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Berkey Water Filters Vs Reverse Osmosis

Frequently we have customers who ask us to explain some of the key differences between reverse osmosis systems and the berkey water filter systems. While there are many reverse osmosis systems on the market, in general they are similar in results and quality. Below we've broken out some comparison points between the two.

Beneficial Minerals in the Water

Reverse Osmosis systems strip out the beneficial minerals from the water making it an acidic, "hypotonic" solution. A hypotonic solution is a de-mineralized solution. This ultimately has impact on the body because when a hypotonic solution comes in contact with a hypertonic (mineralized) solution, equilibrium is sought. The hypertonic solution in this case is your body's fluids which are full of minerals. Continuous drinking of a hypotonic solution results in minerals being transferred from your body's blood and lymphatic system to this de-mineralized water and being flushed from your body. Over time, in an effort to re-mineralize itself, your body will begin to rob it's organs and bones of these minerals. This continuous cycle will have a negative impact on bodily function unless there is sufficient minerals being taken in through food and supplements to counterbalance.

The black berkey filters that come standard with all our berkey water filter systems are purposefully designed to leave the beneficial minerals in the water to avoid this dangerous cycle of body demineralization.

On a related note, the large majority of the population does not get sufficient minerals from their food because it is nutritionally depleted. No matter what your source of water, or filtration choice, we recommend a high quality multi-vitamin on a daily basis.  We stress high quality because many supplements on the market are created with low quality ingredients and are not designed synergistically, and thus are not absorbed or utilized by the body beneficially.

Pathogenic Bacteria Removal

Reverse osmosis systems do not remove pathogenic bacteria like e-coli and giardia. This is the reason why many reverse osmosis systems include an ultraviolet (UV) light designed to kill the bacteria. Sometimes however, if the water has a high turbidity, shaded spots in the water can prevent some of the bacteria from being exposed and killed. Also, if the UV light is installed prior to the bladder tank, it can allow for bacteria to colonize in the bladder tank itself. If this tank is not sterilized often, it becomes a source of bacterial contamination. One other important note is that the remains of dead bacteria remain in the filtered water of RO systems that use a UV light.

The berkey water filter removes the pathogenic bacteria to a log 7 degree and keeps it out of your drinking water. Log 7 equates to a 99.99999% bacteria removal rate.

Cleaning and Maintenance

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 replacement requires that the water pressure be shut off and part or all of the system be disassembled for maintenance. Additionally, the bladder tank should be washed with a chlorine solution at no longer than six-month intervals to kill any colonizing bacteria.

The black berkey water filters last 6000 gallons per set of 2 and typically 5 years or more before replacement is needed. The fluoride filter needs to be replaced every 2 years or 1000 gallons. As for maintenance, we recommend washing the lower chamber of the system with soap and water once per month.

Cost

A typical reverse osmosis system costs 20-65 cents per gallon.

The berkey water filter costs less than 2 cents per gallon and since it does not require electricity, berkey filters do not have added energy costs.

Taste

Typically, the taste for the reverse osmosis systems is very good.

Similarly, the taste of berkey water is also very good unless there is an abundance of ionized minerals in the source water. Our customers tell us daily how much they enjoy the taste of their berkey water.

47 thoughts on “Berkey Water Filters Vs Reverse Osmosis”

  • Candice Blake

    Hi, I am very interested in the Berkey but must work through my skepticism. How pray tell does it leave in the good stuff (minerals) and filter out the bad stuff (fluoride), other than being "purposely designed". No disrespect intended, just need to know. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Candice -

      The black berkeys do not remove minerals, however they do not remove fluoride either. The black berkeys are composed of various media that will not remove the minerals. Without exposing too many details of the formula, it's similar to the well known fact that carbon does not remove minerals and salts. To remove the fluoride, you need the add-on PF-2 fluoride and arsenic filters that hook onto the black berkey and go in the lower chamber.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Annike

    From the response above I got a little confused. If I add the PF-2 fluoride filter to the system, does it mean that other good minerals will be filtered out of the water too. How does the PF-2 filter out only fluoride?
    Thanks,
    Annike

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Annike -

      No, the Pf-2 filters only remove fluoride and arsenic with the media pellets that are used. The beneficial minerals remain in the water.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Cody

    I have owned a Berkey Light with the fluoride filters for a few months now and am very pleased. However, I do have a new concern. There has been a recent report in my city and others about Chromium-6, the "Erin Brockovich chemical". My town just so happens to be on the top of the list of cities whose water supplies are contaminated. Does my system properly filter this or do i need to upgrade?

