed to get water everywhere! Update: they do now have a “system pro kit” add-on that will help with this part of the task. I'd recommend getting that!
Also, it helps to have two people to put the filters on when replacing or cleaning the system. I have done this as one person but it is much more challenging – you aren't supposed to place the filters sideways when screwing them in the top (I guess a risk of breaking) which limits how you can assemble as one person. Possible yes, but preferable if you have another person to help!
The instructions can seem overwhelming at first, but just take it step by step. Priming is the most time consuming part, and you'll need to dump the first few batches of filtered water until any remaining dust is out of the filters. But once you're set up you're good for a while!
Berkey Bundle Options
There are a lot of options to help you to find a Berkey system that is best for your family situation. The main thing to start with is to determine what size you'd want, and from there you can decide the number of filters and what add-ons will work for you.
Travel Berkey – 1.5 gallons. If you have a small space and 1-2 people, you can get by with this model.
Big Berkey – 2.25 gallons. This is their most popular size and can work for households of 1-4 people.
Berkey Light – 2.75 gallons. This one is the only one not made of stainless steel but instead made of BPA-free co-polyester, designed to be a lightweight (and slightly lower-cost) alternative. A big benefit of this model is that you can see when the water levels are low!
Royal Berkey – 3.25 gallons. This is the model I use, (slightly larger than the Big Berkey which is what I got for my mom).
Imperial Berkey – 4.5 gallons. Perfect for large families! This one actually can use up to 6 filters for faster filtration.
Crown Berkey – 6 gallons. The largest option, with space for up to 8 filters for extra fast filtration.
All sizes comes with two black filters, and the larger the units have space for more. You can also attach fluoride filters (they do not come with the basic packages), which I recommend.
The more filters you have, the longer the overall life cycle will be – so you're not saving money in the long run necessarily by having fewer filters. More filters also increases filtration time.
In addition to extra filters and the fluoride filters (which you'll need to add-on if you want them) there are some handy accessories.
I recommend the stand and the stainless steel spigot (to replace the plastic one it comes with).
If you're concerned with knowing seeing how much water is in the lower chamber, you may want the “sight glass spigot” which has a water level gauge – just note that this is a plastic spigot so you can't use this and the stainless steel spigot together.
- Have two people if possible for assembly
- Get a stand for it, unless you have a spot for it that will be at the edge of a counter
- More filters is better – but two will work if you're not impatient. Get the fluoride ones too.
- Don't overfill the top – it will flood! Unless you get a water gauge (which currently only works with a plastic spigot) it's best to let the filtered water completely empty before refilling the top.
I've been drinking Berkey water at home for over two years now. I love the taste quality and knowing that I'm not consuming all the fluoride and other chemicals that can be in our tap water.
The assembly can be a pain but after putting it together it's very simple to maintain. Besides the initial setup, the only other con I can mention is the price point, because it is definitely an investment. But it will pay for itself over time.
While it is true that Berkey's are used in emergency relief situations (they apparently can clean even swamp water!), it also gives great peace of mind for everyday drinking water.
21 million Americans have drinking water that violates U.S. health standards. If you're curious what the tap water in your area contains, the Berkey Filters website has a zip code analysis that will tell you how many contaminants are found in your local water and whether it exceeds EWG (Environmental Working Group) guidelines.
Overall, I highly recommend getting a Berkey for your household!