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The Difference Between Black Berkeys and Ceramic Filters - A Quick History and Comparison

First, The History

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 filter element is a self-sterilizing 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 (as opposed to water filters).

Berkey Filter Comparison in Depth

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 filter out bacteria to a 99.99999% level and viruses to a 99.9999% level.  The black berkeys also filter out Chlorine to undetectable levels, while the ceramics will only remove > 90%.

The Black Berkeys and Ceramics are basically the same in terms of cleaning, price, and overall day to day use. However, the black berkeys have a much longer lifespan as shown below.

  • Black Berkeys last 6000 gallons (per set of 2)
  • 7" Ceramic Filters last 800 gallons or 6 months, whichever comes first (per set of 2)
  • 9" Ceramic Filters last 1200 gallons or 6 months, whichever comes first (per set of 2)

This longer black berkey lifespan would equate to lower filter replacement costs. 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 conclusion, both filters are outstanding performers with a long proven track record and hundreds of thousands of satisfied customers, however the Black Berkeys last much longer, are more comprehensive in the array of contaminants they filter out, and have an advantage in their ability to remove many 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 choosing a Berkey filter, please read our article, Help me Choose a Berkey Water Filter.

147 thoughts on “The Difference Between Black Berkeys and Ceramic Filters - A Quick History and Comparison”

  • Ryan McClure

    Other filter companies talk about Microns can you give me an idea of how your filters stack up beside them? because your flow rates are great and if I had an idea of the micron rating on your filters it would greatly help with my decision ( ps I'm already leaning towards the Big Berkey) thanks for the help
    Ryan

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Ryan - Per the manufacturer:

      With respect to the micron rating, we do not use or publish a micron rating for the Black Berkey elements for the following reasons.

      There is much confusion with respect to nominal and absolute micron ratings. An absolute micron rating is one that states the maximum pore size expected within an element. The nominal micron rating is the average pore size within the element. This means that if 90% of the pores are .02 microns and ten percent are 2 microns, one could claim the nominal micron rating as .2 microns, which would imply that pathogenic bacteria and parasites would be totally removed. But in reality the bulk of the water would channel through the larger 2-micron pores and thereby allow both bacteria and parasites to pass through. Therefore a nominal micron-rating claim can be very misleading.

      With respect to the absolute micron rating, there is also confusion because there are two different standards to determine absolute; in the US the standard is 99.9% removal, but the international standard in 99.99% removal or 10 times greater removal.

      Clever marketers of products can use the confusion over the above differences to make product "A" appear to be better than product "B" when product B may be far superior in reality. For example, we used to report an absolute rating using the international standard because we have a large international customer base. Several years ago we published a rating on our ceramic filters. A particular company began to publish that our elements were .9 microns whereas theirs were .2 microns. However, our micron rating was based on absolute (international) while theirs was based on a nominal(US)rating. When tested at Spectrum Labs, it was found that at the .2 to .3 microns range our filter removed more particulate than the other brand. Unfortunately many people make there purchasing decisions based on a micron rating that can be legitimately distorted and to a significant degree.

      We soon became weary of trying to explain the above to our customers and so we decided not to participate any longer in publishing a micron rating. Rather, we think an absolute pathogenic bacteria removal rate is a far better gauge because it is far more difficult to abuse. Based on that criterion, the Black Berkey elements remove greater than 99.9999999% of pathogenic bacteria such as E.coli. To our knowledge, no other personal filtration element can match that capability. In fact, the Black Berkey elements are so powerful, they are unique in their ability to mechanically remove food coloring from water.

      Reply
  • Nelson

    Hi Dan, thanks for the quick response. I will go ahead and order my system online and recommend this website to others who may be interested in the Big Berkey.

    I have researched many filtering systems and this one seems to be the best one.

    Reply
  • greg

    Thank you for all the wonderful data and information you provide on this website. I have come across aqua rain and other filters and would appreciate the help in comparing the black berkey filters vs other such competitors. Any information you can provide to help clarify and differentiate the two would be much appreciated!

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Greg -

      As for the Aqua Rain water filter, we are unable to do a detailed comparison due to the fact that the Aquarain website does not provide filtration removal details across the many chemicals and contaminants that the black berkeys remove. We unfortunately also cannot find copies of test results on the site for verification of any claims. What we did find was removal rates for 3 organisms, Cryptosporidium parvum, Klebsiella terrigena, and Brevundimonas diminuta; all of which the black berkey water filters remove to log 7 purification standards.

      As for other water filters, just let us know what you have in mind. We will make an effort to put a comparison together and post the results on our site for you.

      Thanks - Dan

      Reply
  • Palmer Simonetta
    Palmer Simonetta April 26, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    You made some excellent points here. I did a search on the black berkey filters and users agree with what your saying. Thanks for all your good articles.

    Reply
  • Mike

    You state that the black filters can be cleaned and reused. You also state that they will last for up to 3,000 gallons per element. Does that mean that if they are cleaned they will last for another 3,000 gallons? Or does it mean that it will need to be cleaned during the initial 3,000 gallons and then you need a new one?

