To understand the differences between the Super Sterasyl Ceramic filter and the Black Berkey purification element, it helps to have a brief history on the evolution of the business. Essentially, the Super Sterasyl filters are an evolution of ceramic filter technology originally discovered in 1827 by Henry Doulton in Britain. Over the years, the Doulton company made noteworthy improvements upon the ceramic filters by introducing methods for bacteria removal and self sterilization. Once these improvements were incorporated, gravity filters became heavily used by military forces, relief organizations, and missionaries who lacked access to clean water. The general public also took note and the Doulton company built it's core business around this Super Sterysyl Ceramic filter technology. Eventually In 1985, British Berkefeld was acquired by Doulton and continues to sell these ceramic filters across the world to this day.
Through a distribution partnership with Berkefeld, the US based company New Millennium Concepts gave North American residents the opportunity to purchase the Super Sterysyl Ceramic filter product locally. New Millennium Concepts then built upon this filtration franchise by designing and creating the Black Berkey Element and expanding the lineup of Berkey housing systems and accessories. Designed over a decade ago, the Black Berkey is a proprietary combination of approximately 6 different types of media designed to take filtration to the next level. They exceed EPA log 7 ANSI / NSF protocols for filtration and thus are rated as water purifiers.
Without going into too much detail, from a filtration perspective the Black Berkey's filter out the same chemicals and contaminants that the Super Sterasyl Ceramic Filters do, but go above and beyond by removing Lead, MTBE's, and other heavy metals. In addition, since the Black Berkey's are water purifiers, they will filter bacteria to a 99.99999% level and viruses to a 99.9999% level. Also, the black berkeys filter out Chlorine to undetectable levels, while the ceramics will only remove > 90% of Chlorine.
The Black Berkeys will last longer than the Ceramics, but are basically the same in terms cleaning, price, and overall day to day use. While both filters are very durable, the ceramics have a slight edge and may benefit missionaries or those who expect to place daily physical wear and tear on the filter when breaking down the system for transport. In essence, both filters are outstanding performers with a long proven track record and tens of thousands of satisfied customers, however the Black Berkeys are more comprehensive in the array of contaminants addressed and have an advantage in their ability to remove some of these contaminants to a higher percentage.
It's important to note that if you already own the Ceramics and are looking to address some of these missed contaminants like Lead and MTBE's, the PF-4's will remove this in addition to growing public concerns like Fluoride and Arsenic. Along those same lines, if you own or are considering purchasing the Black Berkeys and would like to remove Fluoride and Arsenic, choosing the PF-2's as an add-on will accomplish this goal. To learn more about other configuration aspects of Berkey filters, please read our article, Intro to Berkey Water Filters 101.