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The Black Berkey Red Food Coloring Test

The Black Berkey red food coloring test provides the opportunity to showcase the impressive purification power of the Black Berkey elements. Many water filter companies make claims to their high quality, but Berkey water filters go one step further by making their lab test results public and presenting demonstrations such as the red food coloring test. While helpful for new customers to see the Black Berkey filters in action, it is invaluable for the existing customer base since it can be used at anytime during the life of the filters to ensure they are working to design specifications. Whether the original black berkeys have been in operation for the past 3, 7, or 10 years, one can perform this test at anytime to see if it's time for a replacement. We recommend customers place a cup underneath each filter as this will help isolate which filter is exhausted, and which is still purifying effectively.

With other water filters, the customer must assume their system is working to specifications or spend the time and money to perform water tests.  This time lapse video shows how simple the red food coloring test can be done after priming your Black Berkey filters.

To perform a food coloring test, start with an empty system (upper/lower chamber), remove any PF-2 filters that may be attached, and place a glass in the lower chamber directly underneath each black berkey filter. Next, fill the upper chamber with water and add 1 teaspoon of red food coloring for every gallon of water (only red please). After 5-10 minutes, look to see if any of the water in the glasses are red or have any pinkish tinge. If one does, then that particular filter above it is defective or saturated/exhausted.

34 thoughts on “The Black Berkey Red Food Coloring Test”

  • Dr. Cynthia Champion Olson
    Dr. Cynthia Champion Olson May 2, 2010 at 12:17 am

    Why do you not ship to California? Do you ship to Texas?

    Thank you,
    Dr. C. Champion-Olson

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Yes Dr. Champion-Olsen, we ship to all states with exemption of CA due to the new law, and Iowa due to the high licensing fees the state requires the seller to pay.

      Reply
  • Debbie

    Will this work to test my ceramic filters?

    Reply
  • jna

    why only red food color? I used green on three filters before I found this and all have failed, is green smaller than red?

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi JNA -

      Red does not have beneficial minerals in it, so when none comes through, you know it's performing correctly. The other colors do.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • jna

    thanks Dan,
    so in short a green failure is not necessarily a filter failure, correct?

    Reply
  • Vina Miller

    I don't understand the above post. Why wouldn't it filter the green food color if
    it filters everything so well? What do you mean when you say the green has beneficial minerals? Thanks.

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Vina - The media ingredients used for creation of the black berkeys do not remove beneficial minerals, thus if a food coloring dye has beneficial minerals in it like potassium, the filter will let this dye pas through. Red does not have beneficial minerals as part of it's make-up, so it will not go through the filter if the filter is working properly. If the red goes through, then the filter is not working properly, and this is why it's called the red food coloring test.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • JC

    Dan,

    In your last statement I think you meant to say that the red food coloring does NOT have any beneficial minerals in it, therefore it will not be allowed to pass through the elements.

    Reply
  • Sharon

    Why is it necessary to remove the PF-2 filters?

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Sharon -

      The test is only for the black berkey filters. If you leave the PF-2's filters on and the black berkeys fail the test, then the red would get into the PF-2 filters. It would then take many flushes to fully wash the inside of the PF-2's of this red food coloring, and thus you'd want to try to avoid this potential of happening.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Jeremy

    I just got the travel Berkey. Is it necessary to perform this test on a brand new system?

    Reply
  • Mike

    Is there any way to test the pf2 filters ?

    Reply
  • Martha

    Could you use something that is non-toxic, yet red, such as pomegranate juice or red root tincture in alcohol? thanks

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Martha -

      No, artificial red food coloring must be used, since if the filters are working correctly, they would be removing these particulates. Pomegranate juice, etc, would flow through as there are no toxins/chemicals present.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Anh

    What method can we use to test the quality of water such as reducing bacteria and harmful chemical?

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Ahn -

      The red food coloring is smaller than these chemicals/bacteria and that's why it's a good indicator test your filters are working correctly. Beyond this, you would want to get the water tested as a water testing lab.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Amanda

    Ok so we messed up and didn't read the "Notes" section on our PF-2 filter instructions. We didn't take our PF-2's off when we did the food color test. Everything came back clear but our filtration rate is very slow. I read that it takes many flushes to clean our the filters after this has happened. Could you go into more details? How many flushes do we need to do? Anything else we need to know to completely resolve this problem? Thanks in advance!

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Amanda -

      Up to 10 full system flushes for the PF-2's. Make sure your PF-2's are only screwed on 8 revolutions so that water is able to flow between the filters freely.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • robert

    If you were to leave the PF-2 filters on and do the red food coloring test, would clear water on the bottom be a sign that the black filters did not fail? Basically what I am asking is, can the PF-2 filters themselves filter out the red food coloring if the black filters do not?

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Robert -

      Always remove the PF-2 filters before performing this test. It is for the black berkey filters only and the PF-2's do not have a comparable test. Clear means the filters are working properly.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Domagoj

    Hi, we in Europe have many differrent red food colorings,
    what is the main ingredient to look for, E124 ?
    (http://www.ivyroses.com/Define/E124)

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi -

      We do not have personal experience with this food coloring, however it is synthetic in nature (which is the primary requirement), thus should be effective for this test.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Derrick Smith

    I have a Berkey Sport Bottle. Can I perform the red dye test on it and how much dye should I use?

    Reply
  • chris

    We did the test in our Berkey with Black Filters and the PF-2 Flouride filters (we didn't know to remove the PF-2's - now we do know). We didn't put a ton of red food coloring in, but what was odd is that the water came through slightly green. Do you know what this indicates?

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Chris -

      This is not something we've heard of before, so we'd be guessing on why it would change color. Are you using artificial red food coloring? I would run the test again without the PF-2 filters to see if you get the same result.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Beth

    Is it necessary to perform the red food coloring test each time the Black Berkey filters and the entire system are routinely cleaned? I have been doing this (only 3 times thus far since it's a relatively new system) and last time it caught a problem with the filters which then were replaced by Berkey. I don't see that step mentioned in the routine maintenance/cleaning instructions. I don't want to continue it monthly if it isn't necessary or will more quickly wear out the filters, but still want to make sure everything is filtering properly. Thanks.

    Reply
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