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Mike - The 3000 gallon mark per black berkey element is considered a estimated point of full saturation. At this point, they should be replaced. Up and until that 3000 gallon mark, you can clean and maintain the black berkey as many times as needed. Depending on the source water, a cleaning may be required every month, once a year, or never. More than 60% of our customers are able to use the elements the entire life without a need for a cleaning.

      Reply
  • Mike

    Our local water company is going to be adding chloramine to our water supply instead of chlorine.

    Unfortunately, we have found no filters currently in existence that will reduce or remove the highly toxic byproducts including NDMA, hydrazine, iodoacids and DXAA. Filters certified by NSF at classification 42 wil reduce the monochloramine itself but not the byproducts.

    We have the sterysyl filters with the PF-4 add on filter. Will these protect us.

    Reply
  • Mike

    Our Sterysyl filters and pf-4 filters have been inactive for about two years. Are there any special precautions we need to make when reactivating their use.

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      There no special precautions to make. You can clean your ceramic filters with a brush prior to use and they should be fine. However, the PF-4 fluoride water filters only last for 6 months once they are put into use. If you had used the PF-4's 2 years ago, then they have expired by this time, and require replacement.

      Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      The black berkey filters are currently undergoing testing for chloramine removal. Also, the black berkeys are adept at removing disinfection byproducts of chlorine, but until these other chloramine dbp's have been tested for, no claims can be made.
      For the ceramic water filter / PF-4 combination, we are not aware of outstanding tests that British Berkefeld is conducting for these chemicals mentioned above, so we cannot make a statement as to their efficacy in this regard.

      Reply
  • Dean Krause

    I have a Berkey filter system with the black cartridges. After using for a while, we put it into storage. Today, upon examination of the unit, I found small amounts of black stuff, probably mold, growing on an instruction sheet I had left in the upper chamber, and the metal surface felt damp. The cartridges appear to have some whitish splotches on them, although this could be mineral deposits. My worry is that this is mold also. How should I go about cleaning them, or should they be replaced?

    Thanks,
    Dean

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Dean - Please use a scotch brite pad and fully scrub the filters under luke warm running water. Upon completion, you may install them into your system. We then recommend performing a red food coloring test on the filters to ensure they are still working to design specifications.

      Reply
  • Lawrence

    You show some very useful comparisons with other water purifiers/filters items on the market but there seems to be lacking one of the most popular, namely the reverse osmosis system. Is there a reason you have not included this item in the comparisons? Can you include this? I know of some differences as far of costs and maintenance, and taking out good minerals, but I would like a comparison of the bad things each takes out. Thank you!

    Reply
  • Bradshaw

    Question,

    You stated above "They exceed EPA log 7 ANSI / NSF protocols for filtration and thus are rated as water purifiers. "

    However, I cannot find your company listed as NSF certified:
    http://www.nsf.org/Certified/Common/Company.asp?submit4=All+Manufacturers&Program=DWTU

    Please advise.

    Thanks,
    Bradshaw

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Bradshaw -

      NSF Certification is simply a list which they charge thousands of dollars to be on. It must also be updated constantly along with costs associated. Since we use their protocols and meet those standards as shown by our viewable testing results, we feel that to pay those high charges and then having to increase our prices is simply a waste of money. We want to keep our prices as low as we possibly can so that more people can afford the products.

      If interested, you will see the ceramic sterasyl filters on that NSF list under the Doulton brand, as those are the manufacturers of our ceramic filters.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Diane Wagster

    Hi Dan,

    Thanks for taking questions.
    We have a Berkey and currently use 2 ceramic 9" filters.
    We want to add 2 more and would like to get the black filters.
    We live way out in the woods and have a shallow well (right under 25 feet) that we dug ourselves.
    The ceramics have worked great, but we would like to add the blacks along with the ceramics.
    I am aware that they filter a bit more than the ceramics, and just want to know when it says not recommended to be used together it is just because the blacks filter a few more things and not some other reason.
    One of our ceramics was cracked when we got it, but we did not know until we took it out to clean and saw the crack so we wanted to get the black ones this time.
    Thanks
    Diane

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Diane -

      It is not recommended for the reasons you state, however it's OK if you want to do this. Just be aware that final filtration quality will not be as high since the ceramics may be allowing things through such as lead and MTBE's. (if they are in the source water to begin with)

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Ben

    Hi Dan,
    Is there a reason you do not include the Katadyn ceramic filter on your comparison page? It seems to be very popular, especially among campers. I am, at the moment, trying to determine which filter is best for me, as part of emergency preparedness. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Ben -

      We have no excuse except that we have not had a chance to get around to it. With where demand has been at, we've been focused on customer service and operations primarily. We will be building additional comparisons when things slow down some. :)

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Robert Reiner

    Planning to do travel and camping. Isle Royale National Park says a 0.4 microns or less filter is required for safe drinking water filters in their area. This sounds like a good guide for everywhere. Question; does any of your filters meet this specification? I am thibnking if they have problems, other places will also, so would be best to be prepared.

    Thanks in advance for your assistance.

    Reply
  • Dave

    Do both the ceramic and black filters work on bacteriological contamination and to what degree of filtration do they work? or is it recommended to add the standard small amount of bleach after (or before) filtration? In the woods hunting where some micro bacteriological pathogens are possible I need a clean water supply post treatment. Thank you in advance.