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Cody -

      The black berkeys have been tested for Chromium removal and remove this up to 95%. However, the filters have not undergone testing for Chromium 6 (Hexavalent Chromium) specifically, and as a result we cannot comment as to their effectiveness as this point in time.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • joel

    all due respect, I keep hearing about how dangerous it is to drink de-mineralized water long term. I wholeheartedly disagree, but have no solid study to back up my claim - just logical rational thought. Here's my reasoning:

    Pure water is not acidic - it is pH neutral.
    It cannot possibly be harmful unless you inject it into your veins.
    Minerals that your body needs are PLENTIFUL in all vegetables and fruits, especially leafy green vegetables. The roots of these plants extract minerals from the soil in the natural proportions required by the body. Minerals found in tap water, on the other hand, come from ??? Pipes? reservoir sediment?

    So, drink pure H2O and eat your vegetables and you will be fine.

    anyone care to challenge this?

    Reply
  • joel

    oh, and rainwater is probably pretty pure - devoid of minerals for sure. I challenge anyone who says you should not drink rainwater (assuming it did not fall through heavy pollution and/or nuclear fallout).

    Peace. Blessings. Joy.

    Reply
  • chie

    MY QUESTION, OF ALL THE MODELS YOU HAVE FOR WATER FILTERS WHICH DO YOU SUGGEST IS THE BEST FOR EVERYTHING!!!

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Chie -

      The quality across the systems is the same and the "best" for you will depend on how many folks you will be supporting so you can choose the proper size. The most popular systems are the berkey light, big berkey, and royal berkey equipped with the black berkey filters.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Rose

    Hi Dan,

    It's been helpful to read the above comments & responses. I was wondering, why is it that your system has not been certified by california? Thanks,

    Rose

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Rose -

      Details can be found here:

      http://www.bigberkeywaterfilters.com/wordpress/berkey/berkey-water-filters-cannot-be-shipped-to-california/

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Darrell

    Hi Dan, I live part time on the Big Island of Hawaii. Our water source is catchment, that is, rainwater. Over the past few years the island's volcano has been putting stuff in the air that my neighbors have said is resulting in acid rain (SO4, I believe is what the chemical is). I've been drinking city water, which is a pain to lug an hour from town out to our avocado farm. What effect, if any would acid rain water have on the filter and are you are aware of any downside to people from filtered acid water (most of my neighbors drink this water, after some kind of filtering). Thanks, Darrell

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Darrel -

      We are unaware of any negative effects that the acid rain will have on the berkey filters. However, the manufacturer has not done any specific testing under these conditions so we cannot comment to how well they would perform.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Leonard

    Hi would like to know if the taste of the berkey water is the same as a normal r.o. supply. I currently own a canford unit, will the berkey give me good tasting water too?

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Leonard -

      Yes, the water should taste good since the berkey water filter will leave in the beneficial minerals in the water, and this is where the taste is primarily based upon.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Richard

    Why can't we purchase a Berkey in California for the purpose of filtering our fish tank water? I would like to order a a Royal Berkey "goldfish filter" please.

    Reply
  • Steve

    We live on a 12 acre farm that was a proffessional chicken farm and grass seed. I have been told that my well water is high in nitrates and that a reverse osmosis system is the only way to remove them. Your comparison does not cover this, do you have any information pertaining to the treatment of water with nitrates?

    Thanks
    Steve

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Steve -

      The filters do not have a rating on nitrates because removal rates are influenced by competing contaminants. In other words, they will reduce the nitrates significantly, however if there are many other contaminants in the water such as heavy metals and other chemicals, this reduction will drop.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Steve P.

    We've got slightly Salty tasting Well water.Will the Black Berky Filters take out the salty taste? Would adding the Extra filters on the Bottom Help?

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Steve -

      I'm sorry, but no. Neither the black berkeys, nor the PF-2 filters remove salt from the water and actually none of the berkey filters will remove salt.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • jesse

    Does berkey have a way to remove nitrates which is our biggest obstacle/ JESSE

    Reply
  • John Smith

    I've been reading some good reviews about the black filter system, however I've also read many that say the filters fell apart after a short while.

    Has this problem been resolved?

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi John -

      This occurred with 3-6% of a batch of filters produced in November 2010. It did not happen prior to that, and since the issue with that batch, they now use a stronger food safe glue and machine the filters onto the base so that even if the glue were to fail, they would not break off. Some dealers held onto inventory throughout 2011 and did not swap out their inventory. Thus this is why this one isolated batch issue seems like it was reoccurring.

      Thanks
      Dan DeBaun

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • db

    What about radioactive nuclear isotopes?