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Dave -

      A breakdown can be found here:

      http://www.bigberkeywaterfilters.com/berkey_filter_comparison

      And test results on the different types of bacteria that have been tested for are found in the links to the test results as the bottom of this page:

      http://www.bigberkeywaterfilters.com/berkey-filter-replacements-c-67/black-berkey-filters-2-p-187

      If it's not listed, it means that the filters have not yet been tested for that particular bacteria, contaminant, etc.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Art

    Dan,

    Regarding the water bottle units - what is the lifespan on their filter?

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Art -

      The sport bottle filters are good for 160 refills of "dirty" water (rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds) and 640 refills of "clean" water (city or well water).

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Dave

    Any word on Big Berkey backorders?

    Reply
  • gator

    Here in e. tx, well water is highly mineralized. From the tap it's tinted in varying shades of orange; has iron particulates and the iron which reacts w/oxygen--has ruined many clothes, other things and anything that holds water; has other sediment plus silt. When the water is hot, the color usually changes to varying shades of darker orange, gray to black, plus smells like rotten eggs. This can be reduced if I'm willing to waste 40-80 gal. to empty/refill the hot water heater. W/in walking distance are oil wells; when they need routine treatment for bacterial and other contaminants, well water smells terrible, etc. and I worry about water safety. A Brita counter top filter used to work well enough for over a decade but w/in the past year filters don't last long--from a few days to 4 weeks; results show they aren't as well made. For various reasons, a whole-house filterer isn't chosen. How could your filters help? Thanks for your consideration and that you keep prices low so more can use them.

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Gator -

      The black berkeys should hold up well in this environment, but please keep in mind that they will not remove the beneficial minerals from the water. As with any filter, the higher the number of contaminants in the water, the quicker they may saturate and exhaust the filter, requiring replacing. An extremely high level of iron in your water may contribute to this life reduction.

      Reply
  • Patricia Tursi

    What material is the outside of a black composed of? Specifically, are they plastic? If they are plastic, don't they interact with the water?

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Patricia - The black berkeys are composed of the bonded media combination itself and they are mounted upon a small plastic base. The ceramic berkey filters are a ceramic casing with the media inside them, again mounted upon a small plastic base.

      Reply
  • Randy

    I have the Berkey Light with two of the black filters. Our water consumption is rather large and we often use the filtered water faster than it can filter. Is there anything that would prohibit us from making two more holes in the plastic upper chamber and adding two more of the black filters? Unfortunately due to space concerns, we cannot add another Berkey to the household.

    Reply
  • Frank

    Will the Berkey Filters protect against biological or chemical attacks through the water?

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Frank -

      We cannot state that they would protect against biological or chemical attacks. We can only makes claims of what they will remove based upon the tests that have been performed to date.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Steve

    Can I set the sport bottle on the shelf until it is needed or does it have to be used w/in a year or set time period for effective use? It seems like the black berkey elements can be stored away indefinitely so I was thinking the same might be true of the sport berkey bottles? Thanks!

    Reply
  • Joyce

    Hi Dan,

    Where I live it gets pretty hot in the summer, so I am wondering if it would affect a Berkey adversely if it were put in the garage. I realize the water would be pretty warm, but could always put filtered water in the refrigerator. I am just concerned about the effect on the filters.

    Thank you.

    Reply
  • Mike

    What is the lifespan of an unused and unopened black filter?

    Thx,
    Mike

    Reply
  • Dave

    Hi Dan,

    I have a remote cabin in Alaska. We have a lake and drink the water after boiling for 15 minutes. I got on the internet tonight to buy a Big Berkey when I saw a post that the black filters do not work after freezing. Is this true, and if so do the ceramic hold up in freezing temps? I would be leaving it there with no heat to temps of 40 below or more at times. I am worried about guardia ( don't know if I spelled that right )
    Thanks for your time,
    Dave

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Dave -

      Yes, what happens is that any water left inside the filter will freeze and expand the interior of the filter compromising the tight pore structure. Your best bet would be to remove and take the filters with you every time you left the cabin.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • dave

    Dan,
    Thanks for the quick reply. Since there is a good chance I would eventually forget to take the filters out with me, I would probably be better off destroying the less expensive filters. That being said, do the ceramic filters filter out giardia? ( I looked up the spelling this time)

    Reply
  • Frederick Rentz
    Frederick Rentz April 4, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    Are the filters shipped installed or boxed? How many plugs are inclued in the Big Berkey? If two, are two still included when ordering the unit with four filters? Being an individual I do not require the use of two filters at once. I would rather use one filter at a time reserving the others for future use. Do you sell the individual plugs as spares?

    Thanks,

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Frederick -

      Yes, all Berkey systems, no matter how may black berkey filters are ordered, will come with the blocking plugs for blocking the holes above and beyond the initial 2 filters. They do not come installed, so a 4 filter big berkey system would come with 2 blocking plugs. If you only want to run one filter, you would need to purchase one additional blocking plug available under the berkey filter replacement parts section, so that you can block 3 holes.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Kush

    Thank you for making the content available online. It really helped me in purchasing the black berkey cartridges.

    Reply
  • Chuck

    Do either of the filters filter out radioactive iodine from water?

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Chuck -

      Neither of the filters have been tested for removing the radioactive iodine contaminant, so at this point in time we cannot comment as to their effectivness.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Gus Tate

    Hello,
    Purchased the lexan berky system for future emergency use and recieved two of the sport bottles with the order.
    I have two questions, one relates to the sport bottles, the other to the black berky filters in general.
    1- If I use the sport bottle for a while and then decide to store it, is there any special procedure required to store the unit, other than rinsing the bottle and letting it air dry?
    2- If the only water available, in an emergency, happens to be something that could be described as anything else other than water, say salt water, possible sewage, or muddy stuff, and taking into account that it would degrade the life span of the filter element considerably, can the Black Berky elements deal with this? Should some attempt at pre-filtering be made, say with a cloth or coffee type filter?
    Thank you for your consideration.
    Sincerely,
    G.Tate

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Gus -

      No, there is nothing special required for storing the sport berkey. You can just let it dry out. As for the black berkeys, they do not remove salt from the water, so salt water would no be able to be filtered. As for other poor water, the black berkeys are designed to purify this, however one can never be too safe when it comes to drinking water, so pre-treating the water prior to filtering is always a good idea.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Irene

    Will any of the berkey filters get rid of lithium? I have read they are going to start putting that in the water now.

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Irene -

      The black berkey nor the ceramic filters have been tested for such, so we do not know if they are effective in this regard.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Dave

    Hello,

    I purchased a big berkey with the black berkey elements. I put two in and saved two for later. The filters, now after only 4 months of use, have separated from the plastic housing that attaches them to the upper tank. That means water is no not being filtered and simply runnung below the filters. How do I have these replaced? Please email me. I also sent an email to your "returns" page address and have not heard anything. I love the product, but expect customer service for the price I paid for apparent defective filter cartridges.

    Reply
  • S.

    Can the black elements be cleaned? If so, how?

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi S -

      Yes, they can and instructions come with the filters advising how this should be done. Also, here is an article which covers the black berkey filter cleaning also:

      Reply
  • Sue Blake

    Will the black or ceramic filters work on swimmin g pool water?
    how can you combine the two filters.
    I am ready to buy , but need info fast.
    Thanks...

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Sue - While we have heard that customers do this with the black berkey filters, we do not recommend it as there are chemicals that can be found in pool water that the black berkeys nor the ceramics have been tested for removal up to this point.

      Thx - Dan

      Reply
  • Suzanne

    I bought the ceramic filters and pf-4, is it better to have the black filters and pf2s? Can I add the black filters with pf2 to the other two holes in my big berkey so I would then have two ceramic with two pf4 and two black with two pf2s?

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Suzanne -

      The BB's/PF-2's filters are a better option mainly because they will remove more contaminants and last for a longer period of time in the process, thus saving you money. You can add the Berkey BB's/PF'2 with your current ceramic/PF-4 setup, however keep in mind that in your bottom clean water chamber you'll be combining slightly different grades of filtered water. As a transitional option, this would be fine.

      Thanks
      DAn

      Reply
  • Floyd

    I live on a brackish river,does either of your filters deal with that secnairo. Depending on tides and winds the saltinity vary's

    Reply
  • J.B. Walsh

    I have been using the ceramics for a year and a half. When and how do I clean them? When Shoould I replace? Thanks.

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi JB -

      You can clean the berkey ceramic filters with a scotchbrite pad under running water and scrub the outer surface of any matter that may be clogging up the ceramic casing. 2 ceramic filters need to be replaced approx every 6000 gallons of water.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Matt

    Hi,

    I have purchased 2 berkey sports bottles and am travelling to south america for a month. Will these be fine to use with untreated from taps, streams etc?

    My GP said the filter system wouldnt filter out things like Hep A, typhoid.

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Matt -

      The sport berkeys have been tested and will be fine for bacteria like giardia, cryptosporidium, etc, but have not been tested for typhoid or Hep A, so we would not rely on the sport berkeys for water that may be contaminated with this.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Sharon Kirkham

    Dan, What is the Black Berkey made of? Plastic???? The Super Sterasyl ceramics are obviously made of ceramic...right?

    Reply
  • Mary Ann Gilmore
    Mary Ann Gilmore November 21, 2011 at 5:11 am

    I have the ceramic filters and pf4s and want to know if I can replace these with the black berkey filters and pf2s?

    Reply
  • A

    Hoe many times can you clean a black berkey filter before you have to replace it?

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi -

      You only need to clean the filters if they get clogged up. With that being said the number of times you clean the filter and how long it lasts are not related. How long the black berkeys last is dependent on the number of gallons processed and the levels of contamination in the source water.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Tom

    Are the "life expectancy" values given for a single BB filter or for a pair of filters? For example, the 3,000 gallon figure given; is that for a single filter, and a Berkey with 4 BB's installed could actually have 12,000 gallons run through it before replacement, or is it per pair, which would make it 6,000 gallons before replacement??