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi db -

      The filters have yet to be tested for such, so we cannot comment as to their effectiveness. We are just as curious regarding this also as we know there has been concern for some time, and it only continues to grow. The moment we are notified of updated testing in this regard, we will make the information known on our site and our facebook page.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Nick

    Hi Dan

    Just wondering in a situation where you do not have pressurized water from the tap, what would be the best way to prime the elements? Example of being in the field and not having primed the elements before hand.

    Thanks
    Nick

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Nick -

      A sport bottle would probably be your best method and soaking can work also, but is less efficient. Your best bet would be to prime the black berkeys upon receipt and then store them for when you need them. If it happens to be at a time when water pressure is not available, this is not an issue as they've already been primed.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Betsy Jenkins
    Betsy Jenkins July 1, 2013 at 8:57 am

    Hello,
    I am contemplating buying one of your filtration systems. My well water has a very high level of DISSOLVED iron in it. I understand that the iron must be converted to particulates prior to filtration, then filtered with a "sand trap" type of filter. How can your system be used to filter water such as this? If it cannot, can you give some guidance on where I might go for information on how I might accomplish this using NON-electrical means?
    Thanks!

    Reply
  • Angela

    Hi- I am wondering if you can keep the Berkey in the refridgerator? Will it damage it in any way?

    Reply
  • Jeremy Morris

    We have moved to the country with lots of farmland around us. The ground water here is high in Nitrates. I have read the previous posts about nitrates. You state that the black berkey filters reduce nitrates but does not remove them. Would you say that after filtering my water with the berkey that my 18 month old son could drink the water? We have had our filter for about six years and love it so far!

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Jeremy -

      Without testing on your water, pre and post filtration, we cannot speak to whether it is removed to safe levels or not. We recommend taking the filtered water to a local testing facility to ensure it's removed to safe levels.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • raymond

    I live in Ontario and have been looking into $1500 basic house R/O filtration systems. Just came aross your filter and seems too good to be true. Iys a fraction of the price, removes the same if not more impurities AND unlike the R/O systems it leaves the minerals in the water. And all without additional electricity or plumbing! I love what I read but a few questions please:
    Is/does your filter have to be approved by ANSI like the other name brands or did you just test the cartridges through them?
    What is your return policy if I were to take my filtered water for testing and potentially not add up to your claims?
    What is the warranty on the filter and its components and what it the availability of the parts?

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Raymond -

      All tests on the filters are performed by State & EPA accredited laboratories to exceed EPA 7 ANSI / NSF regulations. These test results can be viewed here:

      http://www.bigberkeywaterfilters.com/helpful-resources/test-results

      Shipping, return, and warranty information is found here in this link below, and parts are always available for replacement if required.

      http://www.bigberkeywaterfilters.com/shipping-returns

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Linda

    Hi Dan,

    I wanted to be absolutely certain that your filters take out uranium, as well as arsenic, out of the water. And if so, which filter would that be that does this. Since uranium is radioactive (although I think this radioactivity has a short live span), how does it not affect the water if the filters never have to be changed for so long, etc.

    Linda

    Reply
  • Rebecca Cody

    Does your filter system remove bromine?

    Reply
  • Terry

    Wondering about glyphosate. Can ANY filter get this stuff out? My home is surrounded by crops.

    Reply
  • Deedee Burke

    I would like to know , if i already have a reverse osmosis system with a separate drinking spout on the sink. Can I use your filters to make my water more pure?

    Reply
    • admin

      Hi Deedee -

      If you RO system does not use UV light, then the Berkey filters would remove bacteria such as e-coli and giardia from your water if it was in there.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Deni

    Hi,

    I just purchased the Berkey Royal and the water tastes fine. I have been putting in my plastic bottled Spring water to get rid of the Anatomy from the plastic bottles. I did discover something interesting. I tested the alkaline of the Poland Spring plastic bottled water before putting it through the Berkey and it was on the acidic side, but after I put it through the Berkey, it tested as high Alkaline. Is this an artificial method of making the water less acidic? And is the water now a healthy Alkaline for drinking everyday.? I know that There are unhealthy methods of creating Alaklaine water with electricity for example, but I wanted to know if the water produced by the Berkey is healthy Alkaline water since it clearly changes acidic water to Alkaline water.
    Thanks, Deni

    Reply
    • admin

      Hi Deni -

      We are not familiar with healthy vs unhealthy alkaline water. Alkaline is simply the definition of PH 7+. With that being said, the black berkeys can make the water alkaline as the remove acidic chemicals from the water, leaving a more alkaline solution. The berkey systems do not add anything to water that may influence the PH. However, not all berkey filtered water is guaranteed to become alkaline because it will be dependent on the source water makeup, which can vary greatly.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
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