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Tom -

      The 3000 gallons is per black berkey filter. And, yes 4 filters would be effective for approximately 12000 gallons and equally 6000 gallons for a pair.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Sue

    Could you tell me again what the Black Berkey filter is made of. I did not understand which filter you were referring to in the above explanation. If it is made of plastic, what kind of plastic is it. I have an allergic reaction to bottled water that has been sitting in a plastic bottle for over a month. Can you tell me if this filter would be similar.

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Sue -

      The black berkeys are a combination a more than a half dozen filtration media bonded together and attached to a food safe nylon base. The ceramic filters are a ceramic outer casing with filtration media inside attached to a food safe plastic base. The black berkeys have no plastic in them. Let me know if you need additional assistance.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • peter

    can the black berkey filters be used , stored and then used again
    what must be done if anything

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Peter -

      Yes, this is not a problem. In some instances you may need to re-prime the black berkey filters if a film has caked and dried on the outside of the filters. But, this is typically not the case.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Ursula

    Do the ceramic and/or BB filters contain any silver?

    Reply
  • Zach

    Hello, we purchased the Big Berkey Water Filter with 2 Black Filters and 2 PF-2 Fluoride Filters recently and would like to know if we could give the filtered water to our newborn child? How does Big Berkey filtration compares to Gerber Purified Infant water and is it necessary to boil the water after using Big Berkey filters? Furthermore, as far as combining the Black Filters with PF-2 Fluoride Filters, how does the fluoride PPM % compare to standard bottle water?
    Thank you for your assistance.

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Zach -

      In a comparison of all the contaminants the Berkey filters versus the gerber water it is very similar. You would not need to boil the berkey water post filtration due to the water being in a purified state. There is no PPM % compared to standard bottled water only because the PPM level will be different and be based upon what the source water is prior to filtration. Source water with higher levels of beneficial minerals will have a higher PPM % post-filtration than that of source water that has little to no beneficial minerals.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Jeff

    You're site says that both the ceramic filter and the black filter will effectively filter 3000 gallons.
    I'm aware that the black filters remove additional contaminates, but do they each filter the same amount of water before needing replacement?

    Reply
  • Ernest Takeuchi
    Ernest Takeuchi January 20, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    I live in California. Can I have your product shipped to a relative in another state?

    Reply
  • Jacques

    Why do you not make the filter reversible because the upper end of the filter is less used than the lower end of it. As soon as the water drop in the filtration chamber the top end of the filter is no more in use in this vertical use of the filter. By having an attachment in both end we could reverse the filter after a while having the top end to be at the bottom end that would balance and make the filtration more efficient in the long run and it would have a longer life expectancy in term of filtration efficiency. I would definitively buy such a filter.

    Reply
  • Chris Wonch

    If the water is particularly bad will the filter wear out more quickly?

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Chris -

      Yes, this most likely will occur. The more contaminated the water, the more the filters will have to remove from the water and the quicker they will become used up / saturated.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Carmen

    I am wondering if the Travel Berkey vs. the Big Berkey is a bit inferior because the Pf2 filters can not be added to it? Smaller is better for me, but at the price, what real disadvantages are there to the Travel size vs. the Big Berkey. Thanks a lot.

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Carmen -

      The PF-2 filters can also go in the lower chamber of the Travel Berkey, so this is not a disadvantage. The only differences between the 2 systems is size, and with the Big Berkey you can fit 4 upper blacks and 4 lower PF-2s, while the Travel Berkey can only fit 2 upper and 2 lower; so less filter capacity.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Mike

    Did they ever fix the issue with the adhesive coming loose from the filter media and the base? I have bought 2 sets of filters now and had 1 set replaced, yet they still seem to come apart after a few months. Could it be my water? Any other suggestions? They seem to come apart just enough that unfiltered water goes through between the two pieces. Can you maybe relay that to your engineering department and maybe have them make it so the filter media is actually somehow threaded into the base? Seems that the silicone or whatever the clear adhesive you use is not working.

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Mike -

      There was a batch created in Nov of 2010 that had a higher than average defective rate (3-6%) with the silicone glue and it sounds like you may have received filters from that batch. Since that 11/10 batch, they upgraded the manufacturing process and now machine all filters onto the base and use a stronger food grade glue. Your filters are also most likely still under warranty. Please contact us at customerservice@bigberkeywaterfilters.com and we can provide direction for replacement.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Glenn

    To remove radioactive elements from the water this process can be done. Wrap the filter in cheese cloth and fill the receiving bucket half way full with Organic Cat Litter also known as Zeolite. Zeolite is a micro-porous clay that traps radioactive isotopes inside of itself and is used in radioactive decontamination. After the water flows though the Zeolite it is then processed in the normal way. You can decontaminate about 50 gallons before needing to replace the Zeolite. The used material can then be compressed into a brick that will not leak radiation.. I hope this info is helpful but never needed...

    Reply
  • Julie

    Hello, I am trying to figure out what water filtration system to buy and everyday I do research I am more confused. I have heard Aquasana is good on one website, Consumer Report says Multi Pure is the best, and you say Berkey is the one to buy. I really dont know what to do at this point. Very frustrated. But I have a few questions for you.
    1) Based on this websites claims, in an emergency I can filter water from stream, ponds, lakes, or my tap water and it would be purified. Now I dont have any proof that this is actually happening. I could technically drink the water thinking it is clean and it still be contaminated.
    2) What makes Berkey Water Filters better than the other two I mentioned, and why is Berkey not recommended by any website. Not to mention I never saw the name on websites. I found it on a Youtube video where man was comparing 4 filtrations systems.

    Please Help
    Thank You,
    Julie

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Julie -

      Berkey water filters are a small grass roots family owned company that's been in business for over 25 years here in the US and more in England. They have a very small advertising budget and all primary advertising that is done is by their small dealers and they do not associate, nor sell to big box stores and the like. Being a large competitor in this market is not an objective of theirs.

      The only thing that differentiates one filter from another is the type and quality of filter media that is used. All claims by berkey water filters are based off of testing that has been done and this is typically the case with other filters on the market also. The berkeys were originally designed for outdoor use and filtering dirty water and as with all filters, you technically never know if they are filtering as designed unless you perform some type of post-filtration testing. With the black berkeys, you can perform a red food coloring test at any time to make sure they are still filtering as designed, and this can be done in the outdoors, on the go, if needed.

      We always recommend to customers that if they are filtering water that they know is highly contaminated with bacteria, and they are concerned about it being filtered out, they can pre-treat the water with a chlorine or bleach solution to kill the bacteria. They then would run it through the berkey afterwards and let the berkey remove any remaining bacteria, disinfection products used, and any other contaminants in that water. This is not required for filtering water with the berkey, but is suggested for customers who want to be extra cautious and add another layer of defense.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • G. Lapham

    It has been mentioned that the ceramic filters last 3,000 gallons each before needing to be replaced. It has also been stated that if the source water is more contaminated, then the the filters will be used up / saturated sooner. It would be nearly impossible to keep track of how many thousand gallons have been filtered. If they were used in an emergency situation and lake water was used, it would obviously decrease the life of the ceramic filter.

    Given the varying quality of the source water and not being able to keep track of volume filtered, how do you know when it is time to replace the filters?

    If the lifespan of the filter has been unknowingly been reached and they are still used, is there a risk of drinking contaminated water? Thank you.

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi G -

      The black berkeys last 6000 gallons per set of 2 and the 9" ceramic filters last 1200 per set of 2. A good way to keep track of where you're at is to approximate how many times you fill the system with source water per day and multiply that by the gallon sized system you have and the amount of days/weeks/years you've been using it.

      If filtering highly contaminated water for a long period of time, yes they will saturate quicker. In this scenario, ideally you would to choose a running water source like a stream or river so that concentrations of contaminants are lower. Typically chemical contaminants are what will exhaust a filter the quickest, not bacteria, so this would usually exhaust first. A change in taste and smell of the filtering water would be the first tip-off that they have reached saturation. Having red food coloring available so that you can perform performance tests every so often would be recommended if you plan on filtering this water primarily for a long period of time. Also, as just mentioned in another reply, having a disinfection product to pre-treat the water as a 2nd layer of defense would also be recommended as part of your preparations. And finally, a back-up set of filters would also be highly recommend.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Jane Boli

    I have a question about both filters. My understanding is that both types of filters can be cleaned with a scotch brite pad or the like, then reused. Is this true? If not I would like to know, if either one can be reused after cleaning, if any. Thank you, Jane

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Jane -

      Yes, both the ceramics and black berkey filters can be cleaned during their lifetime to ensure water can flow into the pores of the filters. However, both filters will reach a saturation point (irregardless of cleaning) where the media can no longer absorb contaminants and will need to be replaced.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Mimi

    Do I need two or four filters? Why would I purchase 4 instead of 2? Thanks.

    Reply
  • Carolyn Bailey

    How long can new PF-2 filters be stored before using without diminishing their effectiveness?
    Can they be used awhile, stored and reused? How can I tell when their useful life is over? If I use two at once, will they last twice as long as using one by itself, and four times as long if I use four at once?

    Can replacement parts be stored for a long time till needed?

    Another site selling Berkeys says not to use scotch pads to clean them because the pads add to the matter that is clogging them up. The site says to pare them with a potato peeler. Your view?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Carolyn -

      The Pf-2's last 1000 gallons or 2 years, whichever comes first, per set of 2. If you store them during this time, the clock keeps on ticking, so you are losing your filtration window while they are stored. If you double to 4, you only increase the amount of gallons you can filter 1000 to 2000, but the 2 years remains the same. Scotch brite pad is fine, but they can help clog the filters in some cases, so always re-prime afterwards, and the potato peeler is effective.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
      • Dan DeBaun

        Hi Stuart -

        The system has shown the ability to remove total chlorine in it's newest testing results. Total chlorine includes chloramines, however we are still waiting on a confirmation on what the stated choloramine level removal would be as it wasn't singled out in testing.

        Thanks
        Dan

        Reply
  • Gemma

    I used my filter system for the first time today. It uses four ceramic filters. My PPM meter showed my tap water around 50 ppm. My spring water (that I eventually filtered) 35 ppm. The water that came out of my filter was an astonishing 360 ppm! Any info on this?

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Gemma -

      Yes, this is normal. the first few flushes of the filters will release carbon into the water and increase the PPM's. This is not harmful and will subside after this dust washes away.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • K.

    Hi,
    I have been using the ceramic water filters for a few years to filter my very good well water, only because I have PEX pipes and do not trust what may be leaching out of them, since our water here is acidic. I have never gotten a satisfactory answer as to how long they are good for, considering that my well water is very clean to begin with. My concern about the black berkey filter is that I do not know what it is made out of since it is "proprietary", but I can assume it is some sort of plastic or other not natural substance. What prevents the media itself from leaching into your water? Has this been tested?

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi K -

      The ceramic filters last for 1200 gallons per set of 2 9" filters. The black berkeys do not contain plastic and are made of natural materials. Testing results, comparisons, etc can be found on our helpful resources page:

      http://www.bigberkeywaterfilters.com/helpful-resources/guides

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Brian

    I'm trying to decide which gravity filtration system to buy. I've been doing a lot of research about these black Berkey filters. Not taking into account this bad "batch" that has been falling apart, some people say that these do not last as long as the ceramic ones (Doulton or AquaCera) because they do not have silver in them to ward off internal bacteria growth in the filters. The original filters back in the 1800s in England had silver. What is keeping these black Berkey filters from growing bacteria in them and thus severely degrading the amount they can filter??

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Brian -

      We cannot speak to any of the ingredients in the black berkeys since the formula is proprietary. However, they are just as effective as the ceramic filters in terms of self sterilization and preventing any bacteria growth. As for longevity, the black berkeys last approx 6000 gallons per set of 2, so this is 5 times longer than the comparable ceramic filters which also have a 6 month life replacement. This is due to the high quality of the other ingredients in the black berkeys that is also used as part of the formula.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Don

    Greetings ... i'm just about ready to make the Berkey leap..here's my questions/concerns:

    1.. carbon/charcoal: ... any filtration benefits, any taste benefits ..... which Berkey filters or combo set shall apply & if not, can u recommend an extra 'stand alone" unit ?

    2.. Silver impregnation: ... i've seen reports of 'silver poisoning' cases many times in various media .....where the person ingesting develops a condition; their skin turns to a pallid silver; mostly traced to colloidal silver purchased from new~age~natural~health~food~crystal~lattice~structure~worshipping shops/distributors ...what's the Berkey situation ?

    3.. hopefully sooner than eventually, i will install a whole house system for entire existence benefits, do you have any tips/recommendations ? ... may i expect that the Berkey filters will last longer and perhaps some other added benefits may appear when Berkey is used in conjunction with a whole house H2O system ?....and please, if anyone else reads this, and has some experience contact me ...... bartonacid@yahoo.com

    thanks, Don

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Don -

      1) We reccomend any of our systems with the black berkeys. You only need the PF-2's if you want to remove fluoride or arsenic. The filters do not add any "taste" to the water, so you shouldn't notice anything in that respect.

      2) There should be no risk of silver dangers with the berkey. The filter systems do not add anything to the water.

      3) In terms of whole house, having both a whole house and a berkey for drinking water would be redundant. The berkey should last you many years and purifies your water to higher levels than a whole house system would. You may even choose to never go the route of a whole house system. Many customers do this, including myself. Starting with a Berkey is a good economical decision though to begin with.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Steve

    Dan,

    Very much appreciated this blog; your level of information boosts my confidence and have just purchased some Black Berkeys as a result of that - and tons of reading.

    Some suggestions:

    • keep this blog up! Lots of detail helps overcome the misinformation out there!

    • thanks for acknowledging the Nov 2010 bad batch & fix; you might want to create a special page about that as Amazon in particular has a lot of bad reviews resulting from that.

    • the above suggestion to manufacture a reversible filter is a good one; will help sales

    • for the same reason, I strongly suggest looking into having a dome (or even pancake) shaped filter like the ProPur form factor. This makes much better use of the surface area since the whole filter is contact with water longer.

    And a question: if I pre-filter rain water with a decent 1 micron 4.5x10" filter like a Matrikx can I expect the Black Berkey to last substantially longer? The rain water going in should have minimal chemicals and sediment/gunk greatly reduced by the Matrikx filter.

    Thanks!

    Steve

    Reply
  • Jill

    On april 27, 2012@2:21 in re your response to Glenn. Wrap WHAT filter in cheesecloth and use what receiving bucket?

    Reply
  • Mark

    How do you know when your black Berkey filters, NOT keeping track of usage, need replacing. In other words, after 6,000 hours of use, how does one know it is time to replace the filters?

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Mark -

      You can perform a red food coloring test on the black berkey filters at any time to verify if they are still operating effectively. Details can be found here:

      http://www.bigberkeywaterfilters.com/blog/berkey-water-filter/the-black-berkey-red-food-coloring-test

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Charlie

    Hi Dan,

    Do the black berkey filters contain silver?

    Thanks in advance for your reply.

    Charlie

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Charlie -

      We are not permitted to speak to any of the ingredients inside the black berkeys as they are proprietary. What we can say is that the filters have self-sterilizing properties, the same as filters impregnated with silver.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • charlie

    Recently had water tested and nitrates were 10ppm. Will the big berkey reduce these rates? Culligan sales guy told me only reverse osmosis systems can do this. What is the difference between the berkey and the RO systems?

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Charlie -

      PPM can represent beneficial minerals also, so you do not necessarily want a 0 PPM reading. You simply want the heavy metals portion of the PPM reading removed. A comparison of the berkey and RO system can be found here:

      http://www.bigberkeywaterfilters.com/blog/berkey-water-filters/berkey-water-filters-vs-reverse-osmosis

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Kathleen Hire

    Our water source is a river in Northern California. As you've probably heard from the media, with all of the agri-grows around us we are very concerned w/pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers as well as fecal matter, rodentcides, etc. Would the Big Berkey work for us (we are a family of 2)? We are going to be doing a lot of research before sinking so much money into a filter and want one that will not be obsolete in the future (meaning mostly that replacement filters will no longer be available. Please advise!
    Thank you,
    KH

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Kathleen -

      The company has been in the US for over 25 years and plans to be around for a long time. The black berkey filters that come standard with the systems would take care of this runoff for you, and the Big Berkey would be a good option.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Ryan

    Hi Dan,

    I would like to express my thanks towards you for providing such detailed and helpful information on the Berkey Water Filter systems and components. I see this blog going back to March 2010 and still running strong. I read all the questions and answers and I learned great details and tips for reference on my new Crown Berkey and Big Berkey systems. I am very very pleased with my Berkey and even more with the great, ongoing support and information provided from you. I really appreciate your time and efforts in helping new and existing customers.

    Thanks again Dan,
    Ryan

    Reply
  • George

    Your decision to control the narrative on percentage removal efficacy vs allow yourself to get trapped in the marketing balderdash of the water Madoff's was very very smart. I've determined I must engineer and build my own so called whole house purification system because I've found no data driven, filter based source at 200 to 400 gallons per day capacity. Unfortunately, the majority of consumers in this segment do not require supporting facts for pretty pictures and fairy tail claims. If you or your supplier produce a system able to support our GPD demand AND support efficacy with data, I will buy it. Of course the system must have sufficient storage and incorporate a demand pump and so on and so forth. If anyone reading this thinks they have a helpful suggestion, please share.

    Also, a previous poster suggested you set the record straight on Amazon. I second this. You must respond to poacher's slurs swiftly; you most likely do this already.

    Protect your standards

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi George -

      We appreciate the words and are glad that you have not been taken by the many marketing claims that are out there. Unfortunately, there are misleading statements by some companies out there that sway decisions. The proof is in the test results. There are no plans for a whole house system currently, but we will take your comments into consideration.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • John Kelley

    We have a water softener for use in our house. Would it be beneficial, for the black filter, to use this softened water?. We have an unsoftened source in the outside spigots to use if its not more beneficial.

    Reply
  • Patrick D.

    I am seriously considering buying this as a long term solution for day to day filtration of typical city tap water. Just out of curiosity, i have experience with sea survival issues, i know it wont filter salt water but what other sources can be filtered? Soda, tea, coffee, wine, beer? If in a desperate condition, could the personal filter be used to filter urine? What about petrolium/gasoline contaminated water?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Patrick -

      No lab testing has been done on these types of liquids, so there is no official company response to this. We can tell you that we have tried some liquids such as this and it did filter it closely to water. There was still salty taste and some coloring, but it was much closer to pure water. Without testing, we can't tell you what was filtered out and what wasn't.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Holly

    I ordered a berkey and I was told the filters are good for at least 3 olympic swimming pools worth and here I am reading each filter is good for 3000 gallons. That is a huge difference. So I was lied to when told how long the filters would last, I have 2 filters.

    Reply
    • Dan DeBaun

      Hi Holly -

      The black berkey filters are good for approx 3000 gallons per filter. The Olympic size swimming pool number is not something we've ever heard of, nor is it mentioned on this site. I cannot find you in our system, so my thought is that you purchased this from another company/dealer, and that they told you this which is incorrect.

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Dawn

    We live nearby several vineyards which spray regularly with fungicides, herbicides and pesticides. Will the Berkey remove these types of toxins? Thanks so much for your help.

    Reply
  • Jennifer Zint

    Our Big Berkey black with fluoride filters added is not filtering the water as it did -very slow the past 2-3 days -I bought them in July last year .so maybe new filters are due ?? We use about 1 time refilling /day..May try the ceramic ones this time for cost comparison -they are much less.

    Reply
    • admin

      Hi Jennifer -

      Sounds like you need to clean your black berkey filters. Details here:

      http://www.bigberkeywaterfilters.com/blog/berkey-water-filter/anns-helpful-hints-for-berkey-water-filter-systems

      Thanks
      Dan

      Reply
  • Jonathan

    i was considering pre treating with food grade hydrogen peroxide. will the black burkeys filter out any residual hydrogen peroxide?
    thanks

    Reply
  • Jason

    What country are the black Berkey filters manufactured in.
    Thanks,
    Jason

    Reply
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